On Tuesday night, May 12, Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 travelling from Washington D.C. to New York derailed when it passed though Philadelphia at Frankford Junction. The proper speed while passing through this curve is 50 mph, but this train was travelling at 106 mph. The train accident resulted in 8 deaths and over 200 passengers injured.
Investigators have been examining the circumstances that led up to this tragedy. It is clear that the train's speed is the direct result of the train's engineer pushing the throttle forward, though investigators cannot get any clarification as to why the engineer would have done so. The highly experienced engineer, Brandon Bostian, claims not to remember any details surrounding the accident. For some time, investigators had also been considering the possibility of rocks or some other projectile hitting the windshield, somehow playing a role in this incident, yet this still does not account for the throttle's position. The National Transit Safety Board continues to explore the possible causes of the accident, while law enforcement officials await these findings to determine the possibility of charging Bostian criminally.
Regardless of the reason for the train accident, it is clear that Amtrak could have done more to prevent this tragedy. For starters, investigators wonder if Bostian's lack of familiarity with this particular line may have played a role in this horrific accident. Additionally, immediately after the train accident, the Federal Railroad Administration mandated the installation of the ATC, Automatic Train Control, which would have prevented this derailment. This device automatically applies the brakes of the train when it senses that the train is travelling too fast. This system is currently in place on this same line travelling southbound, though it was not in place on this northbound line. Congress has similarly imposed a requirement for railroads to adopt PTC, a like system, to slow excessively speeding trains by the end of 2015. While Amtrak claims to be on track to meet this requirement, this system was not in place on Northeast Regional Train 188. Critics, like former Transportation Secretary Samuel Skinner, wonder if Amtrak has been spending its federally provided funds on less important projects rather than on more vital ones, such as implementing safety systems.
Amtrak carries the legal status of a common carrier, which means that it transports passengers for a fee. As such, Amtrak has a duty to use the utmost care to prevent injury to its passengers. The Casper Firm has and continues to represent the victims of Amtrak’s negligence. If you or a loved one has been injured in a railroad accident, you deserve compensation, and we can help you. Call The Casper Firm for a free consultation.
News Sources: CNN, USA Today, ABC News