Railroads have day of reckoning with National Transportation Safety Board

Amtrak Cascades Engineer for Train Number 501 just before fatal crash: “A moment later, he saw the 30-mph speed restriction sign and realized that they were nearing the entrance of the curve. At 7:33:44 a.m., he called out an expletive, and three seconds later said, ‘We’re dead.’ The engineer did not make an emergency brake application before the accident.”

By STEPHANIE BEASLEY and LAUREN GARDNER, With help from Tanya Snyder, Politico Morning Transportation; July 11, 2018

SAFETY SUMMIT: NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt directed much of his questioning during Tuesday’s marathon investigative hearing on two recent train crashes at CSX officials, inquiring about the freight railroad’s safety culture and work environment at the time of a fatal Feb. 4 crash where an improperly aligned switch sent an Amtrak train into a parked CSX train. CSX owns the tracks, so it’s the company’s responsibility to maintain and operate the rails, which they share with Amtrak trains passing through. Besides the fact that both of the crashes discussed were PTC-preventable, an overarching theme that emerged from the day’s questions and answers was the inherent complexity in managing the safety of passenger rail systems — given the web of track owners, state agencies and carriers who all have skin in the game.

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