Amtrak has recently been the subject of a crash investigation over the deadly train derailment that occurred last May on an Amtrak train headed to Philadelphia. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hopes to conclude the cause of the accident by this spring, and they are expected to release documents on the deadly crash investigation by this afternoon.
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According to Bloomberg, the speed of the Amtrak train has become a main focus in the crash probe. Investigators have already ruled out a number of causes for the crash, and they’ve concluded that failures with the track, the locomotive, and the train signals could not have caused the crash. Investigators have so far concluded that the train was traveling approximately 106 miles per hour around a sharp curve just outside Philadelphia. The posted speed limit in this area is only 50 miles per hour.
WFMZ reports that the Amtrak train’s engineer does not remember the moments leading up to the crash, because he hit his head in his derailment. The crash occurred near Franklin Junction and killed eight people and injured around 200 more.
CBS Local Philadelphia states that among the Amtrak investigation documents that will be released is a script of the interview with the train’s engineer.
“Our investigators found the engineer to be extremely cooperative. He was accompanied by his lawyer, which is not at all unusual. And the engineer encouraged us to contact him further, again, contact him again, if we needed anything else,” said NTSB board member Robert Zumwalt.
Last May, investigators also ruled out the possibility that the train’s engineer was using his cell phone during the time of the crash. It’s also been concluded that he was not connected to the train’s Wi-Fi during the crash either.
Investigators said, “Analysis of phone records does not indicate that any calls, texts, or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train.”
The FBI was eventually brought in to assist with the derailment investigation, and they found evidence that some type of object, such as a rock or a gunshot, hit the windshield just prior to the derailment. But it was not immediately clear if the object hitting the windshield played any role in the Amtrak train crash. Because of this, a Philadelphia police department still has an investigation underway regarding the crash.
Amtrak estimates that it lost over $9 million due to the crash, because it caused them to close their busiest passenger rail route for several days.
The Philadelphia crash brought to light unsafe rail conditions, especially on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor route between Washington and Boston. Federal regulators ordered the train service to immediately improve its safety conditions along this route. Since then, the train carrier has installed a more advanced auto-braking technology, and the NTSB says this technology could have prevented the derailment. Additional speed limit signs have also been added to the stretch of train corridor where the accident took place.
The investigation documents set to be released this afternoon will include the factual information that has been gathered so far. An official conclusion with the probable cause of the Amtrak Philadelphia derailment is not expected until later this spring, when the evidence has been further analyzed.
[Photo by Bloomberg/Getty Images]