Speed was reportedly the reason the Amtrak train detailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night shortly after 9 p.m. An Associated Press analysis of surveillance video shows the Amtrak train was going more than twice the speed limit around a curve, according to CNN.
The Federal Railroad Administration said the speed limit is 70 mph just before the curve and 50 mph in the curve itself. The Amrak train was going about 107 mph around the curve. The Amtrak train derailment happened not far from the scene of one of the nation’s deadliest train wrecks more than 70 years ago.
It was the site of the derailment of the 16-car Pennsylvania Railroad Congressional Limited from Washington to New York, which killed 79 and injured 117 people on Labor Day in 1943. Unfortunately, that area does not have a safety system called Positive Train Control that can automatically reduce the speed of a train that is going too fast.
An analysis of the video from a surveillance camera shows that the train was going well over the speed limit just before the wreck, which took place beyond camera range, about three seconds after the train passed by.
In the darkness and chaos, passengers were screaming and frightened. Some scrambled through windows of cars that were turned over. Hospitals treated more than 200 people for injuries that included burns and broken bones. Ten people are still hospitalized in critical condition.
The New York Times said Mayor Michael A. Nutter of Philadelphia refuted reports at a news conference Wednesday morning that the engineer refused to speak to investigators.
“The engineer was injured, received medical care, and was interviewed by the Philadelphia Police Department.”
Investigators have already recovered the locomotive’s data recorder that will report important information that led to the derailment. The data will show how fast the train was going when it went around the curb and jumped the tracks.
The Amtrak train was on its way from Washington to New York with 238 passengers and five crew members when it crashed in Philadelphia, not far from the Delaware River. The wreck happened in an area known as Frankford Junction, situated in an industrial neighborhood of warehouses, industrial buildings, and houses.
It is interesting that Amtrak had inspected the tracks on Tuesday, just hours before the accident, and found no defects, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. In addition to the data recorder, the train had a video camera in its front end that could yield clues to what happened.
The mayor made an official announcement concerning Amtrak’s service for the rest of the week.
“In light of the tragic Amtrak train derailment resulting in mangled tracks and down wires, there’s no circumstance under which there would be any Amtrak service this week through Philadelphia.”
[Photo via Patrick Semansky/Associated Press]