Philadelphia, PA Amtrak Train Accident, May 2015
AMTRAK TRAIN DERAILED GOING 106 M.P.H. ON SHRP CURVE.
AT LEAST 7 KILLED.
Philadelphia, Pa. - An engineer jammed on the emergency brakes just seconds before Tuesday's fatal Amtrak derailment, but the train - traveling at 106 miles an hour, more than twice the speed limit - slowed only slightly, federal authorities said, before hurtling off its tracks, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 200.
Survivors who emerged battered and bloodied described a chaotic scene, with passengers thrown against walls, furniture and one another, and luggage and other items and falling on terrified riders. By Wednesday night, as cars were being removed, some passengers still had not been accounted for.
Investigators say that it is too early to know whether speed alone caused the wreck and that they will examine other factors, such as track conditions, throttle and brake settings and alarms in the engineer's cab. They were also studying video from a camera mounted on the locomotive, and they plan to interview the engineer, who spoke to the police but may have given only limited information, Mayor Michael A. Nutter said.
"As we know, it takes a long time to decelerate a train," said Robert Sumwalt, the NTSB official who is leading the investigation, in a news conference. He added,
"You're supposed to enter the curve at 50 miles per hour. He was already in the curve."
The crash occurred on a stretch of the Northeast Corridor - the Washington-to-Boston route - that did not have a signal system known as positive train control, which can dictate speeds and slow trains around curves.
Mr. Sumwalt said positive train control could have prevented the crash. "Based on what we know right now," he told reporters at a news conference here, "we feel that had such a system been installed on this section of track, this accident would not have occurred."
Even without the system, rail safety experts said Amtrak locomotives have multiple systems to alert train operators to excess speed, with warning lights and sound alarms. Mr. Sumwalt said he did not know yet whether those systems had worked.
The train - Northeast Regional Train No. 188, from Washington to New York - was carrying 238 passengers and a five-member crew when it jumped the tracks shortly before 9:30 p.m. Tuesday while coming up on a sharp left turn at a spot not far from the site of a 1943 derailment that killed 79 people. The crash shut down train service between New York and Philadelphia, creating delays for business travelers and commuters, and immediately set off a debate in Washington about the nation's rail infrastructure - on the same day that the House Appropriations Committee rejected a funding increase for Amtrak.
Survivors - including former congressman, Patrick Murphy - described terrifying moments in which the train seemed to soar through the air before the locomotive and cars landed in a twisted, mangled, pretzel-like mess. Passengers said they saw blood and bodies everywhere as they struggled to escape.