One of the concerns to do with the proposed high speed rail project is safety. As mentioned in my letter to Council there have been a number of accidents that can provide lessons learned. Probably the most significant to us is the recent crash in Philadelphia.
The following is a summary of what took place.
On May 12, 2015, at 9:21 pm the northbound Amtrak passenger train #188 derailed, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The train had just entered the Frankford Junction curve at a speed of 106 mph where the speed is restricted to 50 mph. As the train entered the curve, the engineer applied the emergency brakes. Seconds later, the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derailed. Of the 250 passengers and eight Amtrak employees that were on board, eight passengers were killed and more than 200 others were transported to area hospitals. Damage is estimated by Amtrak in excess of $9.2 million.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has just issued a report to do with the Philadelphia crash. The report does not provide an explanation as to why the train was traveling so fast but it does appear as if the following were not factors.
- Engineer Competence
The driver was properly trained, had plenty of experience and was well respected.
- Substances and Health
There is no evidence of any type of substance abuse; the driver was in good health.
The engineer’s cell phone was switched off and packed in a bag.
The train was not hit by rocks or bullets. (It did pass a stopped commuter train that had had its windshield shattered by a thrown rock the previous night and the window of an Amtrak Acela train had been seriously damaged just a few days earlier.)
- Track Integrity
The day before the track had been inspected — there were no anomalies.