Early Report on Fatal Philly Amtrak Crash: No Equipment Problems Before Tragedy


A preliminary report released Tuesday by federal crash investigators found no anomalies with the braking system of the train or the signals and track at the site of the May 12 Amtrak derailment that killed eight passengers and injured 200 other passengers and crew.

The National Transportation Safety Board previously noted the train had been traveling at 106 mph before the emergency brake system engaged. Data from the train’s event recorder “indicated that the engineer activated the emergency brakes seconds before the derailment,” the report said.

Amtrak train 188 was traveling northbound from Washington to New York City on May 12 when it derailed at 9:21 p.m. north of Philadelphia. The seven-car and one locomotive train had just entered the Frankford Junction curve, where the speed limit is 50 mph.

NTSB said it is examining the Amtrak engineer’s cell phone and cell phone records to determine whether the engineer made any calls, texted or sent messages while operating the train.

“Although the records appear to indicate that calls were made, text messages sent, and data used on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated,” the report said. “Investigators are in the process of correlating the time stamps in the engineer’s cell phone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video.”

NTSB is also investigating whether vandals threw rocks or other objects at passing trains around the time of the derailment. The Amtrak 188 locomotive windshield has impact damage, but investigators have not determined whether the damage was from a thrown object or the crash, the report said. NTSB and FBI found no evidence of damage caused by a gun, the report said.

Amtrak estimates the damage from the crash at $9.2 million.

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SOURCE: Donna Leinwand Leger and Bart Jansen
USA Today

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