Amtrak train 'on wrong track' in fatal SC collision

Frederick Owens
February 8, 2018

A crew on the freight train had moved the switch to drive it from one side track - where it unloaded 34 train cars of automobiles - to the side track where it was parked.

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt says that system is created to prevent crashes like the one early Sunday near Cayce (CAY-see) that killed the Amtrak train's conductor and engineer and sent 116 of the 145 other people on board the New York-to-Miami train to the hospital.

Amid the renewed calls for action, Schiavo said it's well-past time for positive train control to become a reality for all of the country's passenger rail systems.

Sumwalt said the team of NTSB investigators will look at video from a train (dashboard-type) camera and get the black boxes (event data recorders) of both trains to use in the investigation. "Key to this investigation is learning why it was lined that way".

During a conference call with reporters, Amtrak President Robert Anderson said Sunday's crash underscores the importance of meeting the year-end deadline for widespread implementation. Cella, 36 of Orange Park, Fla., the train's conductor.

Michael Kempf, who was the engineer on the train, and Michael Cella, who was a conductor. Richard Blumenthal said "inaction is inexcusable". "Our first responsibility is to take care of the victims' families and those in the train when the accident happened".

Federal investigators are trying to figure out why a switch was in the wrong position, sending an Amtrak train into a CSX freight train and killing a conductor and an engineer and injuring 116 others in SC.

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Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were in Cayce, South Carolina, where Amtrak Train 91, carrying 139 passengers and eight crew to Miami from NY, hit the CSX Corp freight train at about 2:35 a.m. local time (0735 GMT) and derailed near the state capital Columbia.

"It's becoming nearly like an epidemic for Amtrak", said Najmedin Meshkati, a University of Southern California engineering professor who has studied positive train control. One auto in the middle of the Amtrak train was snapped in half, forming a V off to one side of the tracks.

"They don't want to spend the money to upgrade the infrastructure and make it safe", Callanan said. Investigators are expected to be at the crash site for five to seven days. An NTSB official declined to say if the accident was the fault of CSX, but noted that CSX is responsible for maintaining proper track position. On its website, the company says it's also been limited by lengthy review processes needed to implement the system on 15,000 miles of track.

The system that operates the train signals in the area was down, so CSX dispatchers were operating them manually.

McMaster said he had been told the Amtrak train was traveling at about 59 miles (95 km) per hour upon impact. "My thoughts and prayers are with all of the victims involved in this morning's train collision in SC", he tweeted. "Thank you to our incredible First Responders for the work they've done". There were eight crew members and approximately 140 passengers on board.

Amtrak set up a passenger information line at 1-800-523-9101. That accident in rural Virginia killed one person in the truck and injured six others.

Adam Myrick with the Lexington County Sheriff's Department says injuries to other passengers range from small scratches to severe broken bones.

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