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ReutersInvestigators Wednesday examine the wreckage of an Amtrak derailment in north Philadelphia the night before.
ReutersEmergency workers Wednesday examine the wreckage of a derailed Amtrak train in north Philadelphia Tuesday night. Seven people were killed and scores were injured when the New York City-bound train derailed on a sharp curve at Frankford Junction in north Philadelphia.
But if, as reported Wednesday by federal investigators, the train was traveling faster than 100 mph when it wrecked, it was going substantially faster than allowed even on the straight track immediately before the curve. That stretch south of the curve has a speed limit of 70 or 80 mph, depending on which of four main tracks a train is using, while the speed limit on all tracks through the curve is 50. On Labor Day 1943, a Pennsylvania Railroad train packed with 541 passengers derailed on the same curve, killing 79 passengers, many of them servicemen on leave during World War II. Most of the United States’ highest railroad accident tolls date to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when carriages were built mainly of wood, stoves provided heat and safety systems were primitive. The Conrail locomotives had passed a red signal and merged onto the track upon which the 100-mph Amtrak train was approaching. Its engineer would later serve four years in prison for vehicular manslaughter and lying to investigators.
After a deadly 2008 collision involving commuter and freight trains blamed on the commuter engineer’s on-duty text messaging, Congress passed and President George W.
While that law required installation by this year, that deadline is virtually certain to go unmet even by Amtrak, which as a government-funded, quasi-public institution might reasonably be expected to be first to comply on the Northeast Corridor, most of which it owns. The Block News Alliance consists of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio.
An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015, killing eight and injuring more than 200. Emergency personnel gather near the scene of a deadly train derailment, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia.
The National Transportation Safety Board released its preliminary report into the Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia that killed eight people and sent more than 200 passengers to the hospital on May 12. The report confirmed the train was traveling at 106 mph as it hit the Frankford Junction curve in an area where the speed limit is 50 mph.
Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.


The NTSB is still trying to determine whether the engineer, Brandon Bostian, used his phone to text or call anyone while he was operating the train. It's also still unclear whether a rock may have hit the train's windshield before it derailed. The report reiterates the FBI's previous claim that there is no evidence the train was shot at with a gun. The crash set off a political back-and-forth between Democrats who supported more funding to make sure Amtrak trains are safe, and Republicans who said spending more money wouldn't have prevented the derailment.
The NTSB previously said that positive train control technology could have prevented the accident.
Congress has mandated that tracks throughout the rail system be equipped with positive train control by the end of 2015, but, at the time of the crash, it was not installed at the Frankford Junction curve. Days after the crash, Federal Railroad Administration spokesman Kevin Thompson said the automatic train control system is fully operational in both directions where the collision took place. Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. Emergency personnel work the scene of a deadly train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. Emergency personnel help a passenger at the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car after a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia.
Rescue crews and investigators inspect the site of an Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia on May 13, 2015. Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Rescuers work around derailed carriages of an Amtrak train in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on May 13, 2015.
Passengers injured in an Amtrak train derailment who were bused from to New York from Philadelphia, walk through Penn Station May 13, 2015 in New York. Holmesburg Junction train station, located along its Trenton line (Northeast Corridor) where the former PRR Bustleton industrial branch joins the main line.
The scene of the Amtrak crash near Philadelphia has been described as a "devastating scene," after at least 8 people were killed when Train 188 derailed Tuesday night.


1, 2013, in which a Metro North commuter train entered a 30-mph curve at close to 82 mph and derailed, killing four passengers. That crash was blamed not on speed but, rather, on a failed journal bearing that caused a dining car’s axle to lock up. But the locomotive leading the train was among Amtrak’s newest, delivered just last year at the start of a complete replacement of the electric engines used in the busy corridor between Washington and Boston. Forty-seven people aboard the train were killed when it derailed on the misaligned track and plunged into Big Bayou Canot. The Conrail crew, which later tested positive for marijuana, had failed to notice that an on-board alarm, which should have sounded if the locomotive passed a signal inappropriately, had been disabled by a previous crew. Bush signed legislation requiring major rail lines to install Positive Train Control systems that would include such speed control. The Amtrak train, headed to New York City, derailed and crashed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, killing at least six people and injuring dozens of others. The engineer applied the emergency brakes "seconds before" the train derailed, according to the report.
The report said the windshield had "impact damage," but it was not known if that damage came from a rock or other object, or if it happened after the train crashed. At least five people have been killed and about 50 others injured Tuesday night when a passenger train derailed in the U.S. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and tipped over in Philadelphia on Tuesday night, mangling the front of it, tearing the cars apart and killing several people. The train was heading from Washington to New York when it went off the track in the Port Richmond neighborhood of Philadelphia. The Philadelphia transit system's largest union went on strike early Tuesday, stalling the city's bus, subway and trolley operations and forcing commuters to scramble to find other ways to get to their destinations. The strike by Transport Workers Union Local 234 will all but cripple a transit system that averages more than 928,000 trips each weekday.



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