Amtrak Train Derails


Amtrak train thrown off course. Credit: (Reuters/Lucas Jackson)

“It is an absolute, disastrous mess,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said in a press release. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 was traveling from Washington DC to New York carrying 238 passengers when it derailed in Philadelphia at around 9:30pm on Tuesday, May 12th. The train’s impact tore the cars apart, sending seven cars flying off the tracks and turning the engine into a mangled mess. At least 8 people are dead and 146 have been injured. The engineer operating the train, Brandon Bostian, hit full emergency brakes immediately before the train derailed.

Hospitals have treated over 200 patients, and fortunately most are in good condition. Currently, five are still in medical care but are expected to survive. The passengers had injuries such as rib fractures from falling objects and collisions. The most obvious cause for this destruction is speed and the National Transportation Safety Board said that preliminary data show that the train went over 100 mph during the derailment though the speed limit for the curve is only 50 mph.

Investigators at the National Transportation Safety Board have noticed that the train’s windshield may have either been hit by a rock or shot at. However, at this point, the train engineer does not remember anything damaging the train before the crash. “Nevertheless, we do have this mark on the windshield of the Amtrak train, so we certainly want to trace that lead down,” board member Robert Sumwalt told CNN.

After this crash, have realized that it is time to step up the country’s transportation infrastructure. Although the accident may be caused by human error, the crash shows that the railroad tracks do not support high speed travel. “It’s an extremely heavily used stretch of track,” transportation analyst Matthew L. Wald said. “They have trouble keeping it in a state of good repair.” According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, roughly 3.6 trillion dollars of repair is needed for the nation’s infrastructure to become completely safe, and this derailment re-evokes the debate in Congress over infrastructure spending.

The Amtrak Northeast Corridor line resumed on Monday, May 18th, and repairs on the railroad framework have been made to improve safety. Also, more speed limit signs and a speed control system has been placed near the crash site.

The country is devastated over the tragedy, and our hearts are with the families of the victims. This is the ninth Amtrak derailment this year.