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United States investigators say deadly Amtrak train crash preventable

United States investigators say deadly Amtrak train crash preventable

The accident happened Sunday morning, as the Amtrak train carried passengers from NY to Miami.

A maintenance crew working on a railway in SC on Sunday had disabled its signal system to install new technology meant to prevent crashes when an Amtrak train slammed into a freight locomotive on the track, killing two people, federal investigators said on Monday.

The crew that parked the CSX freight train on the side track and left the padlocked switch in position to divert trains from the main line were interviewed Monday, along with the dispatcher keeping up with trains in the area as the signals weren't working, Sumwalt said.

Automated signals that could have warned the Amtrak train to stop before reaching the switch sending it down a side track were turned off as workers installed the GPS-based PTC system, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt.

Amtrak is placing the blame for a collision in SC that left two of its employees dead on the railroad operating the unmanned freight train hit by Amtrak.

"Nobody was panicking, people were in shock more than anything", he said. The Amtrak train was moving at about 59 miles per hour when the switch rerouted it to the right. "You knew we'd hit something or we'd derailed", Pettaway said over the phone.




Steve Shelton, director for emergency preparedness at Palmetto Health System, where 62 passengers were hospitalized, said Monday that six patients remained there. Investigators say many deadly US train crashes could have been averted if the system was in place. And 116 people were taken to four hospitals, according to the governor.

She said Amtrak staff helped them off the train and checked to make sure the passengers were OK.

He said federal investigators must "determine what went so horribly wrong and they'll determine what needs to be done so it doesn't happen again".

The technology, known as positive train control, or PTC, is in operation on only 45 percent of tracks owned by freight railroads and 24 percent of tracks owned by passenger railways, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The normal signals - which are similar to traffic lights - that are created to warn engineers of approaching danger were shut off during the time of the accident, he said.

"Any time you have anything that happens like that, you expect more fatalities". Yet White House budget cuts targeting Amtrak amplify a passenger-rail paradox: an industry that runs on kinetic energy is challenged by political and bureaucratic inertia. Under signal suspension rules, the track speed is 59 miles per hour.

The train was en route from NY to Miami with a 147 people on board when it slammed into an empty CSX freight train that was parked on a side track.


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