Amtrak Failed To Follow Safety Rules Before Crash, Say Feds

RR crossing freight train

Amtrak did not follow safety rules prior to the crash that killed two people last week in Chester, PA, according to a federal directive issued on Wednesday.

The statement came from the Federal Railway Administration, which is investigating the crash that took place on Sunday, April 3. The FRA has expressed concerns specifically about rules governing the behavior of personnel working on the tracks. A top official from the administration stated that the rules broken were both internal to Amtrak and part of federal regulations. Sources familiar with the investigation say that a lapse in communication during the shift change was at the heart of the incident.

The crash involved a collision between one of Amtrak’s trains (headed from New York City to Savannah, GA) and a backhoe that was on the tracks at the time. Equipment recorded the crash, which took place at 7:58 am, up until seconds before impact. The train was traveling at 106 miles per hour when it hit the piece of construction equipment, killing one man identified as the operator of the backhoe and a pedestrian, also named as an employee, who was nearby.

Amtrak does not dispute FRA statement

Representatives from Amtrak have not disputed the FRA directive.  The president and CEO of the company, Joseph Boardman offered that Amtrak would be implementing an “internal compliance program” to offer more safety for their workers.  A number of statutes in place already on both the federal and the corporate level are designed to prevent workers and equipment from being on tracks that are in use by trains. Boardman added that “The FRA direction helps us impart the seriousness of following our rules to prevent accidents, injuries and death.”

The FRA will be conducting an investigation at the same time that an independent analysis is carried out by the National Transportation Safety Board. Boardman said that Amtrak needed to maintain standard operational procedures like other high risk locations and stressed that “Amtrak is a safe and secure railroad and we will do everything we can to make it even better.”

Liability issues in railway accidents

There are standards for operating commercial trains and overseeing railway operations that engineers and employees in general must follow.  These include the safe operation of the train itself on the part of conductor and crew, protocol for the maintenance of the track and surrounding areas, and maintenance of the train equipment itself.  Railroad crossing accidents that occur due to a breakdown in any of these areas and that result in death or injury for passengers or other employees may be the subject of a civil lawsuit. Those injured, or families of those who lost lives, may be able to file a personal injury lawsuit against Amtrak, its employees, or other parties (such as equipment manufacturers) in order to recover losses such as medical and rehabilitation costs, lost wages, or wrongful death.

Victims of train accidents and their families should consider hiring an experienced attorney who can evaluate the nature of the accident and determine if legal action is warranted. To schedule a no-cost case review with an experienced personal injury lawyer in New York, please call The Sanders Firm at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY. Resources

  1., Feds: Amtrak failed to follow safety rules in fatal train crash
  2., Victims in fatal Amtrak collision ID’d, NTSB releases findings