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Rail News: Amtrak
Investigators examining Amtrak engineer's cell phone records
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators have completed most of their on-scene documentation at the site of last week's fatal derailment of an Amtrak train near Philadelphia, the agency announced in its latest update of the ongoing investigation.
The NTSB's examination of the signal systems has revealed no malfunctions, and the agency has possession of the Amtrak engineer's cell phone, NTSB officials said yesterday in a press release.
Although phone records indicate the phone was used for calls and text messages on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet determined whether any phone activity occurred while the train was in operation.
To determine whether the cell phone was in use, investigators have begun the process of correlating the time stamps in the engineer's cell phone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video, officials said.
Amtrak prohibits engineers to use cell phones while they are operating trains.
Additionally, investigators have interviewed the engineer of a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) train that had stopped after being struck by an object that shattered the SEPTA locomotive's windshield. The SEPTA engineer said that the Amtrak engineer announced on the radio, "Hot track rail two," to let him know that the Amtrak train was about to pass the stopped SEPTA train. The SEPTA engineer said he saw Amtrak Train 188 pass on track 2 and noticed nothing unusual.
Interviews with passengers and emergency responders will continue over the next several weeks, NTSB officials said. Amtrak has provided the NTSB with the engineer’s training and employment records. He had been operating trains in the Washington-Boston Northeast Corridor for about three years. He had been specifically assigned the Washington-New York segment of the corridor for several weeks.
Also, an accident investigation webpage has been created where related materials can be accessed.
Eight passengers were killed and 200 more were injured when the train derailed May 12 shortly after leaving a Philadelphia station. The NTSB has determined the train was traveling twice the posted speed limit as it approached a sharp curve, where it derailed.
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