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Rail News: Amtrak

NTSB opens investigation docket for fatal Amtrak crash

The Amtrak locomotive involved in the crash.
Photo –

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened the docket for its investigation into the April 2016 Amtrak accident that killed two maintenance workers repairing track near Chester, Penn.

The incident occurred April 3, 2016, when an Amtrak train struck a roadway maintenance backhoe, and the debris struck and damaged the passenger cars. The backhoe operator and supervisor died, and 41 people were transported to local hospitals.

Although the NTSB has not yet determined the accident's cause, the documents note confusion among the track maintenance officials and dispatchers over why the train was traveling on track that they believed to be closed for repair but was not.

The documents also indicate that the Amtrak train engineer and the two track workers who died tested positive for drugs.

The train was carrying eight passenger cars, a cafe car and baggage car at the time of the incident.

The docket contains information that's being used in the NTSB investigation, which is expected to wrap up this year.

According to a review by the Philadelphia Inquirer, the docket shows problems at many levels within Amtrak that may have contributed to the crash.

Those problems included miscommunication between site foreman and between foremen and dispatchers about which safety practices were active when workers were on the track; the lack of a safety briefing for on-site workers; the lack of shunts used to alert dispatchers to workers on the track; and a lack of planning by Amtrak managers overseeing the maintenance work.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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