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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak settles Philadelphia crash claims for $265 million


Amtrak has reached a $265 million settlement for pending claims in connection with a May 2015 train derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200 others.

The settlement, revealed yesterday in a federal court order in Philadelphia, is among the largest involving rail crashes, lawyers representing the plaintiffs told local news media.

Under the agreement, a federal judge will appoint two masters to evaluate the plaintiffs' claims to determine how the settlement should be divided.

"Amtrak appreciates the guidance and involvement of the Court in this matter. Because of the ongoing nature of the litigation Amtrak will have no further comment at this time," Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said in a prepared statement.

Last year, Congress raised the limit to $295 million from a $200 million cap on what Amtrak could pay in settlements involving crashes.

The Philadelphia crash occurred on May 12, 2015, when Amtrak Train No. 188 was traveling from Washington, D.C., to New York. The train had left the Philadelphia station with 258 people on board when it entered a curve traveling at 106 mph where the speed limit was 50 mph.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the accident occurred as a result of a loss of situational awareness by the train's engineer after his attention was diverted to an emergency involving another train.

The section of track where the crash occurred was not equipped with positive train control technology, the NTSB noted in its findings.

"It's widely understood that every person, no matter how conscientious and skilled, is fallible, which is why technology was developed to backstop human vulnerabilities," said NTSB Chairman Christopher Hart in a statement released in May. "Had positive train control been in place on that stretch of track, this entirely preventable tragedy would not have happened."

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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