Another Amtrak Train Crash Near Philadelphia, Killing Two and Injuring Dozens

Over the weekend, another fatal and possibly preventable Amtrak train derailment occurred near Philadelphia, when a passenger train carrying hundreds of individuals crashed into a backhoe parked on the rails, killing two construction workers and hospitalizing dozens of passengers. 

The passenger train crash occurred on Sunday morning, April 3, when Amtrak Train 89, carrying 341 passengers and several crew members, slammed into a backhoe occupied by two construction workers that was parked on the tracks, according to an Amtrak press release.

The massive collision killed both construction workers and hospitalized 35 of the train’s occupants, including seven crew members and the locomotive engineer.

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According to initial reports, Amtrak train 89 was heading south along the busy Northeast corridor, from New York City to Savannah, Georgia. The train struck a construction backhoe that was on the tracks around 8:00 a.m. Sunday morning, causing a horrific crash that smashed the windshield and derailed the lead car, and caused passengers to be jolted from their seats. The two construction workers who were struck and killed by the train were believed to be performing regular maintenance or clearing debris on and around the tracks, due to high winds the previous night.

Service was temporarily halted after the accident, but resumed in a limited fashion on Monday.

Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) spokesman Matthew Lehner said federal investigators were dispatched from both his agency and from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to evaluate the scene and recover the train’s event data recorder. It is hoped the recorder will show the moments leading up to the crash, along with information regarding the train’s speed and whether an attempt to stop was made.

NTSB investigator Ryan Frigo said the train event data recorder was sent to the agency’s laboratory in Washington, D.C. on Sunday afternoon to be evaluated. Frigo stated that the investigation is ongoing and there are many unknowns at this time that the information collected on the data recorder will reveal.

It is unknown whether the conductor was speeding or whether he failed to attempt to stop the train. The investigation will also investigate why there was no communication between the railroad conductor and the construction crews when the train was scheduled to be passing through the area. It is still unknown whether the conductor was previously alerted about the workers or whether such a warning system exists.

Accounts from passengers aboard the derailed Amtrak train include depictions of the sound of steel colliding and flames shooting into the air as the train shook vigorously for about a minute before coming to a complete stop.

The accident was the first of three train crashes that occurred that day, with another Amtrak train striking an individual trespassing on the tracks while the train was traveling through Bucks County, Pennsylvania later that evening. Around 4:00 p.m. Sunday another Amtrak train struck and killed a 28-year-old who was sitting in their vehicle at a roadway crossing in Somonauk, Illinois.

The Amtrak 89 collision on the Northeast corridor Sunday morning occurred about 20 miles south of the scene of one of Amtrak’s most deadly railway accidents.

On May 12, 2015, eight people were killed and 43 were injured when the 188 Northeast Regional Train derailed in Philadelphia, carrying 238 passengers and several crew members. That crash occurred at a dangerous bend in the tracks, when the train entered the turn at double the 50 mph speed limit. The federal investigation determined that the train had reached speeds of up 106 mph just before approaching the bend, before pulling the emergency brake at 102 mph.


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