Two rail advocates killed in Amtrak train derailment

Saturday, 23 Dec, 2017

The NTSB will determine a probable cause of the crash in early 2018. Federal investigators say they are looking into whether the engineer was distracted.

A Metro-North train crashed in New York City in 2013, killing four people, when an engineer with sleep apnea dozed off.

Dinh-Zarr also said the engineer did not manually activate the emergency brake, which went off automatically when the train derailed.

Bella Dinh-Zarr, a member of the National Transportation Safety Board, which is leading the inquiry into the accident, confirmed that the train had been doing 80mph in a 30mph zone, according... She said distraction is one of the most looked at priorities, and investigators will be looking at cellphone records of all employees.

"This is a situation where the engineer should have been starting the braking application probably a minute before they reached that curve", said Allan Zarembski, a civil engineering professor who directs the rail engineering and safety program at the University of Delaware. The information so far "seems to suggest that there was an operator issue here", he said.

He has said putting multiple crew members in a locomotive was "more of a distraction" than a safeguard.

The $181m seven-year project has upgraded a 28·9 km section of a former BNSF freight route to bypass a long, slow section of the existing coastal route, permitting the extension of ST's Coaster commuter rail service to Lakewood and shortening Amtrak journey times.

Federal law requires railroads, by the end of 2018, to have positive train control, which automatically slows trains if they are exceeding speed limits or approaching risky conditions.

CBS News was slammed by critics on Twitter for reporting that the third victim that was named in this week's deadly train derailment was a convicted sex offender and used it in its headline. Late Wednesday Washington transportation officials said passenger service along the rail line where the Amtrak train derailed won't resume service until the advanced safety systems are in place. It was not clear how familiar the engineer was with that stretch of track, or whether that played a role in the crash. The original deadline was the end of 2015, but Congress extended implementation until the end of 2-18, due to the up to $22.5 billion price tag and the complication. See slideshow of crash here.

The accident occurred as the train was making its inaugural run on a new, slightly quicker route between Seattle and Portland, Oregon, with 86 people aboard, 80 of them passengers, Amtrak said.