July 13, 2015 |
As it recovers from its worst accident on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak faces frequent management turnover and structural change,in addition tochronic financial and political challenges. Former Amtrak executives say the turmoil at the top in recent years has disrupted railroad management and distracted employees from their daily duties. Steven Ditmeyer, a former Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) executive and now an adjunct professor in railway management at Michigan State University, said: "Rapid changes in management are never good, unless they're aimed at getting rid of nonfunctioning people.
July 10, 2015 |
The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday urged Amtrak to install "crash- and fire-protected inward- and outward-facing audio and image recorders" on all locomotives. The recommendation came in response to the May 12 derailment of Amtrak Train 188 in Port Richmond that killed eight passengers and injured 200. Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman said last month that Amtrak would install inward-facing video cameras in all of its 300 locomotives, starting with 70 Siemens locomotives now being put into service on the Northeast Corridor.
July 1, 2015 |
The survivors of two men killed in the May 12 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia filed wrongful-death lawsuits Monday. The widow of Robert Gildersleeve Jr. alleged that Amtrak's negligence caused last month's derailment, which injured scores and killed eight passengers, including the Maryland executive. A second suit was filed Monday by Jacqueline Mercita Gaines of Plainsboro, N.J., over the death of her husband, James Marshall Gaines, an Associated Press video-software architect. Gaines, a 48-year-old father of two, died of a severe chest wound at Temple University Hospital a few hours after the crash.
June 28, 2015 |
Sen. Robert P. Casey (D., Pa.) and the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce called Friday for the restoration of $242 million for Amtrak that the House cut from next year's federal budget. Casey and Lisa Crutchfield, the chamber's senior vice president of advocacy and public affairs, said Amtrak was an important economic engine for the region, critical for job growth and economic development. They urged the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on transportation, housing, and urban development to include $1.4 billion for Amtrak in the budget for the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. That would be about the same as the $1.39 billion provided to Amtrak this year and higher than the $1.14 billion in the budget approved June 9 by the House.
June 26, 2015
ISSUE | STORM DAMAGE Amtrak planning The stranding of Amtrak passengers for hours Tuesday night in Chester County on a train from Harrisburg appears to be an extra helping of Amtrak incompetence ("Half-million lose power as storms rip through," June 24). There is no special obstacle along the tracks in Chester County to de-boarding passengers and putting them on a bus or, at a minimum, delivering relief supplies. Or even sending a diesel to drag them to Philly. Amtrak's persistent refusal to prepare contingency plans for reasonably anticipated emergencies stands in contrast to cruise ship operators, who are required to have lifeboat drills.
June 19, 2015 |
WASHINGTON - Passenger rail operators working to install an upgraded safety system would get priority for federal grants and loans under a bill introduced Thursday by Sens. Cory Booker (D., N.J.) and Roger Wicker (R., Miss.), the top lawmakers on a subcommittee overseeing rail lines. The grant tweaks are part of a measure providing four years of increased funding for Amtrak, and come after the derailment of Train 188 in Philadelphia brought new attention to Positive Train Control, an electronic monitoring system that national safety advocates say could have prevented the crash.
June 19, 2015 |
Northeast states and transit agencies - including SEPTA and NJ Transit - are being asked to pay more to maintain the heavily traveled rail corridor between Washington and Boston that they share with Amtrak. The new cost-sharing plan for the Northeast Corridor is due to take effect Oct. 1, although Massachusetts has objected. That state is upset about its higher bill and the prospect that the plan "may mark the beginning of a devolution of federal responsibility down to the states.
June 17, 2015 |
Two newlyweds who were injured in the crash of Amtrak Train 188 on May 12 are the latest to sue the rail line and engineer Brandon Bostian in federal district court in Philadelphia, alleging that reckless operation of the train caused its derailment. Declan MacFarland, 34, and Kathryn Varnum, 33, were on their way to New York from Varnum's parents' home in northern Virginia when the train derailed. MacFarland had scheduled a job interview for the following day, and Varnum, an employee of a public relations firm, had intended to confer with a client.
June 12, 2015 |
The engineer of Amtrak Train 188 was not talking or texting on his cellphone before the train's deadly derailment at Frankford Junction on May 12, the National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday. The finding supported statements by the lawyer for engineer Brandon Bostian that the engineer's cellphone was turned off and stowed in his bag during the trip. However, NTSB vice chair Tho "Bella" Dinh-Zarr told a Senate committee Wednesday that investigators have not determined whether the engineer was using an app or the phone for other purposes.
June 11, 2015 |
In its latest response to the deadly May 12 Amtrak wreck at Frankford Junction in Philadelphia, the Federal Railroad Administration urged passenger railroads to better control train speed approaching tight curves and bridges. The safety advisory on Tuesday recommended that railroads identify locations where the speed limit drops by more than 20 m.p.h. entering the curve or bridge. Railroads should install automatic-braking circuitry at those locations to slow trains if the engineer doesn't, the FRA said.