July 5, 2016 |
Structural failures found in a third of SEPTA's train fleet are forcing more than 100 cars off the tracks indefinitely. Fixes could take the rest of the summer, but riders who account for 150,000 trips on Regional Rail each day will likely face crowded trains and big delays. "Unfortunately, it will be rough on our railroad customers," said Jeff Knueppel, SEPTA's general manager. The flaw, a crack in a weight-bearing beam on a train car's undercarriage, has shown up in almost all of SEPTA's Silverliner V's, the newest trains in its Regional Rail fleet.
April 8, 2016 |
Federal agencies have repeatedly advised railroads to use backup safety precautions for workers on the rails after accidents hauntingly similar to Sunday's fatal Amtrak crash in Chester. Sources with knowledge of the crash that killed two have said a communications lapse during a shift change contributed to workers' staying on the rails while safety precautions designed to route trains away from them were canceled. This exact scenario, according to a 2014 Federal Railroad Administration safety advisory, has been an ongoing problem in railroad work.
January 27, 2016 |
The public will get an additional two weeks to comment on the long-term plans for the Northeast rail corridor that propose major changes for the route's path through Philadelphia. The comment period for the draft environmental impact statement was extended from Jan. 30 to Feb. 15 due to heavy interest from the public, Federal Railroad Administration officials said. The NEC Future long term plan offers three visions for the 457-mile corridor between Washington D.C. and Boston, and among the proposals are Amtrak service to Philadelphia International Airport and Center City.
August 19, 2015 |
A rail-safety expert recommended Monday that Pennsylvania step up track inspections and press railroads to increase the number of electronic trackside monitors to reduce the risk of oil-train derailments. Allan M. Zarembski, a University of Delaware expert commissioned by Gov. Wolf to explore responses to a massive increase in oil-train traffic, made 27 recommendations on ways the state and railroads can reduce the risk of a catastrophic derailment. Zarembski acknowledged that the state has limited leverage over federally regulated railroads, and that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the industry have already moved to upgrade safety standards, including new railcar rules.
July 24, 2015 |
The Federal Railroad Administration on Wednesday reminded railroads transporting crude oil that they must notify state emergency response commissions of the expected movement of trains hauling Bakken crude oil through individual states. In May, the Obama administration had said it would let a 2014 notification rule lapse as part of new regulations on oil trains. Following a backlash from communities, states, and some in Congress, the administration said it would leave the notification rule in place.
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.
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.
May 28, 2015 |
With Philadelphia trying to become a major energy hub, the wall of secrecy surrounding the condition of tracks and bridges used by trains carrying highly flammable crude oil through neighborhoods, behind schools, and past commerce centers, must come down. Every week, about 150 million gallons of crude move through the region, but the people who would be most affected by an accident have no way of knowing whether the tracks or bridges used by oil freight cars are safe. More than 700,000 people in the region live within a half-mile of rail lines, The Inquirer's Paul Nussbaum reported Sunday.
May 18, 2015 |
The Federal Railroad Administration ordered Amtrak on Saturday to immediately install an electronic braking system at the Frankford curve that - if it had been in place last week - likely would have prevented the train derailment that killed eight people and injured more than 200. Amtrak officials said the system would be in place by the time the damaged line is reopened, perhaps as early as Tuesday, and "most certainly will be safer. " Service between Philadelphia and New York remains suspended through Monday, affecting thousands of commuters.
May 15, 2015 |
When you get right down to it, it was a question of physics. At the site of the Amtrak derailment on Tuesday, the track had a fairly significant curve. Imagine a giant circle with a diameter of nearly 2,900 feet, more than a half-mile. The track's path would trace the outline of that circle. The track also had a "superelevation" of five inches, meaning the outer rail was five inches higher than the inner rail. Given those parameters, a locomotive pulling seven Amtrak-size cars could safely travel up to about 55 m.p.h., said Pennsylvania State University engineer Steve Dillen, who performed a rough calculation at The Inquirer's request.