Third Amtrak Accident in Less Than a Week Raises Serious Questions


Despite calling itself a “safe and reliable transporter,” Amtrak is facing serious safety questions after three accidents occurred on their trains in less than a week.

“Accidents are never one thing,” Mark V. Rosenker, a former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said to The New York Times. “They’re a chain of events which come together which create a catastrophic result.”

James E. Hall, another former chairman of the NTSB, added that “Amtrak has put a question in people’s minds.”

In the latest incident, a train traveling at about 125 miles per hour broke apart as it was speeding through Maryland on Tuesday morning, the New York Post reported. The 2150 Acela was traveling from Washington D.C. to New York when the train fell apart at about 6:30 a.m.

There were no injuries, according to Amtrak officials, but a picture shows that the connector between two trains was broken and separated.

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“Someone could have been walking through the train when that happened and fell to their death,” a source told the New York Post.

Amtrak implemented Positive Train Control technology, “a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements,” on some parts of the rail network in the Northeast Corridor in 2015 in order to increase train safety and prevent trains from derailing.

This accident happened just two days after an Amtrak train collided with a CSX freight train early Sunday in South Carolina, leaving two dead and over 100 injured, according to officials. The two individuals who died were Amtrak personnel.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, Amtrak 91 was en route from New York to Miami when it collided head-on with the freight train around 2:35 a.m. just outside The Palmetto State’s capital.

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As noted by Fox News, this area of the track features several spots where areas of track split off to allow freight cars to be loaded and unloaded. It is unknown whether both trains were moving during the crash as well as what led to the collision.

“It appears to me that the CSX was on the track it was supposed to be on, a switch track,” McMaster stated. “They weren’t supposed to be meeting like that, that’s what it appears to me.”

Less than a week earlier, an Amtrak train was involved in a crash with a dump truck while transporting GOP members and some of their staff from President Donald Trump’s State of the Union address at the Capitol Building to a retreat in West Virginia on Wednesday.

According to Fox News, the dump truck may have been stuck on the train tracks, causing the crash to occur.

“Some members were thrown from their seats,” according to Fox, and Kansas Rep. Dr. Roger Marshall said in a tweet that there were injuries aboard the train.

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Investigations of all three incidents have been launched.

After the series of recent accidents, Amtrak’s chief executive and former Delta Air Lines executive Richard Anderson said that there needs to be a refocus on rail safety.

The chief executive noted that there is a backlog of “stay-in-good-repair investment,” but the required upgrades require pulling up railroad tracks and inconveniences such as reduced schedules. However, the updates are exactly what the company needs.

“We’ve got to bring the same sort of focus and safety cultures that you have in the airlines to the railroad industry in America,” Anderson, said.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith