Review of rail safety needed


Investigators are trying to figure out if human-error caused the violent train crash in SC on Sunday that killed two local men and injured 116 others.

A freight train passing through went barreling down the side track and slammed into the parked train, killing nine people, majority millworkers choked by chorine gas that leaked from a damaged tanker auto. Early Sunday morning the train slammed into an empty CSX freight train, killing Michael Kempf and conductor Michael Cella.

Sumwalt said that positive train control – a GPS-based safety system that can automatically slow or stop trains – could have prevented the accident.

A deadly Amtrak crash in December near Seattle that killed three occurred on a section of track that did not have PTC operating and could have prevented the derailment, the NTSB said. At a news conference Monday, Sumwalt said the Amtrak train was traveling under the speed limit at 50 miles per hour, it sounded its horn and its emergency brakes were applied before it collided locomotive-to-locomotive with the CSX train.

The Cayce train wreck, in some ways, is similar to a disastrous Norfolk Southern train crash in Graniteville 13 years ago. Now the AP reports that crews were actually installing it when the accident occurred.

In 2017, derailments accounted for almost one in three Amtrak train accidents, according to data from the FRA.

The third fatal Amtrak crash in less than two months has thrown a spotlight on delays in installing congressionally mandated technology created to slow trains automatically and prevent collisions.

Anderson said the SC accident would have been prevented by PTC. He said he was suddenly awakened as he felt the train suddenly leave the tracks as it hit a curve. However, some similar systems do monitor grade crossings, like along a section of Amtrak rail in MI.

CSX, which operates throughout the eastern USA, has already spent more than $1.2 billion on PTC systems, according to congressional testimony by company executive Frank Lonegro in 2015. Federal investigators interviewed CSX train crew members on Monday, while Amtrak personnel would be interviewed Tuesday, he said.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation says they are doing what they can to keep the state’s roads safe.

In 2015, former Federal Railroad Administration chief Sarah Feinberg “lectured the railroads and said, “Don’t wait until 2018 [to fully implement PTC, ] get going on it now, ‘ ” Ditmeyer says”. A North Carolina couple was killed January 14 when their SUV was hit by an Amtrak train; police say it appeared the driver of the SUV tried to go around lowered crossing gates.

She said they woke up to the crash.


“I thought it was a little odd”, Larkin said of the request.

Palmetto Health updates patients' status from Amtrak train accident