WASHINGTON – As federal investigators were sifting through the wreckage of a deadly Philadelphia train crash, members of the U.S. House of Representatives voted to cut funding to the passenger rail service.
Investigators determined the train, owned by the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (also known as Amtrak), was speeding around a curve at 106 miles per hour. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said it was traveling at more than twice the speed limit for that area.
Meanwhile in Washington, the House approved an appropriations bill that cut Amtrak funding by $260 million.
A report issued by the Amtrak Inspector General in 2012 concluded the railway would need funding like this to meet a late-2015 federal safety deadline. Amtrak is required to complete installation of Positive Train Control by the end of the year.
Train accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Cellino & Barnes said the plan to implement Positive Train Control could be a safety feature that would save lives.
“Positive Train Control would use a complex network of computers and GPS to safely navigate the railways,” train accident attorney Ross Cellino said. “These safety features could automatically apply the brakes if the computers detect a train is going too fast before going around a curve.”
In a 2013 NTSB hearing, the Federal Railroad Administration said acquisition and installation of Positive Train Control would cost Amtrak an estimated $875 million and billions of dollars in additional expenses for the next 20 years.
“Nearly half of all train accidents are due to human error,” Cellino said. “Without additional safety features, every train could be just human error away from another accident.”
Amtrak has said it is “committed to meeting the requirement of positive train control” and will have it completely installed in the Northeast Corridor “by the end of this year.” The commuter train business recently planned to install the safety feature on 1,200 more miles of track from Washington, D.C. to New Rochelle, N.Y. and from Harrisburg, Penn. to Philadelphia.
Some lawmakers have proposed extending the deadline to completely install the safety feature to as late as 2020.
NEW YORK – Oil has become more than just a luxury resource. For millions of Americans, it’s a necessity and the demand for black gold sends millions of gallons of the highly flammable crude oil through cities, towns and backyards across the country.
The preferred mode of transportation from east coast to west is on railways but each year, accidents happen.
On February 16, a train derailed in West Virginia resulting in an explosion and at least seven rail cars caught fire. Due to the volatile crude oil the train was transporting, dozens of nearby homes were forced to evacuate.
“That incident was in Mount Carbon, West Virginia; a town with a population of around 400 people. Imagine if something like this happened on a railway near millions of people like the tracks around New York City,” train accident lawyer Steve Barnes said.
There are thousands of miles of track used by more than a half dozen railroad companies in the business of transporting crude oil. Many of these railways travel through New York metropolitan area.
At the U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), federal authorities have mapped out half-mile-wide ‘evacuation zones’ and mile-wide areas that could be affected if another train accident were to occur.
“These crashes not only cost billions of dollars in damage, they can put lives at risk,” Barnes said.
The US DOT recently predicted there will be an average of 10 dangerous derailments every year for the next two decades.
To see an interactive map of crude oil railways, click here.
NEW YORK – Hundreds of people are killed in train collisions every year. On Monday, seven more died in a fiery crash in Valhalla when a Metro North train carrying over 400 passengers struck a car stranded on the tracks, authorities said.
The crash is just the latest disaster to happen on Metro North tracks. According to Federal Railroad Administration records, a truck was slammed by a train at the exact same rail crossing in 1984. The 21-year-old driver was killed.
“Every three hours in the U.S., a vehicle or a person is hit by a train,” Operation Lifesaver president, Joyce Rose said. “[Tuesday’s crash] highlights the critical need for all drivers to use caution at every highway-rail grade crossing.”
Although the accidents have decreased in the last three decades, trains are still responsible for more than 200 deaths and nearly a thousand injuries every year.
NEW YORK – A Metro North train carrying hundreds of passengers struck a car just north of the train station, according to first responders. The crash resulted in seven deaths and more than a dozen injuries.
Images from MSNBC showed the aftermath of the crash, including a fiery explosion that engulfed the train and the car in Valhalla, N.Y.
More than a dozen investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and other agencies will determine what caused the crash.
The gates came down on top of the vehicle, which was stopped on the tracks,” Aaron Donovan, a spokesman for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said in a statement. “The driver got out to look at the rear of the car, then she got back in and drove forward and was struck.”
At the scene late Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the scene a “truly ugly and brutal sight.” Cuomo said the maximum speed for the train in the area of the crash was 60 miles per hour but authorities have not officially determined how fast the train was moving.
According to authorities on scene, at least 15 people were hospitalized for mild to severe injuries.
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