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Amtrak Resumes Full Service on Northeast Corridor Today

Six days after one of Amtrak's worst derailments that resulted in the deaths of 8 passengers, service will resume on the Northeast Corridor, the busiest train route in the U.S. Amtrak #188 had accelerated to 106 mph as it entered a curve on May 12.
May 18, 2015, 2pm PDT | Irvin Dawid
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"Our repairs have been made with the utmost care and emphasis on safety, including complete compliance with Federal Railroad Administration [FRA] directives," Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman stated in a mass email Sunday evening. "Effective with departures from Philadelphia at 5:53 a.m. (Train 110) and New York City at 5:30 a.m. (Train 111) on Monday, May 18, Amtrak will restore normal service on the Northeast Corridor."

As was noted here two days after the deadly 9:21 p.m. derailment in Philadelphia on Tuesday, Amtrak had ceased service between New York and Philadelphia and offer modified service between Washington and Philadelphia, New York and Boston, and Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Judging from a May 15 column in Grist by Heather Smith who needed to get to Philadelphia from New York and chose Amtrak, customers will be happy to see service restored to the full schedule.

(T)he tickets are more expensive than usual, which means that even though the news has been filled for the last week with the grisly details of the crash, a lot of people, like me, are buying tickets anyway.

To update readers on the investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), Board Member Robert L. Sumwaltwho is leading the investigation, "said that investigators had found a fist-size circular area of impact on the left side of the Amtrak train’s windshield and that they had asked the Federal Bureau of Investigation to analyze it," reported the New York Times on May 15. 

In addition, Sumwalt stated that "an assistant conductor had reported that she believed she heard a radio transmission in which an engineer on a regional line said his train had been struck by a projectile and the engineer on the Amtrak train replied that his had been struck, too," notes The Times.

However, former Amtrak President David Hughes indicated on NPR's Weekend Edition Saturday that was an unlikely cause for the sudden acceleration of the train.

The Times' report includes information on the train's engineer, Brandon Bostian, who initially had declined to give a statement. "On Friday, Mr. Sumwalt said that the engineer, accompanied by his lawyer, had been open with investigators and had demonstrated a “very good working knowledge” of the proper procedures and speeds for the rail line, but that he did not remember the accident."

“He recalls ringing the train bell as he went through North Philadelphia Station, as required,” Mr. Sumwalt said. “He has no recollection of anything past that.”

Investigators said that Mr. Bostian had been “extremely” cooperative during his interview and that he had “reported no problems with his train handling.”

"(T)he Federal Railroad Administration ordered Amtrak to take immediate steps to employ new speed-control technology  throughout the Northeast corridor," writes Aamer Madhani for USA Today. "The orders call on Amtrak immediately to employ Automatic Train Control technology, now in use on southbound trains in the Northeast corridor, on all northbound trains as well."

According to CNN, "(t)he system notifies an engineer if a train is speeding and applies the brakes automatically if the engineer does not respond. Amtrak is in the process of installing a sharper technology known as Positive Train Control (PTC) on all of its tracks."

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Published on Sunday, May 17, 2015 in Planetizen
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