Fatal Amtrak Accident in Philadelphia Stirs Positive Train Control Debate

On Tuesday, May 12th, Amtrak Regional 188 derailed in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. The horrific train crash killed 8 people and injured over 200 and has been called one of the worst train accidents in recent history. Black box data has since revealed that the train was traveling in speeds of over 100 mph when it entered a dangerous curve. The speed limit on that section of track was just 50 mph. Even more puzzling is that surveillance video indicated that the engineer actually sped up in the minutes prior to the fatal crash.

This recent train accident has begun to stir the debate over positive train control. Proponents of this technology believe it would have prevented this accident from ever occurring. The technology uses a combination of GPS, wireless radio, and computers to stop trains from colliding and derailing. If they detect that a train is going too fast, it will slow the train down or stop it all together.

The National Safety Transportation Board believes that if this technology had been in use since 2004, at least 25 accidents, 1,100 injuries, and 65 deaths could've been prevented.

Congress seems to agree as well. After a deadly Los Angeles train accident resulted in 25 deaths, Congress ordered all railroads to have this technology installed by December 2015. Yet, the majority of railroads are far from meeting this directive. Many believe that because of the cost involved, it will be 2020 before all railroads achieve complete reliance on Positive Train Control technology.

Things You Might Not Know About Amtrak

Amtrak ridership has steadily increased over the past few years, with more than 30.9 million passengers riding the Amtrak rails in 2014. Ticket revenues reached $2.189 billion in 2014, up 4 percent from 2013. Despite federal funding Amtrak receives to keep the trains running, the company still reports an average loss of $5-6 million. In fact, Amtrak has not reported a profitable year since beginning its operations in 1971. Author of “Waiting on a Train: The Embattled Future of Passenger Rail Service, James McCommons, estimates Amtrak is involved in a collision nearly every day—obviously the majority of those would be considered too minor to warrant a mention in the news. The Amtrak fleet is not young; the average Amtrak passenger coach in service is 26 years old, with the oldest being 63. Amtrak’s last major equipment update was in the 1980’s.

Train Derailment at the Same Location Nearly Three Quarters of a Century Ago

Another deadly train derailment occurred at almost the exact spot more than seven decades ago. A Congressional Limited train derailed with 541 passengers on board on September 6, 1943. Seventy nine passengers were killed and 117 injured, many of them service members on leave. It was determined a fire leading to a failed axle was responsible for the seventh car jumping the tracks and hitting a steel pole. Six other cars behind the seventh car subsequently derailed.

Contact Our Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyers

At Golomb Legal, our Philadelphia personal injury lawyers are devastated by the recent tragic accident that has occurred in our community. We understand how catastrophic these accidents can be and we are committed to serving all injured accident victims in Philadelphia and throughout the state of Pennsylvania. To learn more about your legal options or to schedule a free consultation call the Philadelphia personal injury lawyers at Golomb Legal today at 1-800-355-3300 or 1-215-985-9177 or fill out our confidential Contact Form.

The personal injury lawyers at Golomb Legal have successfully represented individuals in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and throughout the United States.