NTSB: Amtrak Train Sped Up Before Curve; Trying To Determine Why

National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) is trying to answer questions in the aftermath of the derailment in Philadelphia this week that killed 8 and injured hundreds others.  What we do know, according to NTSB board member Robert Sumwalt, In the minute or so before the train crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian. Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.

Mr. Bostian, who is recovering from multiple injures after the train crash, stated that he does not recall anything from the time of the accident. He has refused to speak to police at this point, but did agree to a meeting with the NTSB, which will take place in the next few days.

I think it’s clear, at least from the early investigation, that the conductor negligently drove the train up to 50 mph over the speed limit. This is what appears to be the cause of the train derailment. The question remains whether the conductor did this accidentally, was he distracted or was there a malfunction with the equipment? These are answers the NTSB, the victims and the family of the deceased all want. I will be following this case closely in the coming days and weeks.

If you or someone you love has been involved in a Chicago train derailment or Chicago bus accident or suffered from a wrongful death, then call Chicago personal injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free legal consultation at 312-614-1076

Questions Remain Following Blue Line Crash At O’Hare

Very early Monday morning, a Blue
Line train carrying passengers pulled into the station at O’Hare airport, but
instead of stopping, it derailed and crashed into a commuter escalator. As a
result of the train crash, thirty (30) passengers were injured. The Associated
Press
 reported today the train was not speeding as it drove into the
station. National Transportation Safety Board (“NTSB”) investigator Ted Turpin said a preliminary review of
Monday’s derailment at O’Hare International Airport showed that the train was
traveling at 25 mph — the correct speed — as it entered the
station. Turpin, who is in charge of the investigation, said an automatic
emergency braking system was activated on the tracks, but that it failed it
stop the train as it headed for the platform. “It activated,”
Turpin said. “That’s all we know factually. Now, whether it did it in time
or not, that’s an analysis that we have to figure out.”

Another issue that
has raised eyebrows is the possibility that the conductor of the train was
drowsy at the time of the train accident. Several news outlets have reported
that the conductor may have dozed off at the train crash, which would mean he
or she did not brake on time. That is why there is an emergency brake, but
according to the above reports, did not work properly.

If the injuries
sustained by any of the passengers were severe enough, then there will
definitely be lawsuits filed against the Chicago Transit Authority
(“CTA”). The basis of a Complaint at Law will be based on multiple
allegations. First, the driver negligently operated the train by not braking
on time. Second, the CTA was negligent for possibly allowing one of its’
employees to work too many hours or days in a row, thus leading her to doze
off. Third, the CTA did not have a properly working emergency brake, as it
clearly did not prevent the train from stopping or derailing. It could be
alleged that the emergency braking system was not properly installed. This
could in turn lead to lawsuits against the manufacturer or the subcontractor
who installed and/or maintained the emergency braking system. The answers to
these questions will not be known until the NTSB and other experts complete
their full reports on the accident. Regardless, there a liable parties out
there that could have prevented this train accident

If you or someone
you love has been injured in a Chicago train accident, Chicago CTA crash or
Chicago bus accident, the call Chicago personal injury attorney Aaron Bryant
for a free legal consultation at 312-588-3384. 

Train Industry Acknowledges Serious Design Flaw In Specific Rail Car

Business Week published an interesting article last week
about a specific rail car that transports thousands of gallons of ethanol every
year across the United States. If there is a train crash, the thin exterior of
this type of rail car is almost guaranteed to sever and leak fuel which and
lead to fires and explosions.

The railroad industry
has vowed to manufacture and use a new rail car that has a stronger shell,
which will help prevent leaking in case of an accident. Regardless, the train
industry has pushed back requesting lawmakers not require them to modify the current
design of existing rail cars. The first question that needs to be asked about
this resistance, is why? The short answer is money. There are apparently 30,000 to 45,000 of these types of tankers out there today. The article reports that
the railroad industry has known about this design flaw since 1991, yet have
done nothing about it until 2011. Despite knowing about this design flaw, there
have been 40 serious train accidents since 2000, which has caused 2 deaths and
multiple injuries. 

The National Traffic
Safety Board has asked for the higher standards to be applied to all tankers,
meaning existing cars would have to be retrofitted or phased out.

The industry’s
proposal “ignores the safety risks posed by the current fleet,” the
NTSB said in a report on safety recommendations, adding that those cars
“can almost always be expected to breach in derailments that involve
pileups or multiple car-to-car impacts.”

The federal Pipeline
and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, part of the U.S. Department of
Transportation, is considering both arguments, but the regulatory process is
slow and could take several years, experts said.

If there is another
crash involving these existing faulty rail cars and people are injured (or even
killed), then the rail road company will be on the hook for those injuries. Why
not bite the bullet now and start removing these existing cars from their
fleets as soon as possible. It could save lives and their company’s money in
the long run.

If you or someone you
love has been injured in a Chicago car accident or Chicago train accident, then
call Chicago injury lawyer, Aaron Bryant, for a free consultation at
312-588-3384 or go to the firm website at www.blgchicago.com.