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Amtrak crash blamed on safety lapses, lack of equipment


Amtrak crash blamed on safety lapses, lack of equipment
Amtrak crash blamed on safety lapses, lack of equipment

Federal investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board faulted Amtrak for its lack of attention to safety measures in a fatal crash that left two dead.

An Amtrak train traveling from New York to Georgia in April 2016 hit a backhoe working on railroad tracks in Chester, Pennsylvania. The incident killed a train operator and a track supervisor, injured another 41 people and caused roughly $2.5 million in damages.

NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the board’s investigation uncovered 20 separate safety lapses that contributed to the crash, in addition to the fact that Amtrak workers did not have the proper equipment at the accident site to steer trains around repair areas, USA Today reported.

Investigators said Amtrak failed to provide its workers with shunts, which can be installed on tracks so that workers may alert a train’s dispatcher to their presence via electric current, reported.

Amtrak has since bought thousands of the devices.

The safety board said that one of four tracks had been closed down for repairs for 55 hours while the adjacent track — which was blocked by a backhoe - was only temporarily closed before the fatal accident.

Amtrak investigators inspect the deadly train crash in Chester, Pa., Sunday, April 3 2016. The Amtrak train struck a piece of construction equipment just south of Philadelphia causing a derailment. 

(Michael Bryant/AP)

Ahead of the crash, the night foreman removed the closure just before 7:30 a.m., though he left the backhoe behind on the track. The day foreman neglected to restore the track closure, paving the way for the deadly collision just minutes later, according the news site.

Board investigators also pointed to a tense relationship between Amtrak and unions when speaking to why workers did not report safety breeches.

“Despite the emphasis on rules compliance, investigators did not find a culture of compliance,” Sumwalt said during a hearing on Tuesday. “Rather, they found a culture of fear on one hand and a normalization of deviance from rules on another hand.”

The collision near Chester was the latest in several crashes involving passenger trains. A train derailed nearby in May 2015, which resulted in the death of eight people and hundreds more injuries, according to Reuters.

An Amtrak Acela train in March struck a New Jersey transit train at Penn Station —  several experienced minor injuries.

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