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Leaders of railroad unions say there has been a perfect storm of Amtrak corporate changes that is mostly to blame for two workers dying on railroad tracks near Philadelphia earlier this month.
Union officials wrote a letter to Amtrak President Joe Boardman last week and said that employee training is insufficient, and they demanded major changes in the policy on ‘close call’ reporting of dangerous incidents.
They maintain that routinely hazardous conditions exist on the Northeast Corridor that Amtrak serves daily. Amtrak stated in response that it always tries to improve safety measures at the railroad, and that management and unions must work together to make this happen.
It was on April 2 that an Amtrak train slammed into a backhoe south of Philadelphia at high speed, killing two workers. The accident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.
Our train accident attorneys in Virginia have seen far too many cases where railroads put profits ahead of employee and passenger safety. Many train accidents occur that probably could have been avoided if the railroad had better adhered to safety regulations.
It is particularly alarming when Amtrak, which is managed and run by the US government, is itself possibly not following safety regulations. Last week the Federal Railroad Administration ordered a complete safety review of Amtrak’s work crew rules and regulations.
Grieving families in a case where a person or company is guilty of neglect should file a wrongful death lawsuit to ensure that the family’s financial needs will be taken care of in the future.
Federal agencies have told Amtrak and other railroads several times over the last few years to use essential back up safety systems for workers on railroad tracks to prevent deadly accidents, as the crash and derailment that just happened in Chester PA this week.
Sources with information about the Amtrak crash investigation that killed two workers have said that a communication lapse during a shift change may have led to the workers being on the tracks. Meanwhile, safety precautions that are intended to route trains away from those workers were cancelled.
This exact accident scenario has been a regular problem on US railroads, according to a 2014 Federal Railroad Administration report. That report stated that FRA is alarmed at the repeated occurrences of railroad workers being hit by or nearly hit by trains that seem to be due to miscommunications.
FRA stated in the advisory that back up safety systems were needed until positive train control was installed on all trains. While Amtrak has PTC on most trains in the NE corridor of the US, experts still say the system has not eliminated the need for back up safety protocols.
According to NTSB investigators, the Amtrak train slammed into a backhoe on the tracks in Chester PA at over 100 MPH and did not even slow down until five seconds before the crash. The brakes on the train were applied at the last seconds before impact.
The FRA report from 2014 recommended several backup systems where there could be the possibility of a communications break down. One of the devices is worn by workers that would alert them that a train is approaching, and would also warn train engineers of people on the tracks. Another system would be used for track maintenance vehicles.
Our railroad injury lawyers in North Carolina and Virginia are angry that this preventable accident that led to two deaths ever happened. It is the obligation of the railroad to use vital safety procedures and equipment to ensure the safety of workers and train passengers. We hope that the families of the deceased and injured file personal injury lawsuits against the responsible parties because effective counsel could likely win very large settlements or verdicts in this tragic case.