2016 Chester, Pennsylvania, train derailment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

2016 Chester, Pennsylvania, train derailment
2016 Chester, Pennsylvania, train derailment is located in Pennsylvania
2016 Chester, Pennsylvania, train derailment
DateApril 3, 2016
Time7:50 a.m. EDT (UTC−4)
LocationChester, Pennsylvania
Coordinates39°49′59.0″N 75°23′40.1″W / 39.833056°N 75.394472°W / 39.833056; -75.394472Coordinates: 39°49′59.0″N 75°23′40.1″W / 39.833056°N 75.394472°W / 39.833056; -75.394472
CountryUnited States
Incident typeObstruction on line and consequent derailment
CauseUnder investigation
Trains1 (a single ACS-64 locomotive and several Amfleet coaches)
Deaths2 track workers
DamagePassenger cars damaged; total damages $2.2 million (estimate)

On April 3, 2016, Amtrak train 89, the southbound Palmetto, struck a backhoe, killing two track workers and derailing the locomotive, as well as damaging the first two cars.


The damaged locomotive after the collision

The train, en route to Savannah, Georgia,[2] had departed Philadelphia's 30th Street Station at 7:32 a.m.[3] The train was carrying seven crew members and 337 passengers, including two employee passengers. The train was composed of one locomotive, eight passenger cars, one café car, and one baggage car.[1] It struck a backhoe obstructing the line at 7:50 a.m.,[1] slightly north of the Booth Street underpass.[4] The NTSB determined that the train was traveling at 106 mph, below the authorized speed of 110 mph.[5][1][6] The Siemens ACS-64 locomotive 627 sustained extensive damage to its cab and was derailed; at least two of the cars were damaged.[7] Two maintenance workers—a backhoe operator and a track supervisor—were killed in the crash.[5] Forty-one people were hospitalized.[1] Passengers were evacuated from the train to a nearby church.[2]

Among the passengers was businessman and former presidential candidate Steve Forbes, who was on his way to Washington, D.C., to participate in the C-SPAN interview program In Depth. Forbes was unable to complete his trip, but did participate in a 15-minute interview by phone about his experiences that morning.[8]

Amtrak rail service between Wilmington and Philadelphia, was suspended, as was service on the SEPTA Wilmington/Newark Line.[3][4] New Jersey Transit accepted Amtrak tickets for services between New York City and Trenton while services were disrupted.[9] Service restored the following morning, though with residual delays.[10]

Investigation and aftermath[edit]

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and Federal Railroad Administration immediately opened investigations into the accident.[2][3] One aspect of the NTSB investigation is whether or not the maintenance crew were working on the correct track.[3][11] The event data recorder and locomotive video (both forward-facing and inward-facing) were recovered by the NTSB.[5]

The NTSB released its preliminary report on April 18, 2016 and its final report on November 14, 2017. The NTSB report said that according to the federal investigation, the track was supposed to be closed to trains at the time of the crash.[12][13] The backhoe and the two killed workers were authorized to be present on track 2 during the maintenance period (which was scheduled to be from 10:00 p.m. April 1 until 5:00 a.m. April 4), for ballast cleaning and remediation of fouled ballast (mud spots).[12][1] The incident took place on Track 3, which was supposed to be subject to temporary closure while the backhoe was brought into position on Track 2. The final report is expected to take nearly one year to complete.[12] The report states that Amtrak estimated that the crash resulted in $2.2 million in damages.[13][1]

Positive train control systems were in place and functional on the train and tracks.[14] However, crews performing work on the stretch of track where the crash occurred failed to deploy a supplemental shunting device while completing track work. Deployment of this device is considered a basic safety measure and is required by Amtrak's rules (although not by federal regulation) whenever workers are completing track work in short windows of time ("foul time").[15] The NTSB released further information in January 2017, including interviews conducted as part of the investigation, that showed apparent miscommunication between two shift foremen regarding whether the track dispatcher had been informed of track restrictions.[16]

The Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division, the union representing track workers, was highly critical of Amtrak management in the weeks after the crash, saying that Amtrak's safety procedures were inadequate.[12]

In October 2017, it was revealed that one of the track workers had taken oxycodone and the other had taken cocaine. The engineer had taken marijuana.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Accident Report Detail: Amtrak Train Collision with Maintenance-of-Way Equipment, Chester, Pennsylvania". National Transportation Safety Board. November 14, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c Baker, Karl; Horn, Brittany (April 3, 2016). "2 dead, dozens injured in Amtrak crash". The News Journal. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Chokshi, Niraj; Siddiqui, Faiz (April 3, 2016). "Amtrak service disrupted in Northeast after derailment; 2 reported dead, 31 injured". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  4. ^ a b "Victims in fatal Amtrak collision ID'd, NTSB releases findings". WPVI. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Sisak, Michael R. (April 5, 2016). "Officials: Amtrak engineer hit brakes seconds before crash". Associated Press. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  6. ^ "Amtrak Philadelphia: Two dead as train derails". BBC News Online. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  7. ^ Stamm, Dan (April 3, 2016). "2 Die as Amtrak Train Strikes Backhoe Causing Fireball". NBC Philadelphia. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  8. ^ "Steve Forbes on Amtrak Derailment". C-SPAN. Retrieved April 8, 2016. Steve Forbes spoke by phone about being on the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia earlier that day. Two people were reported to have died in the crash. Mr. Forbes was supposed to be the guest on Book TV's In Depth series that day.
  9. ^ Vantuono, William C. "Two killed in wreck of Amtrak Palmetto". Railway Age. Retrieved April 3, 2016.
  10. ^ "Trains running again after Amtrak crash". The Philadelphia Inquirer. April 4, 2016. Retrieved April 4, 2016.
  11. ^ McGeehan, Patrick; Pérez-Peña, Richard (April 4, 2016). "Amtrak Trying to Determine if Workers Were Authorized to Be on Tracks". The New York Times. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  12. ^ a b c d Horn, Brittany (April 19, 2016). "Report: Track was closed morning of Amtrak crash". The News Journal. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  13. ^ a b Laughlin, Jason (April 18, 2016). "Feds issue first report on Chester Amtrak crash". Philly.com. Retrieved April 19, 2016.
  14. ^ Gregg Levine, Amtrak crash: state-of-the art safety gear was operational at time of fatal collision, Guardian (April 6, 2016).
  15. ^ Tangel, Mitch (June 17, 2016). "NBC10 Investigators: Safety Device Missing from Amtrak Site After Deadly Accident". NBC10 Philadelphia. Retrieved March 10, 2018.
  16. ^ "NTSB Records Show Poor Communication May Have Led to Amtrak Accident". The Wall Street Journal. January 26, 2017. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  17. ^ Halsey, Ashley (October 11, 2017). "Amtrak workers killed in crash and train engineer all tested positive for drugs". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 16, 2017.