The train was heading to Washington when it hit a backhoe south of Philadelphia. Travel has been suspended along Amtrak’s Northeast corridor. (April 3)
WASHINGTON – Federal safety investigators found Tuesday that a culture of systemic safety lapses at Amtrak caused a collision between a passenger train and a backhoe that killed two people and injured 39 outside Philadelphia in April 2016.
Amtrak workers at the accident site didn’t have safety equipment that the railroad required to steer trains around repair work on tracks, which the National Transportation Safety Board ruled was a factor in the crash.
The board also found a combination of 20 cultural safety lapses — including the lack of a job briefing at the construction site before high-speed trains were allowed back on the track — among the unsafe conditions that caused the crash.
The board concluded that Amtrak sought to strictly enforce safety rules, but that management had such an adversarial relationship with unions that workers didn’t report infractions.
“Despite the emphasis on rules compliance, investigators did not find a culture of compliance,” Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said. “Rather, they found a culture of fear on one hand and a normalization of deviance from rules on another hand.”
The case involved an Amtrak train that slammed into a backhoe at 99 mph about 7:50 a.m. near Chester, Pa. The collision derailed the locomotive and destroyed the backhoe, killing the operator and a track supervisor, and injuring 39 passengers on the train. The crash caused about $2.5 million in damage.
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