Training Day: Train Wreck in Philly

Trains in the Philly area are an important part of our transportation plan, but last weekend was a tragic one for Amtrak and several families. An Amtrak train on the Northeast Corridor Line derailed in Chester, killing two Amtrak workers and injuring more than 30 people. While the National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation, Amtrak officials say the train struck a backhoe that was on the tracks. On the same day, an Amtrak train on the Trenton Line struck a pedestrian in Bensalem. Authorities are also investigating the incident, which resulted in amputation of the victim’s leg. That day also resulted in the death of a man whose car was struck by an Amtrak train at an Illinois railroad crossing.

Next month marks one year since the terrible crash of Amtrak’s Northeast Regional 188 that derailed on a curved section of track north of Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring over 200. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, between 2000 and 2014, Amtrak accidents have resulted in at least 224 deaths and 2,228 injuries. As the sole passenger railroad service in the U.S., Amtrak operates over 300 trains through 46 states (no service to Alaska, Hawaii, South Dakota, or Wyoming). There is also a $60 billion freight rail industry to consider, consisting of 140,000 rail miles operated by seven Class I railroads (railroads with operating revenues of $433.2 million or more), 21 regional railroads, and 510 local railroads.

Of course it’s impossible to plan for every scenario, but these recent accidents got us thinking about train safety. We urge you to observe these precautions:

  • Never drive or walk around lowered gates or flashing red lights.
  • Expect a train on any track at any time.
  • Never try to race a train to the crossing.
  • Look both ways and listen carefully.
  • Don’t be complacent at crossings you frequently travel.
  • Do not get trapped on the tracks. Only proceed when you can clear the crossing without stopping.
  • Get out of your vehicle if it stalls on a crossing. If a train is coming, quickly move away from the tracks and head in the direction the train is coming from (the debris from the crash will then be thrown away from you).
  • At the stations, stay as far back from the edge of the platform as possible.
  • Never attempt to get on or off a moving train.
  • Use seat back handles and handrails when walking though trains.
  • Hold your child’s hand when boarding or exiting the train.
  • Do not block railcar doors from closing.
  • Never lean on railcar doors.
  • Do not stand between railcars or on stairs while the train is moving.
  • In case of emergency, remain calm and follow the instructions of the train crew.

Some experts are predicting that the U.S. will continue to experience a high rate of train crashes until the federal government spends more money on rail lines. The positive train control (PTC) called for in the Rail Safety Improvement Act should help, but compliance has been slow. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured as the result of a railroad crash, or if you have any questions about this topic, trust your case to the Philadelphia train accident attorneys at Wapner Newman . For almost 40 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. We encourage you to contact us today by calling 1-800-LAW-6600 or filling out a free case evaluation form and let us help you.