The last few months have been particularly tragic ones for Amtrak. In fact, since the beginning of December, there have been four fatal accidents involving Amtrak trains — with the most recent one occurring just last Sunday when a train traveling from New York City to Miami was involved in a head-on collision in South Carolina.
According to a NPR report, this most recent accident was caused by a track switch that was locked in the wrong position. Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) say that it appears that the crew of a CSX freight train may have failed to flip a switch back to the mainline setting after pulling a freight train onto a side track. As a result, an Amtrak train was subsequently diverted onto this same side track, where it slammed into the parked freight train while traveling at more than 50 miles per hour (mph).
Tragically, this train wreck resulted in the deaths of the Amtrak train’s conductor and engineer. In addition, more than 100 crew members and passengers were sent to the hospital for treatment.
As reported by CNN, this is simply the most recent deadly accident involving an Amtrak train. Other fatal Amtrak wrecks over the last several weeks include:
- December 18, 2017: On its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland, the Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed over an overpass and onto Interstate 5, killing three people. Reports say the train may have been traveling at speeds of 80 mph when it entered a curve on the highway overpass, even though this curve has a 30-mph speed restriction.
- January 14, 2018: A North Carolina couple was killed when an Amtrak train hit their SUV. According to police, it appears the driver of the SUV may have driven around a lowered crossing arm.
- January 31, 2018: Once person was killed when an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck at a crossing in Virginia.
While some claim these train accidents are simply part of a much larger problem stemming from a “lax safety culture” at Amtrak, the head of Amtrak was quick to place the blame for the most recent accident on CSX, particularly since they were the ones who allegedly left the track switch in the wrong position.