NTSB to Meet July 23 for Probable Cause of 2018 Amtrak Crash

The Amtrak train struck a stopped CSX train near Cayce, S.C. The southbound Amtrak train had been diverted from the main track through a hand-thrown switch into a siding, where it collided with the CSX train.

The National Transportation Safety Board will meet July 23 to determine the probable cause of the Feb. 4, 2018, collision of an Amtrak train with a stopped CSX train near Cayce, S.C. The collision occurred when the southbound Amtrak train was diverted from the main track through a hand-thrown switch into a siding and struck the stationary CSX train. The engineer and conductor of the Amtrak train died as a result of the collision, and at least 92 passengers and crew members on the Amtrak train were transported to medical facilities.

NTSB issued an urgent safety recommendation on Feb. 13 as a result of its investigation of the incident.

The recommendation cites two other, similar incidents involving freight trains hitting stationary railcars, one in 2009 and the other in 2016. It said the evidence in the incidents indicates human decision-making and actions likely played key roles in the accidents, as safe movement of the trains through the signal suspension depended on proper switch alignment, which, in turn, relied on error-free manual work. "The risk of error in the manual work was not safeguarded, either by technology or supervision. Thus, the reliance on error-free human performance for safe train movement created a single point-of-failure in the operating practices currently used and in compliance with extant regulations," the recommendation said.

In it, NTSB recommended that the Federal Railroad Administration issue an Emergency Order directing railroads to require that when signal suspensions are in effect and a switch has been reported relined for a main track, the next train or locomotive to pass the location must approach the switch location at restricted speed, and after the switch position is verified, require the train crew to report to the dispatcher that the switch is correctly lined for the main track before trains are permitted to operate at maximum authorized speed.

The meeting at the NTSB Boardroom and Conference Center is scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT.

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