Preliminary Report on Amtrak Crash: No Infrastructure Anomalies

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

If the left-wing ghouls who raced to capitalize on the terrible Amtrak crash in Philadelphia as leverage to demand more “infrastructure” spending had the slightest degree of conscience or self-awareness, they’d spend the next few months apologizing to the rest of America for their sins. They don’t, so they will learn nothing and remember nothing.

As if the evidence that insufficient “infrastructure spending” didn’t cause the crash was not piled high enough already, the preliminary NTSB report was released on Tuesday. “Investigators have examined the train braking systems, signals, and track geometry,” said the report. “Thus far, no anomalies have been noted.”

What did cause the crash, if not heartless penny-pinching Republican budget-cutters? “Based on the NTSB’s preliminary review of the train’s event recorder data, the train was travelling at 106 mph before the emergency brake system engaged. The data indicated that the engineer activated the emergency brakes seconds before the derailment.”

The report is curiously tentative about what, precisely, the engineer was doing when his train hurtled into a 50 mph zone at more than double the posted speed. It sounds as if they’re keenly interested in his cell phone activity, but are not yet ready to declare with certainty that he was distracted by his phone at the crucial moment.

“The NTSB has possession of the Amtrak engineer’s cell phone and has obtained the cell phone records,” says the preliminary report. “NTSB forensic experts are examining the phone and phone records. Although the records appear to indicate that calls were made, text messages sent, and data used on the day of the accident, investigators have not yet made a determination if there was any phone activity during the time the train was being operated. Investigators are in the process of correlating the time stamps in the engineer’s cell phone records with multiple data sources including the locomotive event recorder, the locomotive outward facing video, recorded radio communications, and surveillance video.”

It doesn’t seem as though it would be very difficult to compare time-stamped phone transmissions with the very well-established timeline of the crash, so perhaps they’re focused on some activity that wouldn’t generate easily reviewed, timed and dated activity logs, such as playing a game on the phone.

Unfortunately, the train was not equipped with a cockpit camera that could easily answer questions about the engineer’s activity, although Amtrak has announced plans to install such cameras in the wake of the crash.

The report also mentions widely-reported theories that vandals may have been throwing stones, or perhaps even more dangerous projectiles, at trains in the area. “The Amtrak 188 locomotive windshield has impact damage, however, it has not been determined if the damage was from a thrown object or as a result of the derailment,” says the report. “The NTSB was assisted by the FBI in evaluating the damage to the locomotive windshield which found no evidence of damage that could have been caused by a firearm.”

It is also noted that weather and visibility conditions at the time of the crash were nearly perfect: “The weather at the time of the accident was reported to be 82˚F with a westerly wind of 20 mph, with clear skies, and good visibility.”

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is scheduled to begin hearings on the Amtrak crash today, with testimony from the NTSB, Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, and the engineers’ union.


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