Train Was Going Twice As Fast As It Should Have
The Amtrak disaster that resulted in seven dead was going twice as fast as required.
Authorities haven’t said, definitively, what caused the derailment of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188 in Philadelphia on Tuesday night. But a source briefed by investigators said the train was believed to have been traveling in excess of 100 mph. That would be about twice the 50 mph speed limit for the curve it was in.
An official with direct knowledge of the investigation earlier said that authorities were focusing on speed as a possible cause, given the angles of the wreckage and type of damage to the cars. The recorder, or “black box,” discovered at the scene could be pivotal by showing just that, former National Transportation Safety Board official John Goglia said.
Peter Goelz, also once a top NTSB figure and now a CNN analyst, predicted that a definitive conclusion could come soon.
“I’m afraid that this train might be going too fast for this turn,” he said.
In what has to be one of the most apt coincidences in recent New York Times history, two mayors – New York City’s Bill DeBlasio and Oklahoma City’s Mick Cornett – had written an editorial on the infrastructure crisis that ran in today’s issue:
In New York City, subways and buses are overcrowded and often unreliable, and roadways and bridges are in dire need of repair and rehabilitation. From the next phase of the Second Avenue subway to plans to connect the Metro-North Railroad to Pennsylvania Station, to the proposed new subway line under Utica Avenue in Brooklyn, there isn’t a short- or long-term expansion project that isn’t dependent on federal funding.
In Oklahoma City, highway bridges are failing, city and state roads are unable to keep up with the region’s growth, and the bus system struggles to meet demands. Just last week in Oklahoma City, the state Transportation Commission declared an emergency after learning that more than half of the piers supporting a heavily trafficked bridge on an Interstate had been damaged by salt and weather. …
Working Americans pay the price of federal apathy. Those with little means have the fewest options; mass transit is often their only way to get around. Transit ridership is at record highs, with 10.8 billion trips in 2014. Meanwhile, in the 102 largest metropolitan regions, motorists take more than 200 million trips every day across deficient bridges. Freight volumes are expected to increase by 24 percent in the next seven years.
Federal investment has not kept pace with this demand, resulting in an outdated, overburdened surface transportation system that is ill equipped to handle current, let alone future, need. Spending on infrastructure in the United States has sunk to 1.7 percent of gross domestic product, a 20-year low.
The Department of Transportation estimates that by 2030, it will cost $84 billion to $105 billion a year just to keep the highway, bridge and transit systems in good repair, and up to $170 billion a year to improve conditions and performance.
Meanwhile, the rest of the world races ahead. Europe spends 5 percent of G.D.P. on infrastructure, and China 9 percent. Global cities like London and Beijing are investing in transit and rail projects on a vast scale, while in New York City, more than 160 bridges were built over a century ago, and large portions of our subway’s signal system are more than 50 years old. Some of the subway cars we ride in were built before 1975.