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NTSB Blasted Amtrak For 'Adversarial' Safety Culture After 2016 Crash

Updated on: 11/22/2019

As the Seattle community continues to search for answers regarding Monday’s tragic Amtrak derailment disaster in DuPont, past news reports of what is now an interesting statement from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) about Amtrak’s safety culture are coming to light.

Similar Amtrak Derailment Last Year

On April 3, 2016, Amtrak train 89 was traveling eastbound from Philadelphia, PA to Washington, D.C. on track 3 of the Northeast Corridor when it struck a backhoe in Chester, PA at approximately 7:50 a.m. According to news reports, the engineer who was operating the train in that incident saw equipment and people working on and around the track as he approached and initiated emergency braking on the train. Unfortunately, the emergency brakes only slowed the train from 109 mph to 99 mph by the time the impact occurred.

Two Amtrak employees were killed and 39 total people were injured in the 2016 incident. In the course of its investigation, the NTSB found several alarming safety issues that either contributed to or played a significant role in the crash. Allowing a passenger train to travel at maximum speed on an unprotected track, the absence of shunting devices, a lack of team safety briefings, and inconsistency in the knowledge and application of safety policies and procedures were all listed as factors that led to the tragedy.

“Amtrak’s safety culture is failing, and is primed to fail again, until and unless Amtrak changes the way it practices safety management,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “Investigators found a labor-management relationship so adversarial that safety programs became contentious at the bargaining table, with the unions ultimately refusing to participate.”

Other Agencies Blamed For 2016 Derailment

The NTSB additionally placed some blame on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) for its failure to require redundant signal protection, such as shunting, for maintenance workers. Investigators also found traces of narcotics, including cocaine, marijuana, and opioids, in the employees who were killed in the crash during routine post-accident toxicology reports.

Ultimately, the NTSB issued a total of 14 safety recommendations to agencies relating to the 2016 incident in Chester, PA. Nine of those safety recommendations went to Amtrak, while two were made to the FRA and three more were issued to employee unions. 

Contact An Experienced Train Derailment Attorney

Davis Law Group, P.S. is representing several victims involved in the Amtrak train derailment in DuPont and will continue to investigate other claims throughout the future. Our award-winning personal injury attorneys have extensive experience representing victims of mass transit accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured in the derailment incident, contact our office today for a free legal consultation and to learn more about your legal rights and options. You may call us at (206) 727-4000 or use the confidential contact form on this page. 

Chris Davis
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Chris Davis is the founder of Davis Law Group, P.S. in Seattle, WA.
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