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One person died Jan. 31 when an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers to an annual retreat collided with a truck at a railroad crossing and derailed near Crozet, Virginia. The White House has confirmed the train crash fatality. One person also was seriously injured.

According to White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, the president was briefed about the train accident. There were no serious injuries among Congressional members or their staff. Sanders added that the White House was in contact with Amtrak and state and local officials about the incident.

Amtrak reported that no one on the train suffered serious injuries, but two train crew members and passengers were taken to a local hospital with personal injuries. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatached an investigative team to the crash site and will provide updates as they collect more information about the fatal Amtrak crash.

The train was carrying Republican House and Senate members to an annual Congressional retreat at White Sulpher Springs, West Virginia. According to Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who was onboard the train, it appeared they had slammed into a garbage truck that may have been stuck on the tracks near Crozet, Virginia. The truck appeared to be cut in half. Albemarle County spokeswoman Madeline Curiott confirmed three people were on the truck, and one of them was killed.

Lee added by telephone that a few people on the train were ‘roughed up,’ but confirmed early reports there were no serious injuries on board. Crozet is approximately 110 miles southwest of Washington DC and 90 miles east of White Sulpher Springs.

Our View

Our Virginia railroad accident attorneys regret the loss of life in this tragic Amtrak train crash. Our FELA personal injury attorneys with extensive experience in train accident personal injury and wrongful death settlements have been writing for years about the importance of implementing positive train control (PTC) on the nation’s passenger and freight trains. PTC could prevent many train crashes and derailments by automatically slowing a train when it is going too fast, or if there is an obstacle blocking the track ahead. Perhaps PTC could have stopped this train automatically before tragedy unfolded. The forthcoming federal crash investigation should shed some light.

Many railroads have opposed these necessary safety upgrades because they think it will cost too much. One of our railroad accident attorneys, Randy Appleton, shredded this absurd anti-PTC argument recently, showing how the cost of upgrading rail safety is tiny compared to the cost of major train accidents. These railroad accidents lead to expensive civil litigation that add even more costs to unnecessary delays of vital railroad safety equipment.

Nonetheless, Congress has been unduly influenced by the aggressive railroad lobby and has delayed the deadline for full PTC implementation to Dec. 31. 2018. How ironic it is to think that the latest delay of PTC implementation has now led to a train crash on a train many members of Congress were riding! Sadly, the delay for the implementation of necessary railroad safety equipment has led to yet another preventable fatality.

One Comment

  1. Gravatar for Kip Verbeek
    Kip Verbeek

    PTC is not designed to prevent rail-at-grade crossing accidents. Additionally if you read the regulation or the RSIA08 you'll see nothing requiring PTC to prevent collisions with obstacles blocking the track.

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