US gov. urges speed signs after train crash

World Today

Amtrak CrashIn this aerial photo, emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Federal Railroad Administration has recommended commuter railroads look at where they have sharp track curves and adjust their automatic train control safety systems to prevent trains from going too fast there, like an Amtrak passenger train did before it derailed in Philadelphia last month.

If automatic train control isn’t available, then the train should have a crew member besides the engineer who’s familiar with the route and briefings about where speeds are reduced. The second person would have to be in constant contact with the engineer, according to the recommendations.

The administration’s safety advisory also suggests railroads add more warning signs about speed. The administration said this week’s advisory is the latest in a series of steps it has taken to keep passenger railroads safe.

U.S. accident investigators said Wednesday that the engineer driving an Amtrak train wasn’t using his cellphone in the moments before the train derailed in Philadelphia last month, deepening the mystery of what caused the accident.

Eight people were killed and about 200 more injured in the May 12 derailment.

In an updated report, the National Transportation Safety Board said its analysis of phone records “does not indicate that any calls, texts or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train.” The agency also said the engineer, Brandon Bostian, didn’t access the train’s Wi-Fi system while he was operating the locomotive.

Investigators have said the train accelerated to 106 miles (170 kilometers) per hour in the last minute before entering a curve where the speed limit is 50 mph (80 kph). In the last few seconds the brakes were applied with maximum force, but the train was still traveling at over 100 mph (160 kph) when it left the tracks.

Congress has been pressing the safety board for answers to the key question of whether Bostian was using his phone. Bostian suffered a head injury in the crash, and his attorney has said his doesn’t remember anything after the train pulled out of Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station, the last stop before the derailment.

Engineers aren’t allowed to use phones while operating trains or preparing them for movement.

Accident investigators have said previously that they have not found any mechanical problems with the train. The track had been inspected not long before the crash.

Compiled from Associated Press wires