7 Dead In Devastating Derailment, Lack Of Infastructure Investments (VIDEO)
Lack Of Infrastructure Investments Cause Deaths
At least one person is missing. And the responders are cutting through the wreckage in hopes of finding others pinned beneath. As many as 140 people of the 243 passengers onboard, which includes five crew members, have been injured.
One passenger said,
“We just rolled and rolled. There were people screaming and yelling.”
Amtrak sent all of the passengers to hospitals to check for injuries immediately after the wreck. That is also one method of checking the passengers against the train’s outdated manifest system (passenger lists). However some people may have self-evacuated and left the scene. Others may have had reservations but missed the train.
Since there are no seatbelts on the train, people were flung about the cabins and into other people and loose objects. This caused serious injuries including broken bones, head trauma, cuts, and internal injuries.
Former Congressman Patrick Murphy of Philadelphia was on the train on his way home. He was not injured.
“People were thrown around like pin balls.”
NTSB Investigates For Cause
At this time we do not know the cause of the wreck, although the black box has been recovered. Authorities believe that they will be able to extract some information from it today. Trains carry a black box called an event recorder, which is similar to those on airplanes. Authorities are also currently searching for the video that shows the engineer’s view.
The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) is responsible for investigating train wrecks as well as airplane crashes.
There is a multi-disciplinary team on the ground examining the track issues, the signals, the electricity, wheel failure, and the mechanical condition of the train itself. Authorities are having a conversation with the engineer, and he is being examined for toxicolity as well.
In the search and recovery efforts, three giant cranes capable of lifting up to 220 thousand pounds of weight have been brought to the site to lift the mangled wreckage. Authorities are looking for people who may be beneath the trains. Cadaver dogs are also on scene.
Infrastructure Investments Appalling
Our infrastructure, including Amtrak, has been sadly neglected over the past 20 years. The House Appropriations Committee is debating the Amtrak funding cut today. Republicans have slashed Amtrak funding 22% in the current bill as part of their austerity program.
Amtrak was to be funded at its current rate of $1.4 billion per year for the next four years, but Republicans want to cut it to $1.13 billion as compared to the $8 billion spent for London.
Amtrak makes money on the Northeast Corridor, but that is the only place in the country. Republicans are eager to privatize the railroad, but that would not solve the problem: starving required maintenance investments for an antiquated infrastructure. Privatization would simply add another cost to the program.
Safety is the price of congressional cuts. That means overworked train employees and a desperate lack of needed maintenance. Amtrak is decrepit.
Trains carry 77% of all travelers between Washington and New York and reach speeds of 120 m.p.h. Amtrak has suspended all service between New York and Philadelphia causing travel problems for tens of thousands of commuters.
Watch the video of survivors in their own words.
H/T MSNBC live.