Authorities have not yet released the cause of the derailment of the Amtrak Northeast Regional Train, though several details have emerged since last night. The National Transportation Safety Board reported that the train was traveling on a curve at 106 mph. The speed limit of the curve was 50 mph and means the train was travelling at twice the speed limit at the time of its derailment. Whether or not the speed of the train was the cause of the accident has yet to be determined.
The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation authority (SEPTA) announced Wednesday that an unidentified projectile hit and broke the engineer's window at around 9:25 p.m. The incident occurred at approximately 3.5 miles or 20 minutes prior to the derailment. A SEPTA spokesperson said there is no reason indicating the projectile was related to the subsequent derailment.
The Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that the train's engineer survived the crash. Engine data recorders indicate that the engineer employed the emergency break shortly before the derailment, causing the train to reduce to a speed of 102 mph approximately 3 seconds before derailing.
Reports indicate that the engine was a newer model produced Siemens and had been delivered to Amtrak as recently as last year. The train and track had not yet been fitted with the latest safety control device, known as “positive train control” (PTC). The PCT automatically slows or halts a locomotive traveling too fast or entering a danger zone. All locomotives and railways are required to be fitted with PCT by the end of this year.
The Associated Press reports:
Philadelphia police officials say the engineer of the Amtrak train that crashed, killing seven people and injuring more than 200, declined to provide a statement to investigators.
They say the engineer also had an attorney when he left a meeting with investigators. The engineer has not yet been identified.
Over 200 hundred passengers were injured, many suffering from broken ribs and concussions. Seven passengers perished from the accident.
Tuesday's derailment is just the latest in what may seem to be an increasing number of rail accidents. Just last month a freight train carrying highly toxic chemicals derailed in South Carolina. As many as 15 cars were overturned and/or leaked chemicals following the accident, forcing residents within a 1.5 mile radius to evacuate.