That’s the position of the Lakewood City Council in a resolution (pp.305-318) supporting the safety recommendations approved by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) on May 21, 2019.
Noble, but inadequate.
Even with the replacement “as soon as possible” of current passenger conveyances with more substantially built rail cars, somehow the recommendation to “secure potential projectiles” within the passenger cars fails to adequately address the train itself having become a projectile given it left the track.
The NTSB also proposes that “wayside signs be highly conspicuous and strategically located.”
OK, here’s a suggestion for a series of six signs strategically placed before the 30-mph curve that Amtrak 501 entered at “too high a speed”:
If you dislike
Big railroad fines
Can read these signs.
(Adapted from Burma-Shave).
And research. Amtrak, WSDOT, et al, are instructed to do more research on safety protocols.
So, it doesn’t happen again.
“Conduct research into the effectiveness of occupant protection.”
Research? For safely ensuring passengers get from A to B?
How long has America taken to the rails? And we need more studies to get what is so basic right?
The problem here is not the need for more manuals, classes, simulators or signs.
The problem is the culture.
The culture of greed.
There’s an ethics gap.
To borrow from Joseph W. Cotchett’s book “Greed and the Casino Society” subtitled “The Erosion of Ethics in Our Professions, Business and Government”.
Boeing, as another example.
“Even as it continued delivering 737 MAX airplanes to customers, Boeing had kept quiet the details of the problem” – a cockpit warning light which “sensors are now suspected of playing a role in two MAX crashes.
“After discovering the problem Boeing decided it would defer an update to fix the issue until 2020.”
On December 19, 2017 one day after the DuPont derailment, The Seattle Times editorial board revealed that “safety regulators have called for PTC systems for decades, but Congress and the U.S. railroad industry have been slow to implement this lifesaving technology.”
Mandated in 2008 by Congress, PTC was required by the end of 2015.
That’s 2015 as in May 12, 2015 when a train left the track in Philadelphia, again on a curve, again going too fast, in fact more than 100 mph, again posted with a speed limit sign of 50-mph, and again eight people were killed and more than 200 injured.
Fast-forward – literally – a few months more than two years later and a similar tragic scenario is played out with Amtrak 501.
Which leads Michael Krzak, partner with Clifford Law Offices, a Chicago law firm representing six people in Amtrak’s 501 crash, to say “part of our litigation will be to look at the safety culture of Amtrak.”
Look close Krzak.
Because it’s a malaise to be microscoped, not yet another manual to be read.
It’s corporate greed masquerading as ‘business as usual’.
It’s the lure of big money, and yet bigger signs are proposed as the solution?
It’s what Ralph Nadar, in the forward to Cotchett’s book, called “an epidemic of plunder” and at the very high price of people’s lives.
Out of this wreckage should come not regurgitated safety recommendations but severe sanctions; not strategically placed signs but outrage and a sharper level of finger-pointed shame.
There should be no “until” they get it right that this-and-so recommendation should be fully implemented.
They had that chance.
They all did.
David Anderson says
The movie “Unstoppable” was about a runaway train.
Amtrak 501 was unacceptable, also a runaway train.
The differences of course are appreciable.
But the similarities are dreadful.
There were no passengers on CSX 8888. It was a freight train.
There were a lot of passengers on Amtrak 501, 62 of whom were taken to the hospital, three not nearly so fortunate.
The budget for “Unstoppable” was $90 million.
The budget for Unacceptable was just a hair over twice that: $181.1 million.
“Unstoppable” was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Sound Editing but lost out to “Inception.”
Unacceptable was supposed to have been the featured attraction on its inaugural run but was doomed from its inception.
In Unstoppable, “yard hostlers Dewey and Gilleece incompetently allow the train to leave the railyard on its own power.”
To read the National Transportation Safety Board’s rebuke of every single agency that had anything to do with Unacceptable, all of them were borderline incompetent.
News of the runaway train in Unstoppable drew ongoing media coverage.
Unacceptable caught the attention of Canadian Broadcasting Company, NBC New York, NBC’s affiliate out of Los Angeles that drew a team of reporters from Japan – to mention a few – and of course more of the local Northwest news sources.
Running time for Unstoppable was 98 minutes.
Running time for Unacceptable was 94 minutes.
Unstoppable was an action thriller.
Unacceptable was not.
Fae crabill says
Me David Anderson. You are never happy. Do you like being miserable all the time and complaining constantly. No matter what the city council does you don’t be satisfied. Try for one week without complaining about the council, I would bet(oops sorry you don’t bet). You would not be so stressed
David Anderson says
For the record Crabill, I support the Council on this. You read the article right? About the trains? Someday maybe, and I admit it for you it’s a stretch, you’ll find something worth fighting for.
You don’t like being called out, do you?
David Anderson says
Yet another asinine comment from someone named Marty who hides behind an unknown last name.
R. Sidney Cloud says
How about a mandate that no train without the safety features activated can leave the station? And interest paid to those with paid reservations in advance; say 29% interest compounded monthly.. Although that may not be high enough to catch anyone’s attention.