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.