Carper and Coons comment on train derailment

Shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday, Northeast Regional Train 188 was headed to New York from Washington when it derailed off a sharp turn in Philadelphia’s Port Richmond section.

The seven-car train was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members when it derailed along the nation’s busiest rail corridor and as of Wednesday afternoon, the Associated Press reported the derailment had killed at least seven people and injured 200 others.

Like many of us, Senator Tom Carper, D-Del., watched the news on TV from his living room, only Sen. Carper had disembarked that same train less than an hour before the accident.

“The visuals were very graphic and horrible,” Sen. Carper said of watching the coverage live. “My initial concern was for a lot of people I knew on the train. … I prayed for a lot of people last night and still am.”

Like Sen. Carper, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., is also a frequenter of Amtrak trains between Wilmington and Washington felt empathetic toward not only those involved in the accident but those who use commuter rail services regularly.

“I know how critical Amtrak is to families, businesses, and communities in Delaware and throughout the Northeast,” he said Wednesday afternoon. “As a member of the Senate, last night’s tragedy is yet another stark reminder of why we must act now to invest in our transportation infrastructure, including Amtrak. I’ll continue working to ensure Amtrak and passenger rail services throughout the country have the federal resources and policies they need to operate safely and efficiently. ”

Federal authorities will look at a variety of evidence as they try to pinpoint the cause. The study will focus on the train’s event data recorder, video recordings and the condition of the rails, rail ties and train cars.

“The idea is to not just assign blame or to realize the cause but to see if there are some lessons we can learn from this so that it will reduce the likelihood it will happen again,” Sen. Carper said.

The Federal Railroad Administration reported that Amtrak had inspected tracks in Philadelphia just hours before the derailment and found no defects but based off surveillance footage taken just before the crash, the Associate Press determined the 662-foot-long train was traveling about 107 miles per hour as it approached the curve where the derailment occurred.

The speed limit on the track just before the accident site is 70 mph, and 50 mph for the curve near where the train came to a rest.

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