The Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia on Tuesday night approached a left-turned curve going 106 miles per hour, according to Robert Sumwalt of the National Transportation Safety Board. The maximum authorized speed for that curve — a so-called “shore curve” — is 50 miles per hour.
Moments before the crash, the train engineer applied emergency brakes, bringing the speed down to 102 miles per hour at the time of impact according to the preliminary data gleaned from the train’s black box.
Sumwalt said additional “multi-disciplinary” analysis will be done. The engineer, who survived the crash, will be interviewed by authorities in the coming days. Sumwalt also said NTSB plans to interview the train crew, test the signal system, look through detailed documentation of the scene and come up with a timeline that will detail the train’s journey.
“Our mission is to find out not only what happened but why it happened so we can prevent it from happening again,” said Sumwalt.
At least seven people have been found dead in the aftermath of the crash, including a Navy midshipman and an Associated Press staffer. Over 200 people were checked into four hospitals throughout the city.
Temple University’s Dr. Herbert Cushing says eight of the 23 patients currently at Temple remain in critical condition. He says he expects those patients to do “just fine,” adding that the majority of injuries sustained were rib fractures.
Amtrak 188 was classified “Type B,” Non-Acela train travelling on an inside track.
An earlier center for family and friends near the site of the crash on Frankford Avenue has been closed, according to Samantha Phillips, director of emergency management for the City of Philadelphia. All operations have been transitioned to an Amtrak assistance center at the Marriott hotel on 12th and Market streets in Center City Philadelphia.
Family and friends looking for loved ones can call the Amtrak hotline at 1-800-523-9101. Train passengers who are doing well and left the scene of the crash are also requested to call that line to confirm their status.
Phillips said the city has made “really good progress” in accounting for the majority of passengers who are believed to have been on the train.
Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter added that the search for victims remains “very, very active.”
“We will not cease efforts until we are absolutely sure,” he said. “The search area has been expanded with officers and other personnel to look even further in case someone was thrown from the train.”
On hand to tour the site of the crash on Wednesday afternoon were Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey.
Amtrak trains between New York and Philadelphia are not running until further notice. The remainder of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains are running with severe delays. SEPTA’s Deputy General Manager Jeff Knueppel has said he expects the SEPTA Trenton line will be down for seven days.
NJ Transit, Greyhound and Megabus are honoring Amtrak tickets. Greyhound said it added 16 more scheduled trips between New York, Philadelphia and Washington. Megabus said it was working to add trips on Wednesday and accommodate an increased demand in coming days. NJ Transit is also bussing commuters from Cherry Hill, New Jersey into Philadelphia.
“Along the Northeast Corridor, this is a tragedy that affects us all,” said Obama, in a release from the White House. “Philadelphia is known as the city of brotherly love — a city of neighborhoods and neighbors — and that spirit of loving-kindness was reaffirmed last night as hundreds of first responders and passengers lent a hand to their fellow human being.”
Biden, who frequently talks about his days riding Amtrak from Washington, D.C. to Wilmington, Delaware when he was Senator said he was “deeply saddened.”
“I’ve come to know the conductors, engineers, and other regulars — men and women riding home to kiss their kids good night,” he said.