Amtrak Crash: Why It Happened and Plans for PTC

Thomas Rose

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Recently, an Amtrak train crashed in South Carolina. The train, the Silver Star, was making its daily run from New York to Miami with a load of 147 passengers and 9 Amtrak employees, was diverted onto the wrong track,  slamming into a parked CSX Autorack train. The Silver Star’s engine, Amtrak P42DC #47 had its front end crushed, and the engineers died. 116 of the 147 passengers suffered injuries, none were fatally injured however. The NTSB has said the reason for the crash was an error on CSX’s part, because the switches on that route of track were being manually controlled due to a lack of signaling systems at the time. Government officials have commented on the incident, saying that railroads need to install a “Positive train control” system to put GPS and automatic braking on trains. The government has demanded that all freight railroads must install PTC by December of this year. If this happens, Amtrak trains will be allowed to reach higher speeds on mainline routes. However, this comes at the cost of billions of dollars, but BNSF’s official website says it plans to use 3 billion dollars on investments and Union Pacific apparently has 4 billion dollars, so only 2 of the multiple Class 1 railroads can pay most of the cost. If PTC is installed as planned then Amtrak train accidents will decrease significantly and hopefully defeat the bad reputation Amtrak has been getting for the other recent accidents lately, such as a Cascades derailment in Tacoma and a truck collision.




“BNSF Announces 2018 Plan for Capital Investments.” BNSF Railway,

Chavez, Nicole, and Dakin Andone. “Two killed in crash involving Amtrak train, freight train.” CNN, Cable News Network, 5 Feb. 2018,

CBS/AP. “Amtrak train crash in South Carolina leaves 2 dead, 116 injured.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 4 Feb. 2018,

“Positive Train Control.” Policy Issues,

“Company Overview.” UP: Company Overview,

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Amtrak Crash: Why It Happened and Plans for PTC