Tag Archives: Amtrak

Infrastructure repair? Not an issue with this derailment

There goes the immediate argument for repairing, rebuilding and renovating our nation’s rail infrastructure.

It’s not that we don’t need to fix our total infrastructure — highways, bridges, airports and, yes, railroads. Accordingly, Donald Trump’s insistence that the government spend a trillion dollars for a comprehensive reworking of our nation’s transportation system is spot on.

However, the derailment that occurred Monday morning in the Seattle-Tacoma, Wash., area appears to be the result of human error. You see, the Amtrak train that few off the rails was roaring along at 80 mph on a stretch of rail with a posted speed limit of 30 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. That’s nearly triple the speed limit.

The train was making its initial run on a route between Seattle and Portland.

The wreck has killed at least three people, injured scores of others.

It also has created a serious discussion about training rail engineers and whether this particular engineer was (a) asleep at the controls, (b) distracted by someone in the locomotive or (c) simply being careless.

In the meantime, we should offer prayers and support for the loved ones of those who died and for those who were injured in this terrifying event.

Oh, yeah, the victims … the victims, Mr. President

On occasion, it’s worth noting that the initial response to tragedy can be construed as the thing that comes to one’s mind first.

An Amtrak train derailed this morning between Seattle and Tacoma, Wash. Millions of Americans saw the TV coverage live at the time and thought, “Oh, my goodness! Those poor passengers … and the motorists who were caught on the interstate highway below!”

How did the president of the United States respond immediately?

He tweeted some nonsense about how the accident makes it imperative for Congress to enact an infrastructure improvement plan he has put forward.

Critics jumped all over Donald Trump for the seeming insensitivity in that initial Twitter message. He then fired off another one expressing his dismay for the victims and offered prayers for them.

Fine, Mr. President. We appreciate the thoughts and good wishes.

Many of us would think more of them if they were contained in the president’s initial response to the tragic derailment.

We need more ‘quiet places’


Amtrak has a “quiet car”? Seriously?

I learned that bit of information this week when I heard about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie getting booted from the train’s quiet car after he began blabbing loudly on his cell phone.

He was en route from Washington to New Jersey after appearing on a Sunday morning news talk show to discuss his Republican presidential candidacy.

The governor whipped out his phone and began talking — apparently quite loudly — on his phone where such activity is prohibited.

The train operator asked him to leave the quiet car. He did. No problem.

I give Gov. Christie kudos for being compliant and for not raising a further ruckus.

But now comes the question: Why not have more of those quiet places?

Have you been annoyed, say, in the grocery store line? How about waiting at an airport terminal gate sitting next to some loudmouth businessman/woman talking about the biggest business deal ever struck?

I could go on. There are many place where I’d like to see cell phone use restricted.

Frankly, I’m proud of Amtrak for establishing the quiet car. Christie’s spokesperson acknowledged the governor’s mistake, but said he had talked inappropriately in Amtrak’s “notorious” quiet car. Notorious? Surely, that’s meant as a tongue-in-cheek reference.

Yes, I pack my cell phone with me everywhere. I feel oddly lost without it. (Man, it takes a lot for me to admit that.) I do cherish those moments when I do not have to listen to others gabbing, blabbing and yammering on their phones.

I think Amtrak is onto something. Maybe we can start a “quiet zone craze.”


102 mph … on an Amtrak line?

My sincerest hope at the moment is that the engineer of the Amtrak train that crashed this week gets his wits about him and can tell investigators why in the world he was shattering the speed limit on a rail line that resulted in the deadly derailment in Philadelphia.


Eight people were killed and that appears to the final fatality total, as the rest of the passengers have been accounted for.

The nation’s hearts go out to the families of those who died or were injured.

Brandon Bostian, 32, needs to provide some answers. The speed limit on the turn in the track where the derailment occurred is 50 mph; the line has a maximum speed limit of 70 mph along the New York-to-Washington route.

Bostian said he doesn’t recall anything about the accident. His lawyer describes Bostian as “very distraught” and said he is cooperating with National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

To be honest, I was unaware that these Amtrak locomotives could even go as fast as the train was going when it flew off the tracks.

A worried nation awaits the engineer’s account of just why he was speeding far beyond what was safe and prudent.