Oversight of the Amtrak Accident in Philadelphia
2167 Rayburn House Office Building
Summary of Subject Matter
Official Hearing Transcript
Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA)
(Remarks as Prepared)
Today’s hearing will focus on the tragic Amtrak accident that occurred in Philadelphia on May 12th. We all have heard some of the preliminary information surrounding this terrible event. An Amtrak Northeast Regional train, in route from Washington to New York, derailed at a curve in Philadelphia. The National Transportation Safety Board has reported that the train was traveling at 106 miles per hour, despite a 50 mile per hour speed limit on that portion of track. Eight passengers lost their lives, and approximately 200 were injured. We are not aware of any defects or issues identified to-date with respect to the track, locomotive, or other infrastructure.
Today we will get an update from NTSB on where their investigation stands, and any additional information they can provide on the cause of this accident.
Since the accident, the Federal Railroad Administration and Amtrak have taken several steps to improve safety along the Northeast Corridor. Amtrak is assessing all the curves along the NEC to determine if additional speed restrictions should be imposed. Amtrak has also announced it will be installing inward facing cameras in its locomotives, to help gain a better understanding of how incidents occur. And they have also committed to finish implementation of Positive Train Control on the Northeast Corridor by December of this year.
Today I want to review what actions Amtrak and FRA took on passenger rail safety before this accident, particularly why FRA didn’t mandate the review of severe curves sooner. I also want to discuss what we can do going forward to ensure safety across all passenger and commuter rail corridors.
Finally, this accident once again highlighted the central role the Northeast Corridor plays in moving people along the East Coast. The NEC represents just 2% of the Nation’s land mass, but 18% of the population and 20% of GDP. Hundreds of thousands of people use the corridor daily to get to work, or travel between some of our largest cities. When the corridor is out for just several days, there is a real and significant impact on people’s lives and the economy.
This committee has committed to focusing resources and improving the Northeast Corridor, including in our bipartisan Amtrak reform bill that passed the House just a few months ago. I look forward to working with my friends in the Senate to get that reform bill enacted into law. And I look forward to hearing from our witnesses regarding these important issues.
# # #