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Rail agency calls for additional safeguards on passenger trains

By Amy R. Connolly
Rail agency calls for additional safeguards on passenger trains
Sarah Feinberg, Acting Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration, testifies during a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing on Amtrak Accident in Philadelphia on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on June 2, 2015. Tuesday, Feinberg announced further regulations on passenger trains. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

WASHINGTON, June 9 (UPI) -- Following a deadly Amtrak derailment that killed eight and injured 200, federal regulators called for passenger trains to add additional crew in locomotives and utilize automatic braking to comply with speed limits.

In a 10-page safety advisory, the Federal Railroad Administration focused on controlling excessive train speeds, which are thought to be the primary cause of the May 12 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia and a 2013 Metro-North crash in the Bronx, New York. The railroad regulator called for a "second qualified crew member" to be in the cab of the controlling locomotive or for the second crew member to be in continuous communication with the engineer from the body of the train.

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The FRA also called for automatic braking where available to comply with speed limits and to pinpoint locations where speed limits drop at least 20 miles per hour and install speed-limit signs along the tracks.

"The FRA fully expects passenger railroads to take immediate action and implement these recommendations," said Sarah Feinberg, acting FRA administrator. "We will continue to take action in the coming weeks to prevent human error from causing accidents and to keep passengers safe on the nation's railroads."

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Investigators have determined the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia entered a curve traveling at 106 miles per hour, some 56 miles over the posted 50-mph limit. As the National Transportation Safety Board continues its review of the crash, the FRA released recommendations that need to be taken to keep passenger trains safe, official said. The NTSB is expected to release additional details about the crash Wednesday.

The new safety order comes after a May 21 emergency order that spelled out required steps for Amtrak along its Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston. The new order apply's to all of the country's 28 passenger railroads.

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