The US Department of Transportation is investigating five airlines (Delta, JetBlue, American, United and Southwest) for increasing fares following the Amtrak 188 crash of May 12th. The letter is due in 30 days and there is a separate investigation by the Justice department. According to a copy of the letter sent to Delta’s chief counsel the DOT wants a spreadsheet of the average fare by market, day, and fare class for flights on routes in the corridor from April 28th to May 26th. It also wants the number of tickets sold and passengers carried, as well as comparison data from last year, as well as ten other requests. Transportation Secretary Foxx:
The idea that any business would seek to take advantage of stranded rail passengers in the wake of such a tragic event is unacceptable. This department takes all allegations of airline price-gouging seriously, and we will pursue a thorough investigation of these consumer complaints.
The airlines have denied wrongdoing and have pledged to co-operate.
Investigators say Bostian was not using his cellphone in the moments before the train derailed in Philadelphia last month. He also did not access the train’s wi-fi. NTSB:
[Analysis of phone records] does not indicate that any calls, texts or data usage occurred during the time the engineer was operating the train.
Amtrak service resumes, almost a week since the accident. Since the train crash, Amtrak officials have been working around the clock to make repairs that would allow full service to resume through Philadelphia. The FBI examines the wreckage at the accident scene and try to determine what may have hit the train.
We’re just in the fact-finding stage of the investigation. We’re just slowly starting to gather the information and then slowly start ruling things out.
The NTSB’s lead investigator says the object that hit the train windscreen is not a bullet, and cautioned that there is still not enough information to determine whether it was related to the train derailment.
I’d like to downplay that part. I’ve now seen the fracture pattern. It looks like something about the size of a grapefruit, if you will. And it did not even penetrate the entire windshield…It could be completely coincidental or it could be causal. And that’s exactly what we intend to find out.
The NTSB says a projectile appears to have hit the windshield of Trail 188 before it derailed. One of the two assistant conductors on the train said that shortly after leaving Philadelphia’s 30th Street station, she heard an engineer from a local SEPTA commuter train report his train being hit.
She recalled that the SEPTA engineer had reported to the train dispatcher that he had either been hit by a rock or shot at. And that the SEPTA engineer said that he had a broken windshield, and that he placed his train into emergency stop….This is her recollection, and certainly we are going to be conducting further investigation of this comment. Our investigation has not independently confirmed this information, but we have seen damage to the left hand, lower portion of the Amtrak windshield that we have asked the FBI to come in and look at for us
The NTSB later tells CBS News it was looking into reports that a third train, Amtrak Acela 2173, was also struck by an object the same night.
Bostian’s lawyer says his client has no memory of the crash, and that he suffered a concussion, leg injuries and a cut in his head that needed 14 staples to close. He has not yet talked with the NTSB.
He remembers driving the train, he remembers going to that area generally, has absolutely no recollection of the incident or anything unusual.
We’ve not interviewed the engineer, but I want to point out that for somebody who’s been through a traumatic event, this is not at all unusual for human behavior to have the mind blank out things like that, at least for the short term.
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter criticizes Bostian:
Clearly he was reckless and irresponsible in his actions. I don’t know what was going on with him, I don’t know what was going on in the cab, but there’s really no excuse that could be offered.
NTSB’s lead investigator:
[I’m] not going to agree with that at all. I think that’s a subjective, judgmental statement,” he said. “We’re here right now just to find out what happened, and that’s what we want to do. We want to find out what happened and why, and we’re not casting any judgment because at this point right now we want to talk to this person and find out what his perspective was.
An eighth body is found in the wreckage of the train by a search dog, in the mangled first car. The victim has not been identified; only six of the victims have been identified by authorities or friends and family. Mayor Nutter says that all 243 passengers are now accounted for.
Federal investigators say the train was travelling at 102 mph, when engineer applied the locomotive’s emergency braking system just after entering the curved stretch of track. The maximum allowed speed on the curve is 50 miles per hour. The brakes slow the train to 102 mph before the locomotive and all seven passenger cars derail. Black box event recordings and video from the train have yet to be fully analysed. NTSB experts believe the derailment would have been prevented by installation of an advanced safety system called “positive train control”. Authorities have offered no explanation for why the locomotive was traveling so fast. They intend to interview the engineer in the next few days. NTSB official:
This person has gone through a very traumatic event and we want to give him an opportunity to convalesce for a day or two. But that is certainly a very high priority for us.
Train 188, a Northeast Regional, carrying 238 passengers and five crew members and heading to New York City from Washington D.C., derails and tips over in Philadelphia killing seven people. The front of the train is going into a turn at Frankford Junction in Port Richmond, when it started to shake before coming to a sudden stop. Dozens of passengers are injured, and some climbed out of windows to get away. Witness:
The train started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake. Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake. You could see people’s stuff flying over me.
Rail service on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Philadelphia has been stopped. The NTSB says it is gathering information about the derailment and will launch an investigative team.