A combination of human error and a lack of adequate safety protocols contributed to a fatal Amtrak train crash near Columbia, South Carolina, in February 2018, National Transportation Safety Board officials ruled on Tuesday.
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Safety officials determined that CSX failed to implement adequate safety checks during track upgrades and that a CSX conductor had failed to properly realign a switch before the crash. Amtrak’s failure to conduct a risk assessment on train operations during track work also contributed to the accident, the NTSB said.
“The train crew omitted throwing the switch that one final time, which unfortunately happens far too often,” said NTSB Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt. “If the same error is repeated by many people, the problem is not the individuals’ performance of their duties, rather, the problem is the failure to mitigate the risk associated with the task they are performing.”
The accident occurred on Feb. 4, 2018, when a diverted Amtrak train collided with a parked CSX train on a side track. Two crew members died in the crash, while roughly 100 passengers were injured.
The NTSB added that the Federal Railroad Administration's failure to implement mandated safety systems, known as positive train control, was another factor. Congress mandated the installation of PTC systems on railroads in 2008, but deadlines to implement the technology have been delayed.
“The NTSB’s report notes that unless the FRA implements more robust safety interventions, misaligned switch accidents will continue to occur,” the organization said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.