Oh, could I be any more disgusted???
An Amtrak train traveling the Wolverine line from Chicago to Pontiac derailed on Sunday. While I’m thankful that reported injuries are minor, I really couldn’t be much more disgusted. This “incident” (or shall we call a spade a spade and refer to it as a crash?) occurred on track that is actually owned by Amtrak. What would it take to increase Amtrak’s technical capabilities to the level of the freight services that own most of the rails in our country? Or to reach the level of Japan, or much of Europe? As much as I want to see train travel improve in America, this little episode doesn’t make me feel good about making this a high-speed corridor. This train was traveling at 60 mph. A near-doubling of speed, from 60mph to 110mph, would have made this a catastrophic crash.
It sounds like this may have taken place on the section of track equipped with ITCS, or the Incremental Train Control System. The system sounds a little like auto-pilot on an airplane and is intended to improve both safety and efficiency. There are, of course, other possibilities as well.
The investigation of this derailment is expected to take six months to a year. I, for one, will be watching closely not only for the results of what happened in this accident, but also to see what steps Amtrak and/or state and federal governments take to ensure that this is a one-off event.