Injured passenger and deceased conductor's wife calling rail companies negligent
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WACH) - The wife of the conductor who was killed in Sunday's train crash says two railway companies are to blame for his death. She says Amtrak and CSX were negligent in locking a manual switch that's to blame for the derailment. That forced the passenger train onto the side track where the freight train was parked. Another lawsuit comes from an injured passenger who is saying the same thing, but also accuses CSX of disregard for public safety.
It all comes down to the switch - a mechanical devise used to move trains from one track to another. Investigators say that switch was padlocked Sunday when an Amtrak train crashed into a CSX locomotive sitting on the track. The National Transportation Safety Board told reporters positive train control would have prevented the crash.
The rail safety system was mandated by Congress in 2008 to be installed on all major rail lines. But companies have been reluctant because of the high cost. In 2015, they were given until the end of this year to install the technology. It's an investment a USC railway expert Dimitros Rizos says shouldn't be questioned.
"It's an expensive investment. But we cannot put a dollar value to the life of a single person so I think it's worth it," says Rizos.
Right now, less than 40% of CSX track segments are equipped with P.T.C., according to the Federal Railroad Administration. On Wednesday Lowcountry Senator Marlon Kimpson introduced a bill at the State House that would fine railroads that don't install positive train control by the end of this year. The measure still needs to be approved by lawmakers. The rail companies named in the lawsuits have 30 days to respond.