Feb. 5 (UPI) — Authorities said the Amtrak train that crashed in South Carolina Sunday was on the wrong track when it rammed a parked CSX freight train, killing two and injuring more than 100.
The National Transportation Safety Board said in a news conference Sunday night that investigators are trying to determine why a switch was locked in position — a practice called “lined and locked” — that sent the train off the main line and onto a side track.
“Of course, key to this investigation is learning why that switch was lined that way because the expectation is the Amtrak would be cleared and would be operating straight down [the main line],” NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said.
The train was operating between New York and Miami when it hit the CSX freight train in Cayce, South Carolina, with 8 crew members and 139 others on board.
Sumwalt also said the front facing camera of the train would be sent to the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C., to be analyzed
South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster said at a different news conferenceSunday that it appeared the Amtrak train was on the wrong track at the time of the accident.
“They weren’t supposed to be meeting right there by the bridge, clearly. And it may be a time factor, but that’s what it appears to me,” McMaster said. “But I defer to those who are experts in that and do have the correct information, but it appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track.”
Amtrak CEO Richard Anderson said Sunday the signal system was down and CSX dispatchers were manually routing trains
”The only way the Amtrak train could have gotten onto the siding was for a switch to have been thrown,” Anderson said.
Amtrak officials said in a statement they were “deeply saddened” over the loss of two employees — 54-year-old engineer Michael Kempf and 36-year-old conductor Michael Cella.
Sunday’s crash marks the second Amtrak train crash in a week. Wednesday, a train carrying Republican members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a trash truck outside of Charlottesville, Va. The driver of the truck was killed and three sanitation workers were injured.