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As new video of Cayce train crash surfaces, safety officials gri - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

As new video of Cayce train crash surfaces, safety officials grill CSX and Amtrak

A look at the Amtrak train collision in Cayce, SC Feb. 2018. (Source: WIS) A look at the Amtrak train collision in Cayce, SC Feb. 2018. (Source: WIS)
CAYCE, SC (WIS) -

Never before seen video, released by a Cayce business owner Tuesday, shows the violent moment of impact on the morning of February 4, when an Amtrak train collided with a parked CSX train killing the Amtrak conductor and engineer and injuring more than a hundred passengers.

The video surfaced as safety officials in Washington grilled CSX, Amtrak, and others.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigative hearing happened months after the safety group issued an urgent recommendation to slow trains—to 15 to 20 miles per hour—that are approaching circumstances like those present back in February near Cayce.

Back then, train signals in the area were temporarily down during a safety upgrade to a system known as Positive Train Control. During that time, a switch was flipped that caused the Amtrak train to divert onto the wrong rail where the CSX train was parked.

While NTSB’s recommendation to slow some trains under circumstances like those present in Cayce hasn’t received support from the Federal Railroad Administration, Tuesday, NTSB Chair Robert Sumwalt asked both CSX and Amtrak if they’re on-board. CSX didn’t get a plain ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ but Amtrak said it agrees with the NTSB.

“I think maybe there’s a difference of opinion here on how this should be done,” said Sumwalt.

Meanwhile, CSX answered a myriad of questions about what it’s done since the crash to improve safety. CSX seemed to be in the hot seat for most of the Tuesday hearing.

“The mood and attitude in our department and with all of our colleagues . . . we’re excited,” said Matthew Meadows with CSX. “It’s been a huge adjustment and change over the last probably six months.”

CSX said it’s released new intranet page that allows employees to report problems or concerns, it’s updated training practices with recent rule changes, and its hired a consultant to audit the company’s safety culture.

At times, the NTSB seemed to show some doubt. Sumwalt pointed out reports prepared by CSX, one of them for shareholders, that included goals like wider profit margins and increased efficiency. The word safety, though, was missing from the list.

“You stated that there’s been a refocus on safety,” Sumwalt said to Meadows. “I’ll pull up my little dictionary app here, and it says, ‘to focus again, to change the emphasis or direction of, to change emphasis or direction.’ By using the word refocus, are you suggesting there was less of a focus prior to February the 4th?”

“In all honesty I was quoting our CEO, Mr. Jim Foote, who made that statement,” Meadows answered.

Amtrak, meanwhile, said it’ll do more to assess the risks of operating on railways it doesn’t own and operate.

According to Sumwalt, NTSB’s two-day hearing isn’t about assigning blame or liability. Instead, it’s about answering unanswered questions, since the investigation into what caused the crash is still ongoing. Probable cause will be assigned later, NTSB said.

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