Two Of Eight Victims Honored In Saturday Services

PHILADELPHIA (CBSNewYork) — Amtrak said Saturday that it will cooperate, after the Federal Railroad Administration announced a crackdown following the fatal derailment in Philadelphia this week.

As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, dramatic surveillance video released to CBS2 on Friday showed Amtrak No. 188 on the Northeast Regional line derailing along a sharp curve in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Sparks fly from overhead wires as the train goes tumbling off the rails, after it accelerated to 106 mph.

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“We are continuing to work with the NTSB to understand exactly what happened on Tuesday so we can prevent this type of devastating accident from ever happening again,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said.

As officials continued Saturday to investigate the cause of the crash that killed eight people, the FRA said it is ordering Amtrak to expand the use of a speed restriction system that notifies engineers when a train is above the speed limit. The system also applies the brakes if engineers do not respond.

Federal officials also want Amtrak to analyze track curves along the Northeast Corridor, and improve speed limit signage.

“These are just initial steps, but we believe they will immediately improve safety for passengers on the Northeast Corridor,” said Acting Federal Railroad Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

Amtrak issued a statement Saturday saying it would abide by the demands.

“Amtrak’s overarching goal is to provide safe and secure rail passenger travel. We will immediately implement the Federal Railroad Administration’s directives to further improve passenger train safety along the Northeast Corridor,” the statement said.

Amtrak told CBS2 that a system called automatic train control, which notifies engineers of speed violations and can apply brakes as the FRA demanded, is already in place in the Northeast Corridor. But it is only in place on the southbound tracks, while the train that derailed Tuesday night was headed northbound.

Automatic train control is different from positive train control, which National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt earlier this week said could have prevented the derailment.

Positive train control involves transponders that can be programmed with specific speed limits, in addition to notifying engineers and automatically applying brakes.

Amtrak said it is in the process of installing a form of positive train control technology called Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement. Installment is largely complete south of Newark, but is only in place on 50 miles of the 226-mile route from Washington to New York, Amtrak said.

Amtrak riders at Penn Station said they welcome the changes.

“That’s very important,” said Remo Ludergnani. “They have to wire some kind of device to allow the train to recognize the curve, and slow down in the curve.”

But Dayne Lamb of Boston said Congress needs to provide the funds to upgrade safety.

“They need money for safety improvements. Why do you think they haven’t been done?” Lamb said. ”You think the guys at Amtrak are sitting there saying we want to have horrible crashes? Of course they aren’t.”

Deborah Yu of China rides Amtrak, and said the U.S. needs to upgrade its rails.

“In China, the railway station is really very new,” she said.

The FBI has joined the crash investigation, following reports that the windshield of the train that derailed might have been hit by a projectile before it crashed. Two other trains in the area – a Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority train and another Amtrak train – may also have been hit by objects.

NTSB investigators have not confirmed that any projectile hit the Amtrak train that derailed, but said they did see some suspicious damage to the lower left-hand portion of the windshield.

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PHOTOS: Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia

The train accelerated from 70 mph to over 100 mph in the minute before it went into a sharp bend.

As investigators focus on the train’s broken windshield, they say engineer Brandon Bostian doesn’t remember being struck by debris.

“He said he did not feel fatigued nor did he report any illness,” Sumwalt said Friday.

The NTSB on Friday interviewed Bostian, as well as two assistant conductors who were on the train.

The 39-year-old assistant conductor, who had been working in the café car, said about three or four minutes after leaving the 30th Street Station in Philadelphia, she heard the engineer talking to an engineer from SEPTA.

The assistant conductor recalled that the SEPTA engineer had reported to a train dispatcher that his train had either been hit by a rock or shot at, and that his SEPTA train had been left with a broken windshield and had been placed in an emergency stop.

“The SEPTA engineer had reported to the train dispatcher that he had either been hit by a rock or shot at,” Sumwalt said.

The assistant conductor also said she heard Bostian say something about his own train being struck by an object, Sumwalt said.

Monica Williams was been a passenger on the SEPTA train.

“There’s a loud thump,” she said. “The train immediately slows.”

Williams was sitting right behind the engineer on the SEPTA train when the projectile hit.

“At some point, he comes out, and you can see inside, and you can see the windshield. There’s a shatter — it’s shattered. There’s a hole.”

Just a few minutes later, she said Amtrak 188 sped past her train moments before it derailed.

The NTSB is not speculating on how flying debris may have led the train to speed up ahead of the curve. At this point, it’s unclear if Bostian was distracted or wounded.

The eight people killed in the May 12, 2015, Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia.

The eight people killed in the May 12, 2015, Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia.

As investigators search for answers, families and friends on Saturday remembered two of the eight victims killed in the derailment.

A memorial service for 39-year-old Rachel Jacobs, a mother of a 2-year-old and CEO of a tech company, was held at the Hebrew Union College, at 1 W. 4th St. near NYU.

And there was also a visitation for 47-year-old Laura Finamore, a commercial real estate professional from Queens planned for Saturday. Visitation was being held at Fairchild Funeral Chapel in Manhasset.

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Full service between New York and Philadelphia on Amtrak is expected to resume on Tuesday.