Amtrak Blames Freight Rail Operator for Fatal Crash in South Carolina

An aerial view of the site of an early morning train crash Sunday, Feb. 4, 2018 between an Amtrak train, bottom right, and a CSX freight train, top left, in Cayce, SC. (AP Photo/Jeff Blake)

February 5, 2018
OAN Newsroom

Amtrak is blaming a freight rail operator for causing a crash that killed two people and injured more than 100 in South Carolina.

The fatal incident happened Sunday when a passenger train was diverted onto a side track and slammed into an unmanned freight train parked on the tracks.

36-year old conductor Michael Cella and 54-year old engineer Michael Kempf were both killed in the collision.

President Trump offered his thoughts and prayers via Twitter on Sunday.

This is the third fatal crash in the U.S. by a rail operator in the past three months.

65 Comments on "Amtrak Blames Freight Rail Operator for Fatal Crash in South Carolina"

  1. Jeremy Peace | February 6, 2018 at 6:34 am |

    They don’t want to talk about the track grid being computer controlled and hacked from a remote location to send these trains right into each other. The drivers looked foreign as well.

  2. everyone involved should be drug tested , ” Driving that train, high on cocaine ” The Grateful Dead

    • The “drivers” are dead. There goes that idea

    • nfcapitalist | February 6, 2018 at 5:47 am |

      It wasn’t the crew on the amtrak that set or left the switchtrack in the wrong position… remains to be seen or more likely… revealed.

  3. Varangian Guard | February 6, 2018 at 3:04 am |

    They need to look for a better root cause for the future, what was it that allowed this operator to put the events in the sequence that resulted in the incident. It needs error proofing.

    • semperfipar | February 6, 2018 at 3:54 am |

      The NTSB usually does that but we rarely hear about that part of the investigation. The news will not re-visit the story for a follow up.

      • Varangian Guard | February 6, 2018 at 5:00 am |

        I realize that, the research on system development should look for error proofing in design. It should be standard in any operation touched by a human.
        We have an “it’s okay, it was just an accident, it hardly ever happens” society. It stretches all the way to sentencing for violent first offenders. They know violence is wrong, yet still commit the crime. The deterrent (human error proofing) is not effective. Our forgiving society is failing to teach anyone any lessons other than one does not have to try hard. It is okay to make mistakes because of mediocre or absence of effort.

        • nfcapitalist | February 6, 2018 at 5:53 am |

          Exactly… look at FBI statistics if you have the stomach for how much goes unsolved and then of course…. unreported.

      • nfcapitalist | February 6, 2018 at 5:51 am |

        Yes… much like the legal system and law enforcement don’t want the citizenry to know that 80% of crimes are never solved… 800,000 citizens go missing and are never found annually… FBI statistics aren’t in the news but that school shooting that happens once or twice a year…?

        • semperfipar | February 6, 2018 at 8:19 am |

          Politics in the media. Like how many crimes are stopped by armed citizens.

          • nfcapitalist | February 6, 2018 at 8:27 am |

            Just got a reply on the comments board that Adam Schiff’s sister was married to George Soros’ son for 22 years… Schiff was financed by George and Media Matters to get his spot on the intelligence committee!!!!


  4. This is stupid. The GPS positive tracking was not installed.

  5. Sure, blame the dead guy. Not the fact that CXS, AmTrack has not brought its rail system into the 21st century. With the technology available today there should never be a rail accident on America’s slow railways.

    One can only imagine how things would be if we had a 200+mph bullet train

    • A bullet train would NEVER be running on a freight line for one thing. 200mph is impossible without a dedicated line built especially with extremely gradual curves and grades. All such high speed trains run on dedicated tracks built just for that level of speed.

      • I understand about the tracks. I was just being facetious. No need to lecture me about track styles

    • They aren’t blaming the dead guy. The dead guys are both Amtrak employees, and they’re blaming the freight railroad. Whoever was in charge of the switches on the tracks is at fault, as the Amtrak train should never have been diverted onto a siding which was already occupied by the unattended freight train.

      There is a rail line a few hundred feet from where I live. Often when crossing the tracks I fan see a train sitting on a siding a few hundred feet up the tracks, obviously waiting for a train to go the other direction up those tracks. The highest-priority freight train, or the train with loaded cars will be given the right of way, and the lower-priority train going the other way is diverted to the siding to wait. It saves the expense of building and maintaining double tracks the entire length of the rail system

    • TexanForever | February 5, 2018 at 8:58 pm |

      You mean one like Moonbeam wants to build to nowhere?

  6. You just have to love Government run rail don’t you? Tragic, again, the third time. Kind of like the TSA government trained screeners. They just can’t cut it.

  7. Grow Your Own | February 5, 2018 at 12:27 pm |

    Looks like Stupidity of the American Railroad Industry & controller-dispatch to me. Time to Upgrade to the safety measures used in Japan. President Trump needs to use the Japanese Program and it’s technology when upgrading Americas Railroad Infrastructure.

  8. Seems to me each place a train can be diverted (switching rails) needs 24/7 security and knowledgeable rail experts… public disservice gone wild… or just plain STUPID CARELESS & DANGEROUS!

    • Dummy, you have NO CLUE how it all works………..

    • Do you realize how many switches there are on a rail line? There is no way we could put a guy on every one 24/7.

    • That would not be a possibility. There are sidings all over the place. There is one just a few hundred yards from where I sit typing this, and there are numerous others up and down this single rail line. This accident was due to human error, which will always be with us.

  9. 12 hours later and Amtrak has issued the blame? What does the NTSB have to say?

    • If the problem had anything to do with the track, it’s not Amtrak’s fault, since they don’t own or run the track or the switches. Amtrak had the track warrant and was the only train authorized at that moment on that section of track. You can clearly see that the Amtrak train was not on the center track, as it should have been, so that one switch was locked in the wrong position.

      The ONLY way there was ANY fault with Amtrak was if the signal was correct – not at the switch, but two or three signals AHEAD of the switch. Once the train reached the switch, it was too late to stop.

      But even if there was a signal misread by the engineer, that means Amtrak only contributed to the accident, and even at that, had less than 50% of the blame.

      If you were driving down a grade level highway (not a freeway) at speed and the signal at an intersection very close suddenly went from green to red without passing through amber, causing you to collide with a vehicle crossing the street, the fault of the accident would not be with either driver. That’s what we may have here.

      But, even if the signals weren’t incorrect, it still was not completely Amtrak’s fault as they had the track warrant, the right-of-way.

  10. #Slamtrak


    • And a LOT more tracks. Most mainlines were dual track from end to end, much like a two-lane highway. Now, most mainlines are singe track with occasional side tracks where a train going the other way can park while another train with a higher priority goes by on the main track.

      Think of how many more accidents there would be on the roads if they were reduced to one bidirectional lane with occasional parking lanes with red lights like you have at some construction zones.

    • We didn’t have interstate highways in the ’40s and ’50s, and the big majority of all interstate freight moved by rail. S Mol is correct in that a great many freight lines were double-tracked, which is less true today. It is much more expensive to build and maintain double tracks than to install occasional sidings which can be used for lower-priority trains to wait while a higher-priority train passes in the opposite direction. I’m not sure there were actually fewer accidents then. We just hear about them more now. At that time most people never heard about accidents which happened elsewhere, unless they were truly gigantic.
      Some areas are being switched back to double tracking. I read something a while back that the Union Pacific is double tracking the Southern Pacific line across the southwest which more or less parallels I-10.

      • Rail is a very green form of transportation. If you consider the carbon footprint per ton per mile, it’s almost nothing compared to trucking.

        It’s great to hear that rails are again being laid instead of torn up!

        Another thought: How many fewer Interstate accidents would there be if most cargo was moved by rail instead of truck? I believe there would be a drastic net reduction in fatalities and injuries if more cargo were moved by rail and less by truck.


  13. I worked on the railroad for nearly 10 years…I believe it was a controller-dispatch fault. For a freight crew to access a main-line track, they must call dispatch for permission to use that line. Switches are locked. When the freight gets permission, they unlock the switch, and move the train onto the main line.
    This is all in accordance with scheduling and timing.

    • Just wonder why a computer cannot cross check the conductors and give red flag warnings if something like another train is heading for them up ahead. Got technology?

    • Your only partly correct and missing a LOT of “details” how it all works……as a Dispatcher 60+ years ago before CTC on the NYC/MC with a “thousand” trains a day out of Detroit when the odds were high for “errors” but too long a story here.. Accidents just “happen” – sometimes human error, sometimes maintenance issue……. or a “truck on crossing” – haha

      • When you have that many trains moving accidents are going to happen, your right.
        Trains are still the safest way to travel. Much safer then flying and much, much safer then driving.

      • Lol… I worked in Detroit. Did a lot in the westbound hump. Nearlly got killed there once back in the early 70’s. Also ran road trips to Toledo and Jackson, Mi.
        Made a lot of money then…but got laid off. Also did a bit of switching in other yards in that area.

        • I still got my “free pass” but it’s worthless now…….rats……….
          Guess you obviously know the MC/NYC Terminal and it’s “Demise”….that’s where Dispatching “happened” with a thousand trains a day way back when……

          • Yes, I originally applied in the MC Terminal with the Penn Central. After I was laid off, the RRB set me up with Amtrak. I cleaned coaches in MC there for 3 months until they laid me off back in 76. Then I got a job for an outfit called the Wyandotte Southern RR in Riverview. The plant we serviced Penwalt Chemicals closed in 1982. Then, I went into trucking.

  14. And the people on this train fear flying?

  15. Train derailments by the dozens. Obviously sabotage. Constantly covered up by left wing politicians. Information withheld. Information release delayed. Facts omitted. forever. Details changed. People given stupid alibis or wrongly blamed. 90% of all crime, violence and terrorism is committed by Democrats or their operatives, the Antifa, the radical Muslims, the illegals, the BlackLivesMatter street criminals, paid saboteurs, the drug lords, the Commies, etc. On TV every day, hateful Democrats scream for violence, destruction, theft, and murder.. There is no mistaking who they are! And there is no doubt who is behind all these deadly train crashes. Democrats.

  16. Twice is a coincidence. Three times is a pattern.

    • No doubt. These conductors need to be psychologically screened and monitored. Talk about having a ‘WMD’ in the palm of their hands.

      • The conductors do not operate the switches. Either the switchmen do that, or it is automatically controlled by computers. I’m assuming there are still switchmen, as I left the railroad industry more than three decades ago. There were still firemen on the train for years after there were no longer any fires to tend, when the trains had all been converted from coal to diesel. Apparently the unions felt that diesel fuel also had to be shoveled into the engines!

      • DUMMY – explain how Psychology has anything to do with a switch a mile away and doom.
        Well unless you think they were on a suicide mission.

    • Did you pass in Pre-school?
      There’s NO CONNECTION to ANY of them…….unless the Truck on the Crossing was a Dimwith committing suicide……or an Engineer thinking he was at the Indy 500 but we don’t know that yet.

  17. Amtrak accidents are starting to look very suspicious. We don’t observe Amtrak crashes for several years now it’s as if they are aligned with key political events.
    I would not want to think political parties could be this evil, but after the release of the current memo identifying the subversion undertaken by the FBI and DOJ to support the Democratic/Socialist party, it makes me and everyone else wonder…
    With the rail switch being manually set, (according to CNN reports) it appears as though this event may have been perpetrated for nefarious, even political reasons

    • NOPE – there’s NO CONSPIRACY here………..and has nothing to do with Amtrak either.
      The “switch” has been an issue for a hundred years…..this wasn’t even an issue with PTC….it wouldn’t have helped…………but curious who the hell said it was a “manual” or “electrical” set?
      If the source was CNN then that’s a clue……..hahaha

    • Perry Fernandez | February 5, 2018 at 1:15 pm |


    • The Oregon derailment was completely on Amtrak. The Virginia garbage truck accident was completely the truck drivers fault. This accident looks to be mostly CSX’s fault for putting a southbound Amtrak train on the same track as a northbound freight. Amtrak can’t do a damn thing about that until the engineer sees a signal or an obstruction on the track ahead. I feel bad for the head end crews of both trains. It’s dangerous work.

      • It looks like your about right. I would have thought a dispatcher would have seen this one coming but I don’t know much about railroad control.

        • Obviously the dispatcher did not know that the switch diverting the freight train to the siding had not been closed.

          • Studebaker_Hawk | February 6, 2018 at 4:52 am |

            That right there. Looks like the CSX crew didn’t flip the switch back after getting off the main line.

    • I dount this was anything but an accident. What would the Democrats have to gain by it? Moreover, it bolsters Trump’s argument that our infrastructure needs work. That would likely take money away from the Democrats’ pet social programs.

    • Doesn’t make me wonder. There have been 27/28 Amtrak accidents since 2014 and in 2016 there were 296 train accidents. Train accidents happen routinely. Major news outlets only carry a few so we never hear about the majority of them.

  18. Allmedialies | February 5, 2018 at 8:30 am |


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