National Transportation Safety Board

Pictured: NTSB Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg, investigator John Manutes and Investigator-In-Charge Jim Southworth at the scene of the Amtrak derailment near Joplin, Mont. (Caption and Photograph: Courtesy of NTSB, via Twitter, Sept. 27)

Amtrak Empire Builder Derailment Investigation Under Way, Montana Track Reopens (Updated Sept. 29)

Amtrak’s Empire Builder train 7/27 traveling westbound from Chicago to Seattle/Portland on Sept. 25 derailed near Joplin, Mont., at 3:55 p.m. MT. The passenger train was traveling between 75-78 mph, below the 79 mph speed limit, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reported on Sept. 27 during its first media briefing.

Sumwalt Exits NTSB

National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt retired from government service On June 30, 2021, following nearly 15 years at the NTSB. His tenure as the agency’s 14th chairman began in August 2017. Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg will serve as Acting Chairman until a new chair is confirmed by the Senate. President Biden nominated NTSB Member Jennifer Homendy May 20 to become the NTSB’s 15th chair.

Make Sure the Damn Air Brakes Work

There are many things that can’t be hurried in this life, and probably shouldn’t be, like wine and bread (let beaujolais nouveau and matzoh be a warning to us all). There are other things that could use a bit of hurrying, like medical fitness for duty standards and the National Transportation Safety Board, but those two have proven themselves so resistant to urgings, proddings, cris du coeur, that they’ve almost worn me down. Almost.

In Defense of the FRA

I don’t often feel the need to defend our industry’s regulator, the Federal Railroad Administration. Part of that is me. Like many who have stumbled into a career in this industry (and I literally stumbled my way into railroad employment, half-blinded and three-quarters frozen by a blizzard in Chicago), I’ve always had a problem with authority. Not that I begrudge anyone his or her authority, title, rate of pay—any of that stuff. I just don’t like other people telling me what to do, and I positively hate it when others think they need to tell me what to do.

Rail Safety, Skateboards and Google

FINANCIAL EDGE, RAILWAY AGE SEPTEMBER 2019 ISSUE: On Aug. 14, the ESPN show ¿Highly Questionable? showed a video clip of a skateboarder sliding underneath a moving passenger locomotive, riding the rail on the skateboard and then sliding back out from underneath the train before the second wheelset (1). (The clip can be seen starting at about 16:30 into the video.) The hosts were suitably shocked and aghast over the audacity of the act of sliding underneath a locomotive and unsurprisingly thoughtless about the carelessness of the rider.

PTC’s 50th Anniversary? Give Me a Break, NTSB

We’re celebrating a whole lot this year. We’re celebrating the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, recognizing the right of women to vote. I know a few of us are celebrating the 155th anniversary of Sherman’s March to the Sea, breaking the back of the Slaveholders’ Rebellion.