NTSB releases Amtrak train 188 crash documents

- The National Transportation Safety Bureau (NTSB) has released a large body of documents related to last year's crash of the Amtrak 188 train. The documents can be read here. 

The documents amount to more than 2,000 pages and touch on all aspects of the crash, which occured last May 12. 

   Among the evidence are transcripts of two interviews investigators had with the engineer, Brandon Bostian, one in May and the other in November. Investigators have said previously that Bostian hit his head in the crash and says he doesn't recall what happened.

"I remember holding tightly and feeling like, okay, well this is it, I'm going over," Bostian told investigators in the November interview about the moment before the crash. "And so I tried to brace myself. The only visual memory I have from that sequence of events is I remember seeing objects fly in front of me, kind of a bluish tint to them." 
The engineer added that the last thing he remembered before the crash was pushing the throttle forward to pick up speed and then braking when he felt the train going too fast into a sharp curve. 
Bostian has been "extremely cooperative," an NTSB official told the AP. 
   The official stressed that the documents released by the board contain only factual information, rather than analysis or conclusions.
   NTSB has wrapped up its investigative phase into the accident. Next, investigators will analyze the evidence, prepare a report on the probable cause of the derailment and make safety recommendations. A draft report is expected to be delivered to board members in a meeting not yet scheduled, but that will likely happen around the May 12 anniversary of the crash.
   Investigators had already released substantial information about the crash of Amtrak 188, including that the train's data recorder shows it was traveling at about twice the speed limit of 50 mph when it entered Frankford Junction, one of the sharpest curves in Amtrak's Northeast Corridor between Boston and Washington.
   It's normal for trains to speed up in the stretch of track before the curve, which has a 70 mph limit. But trains are supposed to slow before entering the curve, and data show the train reached more than 100 mph in that stretch. The emergency brake was activated as it entered the curve, but by then it was too late. The locomotive and four of the train's seven passenger cars jumped the tracks, ending up in a tangled heap.
   Bostian, who hit his head in the crash, has said he doesn't recall what happened, according to investigators and his attorney. He provided his cellphone to investigators, who say that there's no indication he was using it while operating the train.
   Other avenues of investigation have also turned up dry holes, according to previous statements by investigators. The data recorder shows the train's top-of-the-line new Siemens engine was functioning normally. No anomalies were found in the tracks or signal boxes. There was no vehicle or object on the tracks.
   The train's assistant conductor said that before the crash he heard Bostian on his radio say the train had been hit by something. Trains operating in the Northeast corridor are frequent targets of rock-throwing vandals. Other trains in the vicinity of Frankford Junction reported being hit by rocks that evening not long before the derailment. A small dent was found in the windshield of Amtrak 188's locomotive.
   Bostian has been suspended without pay since the crash. A letter from Amtrak in the NTSB files shows he was suspended for speeding the night of the crash.



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