Amtrak crash: Video shows train speeding up before derailment

Updated 7:52 PM EDT, Thu May 14, 2015
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment in Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 13.
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train derailment in Philadelphia on Wednesday, May 13.
PHOTO: Patrick Semansky/AP
Now playing
01:43
Amtrak CEO: Derailment could have been prevented
The windshield of the train may have been hit by something before the crash.  The area of interest is the circular mark on the right side of the windshield.
The windshield of the train may have been hit by something before the crash. The area of interest is the circular mark on the right side of the windshield.
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:44
FBI examining what struck Amtrak train's windshield
pkg mclaughlin amtrak train derailment_00000921.jpg
pkg mclaughlin amtrak train derailment_00000921.jpg
Now playing
02:10
Investigators looking at marking on Amtrak 188 train
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
02:55
NTSB: Engineer overheard saying something hit train
ebof intv amtrak bostian friend stefanie mcgee_00003307.jpg
ebof intv amtrak bostian friend stefanie mcgee_00003307.jpg
Now playing
01:52
Friend of Amtrak engineer: 'This was his dream job'
pkg sidner amtrack crash victims _00004610.jpg
pkg sidner amtrack crash victims _00004610.jpg
Now playing
02:54
Authorities identify Amtrack crash victims
The windshield of the train may have been hit by something before the crash.  The area of interest is the circular mark on the right side of the windshield.
The windshield of the train may have been hit by something before the crash. The area of interest is the circular mark on the right side of the windshield.
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
01:31
Amtrak ordered to beef up technology
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. More than 200 people aboard the Washington-to-New York train were injured in the derailment that plunged screaming passengers into darkness and chaos Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Emergency personnel work at the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, in Philadelphia. More than 200 people aboard the Washington-to-New York train were injured in the derailment that plunged screaming passengers into darkness and chaos Tuesday night. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
PHOTO: Patrick Semansky/AP
Now playing
02:31
Train accelerated from 70 mph to more than 100 mph
cnn tonight sumwalt lemon ntsb train amtrak crash _00014430.jpg
cnn tonight sumwalt lemon ntsb train amtrak crash _00014430.jpg
Now playing
05:56
NTSB: Amtrak 188 investigation could take 12 months
erin dnt frates how positive train control works_00001102.jpg
erin dnt frates how positive train control works_00001102.jpg
PHOTO: Association of American Railroads
Now playing
02:20
How positive train control technology works
nr baldwin mclaughlin amtrak crash eight person dead identified_00002806.jpg
nr baldwin mclaughlin amtrak crash eight person dead identified_00002806.jpg
PHOTO: From Ecolab
Now playing
01:13
Eighth victim removed from Amtrak crash
erin intv griffin friend defends amtrak engineer_00002020.jpg
erin intv griffin friend defends amtrak engineer_00002020.jpg
Now playing
01:12
Friend of Amtrak engineer: There's more to this story
Caption:PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Repair crews inspect damages at the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Caption:PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Repair crews inspect damages at the site of a train derailment accident May 13, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Service has been interrupted after an Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, killing at least seven people and injured more than 200. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Alex Wong/Getty Images
Now playing
02:15
How safe is train travel?
ac dnt tuchman amtrak survivor _00005211.jpg
ac dnt tuchman amtrak survivor _00005211.jpg
PHOTO: AP
Now playing
02:57
Passenger was on the phone during train crash
PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
Now playing
01:20
Obama: 'My condolences' to families of the victims
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:30
New surveillance video of Amtrak derailment released
tsr dnt todd amtrak engineer_00003627.jpg
tsr dnt todd amtrak engineer_00003627.jpg
Now playing
02:32
Attorney: Distraught engineer can't remember Amtrak wreck
lead dnt griffin amtrak engineer brandon bostian profile_00012203.jpg
lead dnt griffin amtrak engineer brandon bostian profile_00012203.jpg
PHOTO: Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP
Now playing
02:08
Who is the Amtrak engineer of derailed train?
lead seg foreman would ptc technology make a difference_00020513.jpg
lead seg foreman would ptc technology make a difference_00020513.jpg
Now playing
02:05
Could technology have stopped train derailment?
lead dnt marsh amtrak ceo speaks_00001728.jpg
lead dnt marsh amtrak ceo speaks_00001728.jpg
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:43
Amtrak CEO: Derailment could have been prevented
A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car.
A crime scene investigator looks inside a train car.
PHOTO: Joseph Kaczmarek/AP
Now playing
03:22
How to survive a train crash
nr sot marsh amtrak ceo_00000622.jpg
nr sot marsh amtrak ceo_00000622.jpg
Now playing
01:10
Amtrak CEO: 'We will have positive train control'
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:04
Mayor: 8 dead after Amtrak train wreck in Philadelphia
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
04:45
Survivor: 'Such a state of panic and shock'
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
PHOTO: WPVI
Now playing
02:26
Survivor: 'Very fortunate' to walk out of train alive
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:03
Why did Amtrak train tip over?
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
07:18
Mayor: 'Clearly he was reckless and irresponsible'
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13:  Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the crash.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
02:10
Railroad deaths in America on the rise
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13:  Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the crash.  (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of an Amtrak passenger train carrying more than 200 passengers from Washington, DC to New York that derailed late last night May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least five people were killed and more than 50 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
01:42
What happened in Amtrak train derailment?
lead foreman anatomy of a train derailment_00004713.jpg
lead foreman anatomy of a train derailment_00004713.jpg
Now playing
01:57
The physics behind the Amtrak derailment
PHOTO: Getty Images
Now playing
01:45
Amtrak crash throws Northeast travel into turmoil
Emergency personnel gather near the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, after a fatal Amtrak derailment Tuesday night, in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Federal investigators arrived Wednesday to determine why an Amtrak train jumped the tracks in a wreck that killed at least six people, and injured dozens. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Emergency personnel gather near the scene of a deadly train wreck, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, after a fatal Amtrak derailment Tuesday night, in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia. Federal investigators arrived Wednesday to determine why an Amtrak train jumped the tracks in a wreck that killed at least six people, and injured dozens. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
PHOTO: Mel Evans/AP
Now playing
04:49
How often do train engineers break speed rules?
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
PHOTO: WPVI
Now playing
01:58
NTSB: Train traveling 106 mph before derailment
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
03:03
Local official talks to CNN after tour of Amtrak crash
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MAY 13: Investigators and first responders work near the wreckage of Amtrak Northeast Regional Train 188, from Washington to New York, that derailed yesterday May 13, 2015 in north Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At least six people were killed and more than 200 others were injured in the crash. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Win McNamee/Getty Images
Now playing
01:49
7 killed, over 200 injured in Amtrak crash
EMTs describe receiving Amtrak passengers after crash_00004922.jpg
EMTs describe receiving Amtrak passengers after crash_00004922.jpg
Now playing
05:33
EMT: Passenger found hanging from ceiling
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
Amtrak train derailment in Philadelphia
PHOTO: WPVI
Now playing
07:02
Son catches mother being flung out window during crash
lv sot navy midshipman killed amtrak crash_00003630.jpg
lv sot navy midshipman killed amtrak crash_00003630.jpg
PHOTO: Naval Academy
Now playing
01:03
Naval Academy midshipman killed in Amtrak derailment
sidner philadelphia amtrak passenger train derailment_00003129.jpg
sidner philadelphia amtrak passenger train derailment_00003129.jpg
Now playing
02:52
Surveillance video shows moment before train derailment
ctn bts passengers amtrak derailment chaos_00022901.jpg
ctn bts passengers amtrak derailment chaos_00022901.jpg
Now playing
02:43
Amtrak passengers: It was complete chaos
Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.
Emergency personnel work the scene of a train wreck, Tuesday, May 12, 2015, in Philadelphia. An Amtrak train headed to New York City derailed and crashed in Philadelphia.
PHOTO: Matt Slocum/AP
Now playing
03:33
Philadelphia mayor: At least 5 dead in Amtrak derailment
ctn schiavo amtrak train derailment destruction_00011117.jpg
ctn schiavo amtrak train derailment destruction_00011117.jpg
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:27
Rail torn up under derailed Amtrak car
Passengers of an Amtrak train that crashed gather Tuesday, May 12, 2015, near Philadelphia. Train 188 was traveling from Washington to New York City.
Passengers of an Amtrak train that crashed gather Tuesday, May 12, 2015, near Philadelphia. Train 188 was traveling from Washington to New York City.
PHOTO: Paul Cheung/AP
Now playing
01:08
FBI: No indication of terrorism in Amtrak train derailment
A train derails in Philadelphia.
A train derails in Philadelphia.
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:52
Passenger: 'This is a nightmare'
A train derails in Philadelphia.
A train derails in Philadelphia.
PHOTO: KYW
Now playing
01:14
Amtrak train derails in Philadelphia

Story highlights

Investigators don't know what caused the train to accelerate to more than 100 mph before it derailed

NTSB says the train's engineer, Brandon Bostian, has agreed to be interviewed

President Obama offers his prayers for the victims, and thanks first responders

(CNN) —  

Investigators are learning more about the speeding Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia, killing eight and sending over 200 to the hospital, but the jury is still out on the big questions.

Why did the train accelerate as it approached a curve? Did the engineer cause the train to speed up, or was there a mechanical failure? Was there something about the track that caused the crash?

Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian has agreed to be interviewed by the National Transportation Safety Board, and board member Robert Sumwalt is hopeful that Bostian will be able to help answer some key questions. The 32-year-old engineer, who was injured, will be permitted to bring his lawyer.

“What I believe is a very good way to interview people is, honestly, to not ask them questions, to basically give them a figurative blank sheet of paper and ask them what they recall,” Sumwalt said Thursday. “Really, we want to know his account of what he recalls leading into this tragic accident.”

Investigators are looking at a “good quality video” that shows the train speeding up in the moments leading up to its derailment. They don’t know yet what caused the train to accelerate to more than 100 mph. Sumwalt said 65 seconds before the end of the recording, the train speed went above 70 mph, and then steadily increased.

“It just shows the speed alone,” Sumwalt said. “It doesn’t tell how the speed got there.”

’No recollection’ of crash

Bostian’s lawyer told ABC’s “Good Morning America” his client “has absolutely no recollection whatsoever” after losing consciousness in Tuesday night’s crash.

“He remembers coming into the curve (and) attempting to reduce speed,” attorney Robert Goggin said. “… The last thing he recalls is coming to, looking for his bag, getting his cell phone, turning it on and calling 911.”

Initial data show the train barreled into a curve at about 106 mph, Sumwalt said. That’s more than twice the 50-mph speed limit for the curve, and above the 80-mph limit immediately before it.

The engineer of the Amtrak train was identified as Brandon Bostian, 32, of New York.
The engineer of the Amtrak train was identified as Brandon Bostian, 32, of New York.

The engineer can’t recall engaging the emergency brake, even though Sumwalt has said he did so “just moments” before the train derailed. Goggin thinks his client’s memories may return as he recovers from a concussion. Bostian has 15 staples in his head, stitches in one leg and his other leg immobilized, according to his lawyer.

Goggin insisted his client hadn’t been talking or texting on his phone before he made the 911 call. Nor did he have other notable accidents or mishaps. And his lawyer said Bostian voluntarily took a blood test and there was “no drinking, no drugs, no medical conditions. Nothing.”

Mayor Michael Nutter said the engineer did “a pretty short interview (then) indicated that he didn’t want” to talk more. The mayor noted Bostian survived after his engine car “tumbled over and over” and that he doesn’t have to offer more information right away.

“He doesn’t have to be interviewed if he doesn’t want to at this particular stage,” Nutter said. “That’s kind of how the system works.”

Goggin says his client, who will talk with investigators “when they ask,” already told them “everything he knew. He cooperated fully.”

What we know about the engineer

8th body pulled from the wreckage

The train, which was on time on its trip Washington to New York, was carrying 238 passengers and five crew members when it derailed at about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday. Survivors recalled an otherwise sleepy, mundane ride devolving into chaos as cars tilted and toppled, sending most everything – from luggage to laptops, from phones to people – flying.

Eight people died. They include Associated Press video software architect Jim Gaines, U.S. Naval Academy Midshipman Justin Zemser and Derrick Griffith, a dean of student affairs for City University of New York Medgar Evers College.

The latest fatality is a person pulled from the wreckage of the first car Thursday morning. City Fire Commissioner Derrick Sawyer said a call came in around 8 a.m. “to bring back our cadaver dog,” and after that “we were able to find another passenger in the wreckage.” That body was taken to the medical examiner’s office.

With that discovery, Nutter said all 243 people thought to have been on the train are accounted for. At least six people remain in critical condition. But most of the more than 200 people injured have been or will soon be released from hospitals.

“I want to express my gratitude for the first responders, who raced to save lives, and for the many passengers who, despite their own injuries, made heroic efforts to get fellow passengers to safety,” President Barack Obama said Thursday, offering prayers for the victims.

Who were the victims?

Amtrak train crash victims tell their stories

Mayor calls engineer’s driving ‘reckless,’ NTSB fires back

Bostian, the engineer, is among those recovering. As he does, Philadelphia’s mayor singled him out.

In a CNN interview Wednesday, Nutter called the engineer’s driving “reckless,” adding, “There’s no way in the world he should have been going that fast into the curve.”

“I don’t know what was going on with him. I don’t know what was going on in the cab, but there’s really no excuse that can be offered, literally, unless he had a heart attack.”

Sumwalt, the NTSB board member, immediately blasted the mayor’s comments as inflammatory.

“You’re not going to hear the NTSB making comments like that,” he said. “We want to get the facts before we start making judgments.”

Investigators looking at speed as factor

Nutter referenced his CNN comments during a Thursday afternoon press conference, insisting he has the utmost respect for Sumwalt and the NTSB. He said he’d spoken “from the heart” in the “heat of the moment,” expressing an opinion as the mayor and as a citizen.

“In no way, shape or form should my comments be taken as to be judgmental about their process or what might happen or anything else. I often speak from the heart,” Nutter said, adding he was not interested in a public back-and-forth with the NTSB. “It is literally meaningless in the whole scheme of things.”

Inconvenience for travelers, big hit for Amtrak

For all the high emotions in Philadelphia, things were decidedly calmer at that city’s main train station and those in Washington and New York – because many trains simply weren’t running.

New York’s Penn Station was relatively sedate for a weekday, as evident by rows of empty seats and Amtrak ticket counters. Local trains ran as normal, and other workarounds were in place – such as New Jersey Transit honoring Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton, New Jersey.

For many travelers, it was an inconvenience. But it’s a big deal, and a big loss, for Amtrak.

The entity also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corporation had more than 31 million passengers between October 2012 and September 2013. Far and away, its Northeast Corridor is its busiest stretch, with more than a third of all passengers.

Thus, Amtrak’s three busiest stations – Penn Station, Philadelphia’s 30th Street Station and Washington’s Union Station, with annual riderships between 10 and 4 million each – are also the hardest hit.

Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman said the crash was Amtrak’s first in the Northeast Corridor in 28 years, during which time 300 million passengers had ridden its rails. He expects they’ll be able to do so again next week, starting with limited service between Philadelphia and New York on Monday.

“We’re really looking at full service by Tuesday,” Boardman said.

Official: Technology could have prevented crash

The derailment was Amtrak’s ninth this year, according to the Federal Railroad Administration. But it’s not just Amtrak. The FRA notes, for example, there were 35 derailments nationwide on main railways in a single month, January 2014.

It happened again Thursday morning, when several cars from a cargo train jumped the track in Pittsburgh’s Hazelwood neighborhood, city spokesman Timothy McNulty said. That derailment was relatively minor: McNulty said there were “no passengers, no hazmat, no hazard.”

But incidents such as the one in Philadelphia highlight questions about whether the nation’s rail infrastructure is adequate.

Transportation analyst Matthew L. Wald said the area where the train derailed Tuesday has had problems, calling it “an extremely heavily used stretch of track.” While acknowledging some rails need to be replaced and curves are worn, Boardman told CNN that, overall, the railway there is “in good condition.”

In addition to the track’s condition, there’s a matter of the technology tied to it. Many have noted this stretch did not have an automated speed control system called positive train control that could have overridden human errors and slowed the train down.

How does positive train control work?

In 2008, Congress ordered the nation’s railroads to adopt positive train control by December 2015 – but it’s looking increasingly unlikely that the deadline will be met.

“We feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track,” NTSB board member Sumwalt said, “this accident would not have occurred.”

That will happen by year’s end, Amtrak’s Boardman pledged.

“We’re very close to being able to cut it in,” Boardman said, noting that such technology already exists elsewhere in the Amtrak system. “… We will complete this.”

Senator slams House committee for Amtrak cuts

CNN’s Holly Yan, Kevin Conlon, Rene Marsh, Jason Carroll, Linh Tran, Catherine E. Shoichet, Dana Ford, David Shortell, AnneClaire Stapleton, Jason Hanna, Tony Marco and Dave Alsup contributed to this report.