Former train conductor says safety is virtually non-existent at Amtrak

SEATTLE - Just over a month after Amtrak Train 501 derailed in DuPont killing three people, a number of employees have spoken to news outlets including, our news partners at the Seattle Times and CNN, saying that they didn’t have enough training to familiarize themselves with the new Portland to Seattle route.

John Hiatt, a former train engineer, who now investigates train accidents for a law firm says he is representing an injured employee now suing Amtrak.

“Training is money. In this case, it looks like they were worried about money and time and safety was number three,” said Hiatt.

A former Amtrak train conductor says safety is virtually non-existent at Amtrak. “If you talk about safety to your manager you’re punished,” said Michael Callanan.

He worked for Amtrak for nine years and is now a railroad safety expert. Callanan says lack of training at Amtrak has been going on for as long as he can remember.

“This is gross culpable negligence,” said Callanan.

According to our news partners at The Seattle Times, people working for Amtrak say the training for the new routes consisted of cramming a bunch of people into one train car, some sitting backward, and training at night.

Callanan says conductors should do at least three to five roundtrip runs of the route to get familiar. He says if that’s properly done it would also be during daylight to get accustomed to surroundings.

“Where the signals are and that’s done during the day looking out the window,” said Callanan.

He says as more people come forward with safety concerns, riders will have them too.

“Nobody would be riding the train anymore, there is no safety at Amtrak,” said Callanan.

He says it’s aggravating to see accidents keep happening, but unless a major overhaul happens, he doesn’t think anything will change.

Amtrak does have a new CEO who comes from Delta Airlines.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s latest report on the DuPont derailment says the engineer operating Train 501 did feel he had enough training on the new route. But the agency says they’ll look at training as part of the investigation into the crash.

Amtrak has not responded to a request to comment on trainings and safety.