Amtrak wants its trains to get equipped with automated braking features as soon as possible. A federal regulatory document indicates that such a system could have prevented the May 12 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured 200.

Amtrak said it will seek permission from the Federal Communications Commission to set up Positive Train Control in the “accident area.” PTC uses a radio frequency to operate a speed-control system.

The federal passenger rail corporation blamed regulatory proceedings and litigation for thwarting its efforts to get the necessary bandwidth, according to Reuters. It tried buying frequencies on the open market from 2010 to 2014.

FCC officials said that they would take prompt actions if Amtrak requested it. They added that the agency has granted special temporary authority within days in certain cases.

The National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said the accident could have been prevented with PTC, which can slow and even stop trains to avoid accidents. Amtrak has a deadline of the end of this year to adopt PTC, but some have expressed doubt it can be met. 

Amtrak informed the FCC two days after the derailment that it would seek emergency authority to install the system, although a spokeswoman said that the decision was not directly associated with the accident. Amtrak has been in talks with the FCC on the issue for a while, she said.

Meanwhile, the FBI dismissed the involvement of a firearm with the damaged windshield on the derailed train. "The FBI has completed its examination of the windshield of the Amtrak #188 locomotive and has found no evidence of damage that could have been caused by a firearm,” ABC News quoted the NTSB statement.

“The NTSB has not ruled out the possibility that another object may have struck the windshield," the statement also said. According to the NTSB, the investigation may last up to a year before the cause of the derailment could be established.

Contact the writer: