Amtrak Apologizes, Again

NTSB_2015_Philadelphia_train_derailment_3It took a year, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) finally announced the cause of an Amtrak crash in May 2015 that killed eight and injured about 200 people. The driver had accelerated to 106 mph, although the limit for a curve on the track was less than half that. Turns out, the driver was distracted by an emergency situation involving another train, which the driver heard on the radio. The NTSB press release calls this "the result of a loss of situational awareness." 

The NTSB report includes 11 safety recommendations and notes that "positive train control, a technology that could have automatically stopped the train and prevented the derailment" wasn't in place. Amtrak has since implemented the technology and issued this statement, included in a Yahoo article: 

"Amtrak has taken full responsibility for and deeply regrets the tragic derailment of Northeast Regional Train 188. Our hearts go out to the families who suffered a loss, the passengers and employees who were injured and to everyone onboard the train," the company said in a statement, adding that they would "quickly implement" the NTSB's recommendations after a review.

On its Facebook page last May, Amtrak wrote this apology. Both statements are big improvements over the service updates we usually see from Amtrak and MetroNorth after accidents. Of course such updates are important, but so are apologies-and not only when the company is found to be at fault.

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • Compare the two apologies from Amtrak. Should the organization do something differently now? 
  • How can transportation companies balance important service updates with apologies in crisis situations?