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Amtrak, Tower Operator Given Blame For Derailment

January 7, 1989

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Amtrak and a control tower operator who tested positive for drugs share the blame for a Boston-bound train derailment that injured 25 people, says the National Transportation Safety Board.

The operator, Thomas Connor, fled the control tower after the January 1988 accident in Chester, Pa., and later tested positive for marijuana and small traces of cocaine and methamphetamine.

The NTSB said in a report Friday that Connor, who resigned after the accident, let the ″Night Owl″ train travel on a section of track undergoing maintenance. The train struck a work vehicle.

The NTSB said Connor’s failure to hit the proper switch so the train could cross to the right track was the result of ″of impairment by drugs or distraction or both.″

The agency said Amtrak shared responsibility with Connor for the accident. It said the passenger line should develop a procedure ″to prevent locomotives or trains from entering out-of-service track sections, unless permission has been received from the person in charge of the out-of-service track ... ″

Amtrak also failed ″to adequately monitor the activities and job performance of the tower operator,″ the agency said.

Amtrak spokesman John Jacobsen said Friday that he had not yet seen the NTSB report.

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