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2015 Amtrak Passenger Train Derailment in Philadelphia – 399

In this episode, Dr. Gasaway interviews Vince Mulray, retired Philadelphia Deputy Chief, discussing the 2015 derailment of Amtrak Train #188 traveling from Washington DC to New York City.


On May 12, 2015, at approximately 9:20pm, Amtrak Train #188 traveling from Washington D.C. to New York City derailed and crashed on the Frankford Junction curve on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor.  All seven cars and the electric locomotive left the tracks.  The derailment and crash resulted in 8 deaths and over 200 passengers injured.   

     This incident required the rescue, extrication, treatment and transportation of over 200 passengers.  The derailment and crash involved 7 passenger cars and one electric engine (#601) on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor at the Frankford Junction curve.  Amtrak estimated that this accident would cost taxpayers approximately 9.2 million dollars.  Initial responding companies remained on scene for one operational period.  Fire Department assistance was required for approximately 5 days until service was fully restored.  One accomplishment that should be noted was that no Fire Department injuries were reported for this response.                                                                                                                                                                                                      

     Frankford Junction is a former railroad station with an active rail yard approximately three miles from Amtrak’s North Philadelphia Station.   Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor line travels through this area on four tracks that form an S curve with a 50-mile-per-hour speed limit for all trains, the slowest track speed limit between Washington D.C. and New York City, the train’s final destination.  The junction was well known to first responders and local residents because of a previous accident.  On September 6, 1943, the Congressional Limited, traveling nonstop from Washington D.C. to New York City, derailed in the same general area, killing 79 of the 541 passengers.

     Amtrak train records indicated that on Train 188, an emergency application of its brakes occurred at approximately 9:20 p.m.  The fire department’s 911 call center received its first notification at 9:27 p.m. and dispatched a full box assignment (4-engines, 2-ladders, 2-battalion chiefs and a medic unit) at 9:28 p.m. for a derailed train, which would be elevated to a four-alarm response before being placed under control.  Approximately 180 firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics were summoned.  The Philadelphia Police Department sent approximately 200 working district officers, who provided scene control and acted as stretcher bearers.

About the Host


Richard B. Gasaway, PhD, CSP is widely considered a trusted authority on human factors, situational awareness and the high-risk decision making processes used in high-stress, high consequence work environments. He served 33 years on the front lines as a firefighter, EMT-Paramedic, company officer, training officer, fire chief and emergency incident commander.  His doctoral research included the study of cognitive neuroscience to understand how human factors flaw situational awareness and impact high-risk decision making.

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Episode length: 80 minutes


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