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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  May 13, 2015 10:00pm-11:01pm PDT

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ystem called positive train control had been in place. that system is required by law everywhere in the u.s. by the end of this year, but it wasn't in place yet at the site of this crash tonight. to put that system in place even though it's known now that it would save lives, including likely the lives lost last night. that does it for us. thanks very much for being with us tonight. we'll see you tomorrow. now it's time for the last word with lawrence o'donnell. >> complete chaos is what survivors are saying they experienced last night when that amtrak train went off the rails in northeast philadelphia. we now know who was driving that train, but we don't know why i was driving so fast. >> our whole city is mourning. >> the train disaster here in philadelphia. we were sitting there and then it just -- you saw it go like that.
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you could feel it off the track and then we just rolled and rolled. >> while traveling through a left hand turn, the entire train derailed. >> at least seven people were killed. >> including a young navy midshipman on his way home. >> absolutely wonderful. everybody looked up to my son. >> more than 200 have been treated for injuries. >> at least seven people were killed. >> including a young navy midshipman on his way home. >> absolutely wonderful. everybody looked up to my son. >> more than 200 have been treated for injuries. >> we were fortunate that there weren't more deaths. things could have been a lot
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worse. >> eight people still in critical care. >> this is the busiest rail travel corridor in the country. >> more than 2,000 trains every day. >> trains exceeded 1 is 00 miles per hour prior to derailment. >> more than twice the listed speed limit. >> we now know what happened, we don't know why it happened. >> a critical safety feature. >> i know i'm very, very lucky. >> people responded in this neighborhood. >> this is philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. people take that very, very seriously. >> tonight, amtrak service between new york and philadelphia remains suspended. amtrak says service will resume tomorrow between boston and new york and between philadelphia and washington. investigators say they still do not know exactly what happened between the time that train left philadelphia's 30th street station last night and the time it crashed just 10 minutes later. nbc news has confirmed the engineer driving that train last night was brandon bastion, someone who knows the engineer tells msnbc that he is a cheerful guy .has always been a fan of railroads. the person who knows brandon bastion declined to be identified, but says he last saw
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bastion two weeks ago and they talked about trains because they're both fans. the person said, quote, the notion that he made it, so to speak, is of no surprise to me, made it driving trains, end quote. bastion's facebook page says he's from memphis, tennessee, but now lives in new york city. the national transportation safety board says today the train was traveling at double the speed limit when the crash occurred killing seven people and injuring more than 200. >> just moments before the derailment, the train was placed the engineer into -- and this means that the engineer applied full emergency -- full emergency brake application. maximum authorized speed through this curve was 50 miles per hour. when the engineer induced brake application, the train wag traveling at approximately 106 miles per hour. three seconds later, when the data to the recorder is terminated, the train speed was 102 miles per hour. >> the "philadelphia inquirer" reports that the engineer, mr. bastion declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the detective's division with an attorney. joining us now, ayman and andrew
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tangel, a "wall street journal" reporter who was part of the team that first broke the story today about the train's speed before the ntsb confirmed that. ayman, what is the situation at the crash site tonight? >> well, investigators are still going through the timeline. that is the word we're hearing over and over again. it is all about timing, when the train left the station and as a result of that, the ntsb says that they have, at least on-site here, returned the tracks to amtrak, meaning they have add least concluded some part of their investigation here. now the investigation has shifted to that timeline. what we do know, the train was going 106 miles per hour when it made that fatal turn, but more importantly, now the question surrounds the timeline of the engineer. what did the engineer do in the final minutes leading up to that curve and more importantly, they
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want to piece together more about the timeline of perhaps what he was doing over the course of the journey in itself. now, the investigation, as well, is going to be looking at some very important key pieces of evidence, including the black box of the train so to speak. that has already been taken by the ntsb, it has gone to amtrak in order for the data to be downloaded. ultimately, taken to the ntsb lab in washington, d.c. there was a forward facing camera on board that may give the investigators some important clues. perhaps one piece of information, the ntsb has not yet spoken to the engineer of this train. they have not also interviewed members of the crew. they say they planned on doing that in the next day or two. they did not give any reason why the ntsb has not yet spoken to the engineer. but in terms of what is going on here, they wanted to make sure in terms of all the perishable information, they got that quickly. and among the things they're going to be looking for, was the train operating at full capacity
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in the sense there were no mechanical problems, were there any problems with the signals en route and most importantly, the actions of the engineer himself. all of those are going to be factors according to the ntsb at this point. >> andrew, according to the "philadelphia inquirer" tonight, leaving in the company of an attorney, this may already be a homicide investigation? >> well, the fact that there wasn't a statement given only raises more questions, at least in the public accounting. and raises more questions, deepens the mystery for all of us trying to figure out what happened. because i think central to the story as it goes forward is us trying to get some understanding of what the engineer was doing in those final moments. what led him to drive the train at twice the speed it was supposed to be going at.
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was there some explanation? was there some other mechanical issue that we don't know about? at this point, it's all unclear. more than a year ago, there was a fatal train wreck in the bronx, new york, and it turned out that the explanation given by the engineer in that case was that there -- he dozed off due to severe undiagnosed sleep apnea. so there's a myriad of explanations, but at this point, it's one of the big mysteries and the big question that is confronting the federal investigators on this. >> we're joined now by john goalie, a former ntsb investigator. john, what's your reaction so far about no statement by tension near, the engineer leaving the police in the company of a lawyer?
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>> well, you know, this is still a free country and he doesn't have to give us a statement. but even if he had given us a statement, the ntsb has a set of procedures that we followed that would verify everything that he said. so we're going to -- you know, i'm sure the ntsb is going to look at the train performance. the locomotive makes so much power. they're going to look to see what it took for that locomotive to be 100 miles per hour at that turn in 11 minutes. did he have to go the full power when he left the station? there's lots of detail work. some of it probably hasn't been started yet. it's an electronic control to the train and electronic controls have chips. if there's nonvolatile memory in the chips, they will have information on them. so there's lots of tools available to the ntsb to determine just what happened in that 11 minutes.
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>> john golia, if there was an extraordinary amount of operation to get that train up to that speed in less than ten minutes, is that something that the passengers would have sensed? would that have felt unusual? >> maybe. maybe. but, you know, i've been on trains where if you're not paying attention, you're doing something else, you may not pick that up right away. so -- and you know, let's not forget that this track that amtrak has has been rebuilt in the not too distant past to help with the high speed trains. so there's a good possibility that the bed was so well prepared that you wouldn't have that rocking and rolling, so to speak. >> i want to listen to what ntsb member robert sunwolt said today about the train speed and about the safety options we have for
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controlling this. >> amtrak, throughout a good beat of the northern corridor called advanced civil speice enforcement. that is called acses. it is installed throughout the most of the northeast corridor. however, it is not installed for this area where the accident occurred, where the derailment occurred. that type of a system is designed to enforce the civil speed to keep the train below its maximum speed. and so we have called for positive train control for many, many years. it's on our most wanted list. congress has mandated that it be installed by the end of this year. so we are very keen on positive train control.
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based on what i know right now, we feel had a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred. >> john, what is taking so long on installing this system? >> well, you know, i worked a lot with the federal railroad administration on positive train control in the late '90s. it is a system that has been evolving. it's been actually improving. so what we were looking at in the '90s has changed considerably today because more and more of our control of our transportation systems is being done by computers. so it changes the physical requirements on the train it's still expensive. it's amazing that we're going to make the 15 deadlines for the northeast corridor. there's a good portion of it that's already done.
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unfortunately, this section of track has not been completed. >> i think we have a map ready that shows what part of the track has this safety feature in it. it's basically boston to new haven, according to this map by the "new york times." a small stretch in new jersey has it and then from baltimore down to washington has it. but, obviously, it wasn't there where it was needed last night. we're joined now by former u.s. congressman patrick murphy who was on that train last night who joined me by phone from the scene describing in detail what it was like to be in that train. patrick, it's just 24 hours ago that we started talking about this. and we're learning now that the instruments in the indicate that the speed at the time of the crash was over 100 miles per hour. when we talked last night, i asked you about the speed, your sense was that it hadn't made it
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up to maximum speed yet, and it that's still increasing and moving at a normal speed? what is your feeling about it now? >> i've been so busy, on my computer getting work done. it doesn't seem out of mays, but it is what it is. that's the evidence and that's the fact. it's just a tragedy and, you know, we can't bring back those seven lives that were killed. you know, for me, you know, it was -- but it's -- it was a sad day and my heart got out not only to those families, but to the ones that have been injured. >> patrick, one of the things that struck me in talking to the other victims of the crash last night, other people who were on that train with you, is when we talked about speed, no one felt anything unusual in the speed. they felt nothing unusual or threatening in the motions of
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the train until the crash was actually happening. there wasn't any hint that there was any lack of control prior to the actual crash taking place. >> yeah. that surprised i think all of us you no. retrospect, it's the fact that the 60 miles per hour zone, more than doubled, you know, you just don't pay attention to it. it's a -- we now know that these happened and what frequency. there's a lot more to be done about safety openings we have had have in these rains. a lot of people talking about seat belts, some people saying it wouldn't have made much different. how would you have felt about having a seat belt last night? >> it would have helped me from flying across the train car,
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lawrence, but i don't see that as a necessary step. i think there's obviously some steps that, you know, the fact that we have that ptc, positive train control, from new york down to washington, but we don't have it here seems unjust. we need it all over. if it saves one life, that's one life that's worth it. >> absolutely. we're going to take a break here. thank you all for joining me. patrick murphy is going to stay with us. coming up, surviving a train crash. what passengers need to know. patrick murphy is going to tell us what it like like in that train. and why your grandparents objected even into an evening train. >> we never flipped thack auto.
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around the clock. cranes brought in to start pulling things out. at the beginning of every airline flight, you hear safety instructions from the cabin crew which by now many of you have memorialized. but on passenger trains in the united states, you don't hear a word about safety. here is jeff rossen with what you need to know to survive a train accident. >> officials in philadelphia trying to figure out what went wrong. combing over the twisted wreckage from this latest accident. passengers killed, dozens of others rushed to hospitals when this amtrak train derailed and flipped over. photos inside capturing the chaos, the smoke, the terror. >> we just rolled and rolled. the next thing i knew we were pushing out the emergency exit. i was outside and people were screaming and bleeding. >> train accidents are in the news happening across the country.
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just months ago in february, this deadly metro north crash in new york. six killed, more than a dozen hurt when the train slammed into an suv on the track and exploded. check out this dramatic video from inside a train crash just outside orlando. it demolished a new sports coup. the car stalled on a railroad crossing just before the gates came down. the driver got out with seconds to spare. in glenndale, california, something stuck on the track caused this commuter train to derail, killing 111 people. according to the federal railroad administration, more than 230 people were killed in nearly 2100 collisions nationwide last year alone. in this latest crash in philadelphia, desperate passengers trying to escape, yelling in the dark for help, franticly trying to pry open the doors. if this were your train, would you know how to get out?
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>> in an emergency, there are three ways to get out. >> scott sauer is a safety internet for septa. >> if you see the sign, you can open the main door of the train you came in on and follow those instructions. >> even if the conductor or engineer are too busy or chaotic to open the door, you can open it yourself. >> absolutely. >> can i try? >> yes. >> push this red handle down. and the door is released. and i can open it the rest of the way. by the way, this is a pretty big drop here, so you want to be careful getting out. >> overnight, reports of passengers on that amtrak train trying to open the windows to escape. here is how you do it. >> you take the handle, push it. pull all the rubber from around that window, discard it. grab the handle. pull the window toward you and
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then you can grab the window. it's still a seven to eight-foot drop to the ground, so beware of that. >> in most train crashes, there's fire and smoke. how do you get out alive when you can't even see? recently, we filled this car with simulated smoke to show you. >> it's going to be chaotic. get on the floor. this is where you can breathe. follow the striping on the floor. it's going to take you where you need to go. you want to take it to the door, take you to the end of the car where your exit is. >> patrick murphy, like you, i have been riding the amtrak trains all my life. i had no idea there was an evacuation order on the train.. i've never noticed that striping on the floor we just learned about, the windows that open that way. i've never known any of that until i just saw it. >> korea. there's no doubt. you should learn and it's your best possibility to survive. and, really, you saw that panic last night on that train on 188 where people, you know, in some instances were --
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>> and patrick, having been through it last night, have you had any thoughts about what you wish was on that train, what might have been more helpful in a situation like that? >> not really, lawrence. i vice president been -- on it because i've just been trying to soak up the family and i spoke to my team earlier this evening. because that's what -- that's my life is my family. and so, to be honest with you, so -- but the lesson learned last night, yeah, listen, it was more clear where things were, what we could have done. but at the end of the day, i was on the way. i knew, i saw the emergency exit windows. i climbed up, got it off and helped people get through it,
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but, you know, like in any situation, we were all pretty banged up, but you've got to get through it and you've got to be there and you have to help people. it wasn't be every man for himself, you have to do it as a team, otherwise, you all perish. >> john, does ntsb have any recommendations for train safety that you think should be incorporated that would help guide people after these kinds of crashes? >> you know what really has to happen here? we have to stop treating rail cars the way we treat airplane interiors. we have standards for airplanes for seats, for seat belts, for what's on the floor. emergency lighting. one of the things that the congressman had just mentioned about the darkness and the inability to see. on air maybes, we have battery powered lights and emergencies ;p that come on. we have long treated the inside
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of the airplane as a system. so it's not just adding a seat belt. it's adding the proper materials, proper seat construction. keeping them secured to the floor and having them not so stiff that if you get slammed into them you don't break bones or split your head open. so there's a lot of things that have been done on airplanes over the last 50 years that the rail industry and the rail car industry could profit from by using that system inside. and i hope beyond all hope that this accident will drive that discussion finally, that it will put those issues on the table so that we can address them. >> patrick murphy, john golia, thank you for joining us tonight. >> thank you. >> we have this from wcau, the nbc affiliate in fell fill. philadelphia police detectives, siu, confirmed that brandon bastion, the engineer of that train handed over his cell phone to detectives and gave a blood
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sample. he interviewed earlier today and is expected to conduct another interview in the future. lieutenant stanford with the philadelphia police says that no one has been named as a suspect in the crash at this point. coming up, more from the survivors of that crash. a subconscious. a knack for predicting the future. reflexes faster than the speed of thought. can a business have a spirit? can a business have a soul? can a business be...alive? anyone have occasional constipation diarrhea, gas, bloating? yes! one phillips' colon health probiotic cap each day helps defend against these occasional digestive issues... with 3 types of good bacteria.
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breaking news in the investigation of the amtrak train in philadelphia, wcau, the nbc affiliate in philadelphia is reporting that philadelphia police east detectives confirmed that brandon bastion handed over -- he was the engineer of the train, that he handed over his cell phone to east detectives and gave a blood sample. he interviewed earlier today and is expected to conduct another interview in the future. that's from wcau tv in philadelphia. lieutenant stanford with the philadelphia police says that no one has been named as a suspect in the crash at this point. that report is somewhat in conflict with an earlier report tonight from the "philadelphia inquirer" saying that the engineer of that train, brandon bastion, declined to give a statement to police investigators and left the east detectives division with an attorney. we're joined now by joy reid outside temple university
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hospital in philadelphia. joy, the attention now very sharply on the engineer, especially after learning today that according to the instruments the train was going double the speed limit in that zone, going over 100 miles per hour, when it should have been doing a maximum of 50. the -- there seems to be some amount of leaking coming out of the police department of what's going on there, but we've got some contrary reports on it tonight. >> yeah, absolutely. and some of the confusion earlier, lawrence, came because there was a press conference that mayor nutter gave earlier in which he may have mixed up the engineer versus the conductor. i think there was some confusion even among earlier reports saying that the engineer, mr. bastion, had not spoken with authorities. that was cleared up somewhat when mayor nutter said he may have spoke with officials just to say i want to speak to an attorney which, of course, is his right.
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we did also hear earlier from authorities that it does appear that at some level, at least, the engineer applied the emergency brake. it didn't do much. it didn't slow the train down very much, but that the brake was applied. and as you said, there's going to be a lot of scrutiny now on what the engineer did as he came into that turn. >> certainly if the wcau report is correct, that he has given a blood sample, we'll know everything about what was in his system, if anything, and that indication about the break brake being applied indicates that he was alert enough at that moment to do that. he was at that point certainly in control, trying to be in control of the train. >> joy, you're at the hospital there which is one of the trauma centers that was flooded last night. how did the hospitals there divide this massive number of people who were coming their way? who was directing the ambulance
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traffic? >> absolutely. there were triage unit at the crash site that directed patients to each of five area hospitals, including temple area hospitals, which is a level one trauma unit. so they got the largest overall number of patients. so essentially, triage units that were on-site at the crash decided where people should go based on the expertise of the various hospitals and based on the severity of the injuries. so dr. herbert cushing said here earlier, somewhat luck of the draw, somewhat based on what hospitals were capable of doing in the moment. some of the most severe cases did come here, including one of the fatalities, the 49-year-old gentleman from new jersey who unfortunately did pass away of a massive chest wound. what dr. cushing was saying was they did see a lot of chest wounds. most of the what they saw was
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what you would see in a high speed car crash. attention is being turned to the engineer's cell phone because in incidents like a car crash, you look at things like was the person paying attention to a phone. the injuries that we're seeing here were akin to a high speed crash. one other interesting note that dr. cushing made earlier was that what they also saw when people came here to temple were a lot of john and jane does. as you can imagine, in the moment, people weren't having time to grab their bag, their purse, their identification. a lot of people came here without i.d., without being able to be identified until they could reach family and friends and a lot of people without their medical cards, a lot of people without the obvious ability to pay for their care. so there's been a lot of interaction with amtrak officials and trying to just put names to the people that were here and make sure they could get treated.
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>> joy, i want to add one fact to this reporting conflict that's developing tonight over exactly what the engineer said or didn't say to the police. and the original report, the "philadelphia inquirer," they're citing police commissioner charles ramsey in their report. they're saying the engineer dedeclined to give a statement to detectives and he left the police department with an attorney, police commissioner charles h. ramsey said. that's directly attributed to the police commissioner. we don't have specific sources on the other report indicating that he was interviewed and they expect to interview him again, that he handed over his cell phone and a blood sample. we're not sure what the sourcing is on that. thank you for that. >> thanks, lawrence. coming up, the day after the crash, today, house republicans voted to cut amtrak's budget.
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one-fifth. before the vote, republicans said it was unfair to even mention the crash in relation to amtrak funding. budget cuts have a direct impact on safety. >> last night, we failed them. we failed to invest in their safety. we failed to make their safety a priority. >> i was disappointed to hear my colleague from new york a few minutes ago. talk about the tragedy that occurred with amtrak and suggest that because we had not funded this properly, that that's what caused the accident. when you have no idea, no idea, what caused this accident. the fact of the matter is that there have been more and more accidents, increased levels of danger, bridges failing, train accidents, longer delays at airports as a direct result of
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our die investments from infrastructure. >> it was just a few hours after that that robert thumbwald of the ntsb said this in philadelphia. >> we are very keen on positive train control. based on what we know right now, we feel that had such a system been installed in this section of track, this accident would not have occurred. >> joining us now, chief of and robert potroff, an attorney who specializes in railroad safety. ezra, in the house of representatives today, it was considered off base to even refer to this accident in funding amtrak. >> yeah, it is not something republicans wanted to hear on the floor today. look, to their point, their vote was scheduled for a long time. they have long been planning to cut amtrak's funding.
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they plan to cut amtrak's funding every single year and you can't draw a straight line between the funding and the disaster we saw the other night. what you can say, though, is that we have systemically done a terrible job funding not just amtrak, but american infrastructure. amtrak in particular you have incredibly strong ridership in that corridor. but because we have not figured out what with want that train system to be, we take money from the corridor and use it to subsidize. then congress gets furious because it doesn't make enough money. you can't have a world class rail system and infrastructure, but you have to pay for it. right now, not only are we not paying for it, but as you see, with the continuous inability to pass a surface transportation bill with any length at all, we haven't figured out a process by which you can do infrastructure training in the long run. this was one of the worst examples of where our
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inefficient rail system hurt us and created a tragedy. but it's about a lack of investment and lack of planning of general infrastructure in general. >> do you agree with the ntsb that if we had positive train control of that section of track this probably wouldn't have happened? >> absolutely. positive train control has been on the ntsb's most wanted list for about 45 years. positive train control would have stopped this accident. but there's so many other simple things, like just having two crew members in the cab of that locomotive that could have had the same result. >> yeah. and that, robert, is a budget item. when i hear the discussion of amtrak funding, it seems to me pretty much everything involving funding other than the ticketing system is a matter of safety. even tonight, we're recognizings that in the ticketing system, we
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need a kind of clarity that does tell us exactly would was on that train so we know when to stop searching for survivors. so in the amtrak funding, i think it's extremely difficult to find an area of the funding where you can clearly identify as having nothing to do with safety. >> it's beyond logic to understand why freight railroads that haul just freight have an engineer and a conductor with two sets of eyes on the track and two sets of eyes on all the signal accidents. and for some reason, the passenger line is -- you're putting one person on an island and expecting perfect behavior from that person and that's your safety system. without a backup based on the technology of positive train control or the a least another
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set of eyes, you can predict these accidents. this is exactly the same thing that happened in chadsworth, california, back in 2006 september. one person stuck on an island, required to behave perfectly. and any mistake is fatal for everybody on that train. >> and what was the mistake that the engineer made in that case? >> in that case, he simply missed a signal because he was texting on his phone. but we don't know what mr. bastion was doing in this case. what we do know is that he was there alone, running on a track that had an internal speed limit of 07 miles per hour. but the truth is, the class one railroads, which would include amtrak, have always taken the position that they don't have to follow their own internal speed
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limit. the track speed limits are as high as 110 to 125 miles per hour before you get to that curve. so what that engineer was doing is part of his training. and the cab signals that had to go off when he went by the indicator had to have been turned off for him to keep moving. >> explain that. what are the cab signals you're talking about? >> every train has cab signals. they're not unlike the signal in your car when you forget to buckle your seat belt. there will be an alarm that goes off, a light that flashes and a buzzer. the difference is on a train, if you don't address the problem that set off the alatter, and in this case the alarm would be after overspeed pedestrian alarm, the train will stop itself.
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that's the way it's designed to work. now, there's another thing that nobody has talked about. they thin these trains with an override switch where you could turn off the cab signals. that had to be what happened in this case. that the engineer -- and it's a common practice when there's a problem that they don't want to be bothered by the cab signals has another toggle switch available to them. they simply pull out the little seal that protects that toggle switch, turn it off. >> so it's as if your car -- the bell chiming on something that tells you, it's as if in your car you had a switch you could turn off? >> plus, the added component in your car, if you didn't buckle
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your seat belt, it would stop. until you buckled your seat belt, you couldn't move. >> i'm stunning that i'm learning this 24 hours after this crash. i've been watching all the coverage, i've been reading everything i can. i have heard no investigator mention this, that there is an automatic shutoff system in the train for excessive speed. it is there. not one word that i'm aware of has been said publicly about that yet. >> that's why i wanted so badly to come on here and talk about this. up that track, a half a mile to a mile away is a wayside signal. and it's just a little transmitter that sales that train. if the alarm is not -- and those overrides will be used in times
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where you have to make up speed, they'll be used in times when equipment is malfunctioning. >> let me stop you there for a second. this train had already been delayed. so this was a train with an incentive to make up speed. >> i didn't know that information until right now. that makes total sense. there should be an immediate investigate. into the dispatch laws. people higher up in amtrak knew that there was someone trying to make up speed. >> when do you expect to hear that kind of information revealed? >> unfortunately, i've been a party to too many ntsb reports with the fra.
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the relationship of the fra and the class one railroads is too close. you can't expect the fox and the guard dog to give a fair explanation as to what happened to all the chickens in the chicken coop. there's been volumes written about this relationship and the failure of these investigations to get to the root causes. and the root cause here is if you take away the automated safety devices and you take away the backup human being, you're asking for these accidents. and they will continue to happen. >> robert, thank you very much for that. i think we just learned more about what's possible in these trains than anything of our previous coverage in the last 24 hours. thank you very much for that. ezra cline, thanks for joining us, too. we're going to take a break. we'll be right back. ...add one a day men's 50+. complete with key nutrients we may
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you're looking at live images in philadelphia where crews are working through the wreckage of amtrak northeast regional train 188. we're joined now by a survivor from yesterday's amtrak crash, paul chung from the associated press. thanks for joining us again tonight. you got on the phone with us last night. when you look at the train wreckage today, can you figure out which car you were on? >> yes. as a matter of fact, i was the third car to the end. you know, last night when, you know, just minding my own business and suddenly it's like someone had just slammed on the brake, a hard brake and the car came to a halt. the whole car started shaking around. everything went dark. people were, you know, screaming and panicking and i was like, whoa, what's going on here? suddenly when it stopped, i noticed that, you know, again,
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it was extremely dark and people trying to gather their stuff, you know, and suddenly i heard a voice, you know, behind me saying that you need to get out now. get out from the back. and, again, all of us who were nearby me, we were trying to gather our things, backpacks, cell phones the most important, a lot of people were looking for their cell phones so they could contact their family and their loved ones. by that time, we started smelling smoke in our car and that's when i knew i really had to leave that car. so when i jumped out, that's when i got a panoramic view of how bad the damage was. from where i was standing, it happened in a quick flash. you don't really know was going on. it's almost like you're in a movie, you know, that really fast, at the same time, in a slow moment when your body just kind of moves with the momentum of the cart. as we left the card, it was just -- again, it was a very surreal
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scene, i'm seeing cars flip to the side, i'm seeing passengers climb out from the window. i see wreckage everywhere. you see chairs everywhere and you see some people helping others, folks who get out of the debris and a lot of people just walking around confused and shocked. >> paul, we've been showing some of the pictures that you took last night. the big question of the day is that sensation of speed. i talked to survivors of the crash last night and no one said anything about it felt like it was going at a very high rate of speed. most everyone felt it was at a normal speed. when you hear today that the instruments indicate that it was
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over 100 miles per hour, was that surprising to you? >> it was surprising. i wasn't paying attention. it seems normal. they're going for some kind of curve. you feel the natural vibration of the car. and suddenly, bam, everything kind of happened. >> were you injured at all, paul? >> i was one of the really lucky ones, a few scrapes and a bruised knee. >> and how long did it take for you to realize after the fact that you were okay, that everything was working, your arms, your legs, your hands, your feet? >> i would say immediately. as soon as it stopped, the first action is i turned on the flashlight, my cell phone, asking people, are you guys okay? some people say i need to find my phone and just kind of figuring out where am i in the car? i can't really see anything in front of me. all i could see was the back door.
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>> paul cheung, thank you for sharing our story with us. thank you for helping us out with this corage. thanks very much. >> thank you. >> chris hayes is up next. tragedy in philadelphia. this is "hardball." >> i'm chris matthews in philadelphia, the site of last night's horrific train derailment. >> i'm chris matthews in philadelphia, the site of last night's horrific train derailment. here is what we know at this hour. at least seven people were killed and 200 others were injured when a northeast regional train jumped the tracks shortly after it left philadelphia's 30th street station. the train was rounding a sharp curve, and many of the cars rolled over. according to the ntsb, the train was going way over the speed limit just before the crash. >> maximum authorized speed


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