Over the weekend, we visited our niece in Dunn North Carolina. She is working there temporarily at a facility that desperately needs her skills.
While Countess and my niece were engrossed with the Eva Gardner museum in Smithfield NC, I staked out a viewing location on the Washington DC to Miami CSX mainline, that runs right through Dunn. In the short time I was there, two long Northbound freight trains rumbled through.
Little did I know that about 12 hours later, Amtrak train #91 (the Silver Star from DC to Miami) was here, an hour away from slamming into a stationary switching train on a siding at a facility near Columbia SC that unloads cars and trucks from vehicle rail cars for local delivery.
The siding switch was padlocked giving control of the mainline to the switching crew, but the regular systems were down, possibly (ironically) to install Positive Train Control (PTC) on the busy CSX route on Sunday AM.
Either the switching crew forgot to realign the switch (not likely) or the Amtrak crew who were running almost an hour late had their permission to use the mainline expire and failed to contact the CSX dispatcher to extend their “train order”. Since the block signals were disabled, the only way the dispatcher in Jacksonville Florida knows where the Amtrak train is was being told over the radio system.
Amtrak’s immediate statements placing all of the blame on CSX may turn out to be wrong.