The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continues to investigate factors that contributed to Tuesday’s fatal Amtrak derailment outside of Philadelphia. Among the data recovered so far that likley influenced the crash were the speed of the locomotive as it took the curve (it was traveling more than twice the speed limit) and reports of a some sort of projectile being hurled at the train.
But MSNBC’s Chris Matthews is engaging in a little wishful thinking as a means to avoiding future accidents like this one. In two separate segments on his show “Hardball,” he posited that the solution is for the U.S. to be more like China. That nation, he said, ignores personal property rights when laying track and, hence, has fewer curves to worry about.
Here’s, courtesy of NewsBusters’s Ken Shepard are the video and relevant transcript:
CHRIS MATTHEWS [to Reps. Robert Brady (D-Pa.) and Brendan Boyle (D-Pa.)]: Let’s talk about the track. You take the train every night home. And you take it too, as well. You know how it’s rickety. You know it jumps around a lot. It’s like the Wild West, some parts of that route. Do we need to have a better right-of-way? Can we clear a straight line for this train? How fast can a train go if it’s going like this? [rapidly moves his right hand laterally]
MATTHEWS [to Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.)]: But we have a country where people can complain. In Communist countries like China, they just draw a straight line, whether it goes through your house or not, it’s a straight line. We have this Amtrak, I’ve been taking it for a half a century, it doesn’t go in a straight line. In this case, it tried to make a turn and turned over! Because there’s so many turns on that route. How do you get rid of the turns?
Maybe before “going there,” suggesting that the answer is for the U.S. to seize property, civil engineer Matthews might have done a little reading on China’s track record (no pun intended) on rail safety. He might have discovered that on 23 July 2011, two high-speed trains traveling on the same line collided on a viaduct in the suburb of Wenzhou. Both trains were derailed, killing 40 and injuring 192.