Fact-checking claims about Amtrak

Cassandra Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board works with officials on the scene of the Amtrak Train 188 Derailment in Philadelphia, Pa. (National Transportation Safety Board)
Cassandra Johnson of the National Transportation Safety Board works with officials on the scene of the Amtrak Train 188 Derailment in Philadelphia, Pa. (National Transportation Safety Board)

After an Amtrak passenger train derailed in Philadelphia on May 12, 2015, safety officials said a technological fix could have prevented the accident, which killed eight and injured many more.

Transportation officials said positive train control, or PTC, would have prevented the loss of life on Northeast Regional train 188, which entered a curve at more than 100 miles per hour, or twice the posted speed.

So why wasn't their positive train control for the portion of the tracks where accident occurred? 

"It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality," said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y.

Over on Fox News, host Megyn Kelly had a different take. 

"Congress had already mandated that it be installed, and it's being installed on all these tracks," Kelly said. "They hadn't gotten to this particular track yet. And according to our information, that wasn't driven by a lack of funding. It just takes a while. They just passed it in the recent past. So they were working on it. So it's not a failure of infrastructure. It's a failure of an engineer to obey the speed limit."

In this case, both Schumer and Kelly's comments left out a lot of detail. 

Insufficient funding has been an obstacle to implementing positive train control in locations like the one where the accident occurred. But other factors played a role as well, including administrative problems within Amtrak and technical challenges such as difficulty obtaining radio frequencies. Because each of them are partially accurate but left out important details, we rated both claims Half True. Read both fact-checks for more details.