CHASE, Md. — A whistle in the cab that could have warned a Conrail engineer to slow down had been disabled before he passed track-side signal lights into the path of an Amtrak passenger train that derailed, killing 15 people, an investigator said today.
Federal investigator John Rehor said National Transportation Safety Board officials had found tape over the opening of the whistle inside the cab of the lead Conrail engine.
The whistle essentially duplicates the function of cab signal lights. Train crew members sometimes silence or muffle the whistle to avoid the annoyance, according to some engineers.
The Conrail engineer told representatives of the United Transportation Union that he did not tape the whistle, union officials said.
The signal system of lights and whistle inside the cab is required by federal regulations on locomotives that operate in the Northeast rail corridor.