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On Day of Crash, Report Questions Amtrak Safety

September 23, 1993| Associated Press

WASHINGTON — On the day Amtrak experienced its deadliest crash, congressional investigators said the railroad lacks clear standards for determining when its passenger cars pose safety risks and need repairs.

"My level of concern for the safety of America's rail passengers was effectively doubled today with the derailment in Alabama," Rep. Gary A. Condit (D-Ceres) said Wednesday in releasing the study.

The report by the General Accounting Office said Amtrak "does not consistently implement its inspection and preventive maintenance programs and does not have clear criteria for determining when a passenger car should be removed from service for safety reasons."

Since 1989, Amtrak has overhauled far fewer passenger cars each year than planned because of a lack of money, the GAO report said.

The GAO said some of the problems it found were cars that lacked emergency equipment such as fire extinguishers. Also, the report said Amtrak does not necessarily fix wheel defects to meet its own standards until the car's next checkup, as long as the wheel complies with federal freight car standards.

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