Checking speed and safety on Hampton Roads transportation

The tragedy is raising concerns about passenger rail safety, including here in Hampton Roads. So what systems are in place to protect riders?

13NewsNow wanted to see what safety measures are in place for The Tide Light Rail following the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state, Monday.

The Tide runs throughout all of Norfolk, carrying more than 4,500 passengers on average per day. It varies in speed between 10 mph and 55 mph.

The speed limits are determined by various factors, like elevation, the environment, interactions with pedestrians at crosswalks and traffic signals, according to Hampton Roads Transit Spokesperson Tom Holden.

While the light rail is different from an Amtrak train in terms of speed and travel distance, the two methods of transportation both carry passengers.

“There are standard safety protocols that all transportation systems follow: training, obey speed limits follow the signs,” said Holden.

13NewsNow wanted to learn more about train operators. While speed limits are set, operators can exceed them, which is what investigators believe happened in Washington state, Monday.

Enforcing speed limits for Norfolk’s light rail is a similar process to the way state troopers enforce speed limits on interstates.

“The operators have supervisors on the street, both in the trains on occasion and outside the trains and they use speed guns to manage, record their speeds to make sure they’re running at the appropriate speed and the posted time,” said Holden.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is the federal agency that regulates the speed limits of trains.

Since the Washington Amtrak train was traveling 50 miles over the speed limit before it derailed, 13NewsNow reached out to the FRA about how speeding is monitored.

13NewsNow called and emailed, asking how speed limits are determined, who monitors train speeds and how often the speed limits are violated.

As of the story’s airing, the Federal Railroad Administration has not responded.

© 2018 WVEC-TV


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