Skip to Main Content
Railroad News

Philadelphia Area Commuter Trains Collide, Injuring Dozens

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

(Upper Darby, Pennsylvania – August 22, 2017)

A high-speed Southeast Pennsylvania Transit Authority (SEPTA) commuter train, carrying an as-yet undetermined number of passengers, smashed into a parked, unoccupied SEPTA train shortly after midnight (12:15 A.M., EDT) last Tuesday. The collision occurred at one of the commuter rail carrier’s busiest stations, injuring dozens of homeward-bound riders. Four of the passengers were hospitalized in serious condition.

Early reports indicated at least 41 passengers and the engineer suffered injuries in the crash between the two SEPTA trains. The as-yet unidentified engineer was treated and released as victims who required treatment were spread among seven area hospitals. The train was arriving at SEPTA’s busy 69th Street Station.

The accident represented yet another collision that could have been prevented had the Congressionally-mandated Positive Control System, a satellite and computer-guided safety system, designed to prevent or lessen the severity of train collisions, been in place.  But the railroad industry, as a whole, has secured numerous delays in activating the life-saving system.

There were no preliminary evaluations of cause for the collision, but numerous passengers felt speed was a definite factor. The National Transportation Safety Board had dispatched a team of investigators to study the situation.

“There was blood everywhere,” testified one witness, Raymond Woodard, to news media at the scene. “The driver (engineer) is all banged up, and there was this one girl bleeding out of her face pretty bad.”

“I heard the train going real fast – like, super fast,” recalled Woodard, who was among the injured passengers. “And I looked up and saw that we’re at 69th Street, and said ‘Why are we going so fast?’, and then we just hit the (standing) train. Boom! I fell out of my chair, glass from the window shattered, (and) I hit my head. Everybody was on the floor.”

In February of this year, four SEPTA employees were injured near the 69th Street Station when two out-of-service SEPTA trains rear-ended one another on a reverse loop track used to turn trains in the opposite direction.

The moving train Tuesday was operating on the Norristown High Speed Line. Upper Darby is about 30 miles west of Philadelphia.



Railroad News


Train crash cases are unique and complex with many different potential pitfalls, such as federal preemption. Anytime I get hired or even get a call from a train crash victim, my very first call is to Nathan’s firm. Nathan’s knowledge and experience in handling and trying cases against these litigation savvy railroad companies gives me the confidence to know that the clients and cases I refer to him are getting the best of the best.

James Perrin Lubbock, Texas

I have had the opportunity to work as co-counsel with Nathan on several railroad crossing accidents cases. In each case, Nathan always possessed an incredible knowledge of the law and the facts, possessed a great talent for aggressive - strategic legal planning and trial tactics while, at the same time, displaying great skill as an effective negotiator. I would recommend him to anyone without hesitation.

Scott McCluen Harriman, Tennessee

Nathan Karlin has my strongest endorsement in the field of railroad crossing cases and personal injury law. I had the pleasure of working with Nathan in a complex railroad personal injury case. I was impressed by Nathan’s knowledge, his work ethic, and his dedication to the client. I look forward to working with Nathan on future injury matters. I am also aware firsthand that he has obtained excellent trial and settlement results in numerous cases involving members of the public harmed by railroad companies.

Joseph M. Miller Mandeville, Louisiana

Nathan is a warrior fighting the railroads. As a fellow personal injury lawyer, I have constantly been impressed with his depth of knowledge and his capabilities from case to case. I’d take him into battle with me any day against the biggest railroads and insurance companies on the planet.

Jon C. Clark Austin, Texas

Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

Robert Schuetze Boulder, Colorado

Mr. Pottroff has shaken the rail industry to its very roots. Settlements are now more common as a result of the way he has exposed the industry’s wrongdoing.

Mike Easley Arkansas

Bob Pottroff’s work in railroad safety law is unmatched and he has been the source of great advice and phenomenal creativity.

Roger Brown Jefferson City, Missouri

In addition to his substantive contributions to railroad grade crossing safety, I have personally observed his untiring efforts and contributions to improving the integrity of the legal system.

Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8