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Deadly Amtrak Derailment Near Philadelphia Leads To Calls For Seat Belts On Trains

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the wake of Tuesday night's horrific train crash outside of Philadelphia, there are demands for a host of new passenger safety measures, including the possibility of installing seat belts.

The crumpled metal, the mounting death toll and the numerous injuries were the images that made the derailment of Amtrak Train 188 so frightful that lawmakers are demanding a host of changes to protect the riding public, CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported.

"Seat belts will certainly have to be considered," U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Wednesday, just hours after the tragedy that left seven dead and more than 200 injured.

Schumer said one of the reasons people died was because when the club car derailed, its passengers were standing.

"When people are in seats, themselves, they're safer. If they have seat belts they're so much the safer," Schumer said. "It seems that seat belts would be a small cost to prevent future loss of life."

Riders that Kramer spoke to were divided about whether seat belts would help.

"You have a seat belts in a car, why wouldn't you have it on a train?" one woman said.

"I don't think it would make much difference. You hit the wall at 60 miles per hour I don't think a seat belts is going to make any difference," Joe Kennedy added.

"I don't know that they should be mandatory. I don't know whether people would use them if they were on trains," another rider said.

Seat belts were not the only precaution proposed.

"We should be looking at whether or not the luggage in the overhead should be more secure," Rep. Peter Kind, R-Long Island, said. "The luggage was flying all over the place and that I understand caused a number of the injuries."

Another proposal is giving passengers instructions on how to escape.

"As they have now on airlines, when you get on the plane they tell you exactly where the escape routes, what to do in case of an accident," Rep. King said.

And due to reports that the train was going too fast, there has been a renewed call for something called "positive train control" – or PTC.

"Which stops a train when it's going too fast," Schumer explained.

Deadly Metro-North Train Derailment
A Metro-North commuter train lies in the brush near the Hudson River after it derailed just north of the Spuyten Duyvil station Dec. 1, 2013 in the Bronx. (Photo by Christopher Gregory/Getty Images)

Schumer said PTC could have prevented not only the Philadelphia derailment, but also the December 2013 Metro-North Spuyten Duyvil accident where four died and 61 were injured. That train was going three times the speed limit, Kramer reported.

"The irony is here, as I understand it, Amtrak was installing positive train control on these tracks and it hoped to finish it by the end of the year," Schumer said.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said the federal government has to spend more money on track maintenance and upgrading the entire train system, so it can sustain the bullet trains and other modern systems that are used all over the world, Kramer reported.

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