Investigators look at why train sped up before derailment

This Aug. 21, 2007 photo shows Amtrak assistant conductor Brandon Bostian outside a train at the Amtrak station in St. Louis. Bostian was the engineer in the fatal Tuesday, May 12, 2015 passenger train derailment in Philadelphia. (Huy Richard Mach/St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT: HUY RICHARD MACH/ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — In the moment the Amtrak train that derailed at a curve this week was supposed to be slowing down, it was accelerating, investigators said Thursday.

How that came to happen has emerged as the central question surrounding the derailment, which killed eight people and sent more than 200 to hospitals Tuesday night in the nation’s deadliest train wreck in nearly six years.

In the minute or so before the crash, the train sped up from 70 mph until it reached more than 100 mph at a sharp bend where the maximum speed is supposed to be 50 mph, National Transportation Safety Board member Robert Sumwalt said. It’s unclear, Sumwalt said, whether the speed was increased manually by engineer Brandon Bostian, who grew up obsessed with trains.

Investigators have found no problems with the track, signals or locomotive. Sumwalt said the train, on a route from Washington to New York City, was on time as it left the station in Philadelphia a few minutes before the crash.

Investigators want to know why the train was going so fast. But Bostian refused to talk to police on Wednesday, authorities said. On Thursday, Sumwalt said Bostian had agreed to be interviewed by the NTSB and the meeting will take place in the next few days.

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