A government review of Amtrak's operations along its heavily traveled Boston-to-Washington routes found "a high regard" for safety, but also some shortcomings that, if not corrected, could lead to accidents.
The detailed examination of Amtrak's operation along the Northeast corridor was prompted by the collision last July of two Amtrak trains on a trestle in New York City that killed one person and injured 115 others.
Investigators later said the two trains were mistakenly allowed on the same track by a signal tower operator who allegedly failed to throw and lock into place a signal that would have warned off one of the trains.
The report by the Federal Railroad Administration concluded that Amtrak's operations along the corridor are "being managed effectively and operated with a high regard for the safety of the passengers, employes and the general public."
"All indications are that the corridor is among the nation's safest and most efficient" operations, said John Riley, the agency's administrator.
But the examination uncovered a number of shortcomings in maintenance, training, operational procedures and track inspection that posed potential hazards, the agency said.
Among the agency's findings was one that some signal systems were not being maintained properly, possibly leading to false "proceed" signals being given to trains. Some signal cables and wires were found on the ground or in rotting, wooden boxes that exposed them to the elements, the report said.
It said that between 1982 and 1984 there were 17 reports of false "proceed" signals, including 11 that were attributed to faulty relays or wiring problems