Perp Walks

And since the centers aren't classified as medical facilities, they aren't required to protect the confidentiality of client information; in many instances, undecided women have gotten threatening phone calls, Saporta says.

For Amtrak-haters, the derailment last week of the Capital Limited in the Maryland suburbs was yet another golden opportunity to trumpet the troubled railroad's approaching demise. With 97 people injured and 11 cars damaged, the railroad looked incompetent and seemed to be coming apart at the seams. The loss of so many cars at a time when Amtrak is already behind on repairs means it may be hard to keep the Washington-Chicago route up and running.

The naysayers have only one problem here—this wreck doesn't appear to have been Amtrak's fault. The government's investigation so far shows that the tracks had separated by as much 30 inches in the heat, but these weren't Amtrak tracks. They belong to the CSX Corporation, the gigantic freight operation that runs much of the freight traffic in the East.

During exceptionally hot stretches, CSX issues heat warnings, restricting cargo trains to 45 miles per hour, 10 mph slower than usual. Although CSX routinely imposes "heat orders" when temperatures reach or exceed 90 on consecutive days, the company hadn't told passenger trains to reduce their speed because they are much lighter. Instead, Amtrak runs had a ceiling of 70 mph. The train that derailed had a cap of 60 because one car was deemed unfit for faster travel. That's still 15 mph more than the freight-train limit.

This isn't the first time heat and excessive speed have cost lives. During an April hot spell, an Amtrak auto train derailed on CSX tracks in Georgia, killing four and injuring 150. In both cases, CSX said it had performed the necessary track maintenance.

CSX has drawn attention from government regulators. For the past two years, the Federal Railroad Administration had kept CSX under "special supervision" because of problems. And the National Transportation Safety Board confirmed that in May it had launched an investigation into CSX maintenance and inspection procedures. But just two days before the Maryland derailment, the government lifted its special supervision of the freight line.

Research by Gabrielle Jackson, Cassandra Lewis and Caroline Ragon.
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