The derailment occurred on the first day of higher-speed service. The propriety of conducting such training on the inaugural run of the service is debatable. Railroad union hearsay alleges that the two locomotive engineers lost track of where they were because much — if not all — previous route qualification training had taken place at night when busy freight railroad traffic could accommodate the luxury of a non-revenue passenger train on multiple training runs. As a result, on the maiden run the two engineers had difficulty associating daytime landmarks with their ever-changing location.
To a large extent, this is the main tool engineers use to track their location. The environment’s physical characteristics are crucial to knowing one’s location, just like when we drive our cars. However, there are additional aids available depending on the train control systems in place.
In addition, there are allegations that these prior night training sessions had upwards of six people in the locomotive cab in order to qualify as many engineers as possible to operate trains along this route in the short amount of available time before service started.