If I understand anything about the law (and I really don't,) I'd think Amtrak would have a hard time proving gross negligence when someone left a switch open. It is one thing they were told the switch was open and CSX said "Who cares," or failed to maintain the switch and it opened on its own.
However, in this case, they *padlocked the switch in the wrong position*, and then either (a) signed the federal form stating that the switch had been restored to the right position and turned it in, or (b) the dispatcher released the track without getting the form. This is pretty gross negligence. There's a specific, federally mandated (!!!!) procedure to prevent this from happening, and as far as we can tell CSX employees didn't follow it. The rules they violated have also been in the rulebook of every railroad since the *1820s*. It's not a subtle or fine point of operation -- it's not an honest mistake.
Amtrak has essentially nothing to lose by picking a fight with CSX, which is already delaying Amtrak trains unnecessarily for whatever reason. They picked a fight with CN over less, and go figure, BNSF and UP haven't been bothered by that.
An ordinary no-fault allocation in a contract is designed for ordinary accidents -- a derailment due to not noticing track damage or not noticing mechanical damage, a signal failure due to salt water or a series of small errors, perhaps even a minor overspeed error -- not a gross violation of what is perhaps the oldest rule in the rulebook, along with a falsification of a federal form designed specifically to prevent that failure!
If we discover that a vandal with skeleton keys came in and reset the switch and re-padlocked it, then maybe CSX didn't commit gross negligence -- but that seems highly unlikely!
Edited by neroden, 12 February 2018 - 03:51 PM.