Micro Assistant Fire Chief Johnny Dixon said a man whose home is beside Micro Fire Department saw the flames and immediately called authorities shortly after 4 p.m
The obvious question is what the hell is wrong at Amtrak Operations which makes it that they don't know that they have a fire and call the fire department before a good citizen along the ROW does? So let's review, an Amtrak Locomotive catches fire, neither Amtrak nor the RR calls the fire department, passengers don't get information on either what happened or how they will get to their destination......How many different ways can Amtrak screw things up?
We're not talking about the space shuttle here. Amtrak operations wouldn't have a clue that the locomotive was on fire as there is no monitoring equipment on the engine that transmits real time info to operations.
Depending on just how things went down, it is quite possible that someone standing alongside the tracks would indeed be the first to see a fire in the engine compartment. Even if the engineer noticed something in his guages or his mirrors, his first action would be to stop the train. His second action would be to radio the host RR and request that they dispatch police, fire, and rescue units to his location.
His third action might be to use his cell phone to call 911, assuming that he had a signal. Next assuming that he still had any motive power; he most likely would try to detach the engine from the rest of the train, so as to protect the passengers in the coaches and sleepers. Or depending on the size of the fire, he might try to put it out with the onboard fire extinguisher. Then if need be he would try to assist in evacuating the passengers, if that need was urgent.
Finally after all of the above, he might actually try to call operations to let them know about the problems, again assuming that he has a cell phone signal.
But the bottom line here is that operations would be, and should be, the last to know. The engineer and the host RR are the best people, short of a bystander, to call and coordinate local fire and rescue teams.
As for the passengers, despite the complaints of some, from what I read it seemed like most passengers knew what had happened, either from simply seeing the events or from the crew telling them. And according to the last article that you posted, Amtrak did indeed provide them with buses to their ultimate destinations.
I quote the fire chief:
The train was heading south, toward Selma, when the fire broke out, Dixon said.
Passengers were transported by charter buses to their destinations, he added.
Now we can debate about whether the fire was caused by poor maintenance, or lack of funds to fix things. But outside of that area, Amtrak IMHO would appear to have done what was needed and what is proper according to the RR operations book.
Now we can debate about whether poor maintenance lead to the fire, or lack of money to buy new parts. But beyond that area, it would appear IMHO that Amtrak did what it was supposed to do, reacted appropriately and according to RR operating rules regarding this event.