The Philadelphia District Attorney's Office had announced Tuesday, as the two-year deadline to bring charges loomed Friday, that it couldn't prove Bostian acted with "conscious disregard" when he accelerated the train to 106 miles per hour on a 50 miles per hour curve.
The district attorney says there was no evidence Bostian acted with criminal "intent" or criminal "knowledge".
Judge Marsha Neifield issued the order against Brandon Bostian on Thursday, relying on a Pennsylvania law that lets courts accept private criminal complaints if district attorneys decline to prosecute. A two-year investigation by the DA's office found that Bostian's speeding caused the train to derail, killing eight people and injuring more than 200 others.
The family of a NY woman who was killed sought the criminal complaint after city prosecutors declined to press charges. "It's a moment of bringing a man to task for what he did to all these families and how he did this so wrong", said Thomas R. Kline, the attorney for the victims' families.
Kline said the attorney general on Friday "correctly and appropriately charged Brandon Bostian for his reckless disregard of the passengers in whose safety he was entrusted".
A Philadelphia judge ordered the arrest of the Amtrak engineer aboard a 2015 derailment in which eight people died and hundreds were injured. Kline represents the family of the NY victim, Rachel Jacobs, a 39-year-old technology executive, wife and mother. A judge says Bostian lives in MA.
Amtrak has taken responsibility for the crash and agreed to pay $265 million to settle related claims.
However, the Philadelphia's district attorney's office determined that the evidence did not rise to the necessary level needed to charge the engineer or anyone else with a crime. In the week after the crash, investigators with the NTSB said the train was traveling at more than 100 m.p.h. when it derailed.
Federal investigators concluded that Bostian lost track of his location, or "situational awareness", before the crash after learning that a nearby SEPTA commuter train had been struck with a rock. However, the NTSB concluded that nothing struck his locomotive.
In response, attorneys filed a private complaint on behalf of the father of one of the victims. Philadelphia lawyers Thomas Kline and Robert Mongeluzzi, who helped negotiate the settlement, announced the judge's order late Thursday.
The engineer in a deadly 2015 Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia could be charged by the Pennsylvania attorney general as soon as Friday even though local prosecutors had cleared him of criminal wrongdoing earlier in the week.
Emergency personnel work near the wreckage of the New York City-bound Amtrak passenger train following the May 13, 2015, derailment in Philadelphia.
The judge had signed off on two misdemeanor charges over Rachel Jacobs' death in the May 12, 2015, derailment.