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NTSB: Amtrak train was speeding before derailment

Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed yesterday morning.
Photo – Washington State Patrol


An Amtrak Cascades train was traveling about 80 mph in a 30 mph zone before it derailed yesterday near DuPont, Washington, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Amtrak Cascades Train 501 was carrying 80 passengers, five Amtrak crew members and one Talgo technician when it derailed at 7:34 a.m. Pacific time while crossing an overpass.

The train consisted of two locomotives and 12 passenger cars when it left the track, sending several of the units off both sides of the overpass and onto Interstate 5 below. At least three people were killed and about 100 others were injured, according to local news reports.

The NTSB is conducting the accident investigation.

"On behalf of everyone at Amtrak, we are deeply saddened by all that has happened today," Amtrak co-Chief Executive Officer Richard Anderson said in a prepared statement issued yesterday. "We will do everything in our power to support our passengers and crew and their families."

Known as the Point Defiance Bypass, the track is owned by Sound Transit, which also operates over a portion of the track. BNSF Railway Co. dispatches trains over the bypass, according to Amtrak.

The derailment occurred during the train's inaugural run of a new Cascades passenger-rail service between Seattle and Portland, Oregon.

The derailment caused at least three fatalities and 100 injuries.
Photo – Washington State Patrol

Although positive train control (PTC) equipment has been installed in the Lakewood subdivision where the derailment occurred, the system was not yet operational or certified for use, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).

Full PTC implementation is slated to occur on that segment in second-quarter 2018, WSDOT officials said in a blog post.

Sound Transit, Amtrak and other agencies are working to implement PTC in the Puget Sound region ahead of a December 2018 deadline, they said.

The Amtrak Cascades service is jointly owned by WSDOT and the Oregon Department of Transportation. Amtrak operates the service as a contractor. The service runs from Vancouver, British Columbia, to Eugene, Oregon.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 12/19/2017