Washington State Amtrak Derailment: Officials expedited new rail line to capture federal money

amtrack derailment

On Monday, an Amtrak train derailed in Washington state killing 3 people and injuring over 70. About the incident, from NPR:

The train, identified by Amtrak as the high-speed Train 501 from Seattle to Portland, was carrying 77 passengers and seven crew members when it derailed above Interstate 5 just after 7:30 a.m. local time. All but one of its cars and engines jumped the tracks, and at least one fell to the roadway below.

MultiCare Health System, a local network of medical centers, says that 22 people involved in the crash have been hospitalized at three of its facilities. Five patients have also been sent to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, two of whom are in critical condition. Multiple other medical centers have reported receiving patients from the crash.

A spokesman for the Washington State Patrol said there were an additional 23 injuries total, 10 in serious condition, four with moderate injuries and nine with minor injuries.

It remains unclear what caused the crash. But the train had never used the route it took Monday — as NPR’s Martin Kaste notes, Monday marked its inaugural trip on a more inland route than usual.

Turns out we know the major factor for the crash: According to the NTSB, the train was going 50 mph over the posted speed limit.

Turns out there may be another factor for the crash: Rushed implementation to achieve federal dollars. NTSB hasn’t commented on that factor yet. Their final accident report won’t be released for months, maybe even a year.

Hanna Scott reports for MyNorthwest.com that the new rail line connected to Monday’s deadly train derailment opened much earlier than originally planned, and before a key safety system was operational.

State transportation officials originally planned to have the corridor refurbished in 2019, but in order to get federal stimulus money for the project, construction had to be done by mid-2017. So officials set a new deadline.

The Seattle Times uncovered documents from 2016, where Sound Transit described the project as being under a “very aggressive schedule” and that even a one-month delay would have impacts. Other officials had previously said they expected the train’s safety system — Positive Train Control — to be operational before the new line started. (This train was not using the Congress-mandated safety technology on that stretch of track that possibly could have prevented the disaster.)

Instead, it met that more aggressive deadline and started running several months before Sound Transit planned to have the safety system operational.

The train was traveling at approximately 80 mph Monday morning as it entered a curve that should have been taken at about 30 mph, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. The majority of the train cars derailed, killing three and injuring more than 70.


23 responses to “Washington State Amtrak Derailment: Officials expedited new rail line to capture federal money

  1. Well, expect the creation of a review board, an engineering group to assess the conditions, a county commissioner that knows nothing about derrailment, a fact finding appointed group, a conservation group to just hang around at a whopping 5.million dollars project to complete a TWO YEAR REPORT to reach a conclusion the train was doing 80 mph on a 30 mph zone………..thanks to the taxpayers.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes, how “ironic”. How many times do they think this can happen before someone calls them on it? Apparently its limitless, they simply don’t care.

      Liked by 3 people

    • You’re kidding! This is too consistent! And it leads me to ask, while the media and news consuming public were glued to this one story for half a day, what was the other hand doing?

      Liked by 2 people

  2. DCG. . . Excellent article. Thank you.

    I am sure that many wish to blame the engineer, but with this further information, regarding the pushed up completion time table so that they could garner Federal monies (minus the Federally mandated safety feature) should have attorneys for those who will no doubt seek compensation, looking towards the greedy State of Washington authorities who pushed to open this route before it was 100% safe. Who knows, perhaps there were State of Oregon authorities who also went along with this ill advised plan, since this new route was going from Seattle to Portland. People need to loose their jobs over this kind of mishap, and not necessarily just the engineer. It sounds like he was perhaps in an untenable situation. I understand that there was another person with him in the cab, who was being trained to be a conductor. I cannot envision how it was a good idea to bring on spectators when this was a brand new rail line. What a horrific debacle. . . here these folks gambled with other peoples’s lives, and guess who the losers were? Not the folks that made such ill advised decisions.

    Liked by 3 people

    • And the spin has begun on the lack of PTC:
      Eleven months before a speeding Amtrak train flew off a bridge and onto I-5, David Smelser of the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Rail Division made a promise to the Lakewood City Council. At a meeting Jan. 17, 2017, Smelser addressed positive train control, or PTC, the system that can automatically slow a speeding train. “PTC will go in in the forthcoming months — before we start service,” Smelser said.

      Governor Jay Inslee, who said Tuesday that it wasn’t clear if PTC would have prevented the crash, issued a news release Wednesday saying he had met with Anderson and that “Amtrak would seek to make PTC operational statewide on its trains as soon as possible and before the December 31, 2018 federal deadline.”


      Liked by 3 people

      • I would still like to know how the engineer doesn’t know the difference between 80 MPH and 30 MPH. “Safety System” or no safety system, he should know how to slow down.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I saw this article a couple of days ago. I have no idea if this writer, Jim Stone, is reliable or not, but he compares this accident with others, and he makes sense.

          They are clearly lying that the Amtrak train was going 80+ mph when it crashed and it is easy to prove


          Liked by 1 person

          • Anyone who knows me knows that I’m certainly not an automatic believer in the official story. This stinks, just like every other “event” we get in “the news”.

            The article makes a lot of valid points. We’re unlikely to ever now the truth, no matter how innocuous, and maybe that’s the shame of it. They couldn’t even get the death toll straight.

            Everything we get for “news” is controlled. Maybe they just do that because they can.

            Liked by 2 people

      • You are clearly right about the “spin”. The “PTC” is for incidents where the engineer is incapacitated or there’s a mechanical problem, not normal operation. If you drive by this you will clearly see that it is not intended for 80 MPH operation.

        They are lying. My question is, why? They SAY that they made a trial run a couple of days before with no problems. Of course, they may be lying about that as well.

        They have been advertising on the radio for citizens of Seattle to be extra careful at RXR crossings as there will be up to fourteen new runs per day through areas where they previously hardly ever operated. I don’t know if it is related to this.

        There are nuclear missile movements through the area as well as radioactive waste headed for Hanford. It will be interesting to see if we get any more information. It seems to me that lately, they just let stuff like this die on the vine.

        Liked by 3 people

        • There may be some truth to the rumormill web site, that Amtrak doesn’t want to tell the truth. Now, all of a sudden, Amtrak has announced this:
          Amtrak trains won’t travel to the same stretch of rail where a deadly derailment occurred earlier this week until some changes are made. The Washington State Department of Transportation says all Amtrak trains must have Positive Train Control before returning to the Point Defiance Bypass.

          Liked by 2 people

          • They have been going through there for a very long time. This new stretch is probably the safest they have. This automated thing is a good idea but I doubt that it had anything to do with this. They are lying for some reason.

            They are trying to convince the eaters that their new-fangaled contraption would have prevented this. I doubt it. I happen to know a couple of train engineers and I understand what this thing does.

            I’m so tired of the non-stop lying. I don’t trust any of these sorry, self-serving slime balls.

            Liked by 2 people

          • I believe what YOU are telling me. I’m just saying that it’s not true that there is anything “unusual” about not having it. Most places don’t. It is nice to have something that can override the engineer, I suppose, but it doesn’t explain what he was doing.

            I could speculate, but none of it would be understandable and excusable. They have signs and even computer graphics that tell them when a turn is coming or a speed zone, just like a car.

            This is just TOO weird.

            Liked by 2 people

    • Well, I’m not blaming anyone…….yet! I still don’t understand why he was going that fast entering a 30 MPH turn. It needs an explanation.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. typical for our govt to create a problem to solve a problem…what a coincidence that emergency personnel just happened to be around when the “accident” occurred.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. As I think on it, perhaps it might be interesting to see the exact rail area in some satellite pictures before the “accident”, assuming they were taken relatively recently and had enough detail, perhaps it could be determined if there was something on those tracks that impeded their proper function. I’ve never seen a train on tracks around Oregon etc. to ever go 80mph, and the tracks I do know of are in no condition to be able to go that speed on.

    Although it seems the rails in much of the U.S. are in a sorry state of disrepair… a real shame especially considering how many people put so much work into laying them across the country.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s easily seen from “Google Earth”. I’ve driven by it lots of times. It is true that they refurbished a section of track. They didn’t completely redo it. No amount of refurbishment will render a 30 MPH corner safe for 80.

      Clearly something is NOT being discussed here. My guess is it is precisely what NEEDS to be discussed. It took them DAYS to determine that three died? Why?

      Just like anywhere else, Inslee and his goons are all so crooked they have to screw their socks on in the morning. It seems obvious that something is going on here that they don’t want us to know about.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s nearly 2018.

    Do we really need passenger trains subsidized with our money?

    I don’t think so.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Sounds like the Titanic of train wrecks: the were “brand new” and “invincible?”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, indeed. In fact, this “bypass” isn’t “new”. The track through there was recently refurbished. It is probably the best they have in their system (unless they screwed up somehow).

      The train is brand new. They “said” that they made a trial run successfully. Go figure. All of the rest is obfuscation.

      This is really simple. The engineer applies power or brakes as the situation demands. That’s why he’s there. It’s usually a pretty boring job. In prior generations it was hard to find a sober engineer. Did I mention that this trade is pretty much a father/son enterprise?

      I agree with what some have said that it probably wasn’t going anywhere near 80 MPH. Of course I don’t KNOW that, but the damage does not look like 80 MPH.

      There apparently was another “drill”. My, my! There may be a clue there. That could account for the problems with the victim list as well. All the hoaxes have this issue.

      Then there’s the Antifa threats. Frankly, if that isn’t enough for a raid and multiple indictments, I don’t know what is. Oh, I forgot, they’re lefties.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. BIG lawsuits coming: “NTSB report: Amtrak engineer missed speed-limit signs before train crashed.”

    It was the engineer’s second time driving a train on that track.


    Liked by 1 person

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