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.