Washington State Amtrak Derailment: Crews express concerns about training on new route

amtrak derailment

Another story of “rushed implementation” to get this train in service. Just more ammunition for the lawyers.

As reported by Mike Baker for the Seattle Times: To prepare for the opening of a new rail line, conductors and engineers typically go through training to familiarize themselves with the route, its landmarks and its speed limits.

Amtrak did some of those exercises along the new Point Defiance Bypass route, according to federal investigators, who said crews had made trial runs in the weeks before the line opened on Monday. But a number of Amtrak workers have expressed concern in recent days about the adequacy of the training, according to a person briefed on the matter who spoke to The Seattle Times on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss it.

The workers, the person said, were concerned that engineers had been piled into a single locomotive car to do training runs as a group, that conductors were largely kept in cars farther back in the train or on the trailing locomotive, that some did their familiarization runs in the dark after midnight, and that supervisors were unwilling or unavailable to answer questions about key route characteristics such as speed.

John Hiatt, a former railroad engineer who works as an investigator for a law firm that handles railroad accidents, said he has also heard from several Amtrak crew members in recent days who had similar concerns about the training for the new route, which was aimed at providing more daily roundtrips between Seattle and Portland. He said the concerns sounded credible and were a sign of a rushed effort to start new service without properly preparing crew members.

“What is accomplished by them being in the rear engine in the dark?” Hiatt asked.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said training will be among the issues they examine as they investigate what caused Monday’s derailment south of Tacoma, which left three people dead and dozens more injured. NTSB officials have determined the train was going 78 mph in a 30-mph zone when it hit a curve and jumped off the tracks.

It was not immediately clear if NTSB investigators had interviewed any of those concerned workers.

Amtrak said its training exceeds federal standards but declined to provide specifics about the training that took place on the new line, citing the ongoing investigation.

Read the rest of the story here.


7 responses to “Washington State Amtrak Derailment: Crews express concerns about training on new route

  1. Regardless of the reasons,it all goes back to setting what showed to be an impossible deadline. They SHOULD have just bit the bullet and told the public they’d rather miss their deadline and put off the grand festivities until THEY were sure it was ready. Boom-instant Heroes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • truck . . . What you have said is the absolute truth. The problem is that G-R-E-E-D motivated the Governor of Washington State, along with other officials to push for the immediate opening of this line, so that they would not miss the deadline for getting Federal funds.

      How much is a life worth? For the families who have lost the companionship of their loved ones, was the State of Washington’s getting the big bucks from the Federal government worth trading off the lives of a family member? I rather think not. The governor, no doubt, thought that he would come off looking like a hero, to have brought in all these Federal dollars.

      It was interesting in a previous post regarding this matter, the Mayor of Lakewood, stated that “there was a rush to get the line open, even though they would not have completed the safety measures,” and he further stated that “this line was not necessary.” This brings into question: How many projects nationwide are driven, not by actual need, but by the greed of politicians to garner their fair share of Federal monies?

      I am left wondering if “greed” could be taken out of the hearts of men, would we still be laboring under the staggering weight of our nation’s national debt. I think that there are probably scores of projects which are completed that may not be necessary, except for the fact that Federal dollars flow into that particular state.

      I personally do not blame the engineer so much as I find fault with those who pushed and pushed to open this line, even though proper safety measures would not be completed in time for the opening. It also sounds like the training of those Amtrak employees that would be running this particular line, was abysmal at best! Why would you train someone in pitch dark and expect that they would become familiar with the route. There are so many short sighted decisions that came together to form the , , , , “Perfect Storm.”

      Liked by 1 person

      • DCG . . . thank you for staying on this story and bringing us updates when they come out. I think it is very important that people know what their politicians are actually up to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. “…that some did their familiarization runs in the dark after midnight…”

    If there was ever an example of DUMB, that would be it! I doubt studying a map would be as educational as actually SEEING the terrain on the route with your own eyes IN THE DAYTIME, & knowing when/where the sharp curves were. SMH!

    “…supervisors were UNWILLING or unavailable to answer questions about key route characteristics…”

    If there was ever an example of SUSPICIOUS, that would be it! Were they hoping for a “natural” calamity? It sounds very fishy!

    In this ABC News clip, the reporter says the local Mayor & gang were all together early that morning preparing for a “Mass Casualty Incident” drill for that very day (12/18), & later they say, That is why the 1st Responders were able to get to the crash scene so quickly, because they were all already geared-up & nearby preparing for the Drill. Less than 4-minutes:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m actually starting to believe that the “purpose” of these things is to inure us to ridiculous and outrageous acts and no responsible answers from “authorities”. Look at the last dozen or so.

      I mean, of course this is a hoax. Beyond that, the fact that a train was wrecked doesn’t bother them. What they want to establish is that it is unreasonable for us to ask for a response.

      Look at the Las Vegas operation. They’re saying “maybe in a year” they’ll have a report. They did the same with SHES. I think the real idea is to show us what they want to show us, and ignore any questions. The more ridiculous, the better.

      Just imagine if you will, them being involved in a real war. You have to gather information quickly and make reasonably solid and timely decisions. What they’re asking us to believe with these is that they have no idea why or how to deal with anything, but “its a scary world out there”, so you’d better just let them handle it. Oh, and give us your weapons. “We’ll take care of you”.


      • I really don’t know what their goal is anymore because it all is beyond ridiculous (incompetence) or outrageous (evil/deception), or both: The Clowns have taken oven (clowns are known to be screw-ups & deceptive).

        On a positive note, from Activist Post: 10 “Conspiracies” that Proved True in 2017 (#3 & #6 gave me the willies!):


  3. That Amtrak 501 train – was it “bound for glory” like the State hoped? Ha, a little lively gospel music by Pop Winans called “THIS TRAIN”:

    Liked by 1 person

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