The Latest: Amtrak speed-control technology was months away
Dec. 20, 2017
DUPONT, Wash. (AP) — The Latest on an Amtrak train derailment in Washington state (all times local):
The rush to launch train service on a new, faster Amtrak route near Seattle came at a deadly cost: none of the speed-control technology that could've prevented a derailment was active.
Work to install GPS-based technology known as positive train control isn't expected to be completed on the 15-mile span where the train derailed until at least next spring.
The train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone Monday when it ran off the rails on a curve near a highway. Experts say positive train control system could have detected the speeding and automatically applied the brakes.
Amtrak and the Washington Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to messages about why they launched the service while the technology was still months away.
Railroads are under government orders to install positive train control by the end of 2018.
U.S. investigators say preliminary information indicates that the emergency brake on the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state went off automatically.
National Transportation Safety Board member Bella Dinh-Zarr told reporters Tuesday that the brake was not manually activated by the engineer.
She says they're reviewing the event data recorder from the lead locomotive after having already retrieved the device from the rear engine, which showed the train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Dinh-Zarr confirmed two people were in the cab: the engineer and a conductor who was training.
Federal officials also say the engineer had been qualified to operate the train in the area in the last couple of weeks, but the NTSB is looking into the process.
Critical safety technology designed to automatically slow or stop trains that are going too fast was not working on a section of track outside of Seattle where an Amtrak train derailed, killing three people.
Sound Transit said Tuesday that the company was on schedule to have positive train control installed and operational in the spring, ahead of a December 2018 federal deadline.
The system would be able to take over control of a train when an engineer is distracted or incapacitated.
Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said the "vast majority" of equipment needed had been installed but not fully operational along the tracks and trains in the 14.5-mile (23.3-kilometer) section of line where the derailment occurred.
A relative says a rail advocate is one of the three people killed in the deadly Amtrak derailment in Washington state.
Rachel Topper said Tuesday that she has been notified of the death of her uncle Jim Hamre in Monday's crash. Topper said the family has no further comment.
In a Facebook post, she said they were heartbroken and that Hamre will be missed by many.
Lloyd Flem, executive director of rail advocacy organization All Aboard Washington, says Hamre retired a few years ago as a civil engineer at the Washington Transportation Department. He says Hamre lived with his mother in Puyallup.
Another rail advocate, Zack Willhoite, also died when the train plunged off an overpass and onto Interstate 5 south of Seattle on Monday. The train was making its first run on faster route.
Authorities say they're starting to move train cars that derailed outside Seattle and hurtled onto a highway below, killing three people.
Capt. Dan Hall with the Washington State Patrol says the cars will be loaded onto trucks starting Tuesday and taken to a secure facility as the National Transportation Safety Board investigates.
State Transportation Department spokesman Travis Phelps says Interstate 5 will be closed through Tuesday night and could be shut down for several days as officials finish the investigation at the scene.
He says the next step is assessing the overpass and the road below.
The Amtrak train derailed during its inaugural run along a new faster route. U.S. investigators say they haven't determined a cause of the crash but revealed that the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.
A U.S. official says investigators are examining whether an Amtrak engineer was distracted when a speeding train derailed, killing three people and sending several rail cars flying off an overpass.
The official said Tuesday that in addition to the engineer, there was another employee training in the train's cab Monday.
The official says investigators are looking into whether the engineer lost "situational awareness."
The official wasn't authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Audio dispatch in which a crew member discusses injuries to the engineer mentions a second person in the front of the train, who was also hurt.
A victim in the deadly Amtrak derailment in Washington state has been identified as an employee of a local transit agency and a rail advocate.
Pierce Transit released a statement saying that Zack Willhoite, a customer service support specialist, was killed in Monday's derailment.
Authorities say three people died and dozens were injured when the train plunged off an overpass over Interstate 5 south of Seattle. The train was making its inaugural run.
Pierce Transit says Willhoite was "admired by his colleagues."
Lloyd Flem, executive director of All Aboard Washington, says Willhoite was a rail advocate and it was a given that he would be on the trip.
Federal investigators say they haven't determined a cause of the derailment but revealed that the train was travelling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.
Crews have removed train cars involved in a deadly Amtrak derailment from a railway overpass in Washington state.
Authorities say there are three confirmed deaths. Dozens were injured.
The train cars were loaded Tuesday onto flatbed trucks and drive away on Interstate 5.
Authorities say a total of 13 train cars jumped the tracks early Monday south of Seattle.
The Amtrak train careened off the overpass above Interstate 5 during its inaugural run along a new bypass route. The train carried 85 passengers and crew members.
Federal investigators say they haven't determined a cause of the derailment but revealed late Monday that the train was travelling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. Investigators are on the scene.