Early in the Morning on Monday December 18, 2017, an Amtrak train derailed near Dupont Washington. The train was taking its inaugural trip on a new service route when it derailed near an Interstate 5 overpass. Thirteen of the train’s passenger carts spilled over onto the interstate hitting five cars that were travelling below.
Immediately following the derailment 72 people were rushed to local hospitals, ten of which are considered to be in serious condition. At this time there have been three confirmed fatalities. Friends and family seeking information related to the derailment should call Amtrak at (800) 523-9101 or may get more information here. For more detailed facts about the derailment click here.
It is too early to determine what caused the train to derail, but it has been confirmed by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the train was travelling at 80 MPH in a 30 MPH zone when it derailed. Why the train was travelling so fast is still unknown.
While the investigation into the cause of the derailment is ongoing it is known that the Positive Train Control system (PTC) was not operational at the time of the accident. PTC is a system made up of GPS and computers and has the ability to stop or slow down trains if they are travelling too fast. The PTC system that was installed on these tracks, officials said, was not going to be operational until spring of 2018. To date 49% of Amtrak trains and 67% of their tracks have PTC installed.
This is the second Amtrak derailment to occur in Washington State this year. The first occurred in early July on Amtrak’s Cascades rail line where a train travelling at speeds greater than the 40 MPH speed limit derailed causing minor injuries to three of the train’s passengers.