The National Transportation Safety Board Reveals Final Report on 2017 Deadly Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
On Monday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in its final report mentioned that the 2017 DuPont Amtrak train crash could have been avoided if the train had installed safety technology named ‘positive train control.’
Positive train control is a technology that helps to identify speed and automatically stop the train before accidents happen. The technology was not installed on the train at the time of the derailment.
NTSB mentioned in the final report,
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of the Amtrak 501 derailment was Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority’s failure to provide an effective mitigation for the hazardous curve without positive train control in place, which allowed the Amtrak engineer to enter the 30-mph curve at too high of a speed due to his inadequate training on the territory and inadequate training on the newer equipment.
The train was on its first paid passenger, running on a new route from Tacoma to Portland, Oregon. The train was moving with a speed of 80 mph on 18th December 2017. The train crashed over Interstate and killed nearly 5 passengers and injured numerous passengers.
Government officials ordered railroads to deploy safety technology- positive train control and set the deadline as 2018.
The details were published in May 2019, the NTSB mentioned in the report that engineer forgot the track of where he was and failed to reduce the speed of the train before reaching a curve. NTSB further said the engineer failed because of Amtrak inappropriate action and decision, also due to state and federal regulators decisions.
NTSB agency vice chairman, Bruce Landsberg stated in the final report that the main reason for the train derailment was ‘extremely lax safety oversight, unclear responsibility, and poor training.’
There was a Titanic-like complacency and certainly exhibited by those tasked with the safety, operation, and management of the Point Defiance Bypass rail line before the revenue service started in 2017. The term ‘accident’ is inappropriate because that implies that this was an unforeseen and unpredictable event. It was anything but unforeseeable.
In the final report, the agency also mentions that the decision of the Washington Department of Transportation to start paid passenger train services without examining safety certification and the verification led to the train derailment.
Amtrak and state transportation authority has met the deadline of installing safety technology on 31st, December 2018.
The train derailment incidence occurred in the legislative district of Sen. Steve O’Ban. Sen. O’Ban stated on Monday with regards to the NTSB‘s final reports and said,
“This final report demonstrates the need for public oversight of projects like these.” Someone needs to ensure that all the pieces have been assembled together. In the 2017 deadly train incident, Sound Transit completely lacked to take responsibility. Before we begin to restart the train services on the Point Defiance Bypass, we need to guarantee people that all steps related to safety have been executed.
O’Ban’s office stated that Sen. O’Ban is planning to introduce legislation in 2020 so as to form a bipartisan State Transportation Oversight Panel (STOP) that will monitor upcoming rail projects.