The revelation that a passenger train was speeding 50 miles per hour over the speed limit at the time of a fatal crash near Tacoma, Wash., has after again focused interest on Amtrak’s safety culture, the function of human error in rail accidents, and the want for technologies that automatically slows trains that are going too quick.
Late Monday evening, National Transportation Security Board officials said that the train, bound from Seattle to Portland, was traveling at 80 miles per hour, on a stretch of track with a limit of 30 miles per hour, when it jumped the tracks and careened into a busy highway and a stand of evergreens. At least three men and women were killed and about one hundred had been injured, officials mentioned.
James Hamre, a retired engineer who was a volunteer for All Aboard Washington, a rail advocacy organization, was amongst the dead, stated his brother, Michael Hamre.
The accident mirrored Amtrak’s worst disaster in recent years, in 2015, when a train derailed at far more than 100 miles per hour in Philadelphia, on a curve posted at 50 miles per hour, killing eight people.
Train 501, carrying 77 passengers and seven crew members, derailed Monday morning on the inaugural run of a new route for Amtrak’s Cascades service. It was not clear how familiar the engineer was with that stretch of track, or regardless of whether that played a function in the crash.
Federal law needs railroads, by the end of 2018, to have optimistic train handle, which automatically slows trains if they are exceeding speed limits or approaching unsafe situations. In its most current progress report to the railroad administration, Amtrak mentioned it had installed positive train manage on all 603 miles of track on the Northeast Corridor, from Washington to Boston.
Congress passed the law requiring positive train manage in 2008, right after the head-on collision of a commuter train and a freight train in Los Angeles killed 25 people. Railroads had been supposed to have the program in spot by 2015, but soon after it became clear that several of them would not meet that deadline, Congress extended it by 3 years.
The Washington State Department of Transportation has stated that the complete Cascades route will have the program by mid-2018, but it was not clear whether it was in operation on Monday on any portion of the line.
The tracks exactly where the accident occurred were brand new and the result of a current infrastructure investment system.
Backed by the state of Washington, Sound Transit, the regional transit agency, employed $180 million from the 2009 federal stimulus package to buy an old 14.5-mile stretch of track and upgrade it for more quickly passenger service. The project, identified as the Point Defiance Bypass, was devised to permit Cascades trains to cease using a more roundabout route that they shared with freight trains, producing for more rapidly, much more trustworthy travel.
The state also spent $58 million from the stimulus bill on eight new locomotives, specifically for that service. The Cascades service embodies the complex, overlapping responsibilities on several of the nation’s rail lines. Officials stated the service was owned by the states of Washington and Oregon and operated by Amtrak, whereas the Point Defiance Bypass track is owned by Sound Transit and dispatched by BNSF, the freight company that used to personal the line.
Published at Tue, 19 Dec 2017 16:34:55 +0000