OLYMPIA — Washington State Department of Transportation officials report that “positive train control” is now fully activated on the entire Amtrak Cascades corridor to avoid future derailments.
The news comes more than a year after the Amtrak Cascades train derailment at the railroad overpass on Interstate 5 in DuPont. Three passengers died in the train wreck and 62 passengers and crew members were injured. Eight motorists on Interstate 5 were also injured. Damage is estimated to be at least $40.4 million.
The 10-passenger Amtrak railcars and a luggage car were traveling at 78 mph at the time of the wreck.
The positive train control computerized system automatically slows or stops trains that are making improper movements, speeding, or are off track. Amtrak Cascades trains running from Blaine, Wash., to Eugene, Oregon, have been operating under the system for several months.
Transportation officials said the rail line has all its positive train control trackside equipment installed and tested for operation.
Passenger rail service on the route was halted after the Dec. 18, 2017 derailment until both positive train control was activated in the corridor and the National Transportation Safety Board completed its investigation.
Amtrak Cascades trains have been operating under the positive train control system for several months, DOT officials said.
NTSB recently announced it will conduct a board meeting on May 21 to present its findings in Washington, D.C.
The hearing will be live-streamed online beginning at 10 a.m. (PST) at ntsb.windrosemedia.com/.
State Department of Transportation officials said they do not know what the final NTSB recommendations will be.
Once the final NTSB report is issued, WSDOT and others involved with the service will assess the recommendations to determine next steps for returning Amtrak Cascades and Coast Starlight service to the run between Blaine and Eugene.