Amtrak derailment | KUOW News and Information

Amtrak derailment

Amtrak's CEO has given Oregon and Washington state officials a timeline for when the company will activate automatic safety braking systems in the Pacific Northwest. This is the technology many experts believe could have prevented last month's deadly train derailment south of Tacoma.

Cecilia Goetz was driving to work on the Monday before Christmas when a speeding Amtrak passenger train came flying off the rails above her. As part of that train crashed onto the rear of her vehicle, she thought she might die. Now she’s one of a growing number of crash survivors who have filed lawsuits against Amtrak.

A preliminary federal crash report says an automatic safety braking system could have prevented last month's deadly Amtrak derailment near Tacoma, Washington.

Three people died and more than 60 were seriously injured when an Amtrak train going from Seattle to Portland on its inaugural passenger run along a new, faster route took a curve way too fast and hurtled from an overpass onto Interstate 5 below. 


A conductor who was at the front of the Amtrak train that derailed north of Olympia is alleging in a lawsuit filed Wednesday that the crew received inadequate training.  
An injured passenger made similar claims in a separate lawsuit filed hours later.

The December derailment killed three people, seriously injured scores more and closed southbound Interstate 5 for two-and-a-half days. 

KUOW PHOTO/BOND HUBERMAN

If you want to avoid a new tax on soda, load up on Pineapple Fanta now. You'll pay more when Seattle's new soda tax kicks in on January 1. Also new on New Year's Day: statewide paid sick leave and another upward tick in Seattle’s minimum-wage. 

The curve where an Amtrak train derailed on Monday killing three people was once on a list to be straightened. But that project was dropped from the list of improvements eventually made due to its high cost.

KUOW PHOTO/KARA MCDERMOTT

What caused Amtrak Cascades 501 from Seattle to Portland to crash on its first trip along a new, faster route? Who wins and loses with the passage of the new Republican tax plan? Why is Washington's Attorney General suing Value Village? And where are people going to eat turkey sandwiches now that Bakeman's Restaurant is closing?

Washington state's Department of Transportation has unilaterally decided on a pre-condition before passenger trains resume service on the Point Defiance Bypass. That's where Monday's deadly derailment happened.

Six survivors of Monday's train derailment south of Tacoma have put Amtrak on notice that they plan to file a lawsuit. It's the first, probably inevitable, sign that various parties affected by the deadly train wreck are lawyering up.

Members of the DuPont community gather to listen to mayor Mike Courts during a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, December 20, 2017, at DuPont City Hall in DuPont.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Members of the DuPont community gathered Wednesday night for a candlelight vigil, organized by Cub Scout Pack #472 and Boy Scout Troop #472, to honor the victims of the derailed Amtrak train. 

Southbound Interstate 5 where Monday's Amtrak derailment sent train cars crashing down onto the freeway has re-opened. This comes as a big relief to drivers who endured hours-long detours or postponed travel between the Seattle-Tacoma area and points south.

The Washington State Department of Transportation just announced that two through lanes of Interstate 5 will reopen around 5 p.m. Wednesday at the scene of Monday’s deadly train derailment south of Tacoma.

The southbound freeway has been closed for two-and-a-half days.



A damaged train car is shown on the bed of a truck along I-5 South on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Dupont.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Updated 12/20/2017 10:20 p.m.: WSDOT has opened all southbound lanes at Mounts Road near DuPont, including the on-ramp.

Federal investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board expect to stay at least another week in Western Washington gathering evidence from Monday's deadly Amtrak train derailment.

Investigators have not yet interviewed the hospitalized train engineer.

Monday’s deadly train accident near DuPont, Washington, was the second derailment of an Amtrak Cascades in five months. That’s raising questions about the safety of the popular commuter rail line that runs between Vancouver, BC, and Eugene, Oregon.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is vowing to make passenger rail service safer. The Democrat made his comments Tuesday at the scene of Monday’s derailment of an Amtrak Cascades train in Pierce County.

Jim Hamre (left) and Zack Willhoite are shown in a photo taken at Yellowstone National Park in 2005.
Courtesy All Aboard Washington

Two friends who shared a lifelong love of trains, Zack Willhoite and Jim Hamre, had looked forward to the inaugural run of Amtrak 501 from Seattle to Portland.

Friends who knew them said it was a given they would’ve been on this initial trip, likely in a front car as the train followed a brand-new route south of Tacoma.


The scene of the fatal Amtrak derailment is shown on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, in Dupont.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Last updated: 12/19/2017, 6:53  p.m.

The emergency brake on the speeding Amtrak train 501 was automatically activated during the fatal derailment that sent cars spilling onto Interstate 5 on Monday.

The brake was not initiated by the engineer, said a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board.

The scene of an Amtrak derailment over Interstate 5 taken in the evening on Monday, December 18, 2017 from Mounts Road.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Passengers on Amtrak Cascades train 501 Monday morning were supposed to be the beneficiaries of a $181 million project aimed at making the nearly four-hour trip from Seattle to Portland 10 minutes faster.

As clean up begins, firefighters are describing what it was like to respond to Monday’s Amtrak derailment in Pierce County, Washington.

Shortly after 7:30 a.m. during the morning commute, an Amtrak Cascades train derailed. Rail cars were on the freeway and hanging from a bridge.

Updated at 12:30 a.m. ET Tuesday

Officials say three people are confirmed dead in the derailment of an Amtrak passenger train that plummeted off an overpass in Washington state. Part of the train was left dangling over a busy freeway between Olympia and DuPont at the height of the morning commute Monday.

The scene of an Amtrak derailment over Interstate 5 taken in the evening on Monday, December 18, 2017 from Mounts Road.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Last updated: 12/18/2017  11:56 p.m.

An Amtrak train on its inaugural run from Seattle to Portland derailed Monday morning, sending several cars car off an overpass and onto a busy Interstate 5 below.