Positive train control activated on site of train derailment in Washington State

March 26, 2019

WSDOT announced the technology has been implemented along the Point Defiance Bypass, where an Amtrak train derailed in December 2017

Washington State DOT (WSDOT) officials recently announced the implementation of positive train control (PTC) technology has been fully activated along the Amtrak Cascades corridor, an update put in place in order to prevent future derailments.

The Amtrak Cascades corridor incorporates the Point Defiance Bypass, the section of track where an Amtrak train derailed and killed three people over I-5 near DuPont back in December 2017. The incident occurred as the train sped nearly 80 mph while heading into a sharp curve down a stretch of track with a 30-mph speed limit. Several vehicles were struck by the derailed cars in the incident, and dozens of people were injured in addition to those killed.

The derailment led to an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and moved lawmakers in D.C. to enact legislation to accelerate the implementation of PTC by giving railroads a deadline to adopt the technology.

PTC is a computerized safety feature that helps to control train speeds by automatically slowing or stopping trains that make improper movements, are speeding, or are off the tracks. All of the PTC trackside equipment along the Point Defiance Bypass has been installed, tested and ready for operation, according to transportation officials. The PTC features are meant to help prevent any potential derailments in the future.

Passenger rail service along the corridor has been halted since the December 2017 incident. Now that PTC has been fully activated on the route, officials must now await a final ruling from the NTSB for train service to continue. The agency is expected to release a report after a hearing on May 21.


Source: KIRO-TV / iFIBER One News