Executive Intelligence Review
Subscribe to EIR


Amtrak Train Without PTC Crashes in Seattle, At Least 3 Dead

Dec. 18, 2017 (EIRNS)—Following a massive and deadly derailment of Amtrak’s Cascades Line near Seattle Monday morning, President Donald Trump expressed condolences, and tweeted:

"The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!"

He called attention to the crash again in beginning his National Security Strategy speech Monday afternoon.

The train, which crashed down onto Interstate 5, killing at least three and injuring 70 onboard, was running on a track between Seattle and Portland called the Cascades High-Speed Rail Project, and $181 million had been spent on "refurbishing" the track and building a new Tacoma station. But the track was an existing BNSF freight line, and the upgrade did not include a positive train control system (PTC)—the same lack of longstanding state-of-the-art technology which caused the last high-fatality passenger crash, on Amtrak near Philadelphia in 2015. The "high-speed" line adapted from a freight track with downhill curves requiring a 25 mph or 30 mph limit, was not really high-speed, but simply much more direct. The mayor of nearby Lakewood, Don Anderson, had in fact forecast months ago that there would be a crash on the line. The train that derailed was the first to run on the "new" track.

The National Transportation Safety Board said that it had received a report that the train hit "an object on the track" before derailing; but this has not been established. The train may have also failed to slow down from 80 mph as it approached the downhill sharp turn into the bridge over Route 5.