That’s one of the conclusions – and recommendations – of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) which met May 21, 2019 for a final review of its investigation into the December 18, 2017 derailment of Amtrak 501 that occurred just south of our community of Tillicum, Washington.
The featured presentation at the Tillicum Woodbrook Neighborhood Association (TWNA) meeting this coming June 6 includes a report from the Rail Division of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT).
My daughter had driven under the Mounts Road bridge just two minutes before 13 of the 14 passenger cars came off the track, “some falling on Interstate 5 below and hitting five vehicles and two semi-trailers.”
She had left for work early that day.
Stacia Glenn, reporting for the Tacoma News Tribune, writes that the “Amtrak train derailment that killed three and injured dozens happened because the engineer lost track of where he was on the route and was going more than twice the speed limit when he hit the curve” as announced by the NTSB.
“The agency also blamed Sound Transit for not sufficiently mitigating the danger of the sharp bend, Amtrak for not better training the engineer, Washington State Department of Transportation for not ensuring the route was safe before green-lighting a passenger train and the Federal Railroad Administration for using rail cars beneath regulatory standards.”
Glenn Farley, who reports transportation issues for KING-5 TV, tweeted that “NTSB says there needs to be more signs,” and “simulator training for engineers operating new locomotives” and “crews greater experience and testing under all conditions.”
Shortly after the derailment, the TWNA Board contacted WSDOT requesting the neighborhood be placed on the list of “communities along the bypass” that would be reached out to before service resumed.
Earlier this year WSDOT responded that the rail division is “still not certain when they will be returning to the Point Defiance Bypass, but they might have more information by May.
“No date has been set as they are awaiting the results of the investigation.”
With the investigation now completed, a return to the route through Tillicum is anticipated.
Tillicum, along with the rest of Lakewood, has long opposed the rerouting of Amtrak Cascades service from along the Puget Sound waterfront to the life-congested neighborhoods paralleling I-5.
More information at the TWNA meeting June 6, 6:30 P.M., Tillicum Community Center, 14916 Washington Ave. SW.
Possibly today, May 21, but assured within a day or two at the most, a link will be made available to the NTSB webcast of the Amtrak accident.
Meanwhile WSDOT has a Q&A website page dedicated to the derailment.
Photo Credit: Christina Klas, of the pre-upgrade Amtrak train route through Tillicum