Amtrak service suspended, southbound I-5 closed after Pierce County train derailment

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    The scene of the train derailment, courtesy Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

    Amtrak said its service south of Seattle is temporarily suspended after an Amtrak train derailed and fell off a bridge over Interstate 5 near Mounts Road between Lakewood and Olympia Monday. Authorities said several people died in the derailment.

    The incident has completely blocked the southbound lanes of Interstate 5. The freeway is expected to be closed the entire day Monday.

    Service from Seattle to points north and east is continuing to operate, Amtrak said.

    According to latest Amtrak timetable, the only train scheduled to leave Edmonds southbound directly for Portland was at 10:16 a.m. Monday.

    Our online news partner The Seattle Times reported that Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said there were fatalities on the train and that motorists had been injured, but not killed. The extent of the injuries is not yet known.

    There were 78 passengers and five crew members on the train when it derailed, according to Amtrak. The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 were completely blocked by the train.

    You can read more in the Times story here.

    1 COMMENT

    1. I work in aviation. Infrastructure/tech in my industry is archaic. Our heavy rail infrastructure is the worst though. Speed was an issue here, and Amtrak’s automatic speed control systems are a retrofit from 50’s tech, and still require the engineer to respond to alarms. This accident happened on Sound Transit tracks and my guess is that safety system requirements on the Sound Transit tracks might not be compatible with ATC speed control systems on the Amtrak trains, and/or might not have reduced speed precautions on curves (I work in aviation, not heavy rail so don’t know for sure). I read an article last year that said that appropriations were made twenty years ago to retrofit Washington tracks with Positive Train Control (a GPS-based automatic control), but the installation of this system (as of 2016) likely hasn’t been completed. To my knowledge, the trains in this area are mostly controlled by the engineers, for both Sounder and Amtrak. Everyone in government want’s light rail systems, but the heavy rail system needs the attention. Above ground light rail is a poor investment for anyone who tries it. For the safety of everyone, we should reduce heavy trucks to 50,000 lbs and increase the registration fees, because heavy trucks do all the damage to our roads and don’t pay for it. This would encourage shipping companies to actually use our heavy rail systems and to invest in that infrastructure reducing accidents like this, making our rail system better. It would get 70,000 pound trucks off our roads, making our roads safer and last longer as well.

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