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U.S. federal probe blames overspeeding for deadly train derailment in Washington state

Xinhua,December 23, 2017 Adjust font size:

SAN FRANCISCO, Dec. 22 (Xinhua) -- U.S. federal transport regulators Friday attributed overspeeding to a deadly train derailment in Washington state on the U.S. west coast, which killed three people and injured dozens of others.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) released a preliminary review Friday, saying the train of Amtrak was going 78 mph (124.8 kilometers per hour) shortly before it jumped tracks, suggesting it was running nearly 50 miles (80 kilometers) over the speed limit at that location.

Amtrak, or the National Railroad Passenger Corporation, to which Train 501 belongs, said the crash-prevention technology known as Positive Train Control (PTC) was not activated in that area before the crash.

The PTC can automatically slow or stop a speeding train when it finds the train exceeds maximum speed limit on a designated section of the rail route.

The NTSB said it has gathered detailed information from the locomotive event data recorder and inward- and outward-facing cameras on Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 that derailed Monday in DuPont, Washington.

It concluded that the crew was not observed to be using any electronic devices before the crash, and that shortly before the train crashed, the engineer was aware of the train running too fast.

"About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition," according to the NTSB report.

"The engineer's actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive's brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode," it added.

The report said the recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.

The entire investigation is expected to last 12 to 24 months, the NTSB said.

Train 501 derailed as it hit a curve where the speed limit was 30 mph (48 kilometers per hour) and plunged onto the southbound lanes of Interstate 5 highway below.

The falling train cars crushed five vehicles and two semi trucks on Interstate 5, which caused injuries but no fatalities on the freeway.

Founded in 1971 and headquartered in the Union Station in Washington, D.C., Amtrak is a passenger railroad service that provides medium- and long-distance intercity service.

It serves more than 500 destinations in 46 states and three Canadian provinces with more than 300 trains running over 34,000 km daily. Enditem