December 18, 2017 The Amtrak train that derailed on Monday in Washington state was on its inaugural run on a faster route from Seattle to Portland, Oregon. The train was traveling on newly refurbished tracks on a new route designed to offer speedier service south of Tacoma. Some local leaders expressed concerns about the project, arguing it was dangerous for high-speed trains to operate so close to a highway.
At least six people were killed in Monday’s train derailment. Seventy-seven people were transported to hospitals in Pierce and Thurston counties, the Tacoma-based healthcare network CHI Franciscan Health said, including four “level red” patients with the most severe injuries. Another 20 patients were treated at the Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma, nine in “serious but stable” condition, the center said.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) confirmed Monday afternoon that investigators were on their way to the site, about 20 miles south of Tacoma. It is not clear what caused the crash. But an Amtrak official said the train was not using a technology called positive train control, which can prevent derailments caused by excessive speed.
The Washington State Department of of Transportation said in a statement on Monday that federal funds were used to upgrade the tracks for passenger train use and that the Federal Railroad Administration monitored the work.
“Today was the first day of public use of the tracks after weeks of inspection and testing.”
U.S. railroads are under government orders to install positive train control technology, designed to slow speeding trains, but the work has gone more slowly than expected. The deadline has been repeatedly extended and is now December 31, 2018.
Cynthia Hodges holds a M.A. in Political Science from NEIU in Chicago, Illinois and a Post-Grad Professional Certificate in Disaster and Terrorism Management from University of North Carolina -Chapel Hill. In addition to a successful writing career, Cynthia is in the process of writing a book on the role of private security guards as first responders in the post 9/11 America. "My career has been a balance of security and education, and my passion for Homeland Security while protecting individual's Constitutional rights has grown as a result of the two."