Schematic of the 2017 crash site (NTSB)

The National Transportation Safety Board held a hearing yesterday on the fatal December 2017 Amtrak derailment on the Point Defiance Bypass. The Seattle Times, Trains, and Curbed have reports. Here are a few takeaways, after watching the briefing:

Responsibility for safety was diffused, but the buck stops with Sound Transit. Amtrak, the Federal Railroad Administration, Sound Transit, WSDOT… with so many agencies involved, lines of accountability were unclear. Amtrak’s role, in particular, is ambiguous – the company owns neither the tracks nor the trains, but as the nation’s passenger rail operator it is supposed to oversee pre-revenue testing and certify the plans.  In the end, the investigators made one thing clear: “Sound Transit had the ultimate responsibility to ensure that that project, the point defiance bypass, was safe and ready for revenue operations.” Additionally, investigators called out ST, which owns the tracks as the “host railroad,” for providing insufficient signage and schedules for the bypass.

There was a general lack of training. The crew lacked familiarity with the Siemens Charger and didn’t know what to do when the “overspeed” warnings started going off (which was actually a separate issue from the failure to see the curve). Neither the conductor nor the engineer had enough time with this route and this locomotive.

“Everyone hated that curve,” the engineer told investigators. The curve was extra sharp connecting the bypass to the main line. The Wall Street Journal reported after the crash that the bypass project was value-engineered to save money, resulting in a sharper-than-ideal curve.

Positive train control would have helped. Like many recent crashes, having positive train control would have stopped the train more quickly. Furthermore, in the absence of PTC, Sound Transit’s risk mitigation plan was deemed insufficient.  PTC has since been deployed.

The future of the Talgos is in the air. The trainset that crashed was a 1998 Talgo Series VI. The Series VI doesn’t meet the FRA’s 1999 safety requirements, which require the train to withstand much heavier collisions (though new FRA regs are different). Extra support cables, which were added to satisfy regulators, were starting to fail. The trainsets are 21 years old and may need to be replaced soon anyway.

The Series VI need to get a special waiver for each route they run on. Amtrak was given a waiver for the original Cascades route, and received a second one for use on the bypass just days before revenue service began. If they had to re-apply for that waiver today, it’s not clear they they’d get it. The new Talgo Series VIII trains (purchased by Oregon DOT with stimulus funds in 2013) do not require the waiver.

Stimulus funds were not an issue. I was under the apparently mistaken belief that the bypass was pressed into service to hit a deadline set by the Obama administration for use of stimulus funds. The board and the investigators said that wasn’t true. Instead, they said a decision was made in September of 2017 to have the route open by December and the pressure to hit the December date was internal to the agencies.

Many of the issues raised by the report have already been addressed by the various agencies. We’ll have to wait and hear what WSDOT and Sound Transit have to say about plans going forward.

58 Replies to “7 Takeaways from the Point Defiance NTSB Hearing”

    1. While, yes, the trackway is new, the alignment is decades old, from the building of I-5. The “Bypass” is ACTUALLY the first connection between Tacoma and Olympia. The original “main line” south from Tacoma to the car-ferry at Kalama was the now-abandoned route across Fort Lewis and through Yelm to Tenino where it joins the current main. That line was completed in 1874 but not connected to the east until 1883 via what is not the “south bank” UP line through the Columbia Gorge, the Oregon and Washington Railway and Navigation Company. The branch to Olympia was added a few years later and in the first decade of the 20th Century the coastal line through the Tacoma Narrows was built to bypass the steep hill up from the waterfront in Tacoma that the Cascades now use.

      When I-5 was built what had been a fairly smooth diagonal down the hill was “kinked” with the sharp curve in order to avoid building a very long bridge crossing the freeway. For the two or three trains a week that climbed the hill to Fort Lewis, that was completely adequate.

      The “kink” should have been removed but that would have cost somewhere in the $40-60 million range and just could not be justified. Or at least, that’s how it appeared at the time.

      Twenty-twenty hindsight says differently.

      1. This is a good example of the type of work that should be done instead of fantasizing about 300 MPH trains between Vancouver and Portland. It is best to address each weakness in the system (such as this “kink”) and keep chopping away at the problem. Eventually you would have a line that enables speeds that are fast enough to compete with both driving and flying (even if the latter is faster from airport to airport).

      2. I’m aware of all that. My point still stands. Tight (and apparently dangerous) curves like this should never have been allowed to remain on a newly refurbished line.

      3. I agree completely, Ross.

        For one thing, 165 miles is a little on the short side for 300 kph “full” HSR. At 300 kph (180 mph) it would take a bit less than an hour of running time, plus station deceleration, acceleration and dwell of course. Call it an hour and thirty minutes with three stops (at Tacoma, Centennial and Kelso) end to end. Woo-hoo! That smashes anything else city center to city center.

        At 200 kph (120 mph) it would take an hour and twenty minutes of running time, the same dwell and a bit less time accelerating and decelerating. Call it two hours at the outside even including a “suburban” stop in Vancouver.

        By reducing speed — and the associated energy costs — by 1/3 and saving a bundle on mile-radius curves, one has increased the travel time by only 1/4 or 25% because of the fairly closely spaced (for “HSR”) stations.

        Barman,

        You can say that and hindsight supports it; the lawsuits will run into the millions that could have paid for a good portion at least of that long bridge. But that’s not what voters and the State Legislature were willing to do at the time. If they had been, the long bridge would be there today. It’s not like they didn’t consider it.

      4. Bad math. The increase is 1/3 or 33%. But the “real-time” increase is only 30 minutes, much of which is spent pleasantly in the parlor car chatting with previous strangers or productively in a capacious business class seat beavering away.

      5. I should point out that a full HSR line from Portland to Vancouver like RossB mentioned would be in excess of 300 miles long. I think you’re only considering one half of the route in your analysis, which is fine for us in Seattle but less relevant for those in BC or Oregon.

      6. Chris,

        Since BC isn’t even interested in improving the performance of the one train a day that makes the full round trip, it beggars belief they’d be interested in footing their portion of the bill for “true HSR” between Seattle and Vancouver. So the proper comparison is Seattle-Portland.

  1. Watched some of the hearing . . .. All four of the NTSB panelists stressed that operational PTC would have prevented the tragedy.

    Bad look for Sound Transit . . . it was blamed for causing the train derailment:

    “The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause of the Amtrak 501 derailment was Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority’s failure to provide an effective mitigation for the hazardous curve without Positive Train Control in place which allowed the Amtrak engineer to enter the 30-mile per hour curve at too high of a speed due to his inadequate training on the territory and inadequate training on the newer equipment.”

  2. I wonder how long it will take to replace all the Talgo Series VI trainsets or if they’ve replaced them already.

    1. This hearing makes the case for expediting the replacements, that’s for sure.

    2. Let’s remember that NTSB recommendations are just that: recommendations. They are often ignored (see: US auto industry, aerospace industry, etc).

      As an engineer, I’m always curious about these things, and I’ve read through the entirety of Talgo’s response to the NTSB report, and I think their claims are valid, and well-supported:
      https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms/search/document.cfm?docID=473025&docketID=62431&mkey=96496

      Key takeaways:
      1. Talgo maintains that the critical damage to the car containing passenger fatalities came from the concrete embankment, not from the projectile truck. At any rate, additional straps can be added to double the attach point strength. WSDOT should definitely do this.
      2. Comparable crashes also had fatalities, truck separation, and car decoupling, yet the NTSB doesn’t cite this in any of those reports. Why not?
      The closest comparative crash was the Philadelphia derailment, which had higher overall speed, but a lower actual speed to track speed ratio. This crash saw the complete destruction of one car, and overturning of most of the remaining cars, truck separation, etc.
      The Metro-North crash was very comparable (82mph in a 30mph zone), but had the benefit of no adjacent large objects to impact. All of the cars overturned, the majority separated, and there were more fatalities. Why didn’t the NTSB cite the Metro North equipment and coupling systems as contributing to the crash? Talgo equipment would have better resisted overturning and decoupling.
      3. Their analysis shows that the unique design of the Talgo equipment enabled most of the train to stay upright. Having a lower center of gravity, and with connections at both the top and bottom of the cars, the trainset really behaves as a system, and is hard to tip over (The Chambers Bay derailment illustrates this effect well). It also crumples as a system, with the end of each car crushing, instead of the lead car in the crash. Finally, their analysis also shows that had the locomotive not departed the tracks and pulled the lead cars down the embankment, the Talgo cars would have successfully negotiated the curve at 80mph.

      It’s hard to guess what would have happened if traditional Amfleet or Superliner cars had been used on this trainset. I think we would have seen complete derailment of the entire train, with nearly all cars on their side or upside down. At least one would have likely hit the bridge sideways and been torn open like a can. Frankly, I think the Talgo set performed quite well given the energy involved in this crash. One of the coach carriages fell off of the bridge, landing upside down on I-5, and then was hit by a loaded tractor trailer at speed. No fatalities in that car. I couldn’t find a comparable crash anywhere for that scenario.

      I think WSDOT should work with Talgo to retrofit the (4) series VI trainsets based on the recommendations in section 5 of the Talgo report. They then need to publicize this retrofit appropriately, so the traveling public has confidence in the safety of the Talgo equipment. I also think we should work to acquire the (2) ex-Wisconsin sets so that service levels can be increased when they move to the Dupont line.

      1. Regardless, if it’s noncompliant then upgrade it. Oregon did, so can Washington.

        36. Allowing the grandfathering provision to remain in Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 238.203(d), “Grandfathering of noncompliant equipment for use on a specified rail line or lines,” is an unnecessary risk that is not in the public interest nor consistent with railroad
        safety.
        37. The Talgo Series VI trainset does not meet current United States safety standards and poses unnecessary risk to railroad passenger safety when involved in a derailment or collision.”

      2. Read the details in the Talgo document, and you will see that the items you listed are specious at best. The FRA rules changed last year, and the buff strength requirement that Talgo does not meet was not a factor in this crash. For the amount we would spend on (4) new trainsets, we could rebuild the bridge for 60+mph operation.

        Nothing is wrong with the current equipment. When a train crashes into a bridge at 80mph, people are going to die. Show me a crash like this where they haven’t.

      3. News Flash: 5/22/2019

        “WSDOT will work with Amtrak to follow the National Transportation Safety Board recommendation to remove the Talgo Series 6 trainsets from service as soon as possible. Amtrak is working with WSDOT to determine how to address equipment needs moving forward and how we’ll provide Amtrak Cascades service without the Talgo Series 6 trains. There are four Talgo Series 6 trainsets currently in service, two sets owned by WSDOT and two sets owned by Amtrak. Evaluating what alternative passenger equipment is available and how scheduled train service in the Pacific Northwest is affected will inform our next steps.”

      4. The sad thing about this is it means that the Cascades corridor will wind up using older equipment from elsewhere. This older equipment will, by nature of being older, not meet the same crush standards as the Talgo 6 doesn’t meet. They will also lack the designated cushion zones at the ends, which the Talgo 6 does have.

        So, in the rush to increase safety, we’ll wind up riding in trains slightly less safe than what is there now.

        From the Federal Railroad Administration:
        Top video shows how traditional American rolling stock performs in a 30 mph train to train collision. Bottom shows the same collision with frames designed to deform, just like Talgo 6 and similar age European rolling stock:
        https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ZxaARFvCzpE

        The issue is that the American method of reliance on compression strength means that once that compression point is exceeded, the entire car structure fails.

      5. I’m hoping that when they say “replaced ASAP” they mean that they will put out a bid at some point this year, and get new tilting equipment in within the next few years. Taking 4 Talgos off this line and replacing them with ancient Amtrak rolling stock will add 20 minutes to the schedule and destroy ridership.

        Buy the Wisconsin sets, and accelerate purchase of additional series VIII sets. Talgo is here to stay. They just landed a contract to refurbish Metrolink cars in their Wisconsin facility.

        https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2019/05/14/eyes-on-milwaukee-talgo-lands-139-million-contract/

  3. This event should be a wake-up call that “value engineering” is not an acceptable means of cost control on transit projects. This responsibility not only falls on the directors and administrators of our transit agencies, but also on us to accept the true cost of safe, reliable transit.

    1. See my comment above. This “kink” is NOT new. Sound Transit did not create it; Northern Pacific agreed to it when I-5 was built because there were so few trains which used the route.

      1. Inheriting the kink from Northern Pacific isn’t a good reason to keep it when removing it would be better for safety, though PTC is good too.

    2. Agreed. Had they spent an additional $60 million to straighten out the kink, this crash and the hundreds of millions spent on investigations and legal costs would have been avoided. Hindsight is always 20/20, though.

    3. Until we as a state and nation are willing to properly fund transit, value engineering will be a necessary evil and honestly, even fully funded, value engineering is an exercise that should be performed.

      But in the world we live in, $60 million to smooth the curve was likely enough to sink the project, since the state likely wasn’t willing to sacrifice a pittance from the billions of dollars slated for highways. Considering the low, acceptable risk (at the time) of this accident happening, the curve was VE’ed out.

      After the fact, the three lives lost were valued at $20 million dollars each.

      1. But in the world we live in, $60 million to smooth the curve was likely enough to sink the project, since the state likely wasn’t willing to sacrifice a pittance from the billions of dollars slated for highways.Precisely. And it still isn’t. If you’ve looked, nobody in a position of responsibility at WSDOT or in the Legislature is proposing to straighten the kink.

        “PTC will make it safe!”

        Until it doesn’t.

  4. So many sources for this catastrophe. A few observations. I had actually discussed the 30mph curve with my friend Jim Hamre, who died in the crash. Jim had retired from the Washington DOT several years prior and was a highly experienced highway engineer. He explained that the Stimulus Funding that paid for the new route was not sufficient to cover what WashDOT projected could have been what he said could have reached a $60,000,000 total cost to realign not only the curve, but to also rebuild the two bridges over I 5 and to reconfigure the entire approach alignment from the north. Hideous irony? A cost that somehow should have been embraced?

    Of course error by the engineer, lack of adequate pre-trip training, failure to have a train-master or other Amtrak supervisor in the cab, grossly excess speed, etc caused the crash. Fate is complex.

    But we must not skirt around the catastrophic failure of the Talgo train-set. The wheel-set that essentially ripped asunder the car my friends Jim and Zach were riding in was part of an articulation between cars. It is horrifying to think that this flying truck could essentially de-roof and destroy the side-wall of a entire coach, thus sending the unfortunate riders in its path airborne out of the car to their traumatic fate.

    I have long loved the comfort, sophistication, ride and style of the Talgo train-sets, but if the NTSB is right the time is now to retire the three remaining crash-standard wavered sets, and to add the never-used, stored, but fully US compliant Wisconsin sets to the two compliant sets in the northwest equipment pool, modified as needed to add Business Class seating and a nicer cafe.

    This would give the Cascades Corridor four usable Talgo train-sets, against a need for I think five to cover current schedules with a reserve for servicing. Already one Seattle-Vancouver trip is run using a Superliner set. The needed reserve could be met that way, or by allocating the back-up Amfleet set from southern California–or even Horizon fleet from the midwest.

    More cars will be available fairly soon when the new Siemans fleet is delivered for midwest and California service–thus freeing up Amfleet/Horizon, even ex-NJ Transit upgraded cars. Not ideal, nor as stylish, but safer until Washington and Oregon can somehow find the funds to order new cars. If the current sets are to stay in service they must be strengthened/modified in some way to reduce the chance of another Dupont on the countless curves along the Cascades route.

    1. Are there any crashes similar to the DuPont one where an Amfleet or Superliner trainset fared better? I’m not aware of one. Carriage and truck separation occurred in the Bronx Metro-North crash, the Frankford Junction crash, and the Northfield, Vermont crash. All of these were in the past 5 years and the NTSB didn’t mention truck separation in their reports.

      High-speed crashes are very destructive events, and there are so many factors involved. I get the feeling that the NTSB process starts with a passenger injury/fatality, and then investigates back from that point. In the case of the DuPont crash, the truck may have caused fatalities, but if the topography had been different, it could just have easily have been a large tree, a concrete barrier, etc. They need to look at the entire trainset as a whole. How did it manage the forces involved in the crash? Does it actively resist derailment and tipping forces? From what I’ve read, every similar crash with standard US equipment has resulted in more fatalities and injuries, so I’m not sure how they draw the conclusion that the Talgo equipment is unsafe.

    2. The Metro-North Spuyten Duyvil crash was a similar overspeed on a curve. All of the equipment met FRA crash standards. 4 were killed.

      The particular FRA crash standards that are not met by the Talgo VI sets are intended to prevent “telescoping” of equipment in the event of a train to train collision. Neither the generator segment nor the baggage car segment of the train (which would have taken the hardest hit) folded up in the DuPont crash.

      Therefore, I find it doubtful that the newer Talgo sets, or any other equipment for that matter, would have performed any better. Politically, it is probably best to replace the older 5 sets at this point, but the safety benefits of doing so wouldn’t be that great. For the money required to do so it would be best to just eliminate this curve. The cost would probably be about the same.

  5. When a transit agency compromises safety in a design decision, it shouldn’t be whitewashed. ST seems to play a “confidence game” and won’t accept responsibility for inadequate design. The UW escalators is a case study of that and the removal of down escalators now being done is fundamentally another chapter is that.

    ST’s fault is not just inadequate curve design. It’s not designing a system to compensate for inadequate design. It’s like having a low bridge without adequate warnings and alerts.

    1. “the buck stops with Sound Transit”

      This article and every other news source I’ve read lays the blame squarely with Sound Transit. They own the line, they rebuilt the line, they cleared it for use. Where are you getting confused?

      1. Sam’s livelihood as a comments section guy depends on his perpetually pretending to be confused.

      2. Lays the blame with Sound Transit, and spreads blame around to other factors.

        Sam. The nation’s leading Kirkland-based comment section transit journalist.

  6. I am curious as to why the #1 fault was an engineer not remembering there is a 30 mph curve 10 minutes southward of Tacoma?

    Are there any vehicles on the surface which one would expect NO deaths after an 80mph leaving the road or the rail?

    There will always be places where an engineer is expected to slow down to 30 mph, and even more 0 mph.

    1. Yes, I have a hard time understanding how anyone who lives in the Northwest and has a car would not notice the large accumulation of lights that is “Downtown Dupont” whiz past on the right. The lizard brain really should say, “Uh-oh, that means that damn curve is right ahead. PUT ON THE BRAKES!!!!”

      1. Per the report, the driver was unfamiliar with both the route and the new Siemens locomotive. He spent 20 seconds looking down at an overspeed (82mph in an 80mph) notification, and missed the signs to slow down for the 30mph zone.

        Better training and/or PTC would have prevented this.

      2. By the time you are at DuPont it’s too late. Slowing needed to start in a pretty featureless area north of the place with all the lights.

      3. Glenn, I don’t think that’s true. It’s almost a mile between Center Boulevard and the curve (4200 feet to the Mounts Road overpass and another four to five hundred feet to the curve itself). A 6000 ton freight train would certainly take more than that to hive off 50 miles per hour, but the ultra-light Talgo equipment should shed that much speed very rapidly.

        The truth is the engineer shot by the Dupont-Steilacoom crossing, the third in two-and-a-half miles, and then under the unique Center Boulevard overpass without, apparently, noticing either. Was he drowsing off and was aroused by the over-speed sounding?

        That seems likely, though I expect there is cab camera footage that would have shown that.

      4. The safe braking rate limit is governed by the potential for there to be standing passengers. Even the heavy Coast Starlight is capable of braking at a rate that is hazardous for standing passengers.

      5. Glenn,

        Now we’re in tinfoil hat territory. You think that the engineer would have thought for longer than a half second about spilling some passengers before he “big holed” it, if he had noticed in time? Not a chance.

      6. A full emergency application is not what should happen under normal circumstances.Thus, the spot to start normal braking is further north.

      7. Well of course that would be true, but my original point is that he wasn’t paying attention to his surroundings. There are four level crossings on the Bypass south of Lakewood Station where the double track ends. Each of them has that annoying red flasher that distracts drivers on the adjacent freeway announcing whether the crossing gates are functioning or not.

        He blew through them all without noticing apparently. Can he not count to four?

        The large white structure in which the Washington National Guard is or was housed is about a half mile before the last of the level crossings at Dupont-Steilacoom Road. If we’re talking “let’s give a good long way for a gentle service braking” he should have been at least on the regenerative brakes by that point.

        HE WASN’T WATCHING WHERE HE WAS GOING!!!!!” On his first in-service trip on fairly unfamiliar territory.

        Sure the “kink” is a serious hazard, and Amtrak shouldn’t have started service without full PTC acceptance. But this guy committed negligent homicide.

        I am sorry to say that since I love railroads and the people who operate them.

  7. Is it true that the engineer had “inadequate training on the territory and inadequate training on the newer equipment?” And if it is true, who lets an employee operate equipment under those circumstances, and why isn’t that a bigger part of the story?

    1. Something that the Final NTSB report will spell out.

      It’s not available online, yet.

    2. The problem there adds another bit of muddling to the pot.

      Typically you have someone with a lot of experience on the line as a “pilot” in the cab until the unfamiliar engineer is considered qualified. The only source for those is TacomaRail freight crews, and as the line was considerably rebuilt from freight only days, I’m not sure even those several people would be considered qualified for passenger service on what is such a heavily rebuilt line. Having one on board to raise the alarm might have helped, since they still know the line better than any other operator.

      If the track were still owned by TacomaRail, a pilot engineer would probably have been required.

      Amtrak probably should have requested such a pilot, but it’s SoundTransit track now, so ST dictates the rules over that section of the line. The fact that TacomaRail is the one with the most experience operating that section was probably overlooked by all parties.

    3. I hope the NTSB report has some indication why the opening of the line was seemingly rushed.

      1. It’s only the Executive Summary, but I would still want to understand why everything felt rushed into service. Was it just bad managment deadline setting, was it overreaching pride in being able to get the job done? What made it so that no one said “I really think we should be more deliberate in implementing this.” ?

        From years in IT, I’ve seen projects fail, even in well known private companies.
        Aside from the 737 Max software issues, it was only business programming that I had to deal with, but this incident has all the same feel of those projects I’ve dealt with.

        (And the ones where I held my ground, I had excellent implementations on)

        I knew Jim and Zack from my years with All Aboard Washington, and I’ve known Steve for years. They are all of kindred spirit. Railfans at heart.

        As a coworker said right after the incident, and learning of my relationship with them, “This just isn’t right!”

  8. Maybe I need to read more. Tell me what I am missing. I do not understand how Sound Transit is blamed for building a section of track that will not be used by Sound Transit until 2036. My understanding is The Sounder will not go tgere until that year. It is in the ST3 plans. Did they make a deal with Amtrak to build and MONITER the signs used by other passenger rail while waiting 15 years to build their own stations? I guess I don’t understand the responsibility required if a company does not use that section yet.

    I will say this. Whoever decided to leave that tight turn bridge in should be investigated. I drove under it on I5 a coouple years earlier and wondered how a 70mph train was going to use it. At yhat time I had no idea that they were planning to reduce speeds to keep using it But even back then, about 2 years ago I told my friend that it would be a problem. You might as well put a speed bump on a race track and expect drivers not to crash and die. Signs or no signs, someone will miss it.

    1. There is no “whoever”. There was discussion of re-building the original long-diagonal at the time that the Bypass was first proposed. However, neither the State nor Amtrak had/wanted to spend the money so it didn’t get built. “PTC will make it OK” was the thought, and it probably will make it safe now that it’s implemented.

      The re-route shouldn’t have happened until it was completed, tested and fully deployed on all equipment using the bypass.

  9. I don’t think we need to abolish curves like this because one operator didn’t slow down. We know exactly how to run trains through this curve safely; slow down to 30 mph, and speed up again afterward. If it costs 50-60 million to straighten the curve, then I think the money is much better spent on lots of signs (it sounds like there were already signs, but it’s still Sound Transit’s fault because the signs weren’t big enough or something?).

    But really, I don’t think we need to take every train operator as the idiot that this one apparently was. For one, we have PTC that should prevent something like this from happening in the future, and secondly, you can be certain that since the accident, there is special focus on training for this. No operator should be staring at an overspeed alarm (especially if it says “overspeed”) for a third of a minute wondering what to do. “The curve” clearly had a reputation before the incident, which is good, but it most certainly will even more in the future. Adding more signs doesn’t do that much (it does nothing with the driver staring at the dashboard for 20 seconds), but it doesn’t cost much.

    1. The expectation in the industry is that the engineer should be able to operate the line entirely by memory without any signs. It would be interesting to see how many auto drivers are able to successfully make a trip over a section of road entirely by memory, with no speed limit signs or big yellow arrows on tight curves, after only the several trips this engineer had over this line.

  10. Mike Lindblom said today in the Crimes that replacement of the “kink” would cost $200 million. Even considering inflation the cost would have been $160 million at least when the project was begun. That’s way more than any previous estimates I’ve read and would absolutely have nixed the project.

    Now that PTC is activated, there should be no more problems with over-speed at the curve.

  11. The incompetence is striking. If I was to get in to my car and speed at 80 on I-5 and kill three people, I’d go to jail for manslaughter. But no problem if I do the same as an Amtrak engineer. Shameful. And of particular note is that there is a lot of blame for Sound Transit. This is the same agency that is spending $54 billion to build slow light rail trains that will take longer than current buses and cars to get to downtown Seattle from Tacoma and Everett.

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