An Amtrak train making the first-ever run along a faster new route hurtled off an overpass south of Seattle in the US. Several train coaches were spilled onto the highway below the track, killing at least three people, injuring dozens.
There were 80 passengers and five on duty crew when the train derailed and pulled 13 cars off the tracks. Authorities said more than 70 people were taken for medical care including 10 with serious injuries.
It was not clear how fast the train was moving at the precise moment when it derailed. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the scene trying to determine the derailment’s cause.
A track chart prepared by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows the maximum speed drops from 79 mph (127 kph) to 30 mph (48 kph) for passenger trains just before the tracks curve to cross Interstate 5, which is where the train went off the tracks.
The chart, dated Feb. 7, 2017, was submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration in anticipation of the start of passenger service along a new bypass route that shaves 10 minutes off the trip between Seattle and Portland.
Kimberly Reason with Sound Transit, the Seattle-area transit agency that owns the tracks, confirmed to the Associated Press that the speed limit at the point where the train derailed is 30 mph (48 kph).
“Deeply saddened by all that has happened today,” said Amtrak President Richard Anderson. He also added that positive train control the technology that can slow or stop a speeding train wasn’t in use on this stretch of track.
(With inputs from agencies)