Positive train control fully activated on Amtrak Cascades corridor, WSDOT says

The Washington State Department of Transportation announced Monday that positive train control (PTC) is fully active for the Amtrak Cascades corridor, which incorporates the Point Defiance Bypass.

The Point Defiance Bypass is the section of track where an Amtrak train derailed heading into a sharp curve on an overpass in Dupont. Train 501 was on its maiden run on December 18, 2017, leaving Tacoma.

PTC is the train speed-control technology that possibly could have prevented the derailment from happening along the Point Defiance Bypass. PTC automatically slows or stops trains that are making improper movements, speeding, or not where they are supposed to be, WSDOT said.

The Amtrak train was recorded going 78 mph, more than double the posted speed of 30 mph, when 12 cars and two engines jumped the tracks.

Three people were killed, and dozens were injured.

WSDOT said PTC will extend from Blaine, Washington, to Eugene, Oregon.

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All of the Point Defiance Bypass trackside equipment has been installed, tested and ready for operation, officials said.

As to when train service will return to the Point Defiance Bypass route, officials said they are waiting on a final report from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is expected to be released after a hearing from the board on May 21.

WSDOT and other agencies involved said they will assess the recommendations to determine the next steps in returning service to that section where the derailment happened.

To read more about positive train control and how it could have prevented the crash, click here.