• Officials testing positive train control system in South Sound this weekend

    By: KIRO 7 News Staff


    TACOMA, Wash. - This weekend, testing will get underway for the positive train control system along train tracks in the South Sound.

    It’s a system that officials say could have prevented a deadly Amtrak train derailment last year.

    Nine months after the disaster, WSDOT and Amtrak will be working together all weekend to test the system, also known as PTC, along the Point Defiance bypass, which will include tracks along Tacoma and Dupont.

    The goal is to prevent another disaster, such the one south of Dupont where three people were killed when Amtrak train number 501 derailed.

    Investigators later found the train was going 78 miles an hour on a curve, more than twice the speed limit.

    But the PTC system can help override the controls if a train is going too fast. It’s equipment Sound Transit has already installed on its rail line. 

    “That means not just the equipment that we run or back office, but Amtrak locomotive has to be installed, but unfortunately, the day of the accident it was not installed,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff.

    The testing on Amtrak trains will take place both Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

    The corridor will remain open to other trains as normal during that time.

    The deadline for the new train control system to be installed there is December 31.

    Amtrak is expected to resume passenger train service on the Point Defiance bypass by spring of next year.

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