The train that derailed outside Tacoma, Washington early yesterday, killing three people and injuring scores more, was going 80 miles an hour in a section of track designed for 30-mile-an-hour speeds, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which is investigating the incident.
News sources say that while rounding a corner and heading toward a bridge, the train jumped the tracks and slammed into a ditch, spewing some of its 12 cars across a highway where they came into contact with five cars and two trucks. None of the injured were motorists.
The NTSB said it had been able to retrieve the event data recorder from the rear locomotive, which will help in its investigation.
The train, which was carrying carrying 80 passengers and three crew and two service personnel and was headed from Seattle to Portland, was not equipped with Positive Train Control (PTC), which prevents trains from speeding.
At least 72 people were taken to local hospitals for treatment, ten of them hospitalized in serious condition.
Amtrak temporarily suspended service south of Seattle.
The derailment occurred on a refurbished section of track along a newly established Amtrak route intended to provide faster service between Seattle and Portland.
Congress ordered PTC on all major rail lines in 2008, but the high cost and technical challenges of implementing the technology on carriers have impeded the process.
The NTSB said it was too soon to tell why the train was traveling at such a high rate of speed.
President Trump, in a tweet, blamed the accident on what he described as the nation’s crumbling infrastructure.