NTSB Releases Initial Review Of Amtrak Cascades Derailment

While the entire investigation is expected to take 12-24 months, the National Transportation Safety Board has released its initial review of the Dec. 18 Amtrak Cascades derailment. 

The NTSB gathered data from the lead locomotive’s data recorder and footage from inward-and outward-facing cameras on the train. That information was downloaded and processed at the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C.

A preliminary report detailing the facts and circumstances of the crash developed in this early stage of the investigation will be available on the NTSB website in the coming days.

The following comes directly from the NTSB’s initial review of the incident:

  • Inward-facing video with audio captured the crew’s actions and their conversations. A forward-facing video with audio captured conditions in front of the locomotive as well as external sounds.
  • The crew was not observed to use any personal electronic devices during the timeframe reviewed.
  • About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.
  • The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.
  • The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.
  • The final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.

The Amtrak 501 derailment in DuPont resulted in dozens of injuries and three deaths. Thirteen of the 14 cars jumped the tracks at a curve over Interstate 5 when the speeding train failed to slow down for a 30-mph area of tracks.

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