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Amtrak Cascades Train 501 Derails Off Interstate 5 Overpass near DuPont, WA

Amtrak Cascades Train 501 Derails Off Interstate 5 Overpass near DuPont, WA

Old Dec 18, 17, 9:29 am
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Amtrak Cascades Train 501 Derails Off Interstate 5 Overpass near DuPont, WA

The inaugural run of Amtrak Cascades Train 501 derailed and fell off a bridge over Interstate 5 near DuPont, about 20 minutes after departing Tacoma this morning, in what officials are referring to as a mass casualty incident. The train appears to have been traveling at nearly 80mph at the time of derailment. Be advised of service disruption along this line, as well as the closure of I-5 to vehicular traffic.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amtrak-...-live-updates/
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Last edited by javabytes; Dec 18, 17 at 9:51 am
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Old Dec 18, 17, 9:56 am
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The images are terrible! A passenger on the train is describing it as, "Next thing you know, we were in a ditch and the train had crumpled."
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Old Dec 18, 17, 10:25 am
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Awful....Hoping for the best for the injured.

ETA: First revenue train over the new Point Defiance bypass. Anyone know if the incident occurred on the new track or further south on the old alignment?

Last edited by aroundtheworld76; Dec 18, 17 at 10:32 am
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Old Dec 18, 17, 10:33 am
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Are reports right - first high speed train to use this new Point Defiance Bypass route? Don't you think you would travel relatively slowly through changes in track direction the first trip?



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Old Dec 18, 17, 10:39 am
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This one looks bad, likewise hoping for the best for the injured and that fatalities are few, though sadly it does not appear that they will be zero . There's an outside chance a few people I've met in the past were on this train.

Originally Posted by aroundtheworld76 View Post
Awful....Hoping for the best for the injured.

ETA: First revenue train over the new Point Defiance bypass. Anyone know if the incident occurred on the new track or further south on the old alignment?
It's on the new track alignment.

Testing occurred for weeks and months prior to this, so it is not the first time a passenger train has been operated at a speed up to 79 mph over this section, only the first trip carrying paying passengers at that speed: https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Ra...ackTesting.htm
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Old Dec 18, 17, 11:19 am
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Local news is reporting that 78 passangers and 5 crew were on board. 70 patients admitted to hospital, with 5 in critical condition. They are also reporting three known fatalities. They interviewed a young man who was on the Interstate at the time of the accident and he and a friend boarded the train and went from car to car freeing pinned and injured passengers. The train was being pushed at the time and it appears that the automatic airbrakes did deploy. Horrible, horrible accident. We were on the Saturday run to experience one of the last Point Defiance runs and did consider taking this inaugual run.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 11:43 am
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Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
Local news is reporting that 78 passangers and 5 crew were on board. 70 patients admitted to hospital, with 5 in critical condition. They are also reporting three known fatalities. They interviewed a young man who was on the Interstate at the time of the accident and he and a friend boarded the train and went from car to car freeing pinned and injured passengers. The train was being pushed at the time and it appears that the automatic airbrakes did deploy. Horrible, horrible accident. We were on the Saturday run to experience one of the last Point Defiance runs and did consider taking this inaugual run.
Is there more damage when a pushed train derails?
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Old Dec 18, 17, 11:50 am
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Not to my limited knowledge. The train had been on a long straightaway where the last known speed was 81 mph. Not clear, though, exactly where that measurement was taken, and that speed appears to be within limits for at least some of the line. The curve where the train derailed, though, is posted 30 for both freight and passenger trains. We won't know what happened till the crew is interviewed, assuming they are able to talk, and the black box examined.

On the Saturday run, though, my husband and I both noticed a lot of wheel bearing noise. Probably not even the same train, but I still feel awful we didn't mention it.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 12:04 pm
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A report on another forum says there is a 30 MPH curve right before the bridge and that Pax are saying the train exceeded that speed.
Originally Posted by flitcraft View Post
The train was being pushed at the time and it appears that the automatic airbrakes did deploy
There is an Amtrak GE locomotive visible in the photos, which supports what you are saying about the train being pushed. However, another photo seems to show one of those brand-new Siemans Charger locomotives lying on the highway.

While train dynamics are not my area of expertise, my guess is that using a lightweight Talgo set to push a 132 ton diesel at speed would not be a great idea.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 12:11 pm
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Originally Posted by RatherBeOnATrain View Post
While train dynamics are not my area of expertise, my guess is that using a lightweight Talgo set to push a 132 ton diesel at speed would not be a great idea.
They've been doing it for years with F59s and the Amtrak Genesis units more recently with an NPCU on the other end without issue. Shouldn't be any particular issues relating to the new Siemens Chargers specifically, or to that method of operation. It appears here that a Charger was on one end and a P42 Genesis was on the other. The Charger appears to have been pulling, as it is I-5 southbound that was closed and the P42 is facing back towards the camera from the pictures I've seen which have been taken facing south on I-5. The Charger is on the ground as well.

Also, some reports stating the train may have hit a truck: https://seattle.curbed.com/2017/12/1...blm-derailment

I'm also now seeing more pictures of the several train cars that derailed and went onto the highway, not only the one that is seen dangling precipitously from the bridge. At least one train car ended up in an upside down position. Six fatalities confirmed . Awful all around, a sad day.

From a passenger on board, who is also the Pierce County Transit Advisory Board chairman:

Last edited by TheBOSman; Dec 18, 17 at 12:24 pm
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Old Dec 18, 17, 12:21 pm
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Anyone know exactly where it occurred? I'm thinking the left/right offset just south of the Eagles Pride golf course (47.082092, -122.675763), but there are tracks crossing I-5 just west of that also.

EDIT: Google maps and graffiti on the bridge confirm - 47.082026, -122.675700 Middle of a left turn crossing I-5

Last edited by CPRich; Dec 18, 17 at 12:35 pm
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Old Dec 18, 17, 12:25 pm
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Six fatalities reported - I fear that's just a start.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 12:28 pm
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Originally Posted by CPRich View Post
Anyone know exactly where it occurred? I'm thinking the left/right offset just south of the Eagles Pride golf course (47.082092, -122.675763), but there are tracks crossing I-5 just west of that also.
Your latitude/longitude location is correct. The tracks west are the BNSF line up through Steilacoom and Point Defiance that this new stretch of tracks was designed to bypass.

http://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews...5-12438750.php
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Old Dec 18, 17, 1:03 pm
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Originally Posted by TheBOSman View Post
Your latitude/longitude location is correct. The tracks west are the BNSF line up through Steilacoom and Point Defiance that this new stretch of tracks was designed to bypass.

http://www.seattlepi.com/seattlenews...5-12438750.php
Actually the route has been there for ages but obviously it has been updated and upgraded over the years. A friend and I used to park at the north end of Tillicum and walk along the tracks to find golf balls hit out of bounds from the Tacoma Country and Golf Club. That was 40+ years ago. The tracks back then were hardly used.
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Old Dec 18, 17, 1:09 pm
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Originally Posted by Randyk47 View Post


Actually the route has been there for ages but obviously it has been updated and upgraded over the years. A friend and I used to park at the north end of Tillicum and walk along the tracks to find golf balls hit out of bounds from the Tacoma Country and Golf Club. That was 40+ years ago. The tracks back then were hardly used.
Apologies for the imprecise wording on my part. I clarify that "new" in this context refers to their new use for revenue Amtrak runs, and a "new" alignment for Amtrak Cascade service.
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