DUPONT, Wash. (NBC News) — A horrifying Amtrak train derailment sent several rail cars into the traffic on a busy Washington interstate on Monday.
At least three people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the crash.
National Transportation Safety Board investigators working overnight have downloaded data from the rear black box confirming that the train was going way too fast.
Bella Dinh-Zarr, NTSB spokeswoman said, “Preliminary indications is that the train was traveling at 80 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour track”
She also confirmed during a Tuesday evening press conference that the Amtrak Cascades 501 train, which was carrying 83 people when it derailed, had not been outfitted with “positive train control” (PTC).
Dinh-Zarr said the locomotive was in the process of getting a system of PTC installed, but it was not yet functional.
“Positive train control” is an overlay system designed to stop train derailment, collisions and speeding accidents by enforcing speed control.
Congress mandated all major rail lines to be outfitted with PTC in 2008 after two trains in Los Angeles collided head-on. The deadline was extended until the end of 2018, due to a multi-billion dollar price tag.
But Dinh-Zarr emphasized the NTSB will not release a cause of the crash until completion of the on-site investigation, which could take another seven to ten days.
She did, however, detail other findings.
Dinh-Zarr said the train’s emergency brake was automatically activated during the accident — not activated by the train’s engineer.
She also revealed that at the time of the accident, the engineer was accompanied by a conductor in training.
NTSB will continue to collect information and review train cameras that have sustained major damage.
Once crew members are medically fit, they plan to conduct thorough interviews.
Monday was supposed to be a day of celebration for passengers like 81-year-old Rudy Wetzler, a longtime rail enthusiast on board the new Amtrak.
This was the inaugural run of the high-speed train service to Portland.