[Ed. – ‘Pilot’ error]
An Amtrak train that derailed as it was making the first trip for paying passengers over upgraded tracks may have been going much faster than the speed limit.
Train 501 was going more than 80 mph about one-quarter mile before it entered a curve where the speed limit was much lower, according to rail analysts transitdocs.com, a website that maps Amtrak train locations and speeds using data from the railroad’s train tracker app.
A track chart prepared by the Washington State Department of Transportation shows the maximum speed drops from 79 mph to 30 mph for passenger trains just before the tracks curve to cross Interstate 5.
The chart, dated Feb. 7, 2017, was submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration in anticipation of the start of passenger service along a new bypass route that shaves 10 minutes off the trip between Seattle and Portland.
Another Sound Transit spokeswoman, Rachelle Cunningham, confirmed the maximum allowable speed was 30 mph at the derailment point, but could not say where that lower limit began.