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Drastic curve where train derailed was ‘very much’ on engineer’s mind

The site of an Amtrak train derailment near DuPont, Wash. (WSDOT)

An Amtrak engineer said that he was worried about the curve along the Point Defiance bypass line in DuPont prior to the deadly train crash in December.

Amtrak 501 survivor: I still have nightmares

The engineer even got a call from a foreman to remind him of it, according to information provided to the National Transportation Safety Board.

“Don’t forget the curve. Just take your time … The odd thing is that this curve was very much on his mind, and yet he still missed it,” NTSB chair Robert Sumwalt said during a hearing Tuesday.

The Amtrak train was making its inaugural passenger trip on the new route from Tacoma to Portland when it derailed. The train was traveling at 78 mph when it reached the curve near southbound I-5 in DuPont. The curve was located in a 30-mph zone.

Three people were killed and more than 60 were injured when the train derailed, spilling cars onto I-5.

According to previous information, neither the engineer or qualifying conductor were distracted at the time of the derailment. The engineer told the NTSB that he “didn’t recall seeing a milepost sign or the 30 mph sign that is posted two miles ahead of the curve.

The qualifying conductor told the NTSB that just before the derailment, he looked down at his copies of the track bulletins, heard the engineer “say or mumble something,” then looked up and “sensed that the train was becoming airborne.”

Photos: Amtrak crash

Amtrak 501 crew members reportedly voiced concerns over the training they had received. Sources told CNN that engineers and conductors were not prepared, and were unfamiliar with signs and terrain.

CBS News Transportation Safety Analyst Mark Rosenker, the former chair of the NTSB, previously said the engineer may have “lost situational awareness,” which could have been the result of inadequate training.

You can watch the first of two NTSB hearings into the derailment here.

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