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Amtrak won’t use same route until positive train control is used

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

Amtrak trains won’t travel to the same stretch of rail where a deadly derailment occurred earlier this week  until some changes are made.

RELATED: What positive train control has to do with the fatal Amtrak derailment

The Washington State Department of Transportation says all Amtrak trains must have Positive Train Control before returning to the Point Defiance Bypass. That is the point near DuPont where a train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone before derailing. PTC is technology that would have automatically slowed the train.

The National Transportation Safety Board has confirmed that the technology was not installed on the train that derailed on Monday, killing three people. Amtrak’s President Richard Andersen says they want to have PTC installed statewide by the end of next year.

“If the litmus test is that PTC needs to be fully activated to operate passenger rail service, then there would not be any passenger rail service statewide and in many areas of the country,” a WSDOT spokesperson told KIRO 7.

Positive Train Control has three parts: an on board system; a trackside system; and computer servers to process data. All three communicate to monitor train and track conditions.

“At the time of the presentation to the Lakewood City Council a year ago, PTC equipment was being installed on the new Charger locomotives being manufactured for delivery in the upcoming months,” the spokesperson said. “In addition, trackside PTC equipment was being installed on the Point Defiance Bypass as part of the joint WSDOT-Sound Transit capital improvement project. The back office server is managed by Amtrak.”

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