The Washington State Department of Transportation on Monday announced two milestones that signal that passenger rail service on the Point Defiance Bypass could resume soon. Service had been suspended after a December 2017 derailment on the bypass.
Amtrak has installed a safety feature known as Positive Train Control (PTC) on its Point Defiance Bypass. Additionally, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced that it will release its report on the December 2017 derailment, which happened in DuPont, at a board meeting in May.
Amtrak suspended passenger rail service on the route until it could install PTC, a computerized system that “automatically slows or stops trains that are making improper movements, speeding, or not where they are supposed to be.” Amtrak Cascades trains have operated under the system for several months, according to a press release from the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT). Trackside equipment has been installed on the Point Defiance Bypass, has been tested, and is ready for operation.
Meanwhile, NTSB’s final report on the 2017 derailment will be released at its board meeting at 10 a.m. May 21. The hearing will be streamed online. WSDOT has stated that it does not know what NTSB’s final recommendations will be.
Information previously released about the derailment is available on the NTSB website. The docket from the NTSB’s July 10-11, 2018 investigative hearing include several reports, interviews, and photographs of the derailment that are being used by NTSB to develop its final recommendations.
“Once the final NTSB report is issued, WSDOT and others involved with the service will assess the recommendations to determine next steps for returning the Amtrak Cascades and Coast Starlight service to the Point Defiance Bypass,” WSDOT’s release states.