An Amtrak train travelling from Seattle to Portland has derailed from an overpass, sending multiple cars onto the busy motorway below. The train was travelling at approximately 130kmh when it derailed near Tacoma at 8am local time. At least three are dead from the tragic incident.
The train was making its very first trip along a new faster route, which was tested earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Transportation claims. At this stage it is not known why the train left the tracks, though it was exceeding the Point Defiance Bypass’ maximum speed limit of 79mph (127kmh).
Five crew members and seventy-eight passengers were on board the train at the time of the crash. Several vehicles were hit by the falling train cars, Pierce County Sheriff’s Office reports, but there are no on-road fatalities at present.
One of the train’s passengers, Chris Karnes, watched the cars derail from further back. “I’m not sure what got hit. I’m not sure what happened,” he told Associated Press. “The only car that is on the tracks is the rear locomotive. There are several cars that are hanging over the overpass,” he added.
The new rail route was a $180.7 million project that was intended to speed up passenger train services by avoiding the curves, freight traffic and single-track tunnels of the Puget Sound route.
Don Anderson, mayor of Lakewood, a city along the new route, was against the new track from the beginning. “Come back when there is that accident and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements,” Anderson said, according to Seattle television station KOMO. “Or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens.”
Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia has received over seventy patients, two of whom were in serious condition and being operated on, a spokesperson for the hospital said.
President Donald Trump took to Twitter to express his condolences. “Our deepest sympathies and most heartfelt prayers are with the victims of the train derailment in Washington State. We are closely monitoring the situation and coordinating with local authorities,” he wrote. He also used the opportunity to address the problem of infrastructure. “The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble!”