NTSB releases details from derailed train’s data recorder

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recently released information from Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 that derailed Dec. 18 in DuPont, Washington.

© Shutterstock

The information was gathered by the train’s inward- and outward-facing cameras and its locomotive-event data recorder. It was then downloaded and processed at the NTSB lab in Washington, D.C.

The video contains the crew’s actions and their conversations and the locomotive’s external sounds. No crew members were using personal electronic devices.

Prior to the derailment, the engineer commented on the train’s speed. While the engineer did apply the locomotive’s brakes, he did not place the brake handle in emergency-braking mode, the video showed.

The recording ended when the locomotive tilted and the crew braced for impact.

The train was traveling at 78 miles per hour on a curve with a 30-mph speed limit.

A preliminary report on this stage of the investigation will be available soon on the NTSB website. The full investigation is expected to last one to two years.

There were 80 passengers, five crew, and one representative from the train’s manufacturer on board. Three people died and 72 were injured.

All but one of the train cars derailed and plummeted off a bridge over the southbound lanes of Interstate 5, hitting seven vehicles.