WASHINGTON – A US Amtrak passenger train that derailed and crashed off a bridge in Washington state, killing three people, was travelling at more than double the speed limit at the time of the crash, federal investigators said.
A data recorder recovered from the crash site indicates the train was travelling at 129 kilometres per hour (kmph) in a 48-kmph zone, Bella Dinh-Zarr of the National Transportation Safety Board said late Monday.
She said it was “too early to tell” why the Amtrak train had exceeded the speed limit.
“Engineers are trained to slow trains according to posted speeds,” Washington state transportation department spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe told the Seattle Times. She also said that those speed limit signs are posted about three kilometres before the lowered speed zone and then again directly before the zone.
Equipment that would have slowed the train down automatically was not installed yet on the train, the paper reported.
On Tuesday crews started removing rail cars from the derailment scene, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation. Heavy rain and strong winds were hampering the recovery efforts, officials said during a press conference.
The train was travelling from Seattle to Portland when 13 cars jumped the track as it travelled on a highway overpass early Monday. A few of the train cars tumbled onto the road below and crushed vehicles.
All of the fatalities occurred on board the train. More than 100 people were injured. -dpa