NTSB Conducts Initial Review of Amtrak Train Recorders

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[h=4]NTSB Conducts Initial Review of Amtrak Train Recorders[/h]12/22/2017
​WASHINGTON (Dec. 22, 2017) — The National Transportation Safety Board released Friday details gathered from the locomotive event data recorder and inward- and outward-facing cameras on Amtrak Cascades passenger train 501 that derailed Monday in DuPont, Washington.
The lead locomotive’s event data and video recorders were successfully downloaded with the manufacturer’s assistance and processed in the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C. An initial review of the final portion of the accident sequence revealed the following information, which is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues:

  • Inward-facing video with audio captured the crew’s actions and their conversations. A forward-facing video with audio captured conditions in front of the locomotive as well as external sounds.
  • The crew was not observed to use any personal electronic devices during the timeframe reviewed.
  • About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.
  • The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.
  • The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.
  • The final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.
A preliminary report detailing the facts and circumstances of the crash developed in this early stage of the investigation will be available on the NTSB website in the coming days.
The entire investigation is expected to last 12-24 months.


Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
I looked at the train wheels that were visible in some close up photos. Although the entire wheels were not visible, I did not see any flat spots that you expect from extended, hard braking on the portions of the wheels that were visible.


Locomotive Engineer!!!
The mile posts on the Lakewood Sub and the Seattle Sub do not match up. Nisqually is 24.5 on the Seattle sub while it's only 21.3 on the Lakewood sub. If the engineer was thinking they were the same, he may have thought he had a couple more miles to go before he had to slow down when he went past milepost 19. Say he was told " A couple miles from Nisqually, you have to slow down for a 30 mph curve on a bridge over I-5". I don't know that was said but I'm trying to find a reason he would never really slow down for the curve, just slow to clear the over speed since he was going down a hill at that time between mp 19 and the bridge at mp 19.8. If he thought the bridge would be at mp 22.5 or so he may have been thinking he had two or so miles to go. The big question is: was there a Lakewood sub timetable in the cab being referenced by the engineer and/or the qualifying conductor? When ever I went over any new territory, for several trips, I had the timetable and any map that was available on my engineer's desk and would write down land marks of importance. But that's just me, I like to be prepared. We'll just have to wait until the final report is released.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
You are right. We will have to wait until the final report is issued, which may not be for another year or two.

Caveat: My comments below and my previous comments are intended to raise issues to be examined during the investigation, not to offer my opinions as to what happened.

From what Bob said in another post, the engineer had to be "qualified" to run this route using this equipment and had done so several times as part of the qualification process. From that, I assume he knew the route including the discrepancies in mile posts between the bypass and the main line. Why he passed the speed markers without slowing down will also be examined during the investigation.
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