McArthur Law Firm

What Caused the Deadly Amtrak Accident in Seattle?

iStock-465912064-resize-300x200.jpgDevastation struck DuPont, Washington on Monday, December 18 when the Amtrak Cascades 501 train derailed on its maiden voyage from Seattle to Portland. The train was carrying 86 people when it rounded a curve at nearly three times the speed limit. It left the tracks and hurled passenger cars off an overpass and into rush hour traffic on the road below. More than 100 people were hospitalized and at least three passengers were killed.

Speed was obviously a factor in this crash, but why was the train moving at 80 mph around a 30-mph curve? The train's engineer has not yet been interviewed at the time of this writing, and it is hoped that his statement could shed light on the cause of this catastrophic train accident.

Another question that is being asked: could positive train control (PTC) have prevented the accident?

The Fight for Positive Train Control Systems

Positive train control can automatically slow down and stop a train if it senses that the train is moving too fast or could get into an accident. According to the Federal Railroad Administration, PTC is the single most important rail safety development in more than a century. It combines GPS, wireless radio and computers to monitor trains and stop them from crashing, derailing or going too fast for rail conditions. It was designed to prevent the human errors that caused almost 40 percent of train accidents.

By the end of 2018, United States railroads are required to implement PTC systems.

The stretch of rail where the Amtrak crash occurred did have PTC installed, but for some reason, it was not active at the time of the accident, much to the chagrin of National Transportation Safety Board members.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Honors & Awards

Contact Us

Contact Us For a Free Consultation

To set up a free consultation to discuss your situation with us, call 478-238-1150 or fill out our online contact form below. We are ready to get the compensation you deserve.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy


6055 Lakeside Commons Drive
Suite 400
Macon, GA 31210

Phone: 478-238-1150
Fax: 1-478-238-6607
Map & Directions

Atlanta Office
1201 Peachtree Street NE
Suite 2000
Atlanta, GA 30361

Map & Directions