The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said that it had completed an initial review of security cameras, which were directed inside and outside the cab.
The crew in the cab of the Amtrak train that derailed in a deadly crash on Monday north of Olympia was not using a cellphone or other personal electronic device immediately before the crash, according to an initial review of the train’s security cameras by federal investigators.
The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, announced Friday that it had completed an initial review of security cameras, which were directed inside and outside the cab.
According to the locomotive’s data recorder, the so-called black box, the final recorded speed of the train was 78 mph. It derailed on a curve with a speed limit of 30 mph. The new section of track was installed with safety systems that could automatically slow trains going too fast, but they were not in use because they were in testing.
About six seconds before the derailment, the engineer commented on “an over speed condition,” according to the NTSB report.
- Officials pushed 'aggressive' timeline before safety tech was ready | Times Watchdog
- NTSB report: Amtrak engineer missed speed limit sign before the train crashed on a curve south of Tacoma
- 'Holy Cow, so the train is actually on the road?' The wreck of Amtrak 501
- It took authorities hours to search the wreckage. Here's why
- Train was 50 mph over limit when it derailed at curve before I-5 crossing
- Photos: Investigation at crash scene
- Longtime rail advocates among those killed
- These are some of the people who rushed to help the survivors
- Lakewood mayor had predicted new Amtrak rail line would lead to fatalities
- Man pulled gun on motorist taking food to Amtrak derailment first responders, prosecutors say
- Complete coverage »
“The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended,” the NTSB wrote. “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 investigation of the crash, which killed three people and injured dozens, is expected to last 1 to 2 years, the NTSB said.
NTSB officials have said they don’t know why the train was traveling nearly 50 mph over the posted speed limit. Among other things, investigators are exploring whether the crew could have been distracted.
In November, NTSB said that “Amtrak’s safety culture is failing and primed to fail again,” based on a 2016 accident that killed two track workers in Pennsylvania, because of alleged shortcuts, such as failing to install equipment that would have detoured an oncoming train. Amtrak’s new CEO, Richard Anderson, promised this week in Tacoma to improve the safety culture.
Amtrak took new criticism from the Cascadia Center, a regional think tank, which said Washington state should hold an emergency review, and consider other operators to run the state-owned Cascades trains. That’s significant politically because Cascadia helped lead the movement in the 1990s to create the Cascades service, which runs between Vancouver, B.C., and Eugene, Oregon.
“It is time to renew the contract. Our number one concern should be safety,” said Bruce Agnew, Cascadia Center director. He points to the three deaths this week, and a minor-injury derailment in July at Chambers Bay.
Even before that, Agnew said, three competitors met with state rail officials last year. In addition, Sounder commuter trains are operated by BNSF Railway engineers already, on the same tracks from Everett to Seattle to Tacoma. Amtrak and the federal government no longer contribute to Cascades subsidies, which Agnew said is another reason to open the playing field.
Seattle Times staff reporter Mike Lindblom contributed to this story.