An Amtrak train on its inaugural ride on a new line in Washington state Monday was supposed to slow down significantly entering the curve where the train derailed, leaving at least three dead and 100 injured.
Transportation department spokeswoman Barbara LaBoe said the particular curve where the train was crossing has a speed limit of 30 mph, the Seattle Times reported.
“Engineers are trained to slow trains according to posted speeds,” LaBoe said.
The train was going 81.1 mph moments before derailing and plummeting to Interstate 5, according to a website that maps Amtrak train locations and speeds using data from the railroad’s train-tracker app.
Additionally, Amtrak president Richard Anderson told reporters in a conference call that positive train control – the technology that can slow or stop a speeding train – wasn’t in use on the stretch of track where the derailment unfolded.
Russell Quimby, a former investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, told the Times his initial assessment was that the derailment was caused by speed.
Amtrak assistant superintendent of operations Gay Banks Olson said it was too soon to say how fast the train was going when the derailment occurred.
“It’s being investigated by the NTSB and anything beyond that, until their findings are out, is pure speculation,” she said.
Amtrak train 501 heading southbound derailed around 7:30 a.m. local time after it left the new Tacoma station. Photos from the scene showed at least one train car completely detached and on Interstate 5 while another dangled in the air. Drivers on the highway were injured, but none were killed, police said.
Fox News’ Nicole Darrah, Travis Fedschun and Katherine Lam and the Associated Press contributed to this report.