DUPONT, Wash. (CBS) — Evidence is being removed from the deadly Amtrak crash site in Washington state as investigators say it was going nearly three times the speed limit when it derailed.
Amtrak train 501 was making its inaugural run along a faster new route when it left the tracks south of Seattle.
Crews lifted train cars overnight as they tried to stabilize the scene of Monday’s deadly derailment. The National Transportation Safety Board says the train’s event data recorder indicated the train was traveling 50 miles over the speed limit when it jumped the tracks.
“The question is why was the train travelling 80 miles an hour in a 30 miles an hour zone and the answer is it is too early to tell,” said Bella Dinh-Zarr of the NTSB.
The train was making its first run on a faster new route from Seattle to Portland, but when the train entered a curve over the interstate, one of the engines and 12 cars derailed, slamming into cars and trucks below.
Authorities say the train was carrying 80 passengers and five on-duty crew members.
Amtrak says positive train control, the technology that can slow or stop a speeding train, was not activated on the tracks at the time of the derailment.
Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson voiced safety concerns about the new line at a city council meeting earlier this month.
“Come back when there is that accident and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements,” said Anderson.
The NTSB expects to start interviewing the train crew as early as Tuesday.
At least three people were killed in the derailment.