Passenger Train Derails Near Steilacoom

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Locomotive Engineer!!!
Saw the video, read the passenger remarks... seems like it could be a problem with the derail prior to bridge 14 or the engineer went through a stop block and the derail did it's job or the engine had a broken wheel and derailed or the train hit something big on the rails or a heat kink derailed the train. Lots of things could've happened...

In one of the photos, you can see the derail for Main 1 to the right of the train and about back where the cars are still on the track on Main 2. No other switches are along that straight track prior to the bridge. Farther south is an old switch that opened to the south and served that closed paper plant. Had the engine split that switch, the derailment would've been much farther back. Train was reported going slow then the derailment happened. If the engineer had a stop signal at the bridge after having a clear or approach medium at the approach block two miles prior, he could've had a difficult time stopping before the derail. The speed for the bridge is 40 MPH for all trains if I remember right so that would've been about the maximum he/she would've been going at that location. The time was 2:30 PM so I will assume fatigue was not a factor and the weather was clear and warm. I was actually south of there a number of miles looking at homes to buy for my retirement.

Positive Train Control is turned on for the Seattle Subdivision but I don't believe Amtrak has started using it there yet. PTC would've stopped the train if the derail moved into the derailing position after the train went by a favorable approach block earlier and the engineer didn't know it or if the signal was red or dropped to red due to a problem with the signal system. We've been using PTC for a few weeks now between Seattle and Everett and it can be annoying with all the warning beeping which adds time to our commuter runs but is informative about what's happening miles ahead of you.

Hopefully the investigation will find out what happened soon and steps will be taken to prevent it from happening again. The traveling public want to feel safe on the rails or they won't ride the train.

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
Coincidentally(?), one morning late last week the Vancouver, BC-Seattle Cascades stopped for over an hour at Picnic Pt. I left before it resumed moving. Another local railfan was also at Sunset Ave. and said he had heard nothing over his scanner.


Locomotive Engineer!!!
A person who knows the bridge tender said the bridge was up for boat traffic and that the relatively new tender (year and a half on the job) jumped from 35 feet up into the water when he saw the Amtrak train derailing after it went through a red block and the electric derail did it's job.
Apart from the Portland Union Station derailment (backing up move picked a switch the wrong way), I believe this is the first major derailment incident for the Cascades service. There may have (almost certainly were) been grade crossing collisions and there have been pedestrian fatalities, but train crew and passenger safety have been very good over the years.


Locomotive Engineer!!!
Very true. I couldn't think of anyone really being injured for any reason, either. Heard an interview on KOMO TV 4 with a witness and she said the bridge had just came down and here comes the train going awfully fast. They saw the tender jump in as the train was derailing and they went and rescued him in their boat. He was wet and pretty sore. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.