Claim says 'Cascades' trainset in fatal accident had electrical defect

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A legal claim filed Thursday says the trainset involved in the fatal crash of an Amtrak Cascades train in December 2017 had an electrical defect.
Steve Carter

TACOMA, Wash. — A claim filed Thursday on behalf of a passenger injured in last year’s derailment of an Amtrak Cascades train near DuPont, Wash., says that the trainset involved had electrical problems that prevented it from braking properly.

The derailment in December 2017 killed three and injuring more than 60. [See "Amtrak Cascades’ train derails onto Washington highway,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 18, 2017.] It occurred on the first Cascades trip using a new route, the Point Defiance Bypass.

Attorney Jim Vucinovik, representing passenger Rudolf Wetzel, says he learned of the problem from a whistleblower. “Amtrak knew that there was an electrical failure of that trainset before it was put into service that morning,” Vuconovik said in an article on, the website of three Seattle-area radio stations. “There was a shutdown between the head-end locomotive and the rear locomotive, which are normally linked electronically. Rather than fix that, or get to the root cause of that problem, they de-linked that rear unit which then meant that the rear locomotive unit was not available for braking and/or throttle effect.”

Wetzel, an 81-year-old Holocaust survivor, says he suffered severe and permanent injures to his head, face, and spine in the accident.

Early findings by the National Transportation Safety Board were that the train was traveling at more than twice the posted speed limit just before reaching the curve where it derailed. [See “NTSB: ‘Amtrak Cascades’ train traveling at 80 mph moments before fatal wreck,” Trains News Wire, Dec. 19, 2017.]

The full claim document is available at the KING-TV website.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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