O’Ban requests hearing on Amtrak Train Derailment

Inquiry would focus on the recent Amtrak derailment in south Pierce County

Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-University Place, requested a hearing in the Senate Transportation Committee on the derailment of Amtrak train 501 on Dec. 18, 2017.

As a member of the Transportation Committee, O’Ban hopes the committee will focus on the training provided to engineers, why the curve where the derailment occurred was not corrected in light of the project’s purpose—to facilitate high-speed rail, and why implementing positive train control was delayed.

The Legislature has oversight responsibility over two agencies that are directly connected to the Amtrak derailment: the Washington State Department of Transportation and Sound Transit.

“I owe it to my constituents to make sure that the appropriate personnel and agencies are held accountable,” O’Ban said. “The state, and not just the National Transportation Safety Board, has an independent responsibility to look into these critical issues that led to the loss of life in my district.”

O’Ban’s hearing request would give the legislature the opportunity to ask tough questions of responsible parties and evaluate whether changes in law, policy or funding are necessary to avoid similar catastrophes.

This is the second Amtrak derailment in O’Ban’s district in less than a year. The first Amtrak train derailed on July 2, 2017, near Steilacoom, resulting in minor injuries.