The derailed Amtrak train in Washington marks a tragic end to a $181 million project

  • An Amtrak Cascades passenger train derailed on Monday on its inaugural service through the Point Defiance Bypass near Tacoma, Washington.
  • The bypass is a $181 million project designed to make train travel through the region safer, quicker, and more reliable.

On Monday, Amtrak inaugurated service through the new Point Defiance Bypass near Tacoma, Washington.

But what was supposed to be a joyous morning turned into tragedy as the first Amtrak Cascades train to traverse the route derailed, killing several people.

The $181 million Point Defiance Bypass project had been in the works for more than a decade. Proponents have said it will reduce congestion and cut much as 10 minutes off trips between Seattle and Portland.

The new bypass, which takes the Amtrak train inland along the west side of Interstate 5, was designed to allow for the addition of two new round-trip trains.

The Point Defiance Bypass is in orange.

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The Point Defiance Bypass is in orange.
source
Washington State Department of Transportation

Amtrak Cascades passenger trains going through Tacoma would usually take a route along the shores of Puget Sound.

While picturesque, the route features single-track tunnels and a risk of landslides, and the tight curves and heavy freight train traffic requires the Amtrak Cascades to slow down.

The train that derailed Monday during the morning rush hour left the track as it was about to cross over southbound lanes of I-5 near the south end of the bypass. The locomotive and several of the train’s passenger cars landed on the interstate.

Authorities have not yet specified the number of injuries and fatalities.