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Amtrak trains crews on railway of deadly 2017 derailment near DuPont

Drivers and pedestrians are being asked to be cautious and remain patient as traffic delays could result from the test runs.

TACOMA, Wash. — Amtrak will undergo crew qualification training along the Point Defiance Bypass route until July 25.

It is the next step in getting the bypass back in service after years of delays since a high-speed Amtrak train went off its tracks in DuPont in 2017. The derailment killed three people on board and injured dozens more. 

The bypass is a portion of the Amtrak Cascades route that connects Vancouver, Canada to Eugene, Oregon. The bypass, which stretches from Tacoma to the Nisqually Junction, was intended to cut delays on the Seattle to Portland portion of the route.

In the investigation that followed the 2017 derailment, the National Transportation Safety Board said the high-speed Amtrak train was going 80 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour zone. Federal investigators recommended more crew safety training and fully activating positive train control on all passenger rail corridors in the state, including the bypass.

"Our main goal was to make sure the bypass is going to be safe and it's going to have all the safety precautions in it," said Sound Transit spokesperson Scott Thompson.

Sound Transit owns a portion of the tracks along the route and will determine, upon testing, when the bypass will be back in service to the public. A date for the return of service has not yet been determined.

Crew qualification will undergo testing from the Tacoma Dome Station at Freighthouse Square with stops at Lakewood and Joint Base Lewis-McChord before ending in the Nisqually Junction just south of DuPont.

"We're not rushing through this process to get service in any particular point and time. It's going to be ready when we're satisfied that it's safe to return service there and not before that," Thompson said.

Drivers and pedestrians are being asked to be cautious and remain patient as traffic delays could result from the test runs.

Crew tests are scheduled on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 9 p.m.

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