News from Representative Heck


Latest news and actions following Amtrak train derailment near Dupont

NTSB issues update

On January 25, 2018, the National Transportation Safety Board released more information on the Amtrak derailment tragedy that occurred on December 18, 2017. 

NTSB investigators spoke to the engineer and conductor who were in the lead locomotive at the time of the derailment. From those interviews, we learned that the engineer planned to initiate the brakes one mile before the curve, but failed to register the signs indicating the correct milepost. By missing the sign for milepost 18, he was not able to initiate the process of slowing down in time for the curve at milepost 19.8. The engineer said that as soon as he saw the "30 mph" sign, he applied the brakes.

These conversations, along with other evidence gathered at the scene and other interviews conducted by the NTSB, will help piece together what happened and how it can be prevented in the future.

The NTSB's investigation will be completed in 12-24 months. Additional information, including links to media briefings, the preliminary accident report, and other material is available on the Amtrak Cascades 501 accident page.

Work in Congress on rail safety

While we await the final report, steps are underway in Congress to improve rail safety and ensure we are doing everything we can to make sure trains are safe for every traveler. 

Since the tragic accident, I have:

- Joined Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney to reach out to the Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao about the status of a detailed plan to identify and enhance safety of high-hazard curves, which the U.S. Department of Transportation is required to do following the implementation of the FAST Act in 2015.

 - Added my support to a bill to make December 31 of this year the absolute deadline for positive train control compliance, and authorize the appropriate level of federal funding to make that happen.

- Requested a comprehensive update from the Federal Railroad Administration on the current status of positive train control implementation.

After the deadly train accident this past week involving my GOP colleagues on an Amtrak train in Virginia, there is a growing urgency to implement common sense safety measures to protect all rail passengers and employees. No mode of transportation can be 100% perfect, but we can certainly do our part to prevent future tragedies.                                 

Get moving on infrastructure

I recently spoke on the House floor about the importance of unions to our families and communities.

Our region's population is booming. It's a great sign, our economy is chugging along and more people are back at work. Companies are expanding, Joint Base Lewis-McChord remains strategically important to our national defense and both private and public sector opportunities are attracting people to our communities. While we celebrate that activity, we know that it puts tremendous pressure on our roads, housing, veteran facilities, schools, utilities, hospitals, and airports. We need to use this opportunity to upgrade our infrastructure before it starts to strain our economic growth. 

The federal government cannot continue to underinvest in this space, and I will continue to sound the alarm in D.C. about the urgency of these upgrades, fixes, and expansions. 

To follow the progress of the work in Congress on infrastructure more frequently, please follow my updates on Twitter or like my page on Facebook



Denny Heck
Your Member of Congress


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