Amtrak derailment: Mayor had urged for improved safety along route

President Trump said Monday's Amtrak derailment in Washington state shows the need for increased infrastructure investments. He tweeted: "Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!" But the tracks where the accident occurred were actually brand new.

Some critics warned the new high-speed service could still be dangerous. Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson argued recent track upgrades to the line were not sufficient and could allow too many crossings to increase the risk for collisions, reports CBS News correspondent Carter Evans.

"We always felt that the reward wasn't big enough to take on the risk," Anderson said. He feared for years that Amtrak's new high-speed Cascades route would lead to disaster.

"Public safety was our primary concern with this line coming through," Anderson said. "It's people being on the tracks and trains coming off the tracks in a highly urbanized area."

At a city council meeting earlier this month, he urged state transportation officials to improve safety along the line.  

"Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements," Anderson had said.

The nearly 15-mile bypass where Monday's crash occurred was designed to save time – avoiding curves and traffic on the old route – and allowing trains to reach speeds of nearly 80 mph.

Amtrak said automatic braking technology known as positive train control, or PTC, was not activated on the tracks at the time of the derailment. Federal investigators have found PTC could have prevented recent rail accidents including a 2015 Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight.

"Nationwide we need Positive Train Control on all passenger routes," former NTSB chair Deborah Hersman said. "This technology is within reach and it's because of the dollars that need to be spent that's delayed its implementation."

Amtrak began installing PTC as early as 2000 and plans to meet federal law requiring all railroads to have it by 2021. Railroad officials did say they installed advanced warning and signal systems at five railroad crossings and also worked to educate the public on how to be safe around the tracks.