Sound Transit installs Positive Train Control on Sounder trains

SEATTLE -- Sound Transit announced today that it has certified and implemented Positive Train Control (PTC) technology on all Sounder commuter rail vehicle, improving safety for riders between Lakewood and Everett.

The technology applies the brakes and stops a train if an engineer is going too fast or doesn't slow down when approaching a work zone or signal.

“Safety is our most important priority at Sound Transit,” said Sound Transit CEO Peter Rogoff in a news release. “Each and every one of our riders must get home or to work safely every time. Adding Positive Train Control on all our Sounder trains will help us maintain our impeccable track record.”

Sounder trains from Everett to Seattle began testing PTC in June of 2017. Sounder trains from Tacoma to Seattle began testing the technology later that summer.

On Dec. 18, 2017, Amtrak Cascades train 501 derailed after approaching a curve near DuPont going 80 miles per hour. The train should have been going 30 miles per hour in the area.

Had PTC been in place at the time, the system would have detected the speeding train and automatically slowed it down, possibly preventing the deaths of three passengers and injuries of more than 70 others.

A series of crashes around the country prompted federal officials to require all rail lines to install PTC by the end of last year.

Sound Transit was one of six commuter railroads to meet that deadline.