Derailed train possibly speeding

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The United States passenger train that derailed during rush hour in Washington state on Monday is believed to have been speeding.

According to a BBC report, spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Bella Dinh-Zarr, speed appears to be a factor in the derailment.

"Preliminary indications are that the train was travelling at 80mph (around 128km per hour) on a 30mph (48km per hour) track," she said.

"Our hearts go out to everyone who is affected by this very tragic accident," she added.

Passengers on the train reported feeling the train rock and creak as it took the bend at speed before it hurtled off the bridge and onto a motorway packed with traffic.

The train had 12 carriages with engines at the front and rear. The derailed carriages hit seven vehicles, two of which were lorries, injuring several people. No fatalities were reported from the motor vehicles, but three people are reported to have been killed who were travelling on the train. Reports vary on the number of injured, with some saying 72 were taken to a hospital and others saying more than 100 were injured.

It was the first time the route was being used.

The route had been opposed by many who said that it would expose car and pedestrian traffic to higher-speed passenger trains. Prior to Monday morning's journey, the route had been exclusively used by freight trains, which travel at much slower speeds.

"These are new, upgraded tracks – that's what is so surprising about this," John Niles, who is with the Coalition for Effective Transportation Alternatives which supported local elected officials in opposing the project, said.

"They weren't worried about a train derailing," he added.

The city attempted to stop the project by launching a lawsuit in 2013. The city contended that the state transportation department's environmental review of the new route was inadequate and failed to consider traffic, neighbourhood and other impacts.

A judge dismissed the suit in March 2014.

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