Last month, there was a train derailment in Washington state. Investigations have been taking place.
Reason #1 is likely the main culprit.
Four factors that led to the deadly Amtrak derailment – The Hill, 2018/01/04
Beware of artificial, self-imposed deadlines.
The cost of upgrading the Bypass was largely paid by federal stimulus money from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that had to be spent, in its entirety, by Sept. 30, 2017. This explains why Washington DOT (WSDOT) was in such a hurry to complete construction of the Bypass, but it does not explain why they were in such a hurry to open the service on the new bypass before the PTC system could be installed. The most likely explanation is that WSDOT and Amtrak had promised, years ago, that the new service would be in operation in 2017 and felt obligated to stick to that schedule, with disastrous results.
In other words, to fully collect the stimulus money, they had to be done on time… and in the process, they put off the Positive Train Control system until later.
Here are two past articles as well that go into good details on this.
Obama’s High-Speed Rail Fantasy Led To Deadly Derailment In Washington – Investors Business Daily, 2017/12/21
Train derailment near Olympia: Officials pushed ‘aggressive’ timeline before safety technology was ready – Seattle Times, 2017/12/19
This is a really good lesson on how a series of bad decisions and short cuts can lead to a disaster.
On the surface, you can say the conductor was negligent – because at that time, he was negligent. However, the contract called for a positive train control system that was not implemented because they had to get done on time to collect federal stimulus money.