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South Carolina Amtrak crash doesn’t derail Seattle passengers

SEATTLE – The news of another Amtrak train crash, this time in South Carolina is not shaking up passengers about to board Amtrak trains at the King Street station in Seattle.

“I will be returning home from Olympia,” said Kathleen Guest who takes Amtrak to and from Seattle about once a month.

“I’ve been riding the train off and on all my life. When I was a child I was sent to relatives on a train,” said Guest.

Sitting across the station is Andrew Edwards who commutes regularly on Amtrak and says it’s better than driving.

“With the occasional derailment, I still feel safer than traveling on the road to me,” said Edwards.

Down the bench from Edwards is a fellow commuter who says he also is  not worried about getting on a train, but that it’s time America invests to make rail travel safer.

“I really wish we could adapt the systems other countries use, their technologies, and I think we can afford it and I think we should,” said Vasiliy Vergulyanets.

The cost, is what attorney Jim Vucinovich says has kept that from happening.

“In my opinion it's money and priorities,” said Vucinovich who has represented people injured in train collisions for more than 30 years. He says this South Carolina crash could have been prevented.

“We would not accept this if this was air travel,” he said.

Vucinovich says America is one of the only countries allowing passenger and freight trains to share tracks, which caused the South Carolina collision.

“We made a mistake a long time ago when we allowed our passenger rail service, which travels at much higher speeds and much lighter trains to then be routed and share tracks with freight trains,” said Vucinovich.

He says had Positive Train Control been in place, the crash in South Carolina would not have happened.

The GPS based technology is designed to automatically slow or stop trains if an object is in the tracks or the train is going too fast.

Positive Train Control is something congress mandated to be implemented by the end of 2018, which was already an extension of three years. However, congress has now allowed railroad companies to apply for an extension until 2020.

“It has come to the point that we have to make the investment in infrastructure. I know that word ‘infrastructure’ gets thrown around a lot, but it’s infrastructure, positive train control, designated passenger lines, upgrading our equipment and warning system, then we wouldn’t  have to hope if we bought a ticket on Amtrak,” said Vucinovich.

Trusting for that investment to come, for Guest is not something she is very sure about.

"Trust is a big word, I have hope that they will do that,” said Guest.