Amtrak passengers are concerned after latest train derailment

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JEFFERSON CITY - Union Pacific is working on installing Positive Train Control (PTC) in Missouri. The system is designed to stop trains before certain accidents occur, like train derailments such as the one that killed three people in a derailment in Washington state.

In light of the most recent train derailment, Amtrak train passengers are concerned. Especially considering the holiday season is the busiest travel time of the year. 

Kate Henry has taken the Amtrak train back home to Chicago for the last three years and she was never nervous until now.

"My train is late right now, to stay on time they might have to speed," Henry said. "These trains are huge and they are going so fast and you know its not like a car where if you need to stop you can or even slow down for a turn."

The exact cause of the Amtrak train derailment in Washington has been narrowed down to two possibilities, speed and engineer distraction. However The National Transportation Safety Board will not speculate. The train was however clocked at speeds above 80 miles an hour on a turn that was only rated for 30.

"I don't know how to feel about it," Henry said. "These accidents happen almost every day and they all seem so preventable."

Amtrak operates a 283-mile route "The Missouri River Runner" through the state of Missouri. While Amtrak is a Missouri Department of Transportation sponsored service, the tracks Amtrak uses are owned almost completely by Union Pacific. 

Union Pacific Director of Media Relations for Missouri Jeff DeGraff said Union Pacific is working to implement new safety measures in the coming months.

"This year we have invested an additional $49 million for investments in Missouri," DeGraff said. "These investments include upgrading and maintaining rail lines, track structures and bridges."

Union Pacific has implemented its PTC system already on rails headed to St. Louis from Jefferson City. 

DeGraff says that it is scheduled for completion on rails headed to Kansas City sometime in 2018.