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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 1:52 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
There is now a Wiki on this accident.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2017_Wash ... derailment


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 10:19 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 9:54 am
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Location: NJ
So much for Wiki. I read through this quickly, and the one big thing that jumped out to me as partly misleading was the statement that the engineer applied the brakes six seconds before the derailment. OK, he applied the independent brake, perhaps to nullify an overspeed warning, but at 79 or 80 the 'joker' isn't going to do much to slow that train down. The article should have mentioned that it was the engine brake alone that was applied, not the brakes (plural) for the entire train.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:03 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:13 pm
Posts: 60
Interesting comments from a former NTSB investigator.

[url][http://thehill.com/opinion/technology/366833-the-more-we-learn-about-amtrak-derailment-the-stranger-it-gets/url]


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 3:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 12:58 pm
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Location: Chicago USA
EDM, you should rewrite that part of the Wiki article to make clear that point but include cite to an article somewhere that gives this fact so it's not just you saying it.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2018 4:18 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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The Wiki coverage is essentially correct, but it is not complete. I suspect there is a misunderstanding of the facts at the basis of the explanation, but misunderstanding is not apparent because the coverage does no go deep enough to reveal the misunderstanding. However, many, if not all news coverage clearly reveals a misunderstanding by their reports that contains errors.

The basic misunderstanding is this: They believe that the over-speed warning was about the 30 mph speed limit for the curve. Therefore, they believe that when the engineer commented about the over-speed warning, he had to know he was going too fast for the curve.

In the Wiki piece under the section called “Investigation,” it says that the recorder showed that the engineer had commented on the train's excessive speed six seconds before the derailment, and applied the brakes.

The NTSB released some information about what happened as the train approached the curve, based on data from the inward facing video and event recorder. They did not clarify this information to the extent where it was understandable to the news media, so the media has developed their own narrative which is misleading and incorrect. Their narrative is: “Train speeding. Engineer is warned about the speeding and tries to slow down in time.”

From a practical standpoint, there were actually two cases of excess speed at 6 seconds (approx. 700 feet) from the curve. The actual speed limit at that point was 79 mph. It changed to 30 mph at the start of the curve which was 700 feet ahead. However, a train cannot instantly slow from 79 to 30, so it must begin slowing while still in the 79 zone. The point where slowing must begin is further from the curve than 700 feet.

When the train reached the point approximately 700 feet from the curve, the following factors were in play; I call that location POINT A:

At Point A, the train was moving at just over 81 mph.

At Point A: The speed limit was 79.

At Point A: The practical maximum speed was far less than 79 because the train was required to slow to a 30 mph speed limit 700 feet ahead at the start of the curve.

At Point A: The engineer was exceeding the speed limit by just over 3 mph.

At Point A: The engineer was also exceed the speed at which he would be able to slow to 30 mph at the curve 700 feet ahead.

At Point A: The engineer received an automatic system over-speed warning that he was exceeding the 79 mph speed limit by just over 3 mph. The engineer knew that the warning only referred to this 3 mph over-speed condition. There was no warning about the inability to slow to 30 mph in time for the curve 700 feet ahead.

At Point A: The engineer applied the independent brake, but not the automatic brake. An application of the independent brake would be consistent with the desire to slow slightly to get below the threshold of the automatic system warning of 3 mph over-speed. If the engineer had been aware of the close proximity of the curve, an emergency application of the automatic brakes would have been the only possible remedy.

At Point A: The speed of 81 mph indicated that the engineer was unaware of the 30 mph speed restriction 700 feet ahead at the start of the curve. If he had been aware of that speed restriction, he would have reduced his speed far below 81 mph by the time he reached Point A.

The news media apparently has misinterpreted this information. Clearly, they believe that the automatic over-speed warning warned the engineer to slow down for the curve. This misunderstanding seems to be reflected in the Wikki listing. When they say that the recorder showed that the engineer had commented on the train's excessive speed six seconds before the derailment, I believe they are referring to the 30-40 mph of excessive speed that had to be eliminated before reaching the curve. In actuality, the engineer was apparently commenting on the 3 mph of excessive speed above the 79 mph limit.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Tue Jan 02, 2018 11:41 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
Posts: 701
Location: Warren, PA
FYI - on the post from the 'former' NTSB investigator.....

Many of us met Russ Quimby after the Gettysburg boiler incident - he put on an excellent presentation for TRAIN on some of the real technical details of what happened, including some of the photos and video that were never in the final reports. He was the lead investigator on that one.

As a result of that, I gained a sincere respect for the NTSB. Knew their stuff, unlike a lot of other speculators out there. And he's right, that it's become increasingly irrelevant for the NTSB to take up to two years to release any findings and he's entitled to speak.

If Russ' second inference is right - and the quality of the training runs is at least one of the major causative issues - that carries as much weight with preservation as with anyone else. This is most certainly not a topic that isn't worthy of inclusion here as well. Think of how you qualify your volunteer crews on your property.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:32 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
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they were on the site for at least 7 days, in the past they investigated the jet crash over the atlantic and pieced together the jet like a puzzle, they may do the same for the lead engine, study the track carefully. The track may not have gotten ripped up, but it could leave marks. The forward camera is key, but they seem to not be releasing any more info for now, if there was an object on the track they may need to dig into that further.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 5:51 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 01, 2004 2:46 pm
Posts: 1940
Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
I was going through some of my photos for 2017 and I found that I got a shot of the lead locomotive in this collision being delivered. Being towed dead with another Charger and sandwiched between a P32BWH and (probably) a P42, they were passing through Tenino, WA on May 29, 2017.
The loco in the derailment is the closest Charger (the white one):
Image

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2018 9:41 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 496
p51 wrote:
I was going through some of my photos for 2017 and I found that I got a shot of the lead locomotive in this collision being delivered. Being towed dead with another Charger and sandwiched between a P32BWH and (probably) a P42, they were passing through Tenino, WA on May 29, 2017.
The loco in the derailment is the closest Charger (the white one):
Image


There are several videos on youtube of the units testing on the Point Defiance route in the weeks before the crash (this one doesn't have any yuppie jazz playing in the background):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EIaO4qBJid4

1402 is the unit that was wrecked. De mortuis nihil nisi bonum.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 7:27 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1315
What happens if the NTSB asks to interview the engineer and the engineer says no?


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 10:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
the forward and rearward camera are your best evidence no matter what the engineer says, there is good evidence here of poor training, and possibly missing the speed limit sign for some reason. This is why I'd rather see an advance speed signal here.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 05, 2018 11:29 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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dinwitty wrote:
the forward and rearward camera are your best evidence no matter what the engineer says, there is good evidence here of poor training, and possibly missing the speed limit sign for some reason. This is why I'd rather see an advance speed signal here.


The camera evidence is fine, but it cannot explain why the engineer ignored the speed restriction. Perhaps nobody can explain it, but the best bet is to ask the engineer for the answer.

But, as I now understand it, the NTSB interview with the engineer is on indefinite hold and may never happen. There seems to be issues with his injuries delaying the interview and with legal advice imposing conditions on the interview.

So this raises the question of why an engineer involved in an accident such as this would ever consent to an interview with the NTSB. For an engineer being interviewed, it seems like it would be legally risky, and offer nothing to be gained. Does the NTSB have the power to compel the engineer to be interviewed by the NTSB?


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 1:14 am 

Joined: Fri Dec 22, 2017 6:47 pm
Posts: 51
Location: Philadelphia, PA
I think we need to define some terms here.

Historically, cab signals (display of signal aspects in the cab) was abbreviated ACS. The pulse code system, used by PRR and Amtrak NEC, could display four aspects, paralleling the wayside block and interlocking aspects. When the cab aspect changed to a more restrictive one, a whistle sounded in the cab and the engineer had to acknowledge the change, usually a foot pedal. If he did not, the ACS would apply the brakes and stop the train. Automatic Train Control (ATC) was additional function of ACS which compared train speed with the speed authorized by the cab signal aspect; if the train speed exceed the cab signal speed, the whistle sounded and the engineer had to make a brake application and hold it until the speed did comply. If he did not, the ATC would apply the brakes and stop the train.

Automatic Train Stop (ATS) was a separate intermittent system that used a trackside inductor and a pickup shoe on the locomotive or tender. If the signal were not clear, a whistle sounded in the cab and the engineer had to forestall a penalty brake application by pulling a lever. If he did not, the ATS would apply the brakes and stop the train.

Today there are new terms in the NORAC rule book.

CSS is the cab signal system; ATS is the function of CSS that will stop the train if the engineer does not acknowledge a more restrictive aspect change. "Speed Control" is the function that compares the cab signal speed with the train speed and compels a reduction in speed.

The cab signal system was intended to ONLY display block or interlocking signal aspects, not to enforce civil speed restrictions (curves, bridges etc.) or temporary slow orders.

Since the 30 mph restriction was a civil restriction, CSS/ATS/Speed Control would not have enforced it.

It is possible to set up a permanent aspect no better than "Approach" to enforce 30 mph, but it would compromise the block signal function. I know of two rear-end collisions that occurred when roads used block signals to enforce a civil restriction. The crews became accustomed to the signal meaning "30 mph" and then one day there was a train in the block ahead.

Amtrak has added a separate system, ACSES, to the CSS to enforce civil speed in the NEC; SEPTA also uses it and CSS + ACSES is a PTC system. It is also currently in service and it works.

Phil Mulligan


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 3:16 am 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1469
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
EJ Berry wrote:
I think we need to define some terms here.
Historically, cab signals (display of signal aspects in the cab) was abbreviated ACS. The pulse code system, used by PRR and Amtrak NEC, could display four aspects, paralleling the wayside block and interlocking aspects. When the cab aspect changed to a more restrictive one, a whistle sounded in the cab and the engineer had to acknowledge the change, usually a foot pedal. If he did not, the ACS would apply the brakes and stop the train.
Phil Mulligan
Some more history. Part of the reason for the wreck 31 years ago at Gunpow Interlocking near Chase, Md. was because the ConRail Diesels had only Cab Signal System (CSS) and not what you call ACS (Automatic Cab Signal?). The only penalty the ConRail crew received for disregarding signals less permissive than clear was a warning whistle. ConRail replaced electric locomotives that had Automatic Train Control with Diesels that had only Cab Signal System. Many other railroads had either Cab Signal System or Automatic Train Stop, but not ACS.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 06, 2018 10:07 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8689
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Ron Travis wrote:
So this raises the question of why an engineer involved in an accident such as this would ever consent to an interview with the NTSB. For an engineer being interviewed, it seems like it would be legally risky, and offer nothing to be gained. Does the NTSB have the power to compel the engineer to be interviewed by the NTSB?


If (and I emphasize IF) the engineer were in the position to say "I applied the #*&^%@! brakes, and they didn't grab one bit! Then I dumped the air, and STILL nothing!!!", then he has quite ample motivation to testify. In such a scenario, there's just motivation not only to absolve oneself of manslaughter, but to identify a potential problem and make sure it is resolved so someone else doesn't die unnecessarily.

This has happened in the past. The engineer in the well-documented PRR Federal runaway at Washington Union Terminal in January 1953 would have been able to say precisely what I said above, according to all scholarly accounts. But that was before litigation replaced baseball as the national pastime, and no one died (amazingly).

ANY competent, objective investigator approaching this 2017 accident would have HAD to keep in mind as a potential cause a mechanical or other technological failure of braking or other control, especially considering the "brand spanking new" status of the locomotive at the point. I can guarantee you that the locomotive's manufacturer has been sweating bullets and working overtime trying to confirm that the locomotive is not somehow to blame.

If the engineer is cognisant and competent enough of the situation to "lawyer up," you can assume what you wish--especially given that three people are dead and any culpability to him may result in manslaughter charges.


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