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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 12:19 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1540
Baldwin feeder wrote:
Ron Travis wrote:

And how could he not know he was lost?



The engineer is a human and all humans make mistakes. Even some automated systems can misinterpret data and take incorrect actions.


Yes, not knowing you are lost amounts to making a mistake. This would be like blindfolding a person, and asking them if they can see. If they answer yes, they are making a mistake.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:44 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
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Location: Northern Illinois
Ron Travis wrote:
Baldwin feeder wrote:
Ron Travis wrote:

And how could he not know he was lost?



The engineer is a human and all humans make mistakes. Even some automated systems can misinterpret data and take incorrect actions.


Yes, not knowing you are lost amounts to making a mistake. This would be like blindfolding a person, and asking them if they can see. If they answer yes, they are making a mistake.


Yes, a mistake. From the engineer's perspective (the only person that really matters) he wasn't lost because he knew the curve was coming up, and as soon as he came to MP 18 he would initiate a brake reduction. Hadn't occurred to him that he was already past MP 18, and he hadn't committed enough details to memory in the one student trip in that direction to realize otherwise. Lack of adequate training; one student trip was obviously not enough.

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jan 31, 2018 4:44 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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Dennis Storzek wrote:
Ron Travis wrote:
Baldwin feeder wrote:


The engineer is a human and all humans make mistakes. Even some automated systems can misinterpret data and take incorrect actions.


Yes, not knowing you are lost amounts to making a mistake. This would be like blindfolding a person, and asking them if they can see. If they answer yes, they are making a mistake.


Yes, a mistake. From the engineer's perspective (the only person that really matters) he wasn't lost because he knew the curve was coming up, and as soon as he came to MP 18 he would initiate a brake reduction. Hadn't occurred to him that he was already past MP 18, and he hadn't committed enough details to memory in the one student trip in that direction to realize otherwise. Lack of adequate training; one student trip was obviously not enough.


He knew where the curve was, but he was lost during the 2.8 miles preceding it. Apparently, he only confirmed his location at each milepost according to the mile number. Other than reading each milepost, he may have been lost most of the trip. In this case, he somehow overlooked the most critical milepost of all.

Overall, this seems like an incredibly dangerous way to operate. And yet he told the NTSB that he would not have gotten behind the throttle if he had any reservations about his readiness to operate the train. He may not have had any reservations, but it seems to me that he should have had some reservations.

The problem with spotting mileposts is that you are lost the entire way between them. Under his circumstance of having no memorization of route features, it would have been essential to count the distance between mileposts by the odometer. Then he would have known where milepost 18 was even if he had not seen it yet, or not seen it when passing it.

I don’t see how any of this can be blamed on him not being adequately trained for the route. He should have learned all this long before he traveled this new route.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 9:32 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
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An excerpt of a May 30, 2021 article in the Seattle Times newspaper:
Quote:
TACOMA — When he first realized his Amtrak locomotive would roll at 80 mph into a sharp left curve, engineer Steven Brown kept faith he’d make it to the other side.

“I thought I was going to spill some coffee,” he recalled. “I thought we were going to go around, it was going to be uncomfortable, but I didn’t imagine in a million years we were going to leave the track. And it all happened really fast.”

As the train flew off the rails, Brown recalls darkness and a long cracking sound. He lost consciousness until someone tapped him on the back and said, “We’ve got to get you out of here.”
and another excerpt:
Quote:
Steven Brown’s life, though, remains sidetracked.

He’s fighting to regain his engineer’s license, but says the odds don’t look favorable. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) suspended it because he far exceeded the 30 mph speed limit entering the curve.

“I was hoping to be on this planet to do some good,” the 59-year-old Brown said across a picnic table at Tacoma’s Wright Park this spring, in his first news interview since the crash.

“I had it made. You’re never quite sure in life if you’re doing the right thing. I was satisfied with where I got in life. I was really, truly happy,” he said. Brown hoped to work into his 60s and then retire to a job on tourist trains.

“In an unbelievable instant, it’s all gone,” he said.

Fired by Amtrak and often blamed by the public for the crash, Brown won some vindication in March when a Pierce County judge ruled Amtrak is financially responsible for his losses, because it operated the Amtrak Cascades 501 train in unsafe conditions. Brown sued for lost earnings, on grounds that “the loss of my engineer’s certificate was caused by the negligence of Amtrak.”

Based on the Federal Employers’ Liability Act of 1906 — written to protect the incomes of railroad workers during an epidemic of crippling injuries — Amtrak needed to prove errors by Brown were the sole cause of the wreck. He’s now eligible to seek his $105,000 annual salary, plus retirement benefits, at a trial scheduled Oct. 11.
Link to the article: Fired Amtrak engineer opens up about 2017 DuPont crash, why he wants back in a locomotive


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 10, 2021 11:45 pm 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
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Not sure what Mr Brown is smoking but this was 100% his fault. I was a Conductor on countless Union Pacific trains from Seattle to Portland and that area is unlike any other. Heading North There is a long stretch of open flat land through Olympia which is unmistakable from the rest of the route. You will eventually see the cars on the I-5 highway to the left day or night, which means you are getting closer to the highway and getting closer to the bridge with a sharp curve that crosses that highway. As if that wasn't enough there is a big wooded mountain straight ahead of you, and a massive bridge that crosses the Nisqually river. Both clear indications you are leaving the "racetrack" as we used to call it and going into the bush with much lower speeds where there is many curves.

You only need to run that route once to realize that once that bridge is in site along with all those trees, you can not keep going at maximum speed with the many curves coming up. Those other two dum, dums, in the cab must have been busy texting on their phones not to have noticed they were entering the woods. The woods were a clear indication that they were leaving flat and boring Olympia and heading over the highway, where they will shortly run along side the bay to lower speeds. If Mr Brown had any common sense at all he would have slowed down as soon as he saw the curve on the Nisqually bridge knowing that typically you always go slower around curves especially on bridges.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 2:03 am 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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Tom F wrote:
Not sure what Mr Brown is smoking but this was 100% his fault. I was a Conductor on countless Union Pacific trains from Seattle to Portland and that area is unlike any other. Heading North There is a long stretch of open flat land through Olympia which is unmistakable from the rest of the route. You will eventually see the cars on the I-5 highway to the left day or night, which means you are getting closer to the highway and getting closer to the bridge with a sharp curve that crosses that highway. As if that wasn't enough there is a big wooded mountain straight ahead of you, and a massive bridge that crosses the Nisqually river. Both clear indications you are leaving the "racetrack" as we used to call it and going into the bush with much lower speeds where there is many curves.

You only need to run that route once to realize that once that bridge is in site along with all those trees, you can not keep going at maximum speed with the many curves coming up. Those other two dum, dums, in the cab must have been busy texting on their phones not to have noticed they were entering the woods. The woods were a clear indication that they were leaving flat and boring Olympia and heading over the highway, where they will shortly run along side the bay to lower speeds. If Mr Brown had any common sense at all he would have slowed down as soon as he saw the curve on the Nisqually bridge knowing that typically you always go slower around curves especially on bridges.

Are you sure? I think you are referring to the mainline that has been in service continuously and sees dozens of BNSF, UP and Amtrak freight and passenger trains every day, the accident occurred on the old NP that was out of service for years before it was bought and rebuilt for passenger service. If you are heading south on I-5 it is the first bridge, and then the main used by BNSF and UP is about a half a mile south. None of the Amtrak crews had ever been on it prior to a few weeks before, plus the first run was made using a locomotive that they had never run before (Siemens Charger). The extent of their training was a couple of runs in which about a half dozen people were in the cab, none on the new Charger locomotive. So on the first run the engineer had to deal with a squawking overspeed alert (one mile over) for track speed he had never heard before minutes before he approached the 30MPH curve on a line he had only been on in a group setting a few weeks before, because WDOT didn't want to pay them to run it several times each as they needed to. In my opinion..


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:14 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
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Location: Back in NE Ohio
PMC wrote:
Are you sure? I think you are referring to the mainline that has been in service continuously and sees dozens of BNSF, UP and Amtrak freight and passenger trains every day, the accident occurred on the old NP that was out of service for years before it was bought and rebuilt for passenger service. If you are heading south on I-5 it is the first bridge, and then the main used by BNSF and UP is about a half a mile south. None of the Amtrak crews had ever been on it prior to a few weeks before, plus the first run was made using a locomotive that they had never run before (Siemens Charger). The extent of their training was a couple of runs in which about a half dozen people were in the cab, none on the new Charger locomotive. So on the first run the engineer had to deal with a squawking overspeed alert (one mile over) for track speed he had never heard before minutes before he approached the 30MPH curve on a line he had only been on in a group setting a few weeks before, because WDOT didn't want to pay them to run it several times each as they needed to. In my opinion..


If this is true, then having been an engineer myself in situations where supervision thought too few qualifying runs were enough for new territory, no less on unfamiliar equipment, then yes, WDOT and Amtrak are at least partially, if not mostly, at fault for the accident. I can't imagine having to do that at passenger speeds as well.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 12:10 pm 
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Tom, I'm not sure what you were smoking here...
Tom F wrote:
I was a Conductor on countless Union Pacific trains from Seattle to Portland and that area is unlike any other.
You clearly don't get that this is a totally different line than where the 501 wreck happened. This is a line that hadn't seen passenger trains since the NP days.
Tom F wrote:
Heading North There is a long stretch of open flat land through Olympia which is unmistakable from the rest of the route. You will eventually see the cars on the I-5 highway to the left day or night, which means you are getting closer to the highway and getting closer to the bridge with a sharp curve that crosses that highway.

Again, it's a totally different line. Brown would have seen cars to his left for several miles before the crash as it's within sight of the highway from around Lakewood until it crosses the bridge where the incident occurred.
The bottom line here is that, yes, Brown might have done himself better had he said, "Hey, I've never run a train through here," which is the simple fact that the NTSB uncovered, but I doubt it'd occurred to anyone in that position that there could be an issue with that curve. I'm still convinced that had he caught the curve in time and the trip went on normally, this would have happened on another later run before now. And from what I've read, the NTSB thought that, too.
Before the pandemic, I had a discussion with two Amtrak engineers on an op session on my model railroad layout and they both confirmed that the Charger locomotive's audible alert is the same for everything, so you wouldn't know if there an overspeed unless you take your eyes off the tracks to look to your right, for an alert which they said sounds often.
Just like with an airplane crash, everyone's default mode is to blame it on "human error" as systemic failures in prep are not popular. To do otherwise points to a lot of suits who normally know how to dodge those bullets.
While Brown of course carries some responsibility here, he was seriously set up for failure, on a line that should never have had a curve that tight for trains that were expected to otherwise go faster than highway speed. Instead, they wanted to save money and not realign the curve/bridge there. And they wanted to save money but not really getting crews familiar with a very tricky run at one point.
There's a reason the NTSB saw it that way in their report.

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 3:37 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
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Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
My bias as a fellow locomotive engineer is to try to support Mr. Brown. I have read the reports and must say that Mr. Brown owns a substantial percentage of the blame for this tragic event.

Once you accept the responsibility of taking those controls in your hands you own it plain & simple. It was his responsibility to make sure he was trained sufficiently on the physical characteristics of that route to know where he was AT ALL TIMES. No excuses.

IMHO his failure to execute his role responsibly has earned him a lifetime ban on being an FRA carrier licensed locomotive engineer.

Sad to say. Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2021 9:48 pm 

Joined: Fri Dec 03, 2004 9:42 pm
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Tom F wrote:
Not sure what Mr Brown is smoking but this was 100% his fault. I was a Conductor on countless Union Pacific trains from Seattle to Portland and that area is unlike any other...


You're more lost than he was, you're not even on the right line. UP doesn't operate over this section.

The route he was on runs parallel to I-5 for 8 miles. Even further if you count the part that's not directly adjacent to the road. It all looks a lot alike. Especially in the dark, on a rainy day before dawn.

Ok, we have a decision on the play. From no less than the NTSB.
Quote:
Despite the engineer’s confusion, NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt said the “engineer was set up to fail,” noting that investigators “identified failures up and down the line.”


The NTSB says "The engineer was set up to fail" despite his confusion. I'm not going to argue with them. If you know something they don't, please give them a call. But maybe you should be sure you know what line it happened on first...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/tr ... story.html


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:27 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 12, 2013 1:26 pm
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This accident was a while back, but didn't it happen at night. Was this run Brown's first run? I sure wouldn't want to make my first familiarization run at night.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 12:48 am 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
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Location: Back in NE Ohio
Not optimal, but if the service you're qualifying on only runs through that territory at night, you do what you have to do, and hopefully get enough trips to figure it out in the dark. I had to qualify as a new conductor from Baltimore to Cumberland on intermodal Q137/138, which was a night train both ways at the time, and it is really dark out there along the Potomac at night. Of course it was a run Baltimore extra-board people rarely got to see because it was pretty much held by very senior people. My understanding is that eventually Cumberland got the pair all the way to Baltimore after I left.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 1:39 am 

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Stationary Engineer wrote:
This accident was a while back, but didn't it happen at night. Was this run Brown's first run? I sure wouldn't want to make my first familiarization run at night.


The wreck occurred at 07:33 AM local time. Sunrise in Seattle on December 18th is at 07:53 AM. It was also cloudy and rainy. While 7:3O AM isn’t “night”, it was as dark as night.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:00 am 

Joined: Mon Jul 02, 2018 8:04 pm
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My bad I thought the train was heading North. Train was heading South so I can see how that could be confusing for a engineer as you are going fast in a city dwelling, and then right into a mountain type area with a sharp curve.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2021 12:55 am 
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Bobharbison wrote:
Stationary Engineer wrote:
This accident was a while back, but didn't it happen at night. Was this run Brown's first run? I sure wouldn't want to make my first familiarization run at night.


The wreck occurred at 07:33 AM local time. Sunrise in Seattle on December 18th is at 07:53 AM. It was also cloudy and rainy. While 7:3O AM isn’t “night”, it was as dark as night.

I was actually in DuPont at the moment the accident occurred. It was dark.

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