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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8646
Location: Somewhere north of Prescott, AZ on the Santa Fe "Peavine"
Ricky Gates is unlikely to be located, for good reason. For literally decades after that accident, I knew other employees on Conrail (and later NS) that openly expressed the desire to "get him down a dark alley some night" if the subject ever came up--either for the disrepute he brought to the freight railroad engineer's craft and industry, the "guilty until proven innocent" attitude adopted by Federal regulators in the crash's wake (including random drug testing), or even the "good time" he put an end to.

I've ridden in the distant past in locos equipped with ATS, and it IS downright annoying, like trying to cook in a kitchen where the smoke detector goes off every time you open the oven door or a package of smoked bacon. (Yeah, ask me how I know about the latter.)
Ages ago, I got the chance to raid some GG1s for spare cab fittings (cab signal displays, speedometers, ammeters, etc.) to restore a cab for display. I ended up with five cab whistles--two brass PRR "peanut" design (looks like a mini steam whistle) and three steel cylindrical shop-built jobs. Two of the three cylindrical ones had tape residue near the mouth. And these were passenger GG1s.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:30 pm
Posts: 41
Following this discussion with some interest, I'm wondering if using more current technology would be a cheaper better solution. I'm thinking autonomous driving engines. It could be much simpler and cheaper than this PTC. They already have self driving cars. It would be much simpler to implement for railroads. The tracks don't change. The routes are known. There is no steering involved. No other vehicles to worry about other than possible obstructions on the track. All you can control is the speed. Much easier than a self driving car.

So if the cause was situational awareness, with an autonomous driving engine, the engine would have known about the 30mph curve before it ever left the station. That's the engine would have known. Who cares about the engineer. But if you just used the system as an assist to the engineer imagine having a screen in the engine with a view of the track (possibly zoomed). As you are going down the track you get these warnings on the screen.

5 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
4 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
3 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
2 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
1 mile, 30mph speed restricted curve
Initiating braking, failure to slow for 30mph speed restricted curve

When you stop and think about it, a lot of driving a train is cross your fingers, especially the faster you go and the longer the stopping distances become. I was curious about the cab in high speed trains and what they may have for seeing further down the track. But after watching this video, Rotterdam-Antwerpen 300 km/h, Thalys cab ride / cabinerit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vm8_l5oye4, it occurred to me, looking out the window is optional. If you did see an obstruction or problem with the track, by the time you saw it, the ability to do anything about it was 20, 30, or maybe 60 secs or more ago. So unless you can time travel, looking out the window is just for your entertainment. You're relying on your signals and have your fingers crossed.

When you realize that, might as well let the train drive itself or at the very least greatly assist the engineer. I thought of the idea of using a forward looking camera with a screen in the cab and then you could have speed dependent zoom. The faster you go, the more zoom you get. But the physical problem of curves and going over rises negates some of it's usefulness.

Never having gone for a cab ride in a steam engine, but after sitting in one, my first thought was, how the heck do you see where you are going? And then I wondered on what you do on left hand curves? Somebody said that's what the fireman is for. Now that the technology exists, would it be worth the cost to implement a camera system? Camera mounted up front, screen in the cab and using speed dependent zoom. In the preservation community and the use of part time, or even once in a while engineers, would it increase safety? How about you're looking out the window, see something and have the ability to glance over and see a zoomed in view? Or even don't bother with looking out the window, just watch the zoomed in view. Considering stopping distances, isn't the further you can see down the track better?


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 1032
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Sandy, it looks like Gates is part of a forum on Trains.com, and if I read part of an exchange correctly, it looks like Phillips already found him.

As for visibility on a steam locomotive, I'm going to relate my personal experience with the Polish "Wolstzyn Experience" from nine years ago. On my last round-trip to Poznan in Dec. of '08, on the first train of the morning (5:27 am, in darkness all the way), I was in the fireman's seat for the entire trip to Poznan, with the person I was paired with running all of the trip to Poznan that the Polish crew would allow. Shortly after departing Wolstzyn, Ol 49 2-6-2 #59 suffered what could only be called total electrical system failure, all cab lighting, and all headlights going dark. Now, under U. S. rules, that would mean the crew would be required to attach a light of some kind to the front of the locomotive, sound the bell continuously, sound the horn (whistle) frequently, and slow down to 20 mph for grade crossings. I can assure you that in Poland none of that happens. Not even blowing more for approaching a grade crossing, which they barely do anyway when everything is working normally (we American railroaders are all "Whistle Pigs" in comparison to them. If you ever do have a chance to run over there, don't even think about blowing a standard U. S. grade crossing signal - it's just one short toot). It was full-speed ahead all the way. Even on the fireman's side I found this disconcerting, and declined the opportunity to take the throttle until the problem was fixed in Poznan. Really, yes the fireman (when not shoveling coal) does look out the other side, but there are blind spots the closer something is to the locomotive (even on modern low-nose Dismals), and yes, at the speeds main line trains run, really all you can do by the time you see something is just sound a warning that you are coming through, and make an emergency brake application after you hit something. That's what supervision wants to see on the event recorder download.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
Mtn3781 wrote:
Following this discussion with some interest, I'm wondering if using more current technology would be a cheaper better solution. I'm thinking autonomous driving engines. It could be much simpler and cheaper than this PTC. They already have self driving cars. It would be much simpler to implement for railroads. The tracks don't change. The routes are known. There is no steering involved. No other vehicles to worry about other than possible obstructions on the track. All you can control is the speed. Much easier than a self driving car.

So if the cause was situational awareness, with an autonomous driving engine, the engine would have known about the 30mph curve before it ever left the station. That's the engine would have known. Who cares about the engineer. But if you just used the system as an assist to the engineer imagine having a screen in the engine with a view of the track (possibly zoomed). As you are going down the track you get these warnings on the screen.

5 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
4 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
3 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
2 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
1 mile, 30mph speed restricted curve
Initiating braking, failure to slow for 30mph speed restricted curve

When you stop and think about it, a lot of driving a train is cross your fingers, especially the faster you go and the longer the stopping distances become. I was curious about the cab in high speed trains and what they may have for seeing further down the track. But after watching this video, Rotterdam-Antwerpen 300 km/h, Thalys cab ride / cabinerit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vm8_l5oye4, it occurred to me, looking out the window is optional. If you did see an obstruction or problem with the track, by the time you saw it, the ability to do anything about it was 20, 30, or maybe 60 secs or more ago. So unless you can time travel, looking out the window is just for your entertainment. You're relying on your signals and have your fingers crossed.

When you realize that, might as well let the train drive itself or at the very least greatly assist the engineer. I thought of the idea of using a forward looking camera with a screen in the cab and then you could have speed dependent zoom. The faster you go, the more zoom you get. But the physical problem of curves and going over rises negates some of it's usefulness.

Never having gone for a cab ride in a steam engine, but after sitting in one, my first thought was, how the heck do you see where you are going? And then I wondered on what you do on left hand curves? Somebody said that's what the fireman is for. Now that the technology exists, would it be worth the cost to implement a camera system? Camera mounted up front, screen in the cab and using speed dependent zoom. In the preservation community and the use of part time, or even once in a while engineers, would it increase safety? How about you're looking out the window, see something and have the ability to glance over and see a zoomed in view? Or even don't bother with looking out the window, just watch the zoomed in view. Considering stopping distances, isn't the further you can see down the track better?


All of that is in the PTC, and it is tied into the engine workings, they decided to get the get going before it was activated. This is a Towering Infernal scenario, cutting a corner. I'm waiting on any further info from the NTSB, but it looks like the engineer missed a speed limit sign, with some apparent unfamiliarty with the line, with the lurking idea of something on the tracks. You can't just drop a car driving computer into a locomotive, you would have to reprogram it with the route information, that isnt in a driver system, its automobile based. There are multiple facets to this accident that causes this. But simple clear training prevents all of this.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:23 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:38 pm
Posts: 59
[quote=There are multiple facets to this accident that causes this. But simple clear training prevents all of this.[/quote]

It should be simple, clear and EFFECTIVE training.

Ed


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:58 am 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
Posts: 3237
Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Just an update:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-wash ... SKBN1FE2NH


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 1:30 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1307
This newest version of events leading to the derailment is quite different than what the NTSB told us in their first version.

In the first version:

Some seconds before reaching the curve. the engineer made a remark about an "over-speed condition," and made an application of the independent brake. Some seconds later, the train entered the curve and derailed at about 80 mph, and the engineer made no emergency application of the brakes.

In the second version just released:

At the point where the train entered the curve at about 80 mph, the engineer realized he was 50 mph over the speed limit. So he made a application of the brakes and immediately derailed in the curve.


This second version says nothing about what kind of brake application the engineer made, while the first version says he only made an application of the independent brake.

This second version says he made the "brake application" in the curve in anticipation of derailing from too much speed.

The first version says that the engineer made an independent brake application in response to an over-speed condition, which many assumed was a automatic, system-generated warning of an "over-speed condition" meaning his exceeding the 79 mph limit by a few MPH. However, the second version cancels all of those details. Apparently, there never was a system-generated warning of an "over-speed condition." That was just a strange way of saying that the engineer was exceeding the speed limit. The language about an "over-speed condition" is missing from the second version.

The first version says the engineer made an independent brake application but no emergency application of brakes. The second version say only that the engineer applied the brakes, making no distinction between independent, service, or emergency application types.

Therefore, between these two conflicting versions, we have ambiguity about how the brakes were used, when the brakes were used, and the purpose for using the brakes.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:00 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
Posts: 515
J3a-614 wrote:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washington-train/amtrak-engineer-misread-signal-before-fatal-crash-near-seattle-u-s-agency-idUSKBN1FE2NH


The NTSB News Release is much more informative: NTSB Issues Investigative Update on Washington State Amtrak Derailment (1/25/2018)

It includes facts like this:
Quote:
In the five weeks preceding the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of track following the completion of seven to 10 observational trips in the locomotive as well as three trips operating the equipment, two northbound and one southbound. [emphasis added]


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:21 pm 

Joined: Thu Aug 26, 2004 2:50 pm
Posts: 2216
Location: Northern Illinois
Chris Webster wrote:
J3a-614 wrote:
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-washington-train/amtrak-engineer-misread-signal-before-fatal-crash-near-seattle-u-s-agency-idUSKBN1FE2NH


It includes facts like this:
Quote:
In the five weeks preceding the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of track following the completion of seven to 10 observational trips in the locomotive as well as three trips operating the equipment, two northbound and one southbound. [emphasis added]


Seven to ten? They can't even determine how many trips the guy made???? The ONE southbound student trip seems to confirm what most here believe; the guy was lost on the territory.

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Dennis Storzek


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 2:55 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1307
Dennis Storzek wrote:
The ONE southbound student trip seems to confirm what most here believe; the guy was lost on the territory.


He also apparently was not paying attention to track ahead because he does not recall seeing mile post 18 or the advance warning signs for the 30 mph speed restriction ahead.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 3:04 pm 

Joined: Sat Nov 28, 2015 7:28 pm
Posts: 224
Location: Northern WV
Reminds me of the old hymn, "Life's Railway to Heaven".

Life is like a mountain railway
With an engineer that's brave
We must make the run successful
From the cradle to the grave
Watch for curves and hills and valleys
Never falter never fail
keep your hands upon the throttle
And your eye upon the rail

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 4:59 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
news report on the CBS evening news said the engineer said in his interview, he knew about the curve ahead but missed the warning signs.

Well, if you know about the curve ahead just start braking on your own. You still need an advance lit speed signal, PTC or no.

I still want to see the leading camera video.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jan 26, 2018 5:18 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
Posts: 1464
Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
Ron Travis wrote:
This newest version of events leading to the derailment is quite different than what the NTSB told us in their first version.
The 1st version was based on the inward facing camera, the 2nd on the engineer's oral statement.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sun Jan 28, 2018 12:14 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1307
The following is from the first NTSB report on the Amtrak #501 crash:

• About 6 seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.

• The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.


The following is from the second NTSB report on the Amtrak #501 crash:

• He said that as soon as he saw the 30 mph sign at the start of the curve, he applied brakes. Seconds later, the train derailed as it entered the curve.


Questions from first report:

What is meant by the reference to “an over speed condition” ?
Does the reference to the “application of the locomotive’s brakes” refer to the independent brake or is it just a loose reference to the train brakes as they are applied through the controls on the locomotive?

Questions from second report:

Is the reference to “he applied brakes” the same brake application as that in the reference to “the application of the locomotive’s brakes” in the first report?

General question:

During the total period contained within these two reports, how many brake applications were made by the engineer, and what was the type of application(s)?


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Mon Jan 29, 2018 10:01 am 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2226
I waited for any other responders... we don't have all the data, no black box, no real camera views, just verbal representations of what may have happenned. The NTSB may piece together a moment by moment timeline. Whatever the engineer did was not enough to prevent the accident. 6 seconds is not enough to bring the speed down. We know nothing of the claim of an object on the track or if the train could have survived the curve at that speed. It looks like its only the overspeed issue from what facts we know.


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