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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2021 4:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 2176
Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
I'm afraid he'll have a hard time finding a railroad ( tourist or otherwise) wanting to hire him as an engineer after this tragedy.

He'll be wise to get retrained into a completely different profession. His days of running trains are history.

IMHO-Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 12:54 pm 
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Location: Pac NW, via North Florida
co614 wrote:
I'm afraid he'll have a hard time finding a railroad ( tourist or otherwise) wanting to hire him as an engineer after this tragedy.
This is first time I've ever wanted Ross to be wrong about something.
Guys, you're not going to find a person who loves trains more than the engineer in this case. He's the most prolific photographer of trains worldwide I've ever even heard of.
And everything I've heard and read says he had an excellent record prior to this situation that the NTSB agreed with poor training for the route.

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 1:42 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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I am not convinced that what Ross predicts will come true, although I hope it does. In my opinion, Engineer Brown, while maybe being a good railfan and prolific photographer, is lacking in the common sense to prioritize a safety risk and act accordingly.

As shown by his actions, relying only on spotting mile markers, he did not know the territory. Then he failed to maintain the vigilance needed to spot the mile markers. He was running blind and probably was beginning to doubt his opinion of his location. The prudent thing to have done was to at least slow down. If he lost a few minutes, so be it. But he insisted on running at full track speed as his location became doubtful. Then when his location was finally confirmed, it was too late to avoid the disaster.

He knew that he did not know the territory well enough to recognize the location to begin braking for the curve. Given that, he should have refused the run. Or he should have driven out there in his car a day or two beforehand and made notes and even took photos of the features approaching that curve.

I disagree with the position of the NTSB in their claim that the engineer was “set up by Amtrak to fail.” Brown set himself up to fail.

I do not believe an engineer has the entitlement to conclude that if he makes a mistake, it is the fault of those who failed to teach him not to have made the mistake.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 2:56 pm 

Joined: Wed Jun 29, 2016 11:58 am
Posts: 153
It's obvious to me that some of the replies here come from folks who don't have experience with a tiny cog in a big machine beaurcracy job. Are you really ready to throw away your lively hood for something you don't know that you don't know?

In many ways this wreck had the same failure chain as the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Pressure to get that train going!!!! Most folks don't blame a five ton weight limit bridge for collapsing under a 30,000 pounds of bananas load, but we do it with people all the time.

Hopefully this thread will teach folks to look for situations where your organization is flying blind. Perhaps that young whippersnapper questioning the way it's always been done "has a bad feeling about this" and has a valid point. To paraphrase a certain military commander - It's really hard to see the unknown unknowns.

Airline safety has dramatically improved over the decades because we didn't just accept "the pilot f@#ed up." We made changes that made it less likely for the pilot to f@#k up.

Brian


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 3:50 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
Posts: 2176
Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
STOP making excuses for this man. He alone made the decision to take the controls of that train knowing he wasn't ready to do the job safely over that territory. No one, repeat NO ONE held a gun to his head and forced him into that seat.

His terrible lack of judgement caused that tragedy and his days of running trains should certainly be over, deservedly so.

Enough already. Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 4:52 pm 

Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:07 pm
Posts: 837
Location: B'more Maryland
co614 wrote:
STOP making excuses for this man. He alone made the decision to take the controls of that train knowing he wasn't ready to do the job safely over that territory. No one, repeat NO ONE held a gun to his head and forced him into that seat.

His terrible lack of judgement caused that tragedy and his days of running trains should certainly be over, deservedly so.

Enough already. Ross Rowland


Maybe not a gun, but definitely his job and possibly his career.

How many railroaders have been forced to do something they weren't confident was safe by a superior who did their best to avoid the consequences themselves? I bet almost every single one of them.

If we settle for "well he should've just been better" as an answer than we're really just setting ourselves up for this type of thing to happen again, and again, and again.

There's a reason the professionals have made the determinations they have, and it's not because they were lazy or stupid.

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 5:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 7:19 am
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Location: southeastern USA
I wonder why there's a sense that blame can only be placed on one entity..... every CF I've been around has had several parents, some of them human, others creations like a system that's incapable of answering to all conditions, technological failures, even acts of nature. Seems to me there's plenty of issues going on here that unfortunately reached critical mass........ very few are products of just one individual's actions without other contributors as well.

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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:03 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 5:10 pm
Posts: 1119
Just this morning, a friend who is an engineer for one of the major carriers told me he recently boarded a train at a crew change point, only to learn that the radio had failed en route. His train was a hot pig/container train, and he was reluctant to take it out with no radio. A repairman called to the location could not fix the radio, so he decided to go back to the distributed power unit a mile behind the head end and take its radio. While he was back there, my engineer friend was told by phone to move out the train. He told the dispatcher he would not do so since there was a man back there somewhere with whom he had no communication. He was told to call the chief dispatcher and make his case. The chief also told him to get moving so the train would not miss its next connection, even though he didn't know where the repair guy was. Luckily for him, a passing track inspector was able to reach the repairman, who was in the clear, and the train headed out, still without a working radio. Guess who would have been in trouble if that repairman had been injured or killed because the engineer, with 42 years of experience, had done what he was told? Hint: it would not have been the dispatcher.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:11 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
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Location: Back in NE Ohio
Yes, I've been there and when the division RFE is chewing on your behind the only recourse is to ask for the "initials and time" from whoever is ordering you to go under less than safe conditions, and keep your fingers crossed it goes no further than that in the next 12 hours.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 7:32 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
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Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
More nonsense. Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 9:37 pm 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
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Dave wrote:
I wonder why there's a sense that blame can only be placed on one entity.....


I don’t see any sense that blame can only be placed on one entity. The NTSB heaps blame all over Amtrak officials in this case. They even blame Amtrak for not installing a system that would have intervened and set the brakes for the curve in this case in which the engineer failed to do so. Apparently NTSB regards the failure to provide such a system as “setting up the engineer to fail.”

So NTSB is perfectly happy to spread blame all over the place, but not on the engineer. For the question of his culpability, we get an NTSB conspiracy theory that management had “set up the engineer to fail.” So the engineer is blameless because he was “set up” by management.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2021 10:27 pm 

Joined: Fri Feb 25, 2011 11:13 pm
Posts: 80
I spent 35 years in the RR business doing everything from Switchman to The equivalent of Asst. Supt. I have literally held hundreds of disciplinary hearings. Funny thing is we hear the same old excuses from the head end when they screw up. Lost situational awareness. We were distracted. The Conductor was in the bathroom. Didn’t comply with the book definition of restricted speed. Always boils down to a rules violation. I’ve taught rules classes and been shocked when guys with 20, 30 years can’t pass. We gave them a study guide weeks ahead. Every question on the test is on the guide. Then we review again in class. When they fail 3X and they’re terminated it’s always somebody else fault.

The AMTRAK Engineer lost his situational awareness. He should have reduced speed or stopped. When you don’t feel comfortable with the territory you show up early and mark up your orders to remind you of what’s coming up. He’s the one who said he was qualified. He either was or wasn’t. Don’t blame the managers when an employee says their qualified.

It’s a tough job. It’s not for everyone. If you’re going to do it, learn your craft & do it right.

I’ve also sat in on few NTSB hearing after some major derailments. Very rarely does the NTSB find fault with train crews. Go back and look at their public records if you don’t believe me. The NTSB have been pushing PTC since long before Chatsworth. PTC meets no reasonable criteria for Cost-Benefit analysis. What does the NTSB care? The cost wasn’t born by anyone except the railroads stockholders. Guess what? It’s also going to cost RR employees jobs before long. The railroads wouldn’t have spent that money unless they were forced to. Now that they have, they’re going to expect a return. It will come in the form of one man crews, possibly even some crew less trains. Argue what you want but PTC will make them possible & provide the data to show how now the computer has prevented more incidents than the people on board. I remember when we went from 5 man to 4, then 3 and now 2 man crews Safety has only improved.

The current administration will only delay this from happening. The data will make it hard to dispute and the Unions will have a hard time delaying reality.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:05 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:19 pm
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Location: Sackets Harbor, NY
Well said Mr. Petersen. Thank you.

Ross Rowland


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2021 10:42 am 

Joined: Sun May 15, 2005 2:22 pm
Posts: 1540
Regarding the suggestion that the engineer was intimidated by his employer to either accept the first run of the train despite his worry about not knowing where the curve was —or— be subject to punishment:

While that is always possible, there is no reason to believe it happened in this case. As it turns out, the engineer was punished in the form of being fired, and being banned from further employment as an engineer. Since then, the engineer has spoken extensively about his experience and feelings about the disaster. Do you really think that if his employer had intimidated him into accepting the first run against his better judgement, that he would not be telling the world about that intimidation? He would have every reason to do so. It would take the blame off of him and place it on his employer.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2021 12:35 am 

Joined: Thu Oct 24, 2019 11:05 pm
Posts: 26
Ron Travis wrote:
Regarding the suggestion that the engineer was intimidated by his employer to either accept the first run of the train despite his worry about not knowing where the curve was —or— be subject to punishment:

While that is always possible, there is no reason to believe it happened in this case. As it turns out, the engineer was punished in the form of being fired, and being banned from further employment as an engineer. Since then, the engineer has spoken extensively about his experience and feelings about the disaster. Do you really think that if his employer had intimidated him into accepting the first run against his better judgement, that he would not be telling the world about that intimidation? He would have every reason to do so. It would take the blame off of him and place it on his employer.

Perceived punishment prior to an act and actual punishment after an act are apples and kumquats. Even when you don't feel fully qualified, one never envisions that they will actually screw up in the manner that the engineer did in this instance.


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