Deadly New Mexico rail crash spurs safety recommendations

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Deadly New Mexico rail crash spurs safety recommendations
Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 8:28 PM

The National Transportation Safety Board on Tuesday recommended that railroad companies install video and audio recording devices in their locomotive cabs to monitor the activities of crew members and ensure safe operations. 

https://www.sfgate.com/news/us/article/NTSB-to-determine-cause-of-fatal-2015-New-Mexico-12820222.php

Further in the article (highlights mine):

According to the Association of American Railroads, a policy and research organization that works with the industry, U.S. railroads are already independently installing inward- and outward-facing cameras.
The federal safety board also raised concerns Tuesday about drug use among railroad employees as a toxicology test determined the engineer of the moving train tested positive for marijuana and the conductor tested positive for oxycodone.
While it was unclear whether the conductor had a prescription for the medication, investigators say the engineer had likely smoked marijuana between 30 minutes and five hours before the crash. Rolling papers and pipes were found in the locomotive cab.
(end of quotes from article). 

This may not be politcally correct, but WHAT A DOPE! (pun intended).

While I'm all for having a good time via whatever method or intoxicant one chooses, getting toasted before work is just not a proper way to behave. Perhaps if you're an accountant the risks are minimal, but if you are working in a safety-sensitive industry where lives are at stake, WAIT UNTIL YOU GET HOME!

   

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 8:50 PM

As was stated in another post on the Passenger Forum, human error seems to be a real problem.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:30 PM

zardoz
While I'm all for having a good time via whatever method or intoxicant one chooses, getting toasted before work is just not a proper way to behave. Perhaps if you're an accountant the risks are minimal, but if you are working in a safety-sensitive industry where lives are at stake, WAIT UNTIL YOU GET HOME!

And this is part of the problem with "grass."  If anyone knows what it takes to render one intoxicated/impaired, I haven't heard it.  Nor have I heard how long it takes to clear marijuana out of one's system to the point where one is not considered intoxicated.

That's stuff we know about alcohol (not that I condone coming to work drunk, either).

Until that is common knowledge, I would suggest that anyone tread carefully if they plan on using, whether it's legal or not.  And, as Zardoz says, it's never a good idea to get buzzed just before work (or during work - really?).

LarryWhistling
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:33 PM

But if you actually read the story, you find out (1) the crew did not respond in any sort of inappropriate manner, and (2) there really wasn't anything they could have done to avoid or, really, mitigate the accident.  The 'dope' was the man on the parked train who didn't line the switch properly, and the story says nothing about any intoxicant other than stupidity.

In other words, the whole issue of drugs here is at best a red herring. 

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Posted by Eddie Sand on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:52 PM

Drugs are only part of the problem; anyone who works outside the Mon-Fri "day watch" pattern knows that there are times when sleep patterns and the demands of the rest of the world don't match up, and you find yourself facing a long day (or overnight) with very little sleep beforehand. The problem has been around since technical progress first permitted continuous 24/7 operation, and I don't see a solution, or even a more cautious approach, developing any time soon.

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Posted by cx500 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:42 PM

If you read the report, it would seem most likely that fatigue was the problem on the part of the crew that had gone off duty,  Any possible drug effects on the running train were irrelevant in this case.

The (now) off-duty crew had been technically rested, but perhaps due to the uncertainties of their call time were up most of the previous day and probably needed sleep when the call came.  After another 10 hours on duty, they would no longer be thinking as clearly as needed.

Train crew fatigue is the elephant in the room, that both the railroads and the unions have failed to deal with in any meaningful way.  The solution would likely mean additional costs for the railroads, and slightly reduced income for the crews.  But avoiding these collisions, and improved life style for the crews, would seem to be a very worthwhile benefit.  Unfortunately, as long as the worship of immediate money is paramount, nothing will change. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:51 AM

cx500
Train crew fatigue is the elephant in the room, that both the railroads and the unions have failed to deal with in any meaningful way.  The solution would likely mean additional costs for the railroads, and slightly reduced income for the crews.  But avoiding these collisions, and improved life style for the crews, would seem to be a very worthwhile benefit.  Unfortunately, as long as the worship of immediate money is paramount, nothing will change. 

The most recent HOS regulations that were implemented approximately five years ago reduced crew earnings potential by about 21% (as I calculated at the time).  While those regulations did not change the maximum time on duty, they did change the required rest provisions and how all the non-working time gets calculated as well as setting monthly maximums for work time and the so called 'limbo' time.

         

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:22 AM

BaltACD
The most recent HOS regulations that were implemented approximately five years ago reduced crew earnings potential by about 21% (as I calculated at the time).

And something that I have been watching for ever since then ... and still haven't really seen ... is any assessment of the reduction in meaningful fatigue that has resulted from introduction of those changes.

Of course there is a certain amount of prove-a-negative difficulty in assessing the number of accidents that were "prevented" by the HOS changes, but it would be interesting to hear from those with direct experience if it was 'worth it' in terms of real (and not just politically-perceived) safety.

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Posted by zardoz on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:29 AM

Overmod

But if you actually read the story, you find out (1) the crew did not respond in any sort of inappropriate manner, and (2) there really wasn't anything they could have done to avoid or, really, mitigate the accident.  The 'dope' was the man on the parked train who didn't line the switch properly, and the story says nothing about any intoxicant other than stupidity.

In other words, the whole issue of drugs here is at best a red herring. 

 

I understand that drugs were not suspected of being a factor in THIS incident. But if someone is so eager to use drugs such that he brings a pipe to work, then it is likely only a matter of time until drugs ARE a contributing factor.

Don't get me wrong; I'm no prude, and I've got no problem with the many forms of relaxation. But dammit, not at work! And not while driving!

   

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:48 AM

zardoz
But if someone is so eager to use drugs such that he brings a pipe to work, then it is likely only a matter of time until drugs ARE a contributing factor.

Who smokes marijuana with a pipe, anyway?  That's usually something far more ... troubling.

My chief irritation is that this story was promoted as a deadly rail crash spurring adoption of safety regulations, but the actual discussion does not address either the deadliness or the appropriate regulations concerning it.  Instead, they gin up yet another argument against them ol' demon drugs (and presumably the second shoe dropping will be more intensive anti-drug measures, probably of exactly the efficacy you or I would predict when applied to railroaders inclined to 'use')

Now, were there to be a story addressing actual, provable accidents attributable to drug use ... or to smoking (I know of at least two serious road accidents that were directly caused by drivers taking their eyes off the road and losing haptic control while fiddling with cigarette lighters to fire up a coffin nail) then I'd have no objection to the rhetoric and all.  And I happen to believe strongly in a zero-tolerance policy for intoxication of any practical kind when 'on duty'.  But to say that drugs were associated with the 'deadliness' of the New Mexico accident is, at best, specious... except as a bully pulpit.

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Posted by gp18 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 11:18 AM

I would sue the unions. They supply the labor, so therefore they are liable for the condition of labor. The railroads provide the high paying jobs and all the union does is blame the railroads for the working conditions. Trade Labor unions train their workers and expects them to perform compentently, else they do not called out of the union hall for work. House unions, ( of which I was in one until I got the hell out and into mangement blames th "Company" for all their problems. It is time for the unions to man up  and support the entity that provides their lucrative employment. 

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:05 PM

Heh.  Feel better now?  I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you never worked for a class 1? 

 

"bow down and lick those boots!"

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Posted by EKR on Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:05 PM

[quote user="gp18"]

"I would sue the unions. They supply the labor, so therefore they are liable for the condition of labor. The railroads provide the high paying jobs and all the union does is blame the railroads for the working conditions. Trade Labor unions train their workers and expects them to perform compentently, else they do not called out of the union hall for work. House unions, ( of which I was in one until I got the hell out and into mangement blames th "Company" for all their problems. It is time for the unions to man up  and support the entity that provides their lucrative employment.  "                                                                                                                                                                                                                         I don't blame the company for anything. Egotistical supervisors such as you are to blame for most of the railroads problems.  

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:23 PM

gp18

Obvious troll is obvious.

Hard to disagree with "mangement" though...

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:13 PM

gp18

I would sue the unions. They supply the labor, so therefore they are liable for the condition of labor. The railroads provide the high paying jobs and all the union does is blame the railroads for the working conditions. Trade Labor unions train their workers and expects them to perform compentently, else they do not called out of the union hall for work. House unions, ( of which I was in one until I got the hell out and into mangement blames th "Company" for all their problems. It is time for the unions to man up  and support the entity that provides their lucrative employment. 

 

Hiring for some companies within some industries may be done through the union halls.  But not railroading.  The only clearing house that lists railroad openings nationwide is the Railroad Retirement Board and those listed openings are for all railroads, union or not, that report those openings.  You don't have to be a union member to get hired.  For the companies that have union shop agreements, you will have to join, but don't have to be a full member.  You can be a "dues objector" where the only membership fee paid is to cover the costs of maintaining the contract that provides for that "lucrative" employment.  

Also, training is provided by the railroad.  Any shortcomings, and the they want to turn people loose with as minimal training as possible, is the railroad's own fault.

SD70dude, Trollin' you say? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-c5o7lUcun8 

Management's latest tool.  If following the rules makes things take longer, threaten people with "malicious rules compliance." 

Jeff

 

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, April 13, 2018 2:06 AM

jeffhergert
Management's latest tool. If following the rules makes things take longer, threaten people with "malicious rules compliance."

I love that one.  Trainmaster in another yard wanted to write up a crew for maliciously complying with restricted speed.  How can you even take a clown like that seriously?  

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, April 13, 2018 8:14 PM

zugmann

 

 
jeffhergert
Management's latest tool. If following the rules makes things take longer, threaten people with "malicious rules compliance."

 

I love that one.  Trainmaster in another yard wanted to write up a crew for maliciously complying with restricted speed.  How can you even take a clown like that seriously?  

 

There was talk a few years ago about someone (I think on the road with black engines and a horse's head) that was disciplined for going too slow at restricted speed.  An arbitrator upheld the discipline.

My run covers a portion of two different divisions.  At the time the following happened, when it came to tying hand brakes on a main track, one division required a sufficient number, the other 10% of the train.  Minimum of 5 on each side.  Our home terminal and most of the run was on the 10% side.  A train tied down at the away from home terminal, the conductor put on 10%.  He got written up (a minor slap on the wrist, but it can start the process to heavier discipline for multiple violations of the same type.) for tying too many hand brakes.  The reasoning being that he might have strained himself, using a brakestick by the way, because he tied maybe twice the number that would be sufficient at that location.  The minimum of 5 would've been more than sufficient there, but he was going by instructions of the superintendent he did most of his work on.  (Since then, the home superintendent has changed instructions to a sufficient number.)  I guess the moral of the story is that they want 100% compliance, but not 110%.

Jeff

  

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:54 AM

jeffhergert
I guess the moral of the story is that they want 100% compliance, but not 110%. Jeff

I thought the moral is "who the hell knows anymore?"

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, April 14, 2018 10:08 AM

jeffhergert

 

 
zugmann

 

 
jeffhergert
Management's latest tool. If following the rules makes things take longer, threaten people with "malicious rules compliance."

 

I love that one.  Trainmaster in another yard wanted to write up a crew for maliciously complying with restricted speed.  How can you even take a clown like that seriously?  

 

 

 

There was talk a few years ago about someone (I think on the road with black engines and a horse's head) that was disciplined for going too slow at restricted speed.  An arbitrator upheld the discipline.

My run covers a portion of two different divisions.  At the time the following happened, when it came to tying hand brakes on a main track, one division required a sufficient number, the other 10% of the train.  Minimum of 5 on each side.  Our home terminal and most of the run was on the 10% side.  A train tied down at the away from home terminal, the conductor put on 10%.  He got written up (a minor slap on the wrist, but it can start the process to heavier discipline for multiple violations of the same type.) for tying too many hand brakes.  The reasoning being that he might have strained himself, using a brakestick by the way, because he tied maybe twice the number that would be sufficient at that location.  The minimum of 5 would've been more than sufficient there, but he was going by instructions of the superintendent he did most of his work on.  (Since then, the home superintendent has changed instructions to a sufficient number.)  I guess the moral of the story is that they want 100% compliance, but not 110%.

Jeff

  

 

Why the differing on two adjacent divisions? Does one have more hills?

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:03 PM

Two different divisions, two different division staff with opinions on how things should be done.

Most divisions count every conventional freight car as one hand brake.  One, that's now governs my home terminal, counts cars equipped with Wabco brake gear as 1/2 of a hand brake for securement purposes.  The hand brake on those cars equipped, tank cars and covered hoppers mostly that I can think of, only tighten the brake on one truck.  (There is no brake rigging between trucks, each truck has it's own air brake piston.)  Although cars equipped with this gear have a plate mounted on the car, the easiest way to check the brake gear is to see where the chain goes from the brake wheel.  If it pulls on the rod coming out of the brake piston, its pulling on rigging that sets both trucks.  If the chain goes directly to the truck, it's only setting one truck.  So 10% may mean 10 brakes on a 100 car train, but you may need to set 20 hand brakes total to achieve that 10%. 

This one division has been that way since I was a conductor, over 14 years ago.  You'ld be surprised how many, including managers, don't know this little provision is there.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, April 14, 2018 1:16 PM

Murphy Siding
Why the differing on two adjacenot divisions? Does one have more hills?

It's their little fifedom, so they need to make special rules.  Otherwise how will anyone know they are an effective leader?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, April 14, 2018 6:07 PM

Overmod
Who smokes marijuana with a pipe, anyway?

One-hit pipes are not uncommon when using high-grade weed or hash.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Sunday, April 15, 2018 7:20 PM

zugmann

It's their little fifedom, so they need to make special rules.  Otherwise how will anyone know they are an effective leader?

Employees who are scared and confused work more efficiently and safely.  Right?

Or am I missing something...

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 15, 2018 9:50 PM

SD70Dude
 
zugmann

It's their little fifedom, so they need to make special rules.  Otherwise how will anyone know they are an effective leader? 

Employees who are scared and confused work more efficiently and safely.  Right?

Or am I missing something...

It was even worse 'back in the day'.  The Division Superintendent was the true 'GOD' of his division.  A Class 1 railroad that had multiple divisions had multiple GOD's and their word on their division was 'law'.  When it came to rules interpertations the Divisions were separated by a common rule book.

         

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Posted by SFbrkmn on Friday, April 20, 2018 11:20 AM

Be nice if the NTSB would be abolished but that will never happen. Just more government meddling into private operate business.

Inward cameras will not save lives or prevent accidents--PTC will. In fact the presense of inside cameras will make communication worse. No one will talk with fellow crewmembers on their train knowing the risk that anything said is being recorded. Condr will step over to eng and whisper in his ear and/or pass notes--just like we did 45 yrs ago in grade school. This is the culture and enviroment we have become glued into. It becomes worse as each yr rolls by. Thankfull just eight yrs of it to go. 

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