Drunken CSX engineer and CSX [are] at fault

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Posted by MP173 on Thursday, September 17, 2020 4:39 PM

I went to the report website and scanned thru several documents...makes for interesting reading.  I did read the entire interview with the engineer and conductor of H702 and most of the dispatcher interview along with interview of the Q314 (sand train) engineer.

Several interesting points....H702 was a local running from Columbus to Williard - it was 11,000 ft long local with distributed power making a set off of 30 cars at Carey...from the rear.  The conductor was not in the cab at the time of the collision but was 2 miles back assisting another train with a set out.  A railroad provided van was to take the conductor to the head end, rather than having to walk 10,000 feet (after set off).  Conductor states had he been in the locomotive there would not have been an accident.

H702 was also running with distributed power with the 2nd unit 94 cars deep.  Locals with DP?  

Portable radio was not effective 11,000 ft from locomotive.

Q314 engineer indicated the H702 had bright lights on and he blinked his several times in order to have H702 turn off lights or dim the lights.  Nothing.  H702 engineer "doesnt recall anything" after pulling away.

After urine samples were taken at the hospital, the seals were broken from the containers in order to take blood samples.  Sloppy.

The H702 engineer got bumped up to take this train.  One can speculate that he got caught drinking when he thought he would not be reporting for duty until much later.  Still...a .11 test several hours after the accident?  

Blaming EHH after he was dead seems editorial content by the NSTB but I can only speculate.  Wasnt there (thank goodness).

Ed

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Posted by Convicted One on Thursday, September 17, 2020 4:05 PM

In contrast, back in the 1970's I had a couple friends who worked at a local brewery. The official policy was that no one cared if you drank on the job, but if you fell down, you had to go home for the remainder of the day...without pay.

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Posted by Convicted One on Thursday, September 17, 2020 3:59 PM

BaltACD
It is easy to 'preach' that the Conductor should have done something (and he should); however, human nature begins to intruded upon the equation where a junior individual is extremely hesitant to take actions against the senior individual.

Agree completely!  I think there is usually some concern for possible retaliation floating around in the head of the junior employee, as well.  When you are trying your best to "fit it", picking up a jacket as a snitch seldom seems like a good idea.

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Posted by Overmod on Thursday, September 17, 2020 3:52 PM

This is why there's no mystery about why RedBoard was a union-administered program, and why I think personal safety and awareness training should likewise be union-administered and overseen (although underwritten with railroad financial support).  Unless there is some reasonable way to encourage sobriety and, when it is not present, ensure 'the safe course is taken' without having to become a snitch or a weed weasel in the eyes of other employees, problems like this become an ugly race to expulsion-from-school-for-having-an-aspirin-tablet kind of enforcement, probably backed up as these things usually are by pressure or enticement on the insurance industry.  What a fun world it would be with inward-facing cameras and a breathalyzer coupled to the alerter system that periodically 'random scans' consists over the PTC network and prompts everyone in the cab to blow into the device within 45 seconds to avoid a penalty brake... and stops the train if excessive alcohol is detected.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, September 17, 2020 3:39 PM

Shadow the Cats owner
...

Luckily my husband had a trainee with him that could take the truck over and following my husband make the delivery on time.  However it still looked bad for the carrier that a driver got nailed for a DUI.  It is called failure to speak up when you know someone has a problem.  Sorry but especially when your in control of 15K tons and haul some of the most toxic stuff on rails if your coworkers have a problem SPEAK UP and either get them the help they need or get them off these trains before another accident like this happens.  This is what the second time a railroad employee has done stupid crap like this in just over 30 years.  First we had the Chase MD crash now this one.  

It is far from the second, it is just the most recent.

That being said, in the cab hierarchy - The Engineer is normally the oldest employee in both age and seniority with the carrier.  The Conductor is less senior and in many cases not the far removed from walking into the railroad from some other endeavor.  It is easy to 'preach' that the Conductor should have done something (and he should); however, human nature begins to intruded upon the equation where a junior individual is extremely hesitant to take actions against the senior individual.  This hesitancy in the 'chain of command' has been the cause of numerous incidents in all forms of transportation as well as in the normal conduct of human life.

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Posted by Shadow the Cats owner on Thursday, September 17, 2020 2:23 PM

My husband was in a safety sensative job for years.  At one carrier he always was the one that got popped it seemed for the random drug tests at least once a quarter.  Why they knew he could pass them.  While certain other drivers that he knew could not have passed one where given free passes to keep right on driving.  He flat out remembers one night in NV.  He and another driver stopped at Wendover to get a bite to eat lose a few bucks at the casino there and sleep then move on in the morning for CA for their delivery that next day.  Well the driver that he was running across NV was hammering Gentleman Jack's finest all night long at the table.  Yet the next morning less than 6 hours later coming back to his truck was ready to drive almost 600 miles to make his deliver that next morning.  That was until my husband called the safety department and turned this other driver in for his actions.  To say that driver lost his job was an understatement.  Luckily my husband had a trainee with him that could take the truck over and following my husband make the delivery on time.  However it still looked bad for the carrier that a driver got nailed for a DUI.  It is called failure to speak up when you know someone has a problem.  Sorry but especially when your in control of 15K tons and haul some of the most toxic stuff on rails if your coworkers have a problem SPEAK UP and either get them the help they need or get them off these trains before another accident like this happens.  This is what the second time a railroad employee has done stupid crap like this in just over 30 years.  First we had the Chase MD crash now this one.  

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Thursday, September 17, 2020 1:37 PM

   Thanks, Jeff.  I kept thinking it had something to do with switching a cut of cars, but I see it's a different kind of switch.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, September 17, 2020 12:17 PM

A "hard" cut out of the PTC is throwing three toggle switches, which are sealed, to the cut out position.  This disconnects completely the PTC system.  It's only done when instructed, usually because the system failure is bad enough that it won't let the engineer recover from a penalty brake application after all other remedies have failed.  

A "soft" cut out disengages the enforcement but doesn't lose the trip information programmed in when the engineer first initialized PTC.  The restricted speed option does the same, but retains enforcement of restricted speed only.  At first, a soft cut out was the only option available when making switching moves.

When re-engaging PTC from either disengaged mode requires the engineer to review the initial trip information and edit any changes before PTC can be engaged.

The trip information is: train type, engines, their status and their position in the train, loads, empties, trailing tonnage, length, number of axles, and equipment speed.  All this is needed for the system to calculate braking distances.

Jeff

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Posted by chicagorails on Thursday, September 17, 2020 8:38 AM
Program Harrison started all class 1 rrs following
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 11:30 PM

The actual NTSB preliminary report is RRD19FR010, and the PDF is available here:

https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/AccidentReports/Reports/RRD19FR010-preliminary.pdf

The board meeting on September 15th associated with the Carey accident, complete with links and archive access, has this page:

https://www.ntsb.gov/news/events/Pages/2020-RRD19FR010-BMG.aspx

And here is the docket with testimony and materials.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:46 PM

Electroliner 1935

So I can believe the conductor did not know his engineer was under the influence. But was he awake? How could not have seen the stop signal that his engineer did not brake for? He is obligated to be alert and responsible. I have not seen his statement as to what he saw and did or did not do.

 

According to the article linked, the conductor was not in the train at the time-

"After switching was completed, the conductor remained on the ground and planned to ride a railroad shuttle van to a nearby grade crossing to reboard the train. The engineer proceeded ahead alone..."

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:36 PM

adkrr64

 

 
zugmann
jeffhergert
Either use that or a soft cut out when making switching (picking up and/or setting out cars) moves off the main track.

PTC just was not designed for switching moves. It's an A-> B system for road/passenger trains.  Very little thought was given for trains that have to do railroadey stuff in between.  But my personal opinion is very little thought was given to many apsects of it.

 

What is meant by the term "soft cut"?

 

   I second the question.

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:26 PM

n012944

 

 
charlie hebdo

 

And just to clarify for n01---. I never said that engineer was not responsible.

 

 

The title to the thread you started.  

"Drunken CSX engineer and CSX at fault"

 You never said anything about the engineer being responsible for his actions.  Just a click bait thread title, and trying to somehow link this to the UP employee trying to bing his thearpy dog to work.

 

   Apparently you read this as a compound sentence: two statements anded together.  I never saw it that way.  I saw one statement with two subjects anded together.  The engineer and CSX both at fault.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:16 PM

I'm also curious about what the conductor was doing. If someone knows how to find such things, could you post a link to the NTSB report?

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 10:09 PM

SD70Dude
This Engineer was quite obviously drunk at work and may have been consuming additional alcohol.  That's on him, not CSX, and certainly not Hunter Harrison, which is not what I intended to imply.  I was simply referencing the NTSB's statements in their report to make a joke along with Schlimm's line about the dog.

I think it is quite possible that the Conductor did not notice the Engineer's state, many alcoholics are quite good at hiding themselves.  Perhaps the Engineer consumed additional alcohol in the cab after the Conductor went outside to do their switching. 

It is equally possible that the Conductor noticed the Engineer's state and decided not to report it, hoping that they would get through the trip and he would not have to live with the consequences of having gotten a co-worker fired. 

We don't have random workplace drug testing in Canada, yet.  There is a long running court battle between oil giant Suncor and their unions over this issue at one of the Fort McMurray area oilsands plants, and while it has not been completely resolved yet I think random drug testing will eventually be legalized here, in some way, shape or form.

Back when I was in college, I had a job working on lighting and film projection at one of the auditoriums. The man in charge was a former Pullman Conductor. Campus was "DRY". Yeh. I watched him drink multiple tumblers of vodka and could not detect any change in his mood, actions or anything. And I was looking. My dad had had issues with alcohol and I was not one who drank. While on one of my work sections with the PRR, I had gone to dinner with the brass and they drank. When we left the restaurant, I was concerned and somewhat fearful of asking but I did ask if it was acceptable for me to drive the company car back to the motel. Fortunatly, they agreed. When I came to Chicago to start work, I went to a bar and had two (2) beers. I felt like my brain was floating inside my skull. Didn't like that feeling and have never been drunk. I like being able to think. Never have understood why some want to get "wasted" to the point they can't remember what they did. 

So I can believe the conductor did not know his engineer was under the influence. But was he awake? How could not have seen the stop signal that his engineer did not brake for? He is obligated to be alert and responsible. I have not seen his statement as to what he saw and did or did not do.

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Posted by chicagorails on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 9:34 PM

Did union contracts keep out some drug testing? Me was in unions 30 yrs,3 diff

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 9:32 PM

BaltACD

 

 
charlie hebdo
How did Red Block work? What did it do to employees turned in? 

 

In crew rooms and all other On Duty points there was a poster posted with a number to be call for a Red Block coordinator.  Once the Red Block coordinator was notified - they would inform the employee of the actions to take to 'Mark Off Red Block' with the responsible party (in the case of T&E employees that would be the Crew Callers).  The Red Block coordinator would then contact a substance abuse councilor with the appropriate information concerning the employee.  

From the company's viewpoint - they WOULD NOT persue disciplinary actions against a employee that marked off Red Block.  Needless to say the employees work record would contain the occurrence of the Red Block mark off.

I have no idea of what if any further actions would take place between the Red Block coordinator, the substance abuse councilor and the employee.

In many cases the Red Block coordinators were employees that had overcome their own substance demons in the past and could knowledgably communicate with the employee in need of the Red Block mark off.

 

Thanks.  I recall the degree of confidentiality required by certified substance abuse counselors is high, but I am not so sure about EAP coordinators. It's a treatment area with a pretty low success rate (recovering). 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 9:19 PM

This is pretty off-topic but ...

SALfan, were the plastic bottles used to keep rain off the grain ends, and therefore prolong the life of the fence posts?

 

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Posted by SALfan on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:36 PM

CMStPnP

 CMStPnP has it right.  When I was a teenager, had older relatives who I was around somewhat regularly who were rarely sober past noon, or even at noon.  Not that I was the greatest observer, but I could never be sure when they were drinking.  When one of them was in a good mood, it was a pretty safe bet he was drinking, but that was the only indication I ever had.  Between the three of them (my father wasn't one of the three), they emptied enough good heavy-gauge plastic whiskey bottles for my father to cut them in half and put them over the tops of many, many wooden fence posts.  My father just asked them to throw their empties over a particular stretch of fence next to the dirt road they regularly traveled, and they did.  

 
Psychot

Strange that the conductor didn't notice the engineer was intoxicated.

 

So with some people it is not like a Foster Brooks act.    They are very good at hiding intoxication  and you cannot really tell the difference between sober and drunk.    Plus his percentages were below .10 which makes concealment easier.    You have to be falling down drunken stupor with a professional alcholic usually before people notice and usually professional alcholics do not take it that far.   Roughly the same with some habitual cocaine users.   Had cocaine users in the Army in the 1980's and aside from the overdose in caffine jitteriness and bloodshot eyes (you had to be close).    You really could not tell they were on drugs.   That is why random and unannounced testing programs in the Army are used...........and it seemed every single time they had one conducted across a Bn of 500 men..........they netted a few drug users each time.     They had them at least once a quarter.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:25 PM

charlie hebdo
How did Red Block work? What did it do to employees turned in? 

In crew rooms and all other On Duty points there was a poster posted with a number to be call for a Red Block coordinator.  Once the Red Block coordinator was notified - they would inform the employee of the actions to take to 'Mark Off Red Block' with the responsible party (in the case of T&E employees that would be the Crew Callers).  The Red Block coordinator would then contact a substance abuse councilor with the appropriate information concerning the employee.  

From the company's viewpoint - they WOULD NOT persue disciplinary actions against a employee that marked off Red Block.  Needless to say the employees work record would contain the occurrence of the Red Block mark off.

I have no idea of what if any further actions would take place between the Red Block coordinator, the substance abuse councilor and the employee.

In many cases the Red Block coordinators were employees that had overcome their own substance demons in the past and could knowledgably communicate with the employee in need of the Red Block mark off.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:05 PM

How did Red Block work? What did it do to employees turned in? 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:00 PM

charlie hebdo
Nobody likes being a "narc" and that is why effective random testing is necessary. 

That is also why 'Red Block' was developed  - so fellow employees didn't have to be a Narc and turn the offender into the company.  While Red Block is company suppored - Red Block records are not to be made available to the company.  Never having to resort to Red Block for myself or for any employees I was responsible for - I don't know how accurate my prior statement about 'available' is in fact.

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Posted by adkrr64 on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 7:51 PM

zugmann
jeffhergert
Either use that or a soft cut out when making switching (picking up and/or setting out cars) moves off the main track.

PTC just was not designed for switching moves. It's an A-> B system for road/passenger trains.  Very little thought was given for trains that have to do railroadey stuff in between.  But my personal opinion is very little thought was given to many apsects of it.

What is meant by the term "soft cut"?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 6:38 PM

Nobody likes being a "narc" and that is why effective random testing is necessary. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 6:30 PM

SD70Dude
It is equally possible that the Conductor noticed the Engineer's state and decided not to report it, hoping that they would get through the trip and he would not have to live with the consequences of having gotten a co-worker fired.

I suspect this is what happened. Nobody likes a rat, even if "ratting" is the correct and responsible thing to do. The conductor would have to live with his co-workers. He'd also have to worry about reprisal from the engineer; maybe he's someone prone to get violent.

I once was in a situation when something really wrong happened (luckily, very luckily, without serious consequences) on the railroad because of shared errors by at least three guys. I lied to help cover it up. I never even considered reporting it. I liked most of the railroaders, and most of the management types were complete jerks.

Of course, in my case it was "no harm, no foul."

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 6:23 PM

jeffhergert
Either use that or a soft cut out when making switching (picking up and/or setting out cars) moves off the main track.

We can't even THINK of making a soft cut out without offical permission.  That's what restricted mode is for, but it sounds like they want to severely restrict (heh) when you can use restricted mode.  

PTC just was not designed for switching moves. It's an A-> B system for road/passenger trains.  Very little thought was given for trains that have to do railroadey stuff in between.  But my personal opinion is very little thought was given to many apsects of it. 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 6:18 PM

n012944
Oh, called out so you must resorting to talking down to me?  Shocked I am, just shocked.    

I really didn't see where anyone is excusing the engineer.  From the article:  

"The probable cause of the Aug. 12 collision, the board found, was the engineer’s alcohol impairment. A contributing factor: The design of the positive train control system, which does not prevent collisions when it is set in the restricted mode that permits switching moves."

 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 5:03 PM

This Engineer was quite obviously drunk at work and may have been consuming additional alcohol.  That's on him, not CSX, and certainly not Hunter Harrison, which is not what I intended to imply.  I was simply referencing the NTSB's statements in their report to make a joke along with Schlimm's line about the dog.

I think it is quite possible that the Conductor did not notice the Engineer's state, many alcoholics are quite good at hiding themselves.  Perhaps the Engineer consumed additional alcohol in the cab after the Conductor went outside to do their switching. 

It is equally possible that the Conductor noticed the Engineer's state and decided not to report it, hoping that they would get through the trip and he would not have to live with the consequences of having gotten a co-worker fired. 

We don't have random workplace drug testing in Canada, yet.  There is a long running court battle between oil giant Suncor and their unions over this issue at one of the Fort McMurray area oilsands plants, and while it has not been completely resolved yet I think random drug testing will eventually be legalized here, in some way, shape or form.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 4:51 PM

rdamon
A known negative results in less paperwork.

Did the conductor know and not say anything?

A outside company sends their representative to perform the testing - company and testee get notified of the results.  The company performing the testing has the same amount of paperwork no matter the results.

Hate to say it - I have been around individuals that were more dangerous sober than they were blowing above the legal limit - no matter what that limit was.

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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, September 16, 2020 4:02 PM

A known negative results in less paperwork.

Did the conductor know and not say anything?

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