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Thought for the Day. (Or a Lifetime.)

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:13 AM

zugmann
To add:  but if a RR has a rule, then the FRA has the authority to enforce it.

But only if it legitimately concerns 'safety', no?

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:22 AM

Overmod
But only if it legitimately concerns 'safety', no?

Any rule from what I've been told. 

Besides - every rule concerns safety.  C'mon now. 

 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 Overmod on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:40 AM

I say that because at least up to recently, for the FRA to 'enforce' a rule means it has to have been passed through the NPRM process and then published in the Federal Register... at which point it would no longer be a 'railroad' rule.

On the other hand they won't complain if a railroad chooses to have more stringent rules of its own... but I don't think FRA inspectors issue notices for those, only for their own.

Of course I would not put it past the nanny state to unilaterally change that, but I didn't think it had happened yet.

And of course you're much closer to the pointy end of Federal inspection practice than I am...

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, April 5, 2021 8:48 AM

Overmod
but I don't think FRA inspectors issue notices for those, only for their own.

They do. 

 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 Monday, April 5, 2021 9:12 AM

jeffhergert

They recently changed the air brake rule to allow cars to be off air for 24 hours before a new air test is required.  It used to be 2 hours, went to 4 hours and now went to 24 hours. 

It's always been 24 hours in Canada. 

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, April 5, 2021 11:08 AM

If you were going to leave 100 loaded tank cars, with air on them, on a 1% grade (*), how many handbrakes would you set?

* Is this even allowed?

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Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, April 5, 2021 1:02 PM

Even before Lac Megantic, our operating instructions stated that "every effort must be made" to avoid leaving trains on a grade greater than 0.7%.  But there has never been any outright prohibition on doing so.  

In Canada if all 100 cars were loaded to their maximum 286,000 lb (143 ton) gross weight, at least 36 handbrakes would be required.  See the chart in rule 112:

https://tc.canada.ca/en/rail-transportation/rules/canadian-rail-operating-rules/switches

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, April 5, 2021 1:27 PM

But some of them are trying to obscure the problem with PSR....Witness the front cover of Progessive Railroading's UP return to service for the customer rag.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by jeffhergert on Monday, April 5, 2021 9:13 PM

Lithonia Operator

If you were going to leave 100 loaded tank cars, with air on them, on a 1% grade (*), how many handbrakes would you set?

* Is this even allowed?

 

A sufficient number.

For a long time they (my road) would issue site specific numbers through the service unit superintendent's bulletins.  Now if you think the instructions would be uniform across the system, you would be wrong. 

The minimum might be expressed in a specific number on one SU and a percentage of total cars on another.  One SU even made the distinction between how the car was equipped.  If it had hand brakes that only applied one truck, some covered hoppers and tank cars, then that car only counted as one half car.  So if you needed 5 brakes applied but only had the single truck brakes, then you would need to tie 10 brakes to comply.

It's happened that a conductor applied the wrong formula, being extra board he worked over a couple of SU's jurisdictions, and applied too many for the territory he was on.  A local manager took exception.  Never mind that he only put 2 or 3 "extra" brakes, that he wasn't trying to be "maliciously" compliant, a manager still took exception.

Now about the only place that has a specific minimum are on yard tracks.  Every place else uses the "sufficient" amount.  Then release all the air brakes (auto and independent) and make sure there is no movement. 

We do have a chart in the Air Brake & Train Handling rules that can be used in places where the normal or "primary" test isn't possible.  The chart takes into consideration grade and tonnage.  You can bet that it errs on the side of safety. 

For 100 loaded tanks, say at about 137 tons each for 13700 tons, on a 1% grade our chart says you need 47 hand brakes.

Jeff  

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Posted by tree68 on Monday, April 5, 2021 9:42 PM

Lithonia Operator
If you were going to leave 100 loaded tank cars, with air on them, on a 1% grade (*), how many handbrakes would you set?

Start with the rules guidance (usually some fixed number, followed by some percentage, then add for special circumstances).  After that, it comes down to what will hold the train, with final determination usually spelled out in the rules (ie, how to test).

LarryWhistling
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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 11:35 AM

The question of how many handbrakes should have been set on the parked oil train outside of Lac Megantic on that fateful night has come up many times.  I think I have seen every conceivable answer.  If there is one definitive and accurate answer, I don’t know how it can be distinguished from all the other answers. 

Supposedly, there is a minimum number in the rules and ultimately a push/pull test must be made to verify that number to be sufficient.  Yet Transport Canada has stated that push/pull tests are unreliable on mountain grades. 

I think the best advice would be not to have parked loaded oil trains at the location at Nantes where the runaway oil train was parked.  Not only is it impossible to be sure a parked train will not run away, but the conditions pertaining to parking at Nantes assured that a runaway would have been disastrous. 

You have a down slope grade extending about 6 miles from Nantes to Lac Megantic.  It is enough distance to allow a runaway to reach its maximum speed by the time it rolls into Lac Megantic. 

Then there is a big curve in Lac Megantic that is sharp enough to derail and pile up any train traveling at that runaway maximum speed.  Finally, any loaded oil train derailing on that curve is sure to breach many cars and bust into a massive fire which the flowing oil will carry to a broad area of the city. 

So once a loaded oil train happens to run away from Nantes, burning up a large portion of Lac Megantic is inevitable. 

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 2:27 PM

Per what Jeff said: 47 is a lot of handbrakes!! Indifferent

In practice, wouldn't it really make a lot more sense to dump the air on that cut? And if you did dump the air, how many handbrakes would you then need, assuming an expected stationary time of 23 hours?

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 2:44 PM

Lithonia Operator
In practice, wouldn't it really make a lot more sense to dump the air on that cut? And if you did dump the air, how many handbrakes would you then need, assuming an expected stationary time of 23 hours?

47

LarryWhistling
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Posted by adkrr64 on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 3:14 PM

Lithonia Operator
In practice, wouldn't it really make a lot more sense to dump the air on that cut? And if you did dump the air, how many handbrakes would you then need, assuming an expected stationary time of 23 hours?

Dumping the air doesn't help you, at least in the long term. Even after the emergency application, the air will eventually bleed off a standing cut of cars without a source of air. It might take a few hours or it might take a few days, depending on equipment and conditions, but they will release eventually.

The whole point of the hand brakes is to hold the train without any air at all. Lac Megantic aside, the correct answer is a "sufficient number". Start with timetable/ brake rules guidance but then one must test the effectiveness before leaving the cut. (I understand there can be situations where testing cannot be performed, but we don't encounter those, and I can't speak to what those conditions might be).

A few years back, we had an AAPRCO special train come on our line. Two Amtrak locomotives and 18 of the prettiest private passenger rail cars you'd want to see. Being Amtrak certified cars, all of them were equippped with disc brakes. Hand brakes on disc brake equipped cars typically have less holding power than cars with the more traditional brake shoes on wheel surface. At the far end of their run, they set hand brakes in preparation for a runaround. At this location, there is a pretty reasonable grade (almost 1%). They started out by setting 10 hand brakes, which was a more than the minimum number by our brake rules. They released the air to test the effectiveness, and the train started to move. All told, if I remember correctly, they ended up setting hand brakes on 15 of the 18 cars before the cut effectively held itself. In that location, with that equipment, the "sufficient number" turned out to be 15 of the 18 cars.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 3:15 PM

Lithonia Operator
Per what Jeff said: 47 is a lot of handbrakes!!

And in a great many situations, that 'lot' is nowhere near enough...

In practice, wouldn't it really make a lot more sense to dump the air on that cut? And if you did dump the air, how many handbrakes would you then need, assuming an expected stationary time of 23 hours?

Do you understand why tree said that answer is still 47?

When the train is standing with the line charged, very little leakage should be observed from the various reservoirs on the cars.  In a proper world, leakage from all the hoses and joints that gives the 3psi loss rule (which pressure maintaining can support) only acts to trigger an eventual application, and in a just world this would become known and action to recover or further secure the train would be taken.

If the brakes have been applied, the pressure air acts as much as it's going to against what may be leaky pistons, balky foundation gear, all sorts of little reasons why high pressure tries to 'seek its own level' at 14.7psia.  And once that silent leaking-off occurs, not only are there no air brakes but no way to tell them to apply further.  Again you fall back on 'required manual securement' to be reasonably safe against problems... except that now you have to pump up the air, test the application and release, etc. in addition.  

The situation as it would have applied at Lac Megantic was that the 'holding' brake application leaked down through the air turbine in the FRED, carefully sized to use just enough air not to trigger an emergency application ... the frog in the water heating up to boiling that never jumps.  You can't predict how long an unattended application or 'set' will 'last', not if you want to ensure the safe course always. 

There is probably a corollary if we were to get some form of power securement.  It would require some relatively reliable indicator of positive engagement, and presumably someone would still have to walk the train to confirm 'passively' that a required amount of securement had engaged even after conducting a push/pull test.  The two advantages I see remaining are that no 'manual labor' in climbing and winding would be normally required, and the person walking the train need not return to the cab after checking to run a securement test; I presume one of the pending 'first best uses' for drones is to run this sort of securement confirmation remotely... provided you didn't contract drone operators with the rubber morals and lacking work ethic exhibited by the SPAF-faking crew of that CSX train at Cayce.  

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 4:53 PM

Profit Slanted Railroading?

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 5:30 PM

charlie hebdo
Profit Slanted Railroading?

Personally I think you're being too easy on the subject.

Profiteer-Slanted Railroadasterism?

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 6:01 PM

Thanks for the explanations, guys.

I was confusing the requirement re time before a new brake test with holding ability.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 7:22 PM

Overmod
 
charlie hebdo
Profit Slanted Railroading? 

Personally I think you're being too easy on the subject. 

Profiteer-Slanted Railroadasterism?

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, April 6, 2021 11:00 PM

When I die, you guys can write this on my tombstone:

"Here lies LO. He got within a hundred miles of understanding railroad brakes."

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 7:54 PM

The chart in the above example says 47.  I'm sure less would hold it, but using the chart is what we call the "secondary" procedure.  The primary procedure would be to tie what you would consider a "sufficient number" and then release both the automatic and independent air brakes.  If the cars/train doesn't move, you've set enough hand brakes.  If they move, you need to tie more brakes.  Repeat. 

The secondary procedure doesn't require the release test.  It's used when the primary procedure isn't practical.  Usually it's because you're cutting away and leaving less cars or mostly empties while taking a larger number or heavier cars with the engines to do the work.  If you come in with 100 cars and are going to cut away the head 75 to take into the yard, the chart allows you to tie enough brakes to only secure the 25 you are leaving by themselves.

Jeff

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:25 PM

Jeff, do you guys always do a push&pull test before leaving the cut? I read about that procedure in threads related to Megantic, but it's not a practice I'd been aware of before that.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 7, 2021 10:30 PM

Lithonia Operator
Jeff, do you guys always do a push&pull test before leaving the cut? I read about that procedure in threads related to Megantic, but it's not a practice I'd been aware of before that.

Professionals want to MAKE SURE what they have tied down - doesn't move.

Those who don't test their work are less than professional.

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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, April 8, 2021 6:33 AM

Lithonia Operator

Jeff, do you guys always do a push&pull test before leaving the cut? I read about that procedure in threads related to Megantic, but it's not a practice I'd been aware of before that.

 

Transportation Safety Board of Canada

Railway Investigation Report R11Q0056

From the report:

“Locomotive engineers who apply hand brakes do not receive any definitive feedback to confirm that sufficient brake shoe force was attained. Furthermore, because it is impossible to verify hand-brake effectiveness by pulling or pushing cars on high grades, locomotive engineers cannot accurately know that management's expectations have been met every time cars are secured in accordance with CROR Rule 112.

Other railway companies in Canada have enhanced CROR Rule 112, on high-grade sections of track, by putting into place procedures detailing the application and the number of hand brakes required. Without specific instructions that take into consideration local conditions, there is a risk of underestimating the number of hand brakes required to secure a train on a steep grade such as between Bybee and Tika and consequently other trains could run away.” 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, April 8, 2021 7:32 PM

IMO the only way to completely prevent run aways off sidings that are often used to tie down trains is;

1.  The downhill side will have a split rail derail protected by a berm.

2.  Have it always open but be a Spring  Switch.  That way a  train can pass thru the SS up hill and tie down from the loco towards rear.  If train starts down hill it will go thru the open derail into an embankment.

The frog would be a high speed for regular travel with the derail side being a jump type.

4.  If the siding access is by a powered switch then the derail can also be powered in coordination with the main track switch.

Parking on a main ?  No easy  solution unless the  tie downs almost always have the loco facing a split  rail derail.. The loco crew could open the split rail after  tying down the brakes and making pull test. 

Some expense ?  Yes but the consequences of a major Haz Nat axxident more expense. RRs might not do anything unless their insurance carriers intervene. 

  

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 8, 2021 11:15 PM

Lithonia Operator

Jeff, do you guys always do a push&pull test before leaving the cut? I read about that procedure in threads related to Megantic, but it's not a practice I'd been aware of before that.

 

We don't do the push/pull test.  We release the automatic and independent air brakes and check for movement.  After a few minutes. if nothing moves we set the air brakes back up and we're good.  If it moves, set up the air and tie more brakes and repeat the test.  Repeat until it doesn't move with everything (air) released.

If the securement is done using the chart (secondary sercurement) then we don't do the release test.  The chart has a margin of safety built into it.  The chart will show tying more brakes than would actually be needed because you aren't doing the release test.  

Jeff

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, April 9, 2021 1:02 PM

jeffhergert
We don't do the push/pull test.  We release the automatic and independent air brakes and check for movement. 

We do the same.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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