Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, February 02, 2018 8:08 PM

Milepost 19 is a mystery because the latest NTSB report makes no mention of it, nor do they mention whether the engineer said he did, or did not recall seeing it.  Yet milepost 19 was the last resort, so to speak.  It was the last chance for the engineer to realize where he was by referring to a milepost.  Milepost 19 is the most critical of all mileposts.  It was .2 miles beyond where the engineer had planned to begin braking, but still far enough ahead of the curve to allow the train to slow down to 30 mph before reaching the curve. 

So how the NTSB can fail to mention milepost 19 is beyond me.  It seems obvious that the engineer also missed seeing milepost 19 in addition to missing milepost 18, and the advance warning sign at mile distance 17.8.

In any case, the engineer sped past mile distance 19, apparently still believing that he had not yet reached milepost 18.  Next, he arrived at the 30 mph curve traveling at 80 mph.

Therefore, the engineer, while depending on mileposts to know his location, passed milepost 17 and ran 2.8 miles further than milepost 17 while perceiving that he had not run more than one mile past milepost 17.  How do you run 2.8 miles and perceive the time it takes to be less time than you perceive that it takes to run one mile? 

There must have been something wrong with his internal alarm clock that Balt mentioned.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Friday, February 02, 2018 8:46 PM

Euclid

 

 

Rather than getting your pants in a bunch over me repeating the phase, “navigating by milepost,” why don’t you spend your energy on understanding my meaning?

Here is what Balt said, and I agree 100% with his points here.  I think I am saying about the same thing that Balt said. So why are you not jumping on his case like you jump on mine


 

 

 

     BaltACD is a retired railroader. His experience, his knowledge and his opinions are well respected on this forum. I understand what he says. I believe he has the backgound to back up what he is saying. He is an asset to this forum. You sir, are no BaltACD

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, February 02, 2018 9:22 PM

Okay fine, I see how that works.Coffee

Got it.  I am no BaltACD.  Others may be BaltACDs, but I am not one of those. 

 

 

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, February 02, 2018 9:32 PM

When the engineer says he does not recall passing milepost 18 or the advance warning sign, it is natural to assume that means that he never saw, identified, and assimilated those markers as he passed by them.   However, the fact may be that he did see and assimilate those marker points, but has had a loss of memory since the experience.  So he would now say that he does not recall seeing those marker points as he passed them. That would be similar to Engineer Bostian losing memory of the details of approaching the fatal curve in the Philadelphia wreck. 

So this Amtrak engineer may have fully seen and idenditifed mileposts 18 and 19, and also the advance warning sign; but has since forgotten seeing them due to some type of memory loss resulting from the derailment. 

It would take a lot of intense questioning of the engineer going far beyond just asking him if he remembered passing certain marker points.  For instance, it would be helpful to ask the engineer if he can recall anything that might explain why he does not remember passing milepost 18.  For instance, can he recall that he was answering a question asked by the conductor trainee in the cab with him? And was this around the time he probably would have passed milepost 18?  Maybe there was some other type of small distraction that he can recall. 

Otherwise, if nothing like that happened, then it seems hard to explain why he would have missed the milepost when he was intently looking for it.  Identifying the point where he had to begin slowing for the curve was deadly critical.  And that was only 8/10ths of a mile beyond milepost 18.  It should be obvious that if you miss that, the train is doomed. 

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Saturday, February 03, 2018 8:40 AM

Euclid
Milepost 19 is a mystery because the latest NTSB report makes no mention of it, nor do they mention whether the engineer said he did, or did not recall seeing it.

Why should it be a mystery?

Quote from latest NTSB press release: The engineer said that he did see the wayside signal at milepost 19.8 (at the accident curve) but mistook it for another signal, which was north of the curve.

The signal distance should be more than a mile. Braking distance for signalling purposes is about 1.16 miles according to Caltrans.

The signal before that at MP19.8 would have been between MP17 and MP18. Ergo he didn't recognize the MP19.

Why should NTSB express it explicitly?
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, February 03, 2018 8:56 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
 
Euclid
Milepost 19 is a mystery because the latest NTSB report makes no mention of it, nor do they mention whether the engineer said he did, or did not recall seeing it.

 

Why should it be a mystery?

Quote from latest NTSB press release: The engineer said that he did see the wayside signal at milepost 19.8 (at the accident curve) but mistook it for another signal, which was north of the curve.

The signal distance should be more than a mile. Braking distance for signalling purposes is about 1.16 miles according to Caltrans.

The signal before that at MP19.8 would have been between MP17 and MP18. Ergo he didn't recognize the MP19.

Why should NTSB express it explicitly?
Regards, Volker

 

But did he not pass milepost 19?  Was there a milepost 19?

If there was a milepost 19, and if the engineer saw it, he would have realized that he had missed milepost 18 and was ahead of where he thought he was.  Therefore, spotting milepost 19 would have saved the day by telling the engineer to immediately start braking to reach 30 mph within the next 8/10th mile.  So, milepost 19 was the most critical milepost of all.  Yet, the NTSB did not say anything about asking the engineer whether he saw milepost 19.  That is the mystery I am referring to.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:25 AM

Euclid

Okay fine, I see how that works.Coffee

Got it.  I am no BaltACD.  Others may be BaltACDs, but I am not one of those. 

 

 

 

  And I agree 100% with your point here.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:29 AM

Murphy Siding
And I agree 100% with your point here.

I do, too.  Coffee is good.

 

That's the point, right?

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

Are we evil or good? Do we walk the fine line - That we'd cross if we could?


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Posted by Jim200 on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:46 AM

Euclid

Milepost 19 is a mystery because the latest NTSB report makes no mention of it, nor do they mention whether the engineer said he did, or did not recall seeing it.  Yet milepost 19 was the last resort, so to speak.  It was the last chance for the engineer to realize where he was by referring to a milepost.  Milepost 19 is the most critical of all mileposts.  It was .2 miles beyond where the engineer had planned to begin braking, but still far enough ahead of the curve to allow the train to slow down to 30 mph before reaching the curve. 

So how the NTSB can fail to mention milepost 19 is beyond me.  It seems obvious that the engineer also missed seeing milepost 19 in addition to missing milepost 18, and the advance warning sign at mile distance 17.8.

In any case, the engineer sped past mile distance 19, apparently still believing that he had not yet reached milepost 18.  Next, he arrived at the 30 mph curve traveling at 80 mph.

Therefore, the engineer, while depending on mileposts to know his location, passed milepost 17 and ran 2.8 miles further than milepost 17 while perceiving that he had not run more than one mile past milepost 17.  How do you run 2.8 miles and perceive the time it takes to be less time than you perceive that it takes to run one mile? 

There must have been something wrong with his internal alarm clock that Balt mentioned.

 

Milepost 19 is indeed very important, and after a month, we still don't know if there was one. Using Google's distance marker, I was able to determine where mp19 should be, since I knew from Google's street side view the location of mp18. After mp19 the train would have gone under the Nisqually Rd bridge, and the engineer would have seen the wayside signal at mp19.8 and now think he was at the previous wayside signal. As far as I can determine, the previous wayside signal was on the north side of the 41st Division Dr. grade crossing, but there may have been something in the DuPont yard which I did not see.

After the 41st Division Dr. crossing comes mp16, mp17, and the Clark Rd grade crossing, which along with checking the locomotive display or some other distraction could have messed up his "internal alarm clock". Then there is the question of what was his previous "internal alarm clock" which he had from his three to five southbound trips and his one southbound run. We have not been told the speed of any of this training. Was it 40 mph? Was it 30mph? If the training was at one of these slower speeds, then the 45 seconds between mileposts at 80mph would increase to 90 seconds or 120 seconds at these slower speeds.

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Saturday, February 03, 2018 9:59 AM

Euclid
But did he not pass milepost 19? Was there a milepost 19? If there was a milepost 19, and if the engineer saw it, he would have realized that he had missed milepost 18 and was ahead of where he thought he was. Therefore, spotting milepost 19 would have saved the day by telling the engineer to immediately start braking to reach 30 mph within the next 8/10th mile. So, milepost 19 was the most critical milepost of all. Yet, the NTSB did not say anything about asking the engineer whether he saw milepost 19. That is the mystery I am referring to.

As I said there is no mystery. When he said he mistook the signal at MP19.8 for one that was at best between MP17 and MP18 it should be clear to everyone that he didn't see MP19. At least it seemed to be clear to NTSB. If he had seen the MP19 he couldn't have mistaken the MP19.8 signal for one between MP17 and MP18.

Why all the ifs? He clearly didn't see MP19.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, February 03, 2018 10:26 AM

I’m no BaltACD, but it seems to me that the critical nature of the engineer knowing where he was in approach to the curve would require more than just relying on an internal alarm clock.  The problem with just spotting mileposts is that you might miss one and not realize it.  So why not use the odometer to count distance traveled between mileposts? 

That way when you pass milepost 17, and see it; you watch the odometer count out the next mile and look for milepost 18 as the odometer approaches one mile past milepost 17. 

That way, if the odometer passes one mile and you have not seen milepost 18 go by, then you know you have missed it.  If that had happened in this case, it would have been prudent for the engineer to begin slowing down right after the odometer counted out one mile past MP 18 and no MP 18 was observed. 

But instead he relied on his internal alarm clock to anticipate each mile.  But he ran 2.8 miles and went into the ditch at 80 mph because his internal alarm clock never went off.  Maybe he had an internal snooze button. 

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Posted by VOLKER LANDWEHR on Saturday, February 03, 2018 11:36 AM

Euclid
But instead he relied on his internal alarm clock to anticipate each mile. But he ran 2.8 miles and went into the ditch at 80 mph because his internal alarm clock never went off. Maybe he had an internal snooze button.

When do you accept that we don't know what he did or what he relied on. All your what if can't undo the accident.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, February 03, 2018 11:38 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
 
Euclid
But instead he relied on his internal alarm clock to anticipate each mile. But he ran 2.8 miles and went into the ditch at 80 mph because his internal alarm clock never went off. Maybe he had an internal snooze button.

 

When do you accept that we don't know what he did or what he relied on. All your what if can't undo the accident.
Regards, Volker

 

I am just looking at the possibilities to understand how the accident might have occurred.  I do not expect to undo the accident. 

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Saturday, February 03, 2018 1:09 PM

Euclid
I am just looking at the possibilities to understand how the accident might have occurred.

 
Inadequate training, unfamiliarity with route, inattention, speed, sharp curve.
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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 03, 2018 1:26 PM

Euclid
I do not expect to undo the accident.

What a let down.

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

Are we evil or good? Do we walk the fine line - That we'd cross if we could?


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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, February 03, 2018 4:26 PM

LithoniaOperator

 

 
Euclid
I am just looking at the possibilities to understand how the accident might have occurred.

 

 
Inadequate training, unfamiliarity with route, inattention, speed, sharp curve.
 

I agree with the above. My question is where was supervision on the first revenue trip for this service ?

According to the record this engineer has minimal experience. This engineer along with Brandon Bostian are also 'victims'. They are victims of Amtrak's hiring and inadequate training procedures. Amtrak has the unknowing teaching the unknowing and nowhere is it more obvious than in the recent disasters.

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Posted by LithoniaOperator on Saturday, February 03, 2018 8:49 PM

I’m with you. I know nothing about Amtrak’s training practices. But I seem to be learning . . .

There definitely should have been supervision for each engineer for the first few revenue runs in each direction. The lawsuit settlements will make the cost of such supervision look like chicken feed.

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, February 04, 2018 9:57 AM

In reference to Amtrak's inadequate training program I quote Chairman Mao.

" All genuine knowledge originates in direct experience".

Railroad operations cannot be taught in the classroom. The operating rules may be taught in the classroom but the territory must be experienced by on-the-job training. Sadly Amtrak has squandered it's vital resource the veteran operations personnel.

Another disaster has befallen an Amtrak train it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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