News Wire: Two dead after Amtrak's 'Silver Star' makes contact with a CSX train and derails

4473 views
86 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
Moderator
  • Member since
    January, 2011
  • From: Wisconsin
  • 844 posts
Posted by Brian Schmidt on Sunday, February 04, 2018 7:54 AM

COLUMBIA, S.C. — At least two people are dead and dozens are injured after Amtrak’s Silver Star “came in contact” with a CSX Transportation freight train in the pre-dawn hours Sunday morning. In a statement on its website, A...

http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2018/02/04-two-dead-after-amtrak-silver-star-contacts-csx-train-and-derails 

Brian Schmidt, Associate Editor Trains Magazine

  • Member since
    February, 2018
  • 9 posts
Posted by Pottsburg on Sunday, February 04, 2018 7:56 AM
Well I bet they have a few questions for the dispatcher, and you can forget about RRs getting the PTC deadline pushed further back again.
  • Member since
    December, 2017
  • 139 posts
Posted by LithoniaOperator on Sunday, February 04, 2018 8:36 AM

One brief video I saw makes it appear to be a very violent head-on collision. Terrible. I am guessing the deaths are head-end crew. Very sad to see this.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 1,100 posts
Posted by ROBERT WILLISON on Sunday, February 04, 2018 9:13 AM

My heart and prays go out to the victims. Too bad the baggage car was not behind the locomotive, could provide some buffer in case of a derailment. Hopefully ptc will help resolve some of these accidents making it safer for all aboard .

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Sunday, February 04, 2018 10:00 AM

Very substantial initial impact, judging by compression buckling of the leading visible passenger car.  Note the substantial damage to the CSX freight power but seemingly minimal damage to the visible side of the Amtrak locomotive.

This is being extensively covered in 'General Discussion', where BaltACD posted it earlier.  That is likely the place for continued discussion if we want to avoid a multiple-thread 'fork' -- moderators might consider moving that thread to this subforum in place of this one.

  • Member since
    September, 2014
  • 20 posts
Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Sunday, February 04, 2018 11:17 AM

" ... The CSX train was stationary, Mr. McMaster said, and appeared to be on the correct track. “It appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track, ... ” he said." NYT

As I understand engineers do not determine which track they are on. Would this be an error from the central control?

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • 4,543 posts
Posted by Euclid on Sunday, February 04, 2018 12:23 PM

Overmod
Very substantial initial impact, judging by compression buckling of the leading visible passenger car.  Note the substantial damage to the CSX freight power but seemingly minimal damage to the visible side of the Amtrak locomotive.

Impact speed has been reported to have been 59 mph.  I see considerable jacknifing in the Amtrak train.  It has also been reported that several freight cars are heavily damaged.  The front portion of the Amtrak locomotive has been completely torn off. 

The Amtrak train was on the wrong track, which has been referred to as a "side track."

Nobody was on board the freight train at the time of the collision.

59 mph on a side track ??

  • Member since
    May, 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 11,824 posts
Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, February 04, 2018 1:15 PM

Euclid

 

 
Overmod
Very substantial initial impact, judging by compression buckling of the leading visible passenger car.  Note the substantial damage to the CSX freight power but seemingly minimal damage to the visible side of the Amtrak locomotive.

 

Impact speed has been reported to have been 59 mph.  I see considerable jacknifing in the Amtrak train.  It has also been reported that several freight cars are heavily damaged.  The front portion of the Amtrak locomotive has been completely torn off. 

The Amtrak train was on the wrong track, which has been referred to as a "side track."

Nobody was on board the freight train at the time of the collision.

59 mph on a side track ??

 

It should be obvious that part about being on the wrong track were the words of the Governor of South Carolina speaking unofficially, not the report from the NTSB. Perhaps you'd want to just jump right in and divine what the governor was thinking in the moments leading up to that statement.

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • 4,543 posts
Posted by Euclid on Sunday, February 04, 2018 1:38 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
Euclid

 

 
Overmod
Very substantial initial impact, judging by compression buckling of the leading visible passenger car.  Note the substantial damage to the CSX freight power but seemingly minimal damage to the visible side of the Amtrak locomotive.

 

Impact speed has been reported to have been 59 mph.  I see considerable jacknifing in the Amtrak train.  It has also been reported that several freight cars are heavily damaged.  The front portion of the Amtrak locomotive has been completely torn off. 

The Amtrak train was on the wrong track, which has been referred to as a "side track."

Nobody was on board the freight train at the time of the collision.

59 mph on a side track ??

 

 

 

It should be obvious that part about being on the wrong track were the words of the Governor of South Carolina speaking unofficially, not the report from the NTSB. Perhaps you'd want to just jump right in and divine what the governor was thinking in the moments leading up to that statement.

 

 

Of course it was not a report from the NTSB.  It is way too early for them.  When I said it has been reported that the impact speed was 59 mph, the assertion that the train was on the wrong track was also reported.  If it turns out wrong, so be it.  You'll get over it. 

  • Member since
    January, 2014
  • 4,543 posts
Posted by Euclid on Sunday, February 04, 2018 1:45 PM

From NBC:

"The Amtrak train, according to sources, was given verbal approval by CSX dispatch to proceed down a set of tracks. But the switch on those tracks was on the wrong position, sending the Amtrak train into a CSX train which was sitting still, pulled off to the side."

  • Member since
    March, 2016
  • 1,378 posts
Posted by CandOforprogress2 on Sunday, February 04, 2018 3:28 PM

My CBS news said that Amtrak train hit the CSX train...However journalist ignorance again is the CSX controls the dispatching on routes that CSX owns so its not like the Amtrak Engineer steered his train into the path of the CSX Train.

  • Member since
    June, 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 2,994 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Sunday, February 04, 2018 7:14 PM

Well thankfully this was not a Talgo Trainset.

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 5:11 PM

My guess is that the CSX  crew reported clear of the main line but failed to restore the switch.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 5:19 PM

Much more discussion of this topic in the original thread in General Discussion, and somewhat surprisingly in a thread on the Model Railroader forum.

One of the smoking guns is that Sumwalt yesterday alluded to the CSX crew's having ceded their track authority back to the dispatcher, without attending to that little necessary matter of relining the switch.  We should know within a few days what documentation they can produce -- CSX has a specific form, requiring both crew signatures, stating that all switches have been relined before the dispatcher can be contacted with a release of authority.

As you in particular know, this is far more severe than just 'reporting clear of the main line'.  If it develops that this is a result of CSX management or procedure change, or even confusion following unanticipated-consequence problems when automatic-block signals are taken out of commission en masse ... there are going to be problems.  I will not be sympathetic if that turns out to be the case.

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 6:26 PM

Overmod

Much more discussion of this topic in the original thread in General Discussion, and somewhat surprisingly in a thread on the Model Railroader forum.

One of the smoking guns is that Sumwalt yesterday alluded to the CSX crew's having ceded their track authority back to the dispatcher, without attending to that little necessary matter of relining the switch.  We should know within a few days what documentation they can produce -- CSX has a specific form, requiring both crew signatures, stating that all switches have been relined before the dispatcher can be contacted with a release of authority.

As you in particular know, this is far more severe than just 'reporting clear of the main line'.  If it develops that this is a result of CSX management or procedure change, or even confusion following unanticipated-consequence problems when automatic-block signals are taken out of commission en masse ... there are going to be problems.  I will not be sympathetic if that turns out to be the case.

 

Verbally reporting clear of the main line IS every bit as severe as filling out a form. Form or no form they reported clear and neglected to line the switch for the main line.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:19 PM

The form vs. the verbal reporting is not the issue.  Formally releasing track authority is the issue.  You can't do that just by verbally reporting that your units are clear of the fouling point.

You raise a horrible suspicion, I hope unjustified, that the dispatcher might have understood a radio call 'clear of the main' to comprise the release of authority.  That is not by any means what I understand CSX requires for that very important step (the form is physical proof that a very important step was completed, acknowledged by the whole crew and not just the one lining and locking the switch, but it is by no means a release of track authority in itself)

  • Member since
    August, 2005
  • From: At the Crossroads of the West
  • 9,176 posts
Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:26 PM

Overmod

Much more discussion of this topic in the original thread in General Discussion, and somewhat surprisingly in a thread on the Model Railroader forum.

One of the smoking guns is that Sumwalt yesterday alluded to the CSX crew's having ceded their track authority back to the dispatcher, without attending to that little necessary matter of relining the switch.  We should know within a few days what documentation they can produce -- CSX has a specific form, requiring both crew signatures, stating that all switches have been relined before the dispatcher can be contacted with a release of authority.

As you in particular know, this is far more severe than just 'reporting clear of the main line'.  If it develops that this is a result of CSX management or procedure change, or even confusion following unanticipated-consequence problems when automatic-block signals are taken out of commission en masse ... there are going to be problems.  I will not be sympathetic if that turns out to be the case.

 

After the document stating that the switxh is set for the main and locked, where is it kept--on the engine until it reaches a terminal or does the conductor or engineer keep it until the terminal is reached?

Johnny

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 7:53 PM

Overmod

The form vs. the verbal reporting is not the issue.  Formally releasing track authority is the issue.  You can't do that just by verbally reporting that your units are clear of the fouling point.

You raise a horrible suspicion, I hope unjustified, that the dispatcher might have understood a radio call 'clear of the main' to comprise the release of authority.  That is not by any means what I understand CSX requires for that very important step (the form is physical proof that a very important step was completed, acknowledged by the whole crew and not just the one lining and locking the switch, but it is by no means a release of track authority in itself)

 

Not being privy to CSX procedure and rules I can only speculate. I assume the track authority was released verbally. How would a written form to report clear of the main line  be sent to the dispatcher ?

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 8:41 PM

What I meant is that the verbal procedure to report the train 'clear of the fouling point' would be different from the verbal procedure formally releasing authority.  I believe, I think from one of BaltACD's posts, that the dispatcher asks if the form has been signed, additional formal confirmation that two heads confirm the switch is lined and locked appropriately, before actually releasing the authority.

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 9:10 PM

243129

My guess is that the CSX  crew reported clear of the main line but failed to restore the switch.

 

Semantics aside I go with my original post on this subject

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 06, 2018 9:13 PM

Overmod

What I meant is that the verbal procedure to report the train 'clear of the fouling point' would be different from the verbal procedure formally releasing authority.  I believe, I think from one of BaltACD's posts, that the dispatcher asks if the form has been signed, additional formal confirmation that two heads confirm the switch is lined and locked appropriately, before actually releasing the authority.

 

Is BaltACD familiar with the rules and the territory involved?

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: US
  • 61 posts
Posted by PaulWWoodring on Thursday, February 08, 2018 12:18 PM

I'm looking for some clarification as well.  I'm a former CSX engineer, but have been away from the job for over 9 years.  My memory of what is known as a "Switch Position Awareness Form", which came out of FRA Emergency Order (EO) 24 (I believe), issued after an NS wreck when a freight train ran into cars left standing in a siding that had been reported relined and clear in unsignalled "dark" territory, required at least one of the crew members, maybe both, to keep copies of the form with them for something like 30 days after the event.  I think it would be considered a legal document in a case like this. 

My question, which needs to be answered by someone with knowledge of current rules and operating practices (particularly on CSX), is, in the case of a signal suspension, which this event occured under, does the moving train involved (Amtrak #91) have to follow the provision of EO-24 that says that a train operating in unsignaled territory have to approach facing point main track switches prepared to stop, or does that not apply to trains operating in signalled territory under a signal suspension for maintenance work?  The answer is the difference between the Amtrak crew being totally blameless for this accident, or partially to blame.

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 08, 2018 1:57 PM

243129
Is BaltACD familiar with the rules and the territory involved?

Let's put it this way: he is recent CSX, and you are not.

  • Member since
    February, 2018
  • 2 posts
Posted by Big Cat on Thursday, February 08, 2018 2:32 PM

In my experience with planned signal suspensions, the bulletin provided guidance on how to proceed. For example are switch tenders available or does the crew have to restore switches.  It will also state that all road crossings are presumed to be operational. When I left in December, a SPAF only was held until the beginning of the next duty period.  I never had a bulletin that directed us to look at facing point switches.

  • Member since
    May, 2003
  • From: US
  • 13,713 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, February 08, 2018 3:25 PM

243129
 
Overmod

What I meant is that the verbal procedure to report the train 'clear of the fouling point' would be different from the verbal procedure formally releasing authority.  I believe, I think from one of BaltACD's posts, that the dispatcher asks if the form has been signed, additional formal confirmation that two heads confirm the switch is lined and locked appropriately, before actually releasing the authority. 

Is BaltACD familiar with the rules and the territory involved?

I never worked Florence Division territory and I retired before the EHH management purge.

Signal Suspensions are one of the most dangerous times that happen during the 'normal course' of railroad operations.  You have employees both in the field and in the dispatchers office that are accustomed to operating a territory under one set of rules now having to operate that same territory under another set of rules that neither the Dispatcher or Train & Engine crew are fully CONFIDENT in operating under - since they rarely have to use this set of rules in their normal performance of duty.

I don't know what procedures are currently in effect on CSX at present for Signal Suspensions.  When I was working on the Baltimore Division, A 'Supterintendent's Bulletin' would be issued 3 or 4 days ahead of the effective date of the suspension listing all the particulars of what signal would have the meaning changed (to only indicate switch position - not block occupancy), names of block(s) and their mile post limits, if road crossing protection is still in effect, location of switchtenders if any, what type is signal indication AND block authority are required to enter the affected territory, etc. etc. etc.  On the Baltimore Division a telephone number would be listed that crews were REQUIRED to call when going on duty that would have a Officer or his designee explain in detail the requirements for the crew to navigate the limits of the suspension.

With the temporary imposition of different rules on a territory it would be understandable that employees may not comply with ALL the requirements of the newly implemented rules package.  The SPAF requirement of DARK territory vs. the similar requirement in signalled territory may be one of the fine points of the imposition of TWC (Track Warrent Control) on signalled territory that gets overlooked in complete compliance with TWC rules.

         

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Thursday, February 08, 2018 3:39 PM

Overmod

 

 
243129
Is BaltACD familiar with the rules and the territory involved?

 

Let's put it this way: he is recent CSX, and you are not.

 

Given the above post I guess it would be safe to say your answer was that of one who is uninformed.

  • Member since
    April, 2001
  • From: US
  • 61 posts
Posted by PaulWWoodring on Thursday, February 08, 2018 3:49 PM

Yes, I was also Baltimore Division, and you are right about a signal suspension causing a great deal of worry and concern on my part, both as a conductor and engineer.  It always caused me to at least double-check what we were doing.  I think that the signal suspension is why the conductor of #91 was in the cab with the engineer.  Under normal operating circumstances he would have been back in the train relaying operating information with the engineer by radio, but I think he was up front to help with the paperwork for the signal suspension.  It was the middle of the night, the Asst. Conductor could handle what few passengers might be awake with the overnight coach and sleeper attendant, and the lounge and diner would have been closed.  I guess we await more results from the NTSB investigation. 

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 08, 2018 5:20 PM

243129
Given the above post I guess it would be safe to say your answer was that of one who is uninformed.

That would certainly be the attitude of one even more uninformed.

I realize that it may be frustrating that you are failing in the Procrustean effort of making this somehow part of your perpetual jeremiad about Amtrak training and general crew awareness.  But it is insulting in this context, and I would advise that you stop.

  • Member since
    May, 2015
  • 245 posts
Posted by 243129 on Thursday, February 08, 2018 6:19 PM

Overmod

 

 
243129
Given the above post I guess it would be safe to say your answer was that of one who is uninformed.

 

That would certainly be the attitude of one even more uninformed.

I realize that it may be frustrating that you are failing in the Procrustean effort of making this somehow part of your perpetual jeremiad about Amtrak training and general crew awareness.  But it is insulting in this context, and I would advise that you stop.

 

Your flowery rhetoric is not the least bit impressive and your snarky aside falls flat. It is obvious by his post that BaltACD knows as much about the Florence Division and it's rules as I do. As for your advice.............

  • Member since
    September, 2003
  • 5,601 posts
Posted by Overmod on Thursday, February 08, 2018 7:29 PM

Well, to start with he knows about EO 24, about which you are not only clueless but willfully ignorant.  I would suspect his knowledge of CSX rules in general will get him far closer to what is current on the Florence Division than anything you are likely to assert, and I would also suspect he has a more direct line to finding what he might not know than you do.

I doubt you would let decency get in the way of a good rant opportunity, but fortunately we can let that issue go.  The unfortunate part is that I agree with you on the relevance of Amtrak training in most other respects, particularly the 501 wreck and (perhaps unjustly on my part) the 188 wreck just now back in the news.  I have been concerned over the last few hours that there's an attempt being made to shunt some of the blame onto the dead (for going too fast, not responding effectively, etc.) in the 91 wreck, and perhaps that is bothering me more than it should.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy