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Amtrak Train Strikes Backhoe South of Philadelphia

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Amtrak Train Strikes Backhoe South of Philadelphia
Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 8:38 AM

Early News reports are Two killed when Amtrak train struck a Backhoe South of Phila.  Apparently the machine was 'parked' on the tracks.  Photos with story show window(S) on passenger car knocked out, and car side daqmaged. Details still sketchy.

 

Note: To add some details:  Incident location was actually in area of Chester Pa. on NE Corridor...Two killed were apparently MOW workers working with the Backhoe on the tracks.    Reports are approx. thirty were injured on the train.   The passengers [reported as about 341 on train] were evacuated to a local church. 

 

 


 

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Posted by mudchicken on Sunday, April 3, 2016 9:30 AM

The NBC affiliate keeps showing images of a LORAM shoulder cleaner/ switch undercutter instead of a backhoe. Was it the conveyor boom on that thing instead of a backhoe that fouled and hit the coaches at window height??

M/W rules (Amtrak's and everyone else's) are emphatic on how you clear trains w/ men and equipment at less than 20 feet. All work stops, booms down (parallel or away from the track) and de-energized, people to a designated place of safety clear of the active track. If the train got out of it's limits, then all bets are off.  Will be interesting on how this one plays out.

 

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 schlimm on Sunday, April 3, 2016 9:39 AM

samfp1943

Early News reports are Two killed when Amtrak train struck a Backhoe South of Phila.  Apparently the machine was 'parked' on the tracks.  Photos with story show windowe on passenger car knocked out and car side daqmaged. Details still sketchy.

 

Note: To add some details:  Incident location was actually in area of Chester Pa. on NE Corridor...Two killed were apparently MOW workers working with the Backhoe on the tracks.    Reports are approx. thirty were injured on the train.   The passengers [reported as about 341 on train] were evacuated to a local church. 

 

Another Amtrak v workcrew equipment incident.   Sad for all concerned.

I hope the headline is an indication of a new policy of a non-blaming, non-insulting tone to describe incidents in which trains strike bystanders, whether those bystanders work for the rails or not. 

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Posted by samfp1943 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:08 AM

mudchicken

The NBC affiliate keeps showing images of a LORAM shoulder cleaner/ switch undercutter instead of a backhoe. Was it the conveyor boom on that thing instead of a backhoe that fouled and hit the coaches at window height??

M/W rules (Amtrak's and everyone else's) are emphatic on how you clear trains w/ men and equipment at less than 20 feet. All work stops, booms down (parallel or away from the track) and de-energized, people to a designated place of safety clear of the active track. If the train got out of it's limits, then all bets are off.  Will be interesting on how this one plays out.

 

 

MC:  At one point the News that was reporting the incident, panned off the ROW, and showed what possibly was a front wheel and partial axle, laying between some guy wires supporting lineside poles.  It seemed to resemble the size and type of a wheel that could be found on a backhoe...[And yes, they also showed, from a distance, what could have been the LORAM-type machine you described, but no mention made that it was involved in the incident.  ]

 

 


 

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:13 AM

 

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 11:08 AM

schlimm
I hope the headline is an indication of a new policy of a non-blaming, non-insulting tone to describe incidents in which trains strike bystanders, whether those bystanders work for the rails or not. 

It's not the bystanders whose role gets questioned...

This is a workplace incident.  There are people to blame - procedures apparently weren't followed, etc.  

No one intentionally played "chicken" with the devil here.

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, April 3, 2016 11:49 AM

tree68

 

 
schlimm
I hope the headline is an indication of a new policy of a non-blaming, non-insulting tone to describe incidents in which trains strike bystanders, whether those bystanders work for the rails or not. 

 

It's not the bystanders whose role gets questioned...

This is a workplace incident.  There are people to blame - procedures apparently weren't followed, etc.  

No one intentionally played "chicken" with the devil here.

 

Most of the victims you label as "stupid" or "Darwin Award winners" aren't playing chicken either.   These crews (or the dispatcher that possibly put the Amtrak train on a track under work) made an avoidable mistake, depending on circumstances.  But if you were capable of consistency, you'd probably say something boorish about them as well.   Victims of accidents and their families need our compassion, not piling on.

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Sunday, April 3, 2016 11:52 AM

LION is here. Roumers that they put him in a zoo are without substance. But him stay on other side and play with his toy trains. Still as soon as somebody busts up a train, him comes here to get the whole story.

Greetings to all, Wildbeests will still be eaten.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:09 PM

schlimm
Most of the victims you label as "stupid" or "Darwin Award winners" aren't playing chicken either. These crews (or the dispatcher that possibly put the Amtrak train on a track under work) made an avoidable mistake, depending on circumstances. But if you were capable of consistency, you'd probably say something boorish about them as well. Victims of accidents and their families need our compassion, not piling on.

 

I understand your position schlimm but respectfully suggest it's time for you to give it a break.

Norm


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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:11 PM

Welcome back Mr. Lion. No need to be a stranger.

Norm


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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:21 PM

schlimm
Victims of accidents and their families need our compassion, not piling on.

You are absolutely correct.

However, a fellow who shows off by pointing his own gun at his own head and pulls the trigger because he's "sure" it's empty isn't a victim...  

To be sure, his family deserves sympathy for his actions.

Methinks you subscribe to an overly broad description of what you believe folks consider a "Darwin" moment.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 12:38 PM

tree68
This is a workplace incident. There are people to blame - procedures apparently weren't followed, etc.

That raises questions.

Did the MOW team have track time and were they working within the limits of such?

Could have the engineer violated the limits of said track time?

Could the dispatcher have unwittingly authorized the train through those work limits?

More questions we are not likely to know the answers to for some time. Certainly sounds like human error at this time but I will wait for more facts to surface.

Norm


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Posted by Randy Stahl on Sunday, April 3, 2016 1:05 PM

I hope I make it to retire, I got about 10 years left or a bit more... Odds are good but after seeing these things happen over the years, odds are not perfect.

Two railroad men didn't go home to thier families after work...

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Posted by Goodtiming on Sunday, April 3, 2016 2:09 PM

schlimm

 

 
tree68

 

 
schlimm
I hope the headline is an indication of a new policy of a non-blaming, non-insulting tone to describe incidents in which trains strike bystanders, whether those bystanders work for the rails or not. 

 

It's not the bystanders whose role gets questioned...

This is a workplace incident.  There are people to blame - procedures apparently weren't followed, etc.  

No one intentionally played "chicken" with the devil here.

 

 

 

Most of the victims you label as "stupid" or "Darwin Award winners" aren't playing chicken either.   These crews (or the dispatcher that possibly put the Amtrak train on a track under work) made an avoidable mistake, depending on circumstances.  But if you were capable of consistency, you'd probably say something boorish about them as well.   Victims of accidents and their families need our compassion, not piling on.

 

Who called someone "stupid"?

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Posted by wanswheel on Sunday, April 3, 2016 2:23 PM

Excerpt from Associated Press

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., told reporters at a New York news conference on another subject Sunday that he was told by Amtrak board chairman Anthony Coscia that the workers killed were the backhoe operator and a supervisor, both Amtrak employees. He said debris from the crash flew into the first two cars, causing the injuries to passengers.

Schumer said it's unclear whether the backhoe was performing regular maintenance, which is usually scheduled on Sunday mornings because there are fewer trains on the tracks, or whether it was clearing debris from high winds in the area overnight. But he said Amtrak has "a 20-step protocol" for having backhoes on the track, and no trains are supposed to go on a track where such equipment is present.

"Clearly this seems very likely to be human error," Schumer said, calling for Amtrak to review its processes. "There is virtually no excuse for a backhoe to be on an active track."

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Posted by Paul of Covington on Sunday, April 3, 2016 2:25 PM

schlimm
 
tree68

 

 
schlimm
I hope the headline is an indication of a new policy of a non-blaming, non-insulting tone to describe incidents in which trains strike bystanders, whether those bystanders work for the rails or not. 

 

It's not the bystanders whose role gets questioned...

This is a workplace incident.  There are people to blame - procedures apparently weren't followed, etc.  

No one intentionally played "chicken" with the devil here.

 

 

 

Most of the victims you label as "stupid" or "Darwin Award winners" aren't playing chicken either.   These crews (or the dispatcher that possibly put the Amtrak train on a track under work) made an avoidable mistake, depending on circumstances.  But if you were capable of consistency, you'd probably say something boorish about them as well.   Victims of accidents and their families need our compassion, not piling on.

 

    Please, let's not do this again.

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Posted by tree68 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 2:45 PM

Paul of Covington
Please, let's not do this again.

We'll just have to agree to disagree.

 

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Posted by narig01 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 4:12 PM

Print articles with Amtrak derailment reported south of Philadelphia

 

Washington Post

http://wapo.st/1qoONun

 

USA Today

http://usat.ly/1SLeSwZ

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Posted by Firelock76 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 4:19 PM

The Philadelphia Inquirer has a story about it, but not much more info than anyone else at this time.

Maybe a bit more since they're the closest to the accident than other media outfits.

www.philly.com

 

 

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Sunday, April 3, 2016 4:54 PM

The images I saw, the engine looked like it had been hit on the corner.  Perhaps the MOW equipment was not on the same track, but was over hanging.

Dave

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Posted by petitnj on Sunday, April 3, 2016 7:23 PM

Here you see the consequence of a "20 step process" to allow equipment on the right-of-way. Any one step in the 20 step process is forgotten or misinterpreted and the accident occurs. The 20 step process is so complex that any thing done wrong causes an accident. Now they will add steps 21, 22 and 23 (maybe even 24) and the possibility of error remains the same. Some one in the area of safety should suggest to the rule makers that making the rules more complex does not make the rules safer -- quite the opposite. As rules become more complex they are easy to misunderstand. Since the existing rule was suppolsed to make the work safe, the error comes in assuming rules make it safe. People make it safe. 

 

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, April 3, 2016 7:59 PM

petitnj

Here you see the consequence of a "20 step process" to allow equipment on the right-of-way. Any one step in the 20 step process is forgotten or misinterpreted and the accident occurs. The 20 step process is so complex that any thing done wrong causes an accident. Now they will add steps 21, 22 and 23 (maybe even 24) and the possibility of error remains the same. Some one in the area of safety should suggest to the rule makers that making the rules more complex does not make the rules safer -- quite the opposite. As rules become more complex they are easy to misunderstand. Since the existing rule was suppolsed to make the work safe, the error comes in assuming rules make it safe. People make it safe. 

 

 

I agree.  Overly complex and many-stepped routines are harder to internalize (yes, they have a checklist, I would hope, but things work better when you "know" the drill) and are much more likely to have an error.

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, April 3, 2016 8:23 PM

petitnj

Here you see the consequence of a "20 step process" to allow equipment on the right-of-way. Any one step in the 20 step process is forgotten or misinterpreted and the accident occurs. The 20 step process is so complex that any thing done wrong causes an accident. Now they will add steps 21, 22 and 23 (maybe even 24) and the possibility of error remains the same. Some one in the area of safety should suggest to the rule makers that making the rules more complex does not make the rules safer -- quite the opposite. As rules become more complex they are easy to misunderstand. Since the existing rule was suppolsed to make the work safe, the error comes in assuming rules make it safe. People make it safe.

Tell it to the Lawyers that are now making Operating Rules.  Lawyers have never found anything too simple to make overly complex with a multitude of 'gotchas'.

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Posted by schlimm on Sunday, April 3, 2016 9:01 PM

We do not know the determination yet, but it would appear to be a human error: the dispatcher's or the work crew's.

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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:31 PM

From what I've read it sounds like the backhoe fouled an adjacent live track.

I would also not be too critical of the "20 step process" until you know what they are.  If it's anything like the processes I've seen there are several groups of processes that are shared by different teams and no one team has to do "20 steps".  For example the first 4 or 5 steps probably involved the MofW notifying the dispatcher office yesterday or the day before that they were going to be working on the tracks so the dispatch office could issue the proper bulletins notifying the trains of the work area and reducing the speed passing the work area.  There are probably 4 or 5 steps in setting up the work area, several steps in the pre-work job briefing and then several steps in the actual notifications that a train is approaching.  Its not that hard, the Amtrak guys do this day in and day out for years.  The weak link is if the backhoe operator if he is a contractor operator and not familiar with the processes.  However his part is rather limited, he just has to follow instructions and know where and when he can be.  One possibility is that he may not have been where he was supposed to be.

Without knowing any more specifics about his job briefing and the actual work being performed its hard to come to any conclusions this early in the game.

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Posted by Gramp on Sunday, April 3, 2016 10:49 PM

Condolences to the families involved.

These accidents continue to reinforce in me that one can never lose sight of how dangerous a railway environment is.  Safety First.  Stop, Look, and Listen.  Simple...and may they never go out of style.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, April 3, 2016 11:35 PM

One thing that has me confused is whether the ACES (Ammtrak's form of PTC) includes the maintenance safety provision. I suspect that it does not. My understanding of the rules is that the work crew obtains clearance from the Dispatcher that gives them the rights to a specific area and that the rights can be of various status. 1) Exclusive use of a track, 2) provisional use of a track where the work crew can give permission for a train to pass the work site. In the first case the Dispatcher is to lock out access to the section by some signalling means and by issuing orders to scheduled and non-scheduled trains that the section is not in service. In the seconnd case, the Dispatcher issues orders to all trains that the work crew has rights to that area and that they have to request and obtain clearance from the forman (or his designee) before occupying the work space. So there are the following possibilities as I see it. Work crew did not obtain rights (clearance) to occupy, or they did and the Dispatcher failed to block out the space, or they had clearance for the #4 track and fouled the #3 track, or the dispatcher failed to issue appropriate notice to the train crew or they failed to obtain said notice, or some combination of these steps, or the Engineer forgot the notice and failed to request clearance from the work crew to pass. What have I missed?

Whateverthe cause, it is a real tragedy and I feel for the men who died, their families, and the Engineer and Dispatcher involved. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, April 4, 2016 5:01 AM

Many questions

1.  Why was train on track 3 traveling its speed when work going on adjaecent track 4 ?  Is that less than the FRA 20 foot minimum ? 

2.  Should 89 have been on track 2 ? ( wrong direction )

3.  When the ACS derailed how were train cars and motor able to travel a mile and not leave confines of track 3 ?

4.  How much damage to track 3 in that mile of rail, connectors or spikes, cross ties, ballast ?

5.  Is this the track cleaner working on track 4 ?

http://www.loram.com/services/default.aspx?id=102 

6.  Was this work to level the rail due to imperfections of crossing open deck bridges ?

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, April 4, 2016 6:31 AM

To quote 'Cool Hand Luke' - "What we've got here is failure to communicate"

Somebody got the job briefing wrong, with catastrophic consequences.

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Posted by dehusman on Monday, April 4, 2016 7:11 AM

Electroliner 1935

One thing that has me confused is whether the ACES (Ammtrak's form of PTC) includes the maintenance safety provision. I suspect that it does not. My understanding of the rules is that the work crew obtains clearance from the Dispatcher that gives them the rights to a specific area and that the rights can be of various status. 1) Exclusive use of a track, 2) provisional use of a track where the work crew can give permission for a train to pass the work site.

Or they can use one of the tracks and the dispatcher can pass trains on the others.

 or the dispatcher failed to issue appropriate notice to the train crew or they failed to obtain said notice, or some combination of these steps, or the Engineer forgot the notice and failed to request clearance from the work crew to pass. What have I missed?

.....or the crew requested the proper tracks and protection, the dispatcher issued the proper protection, the train had the proper paperwork, the train contacted the work group and was given permission to pass, the train passed at the proper speed.  All of those things could be true and have happened.

Since gangs can be spread out over a long distance and around curves its possible that the person clearing the train wasn't near the backhoe and couldn't see where it was.  Its possible that the presence of the passing train was communicated to the work group (look outs with air horns).  Its possible that the group with teh backhoe wasn't near teh main group and didn't hear the warnings.  Its possible that the backhoe operator was concentrating on what he was doing and ignored the warnings.  It is possible that the backhoe operator got confused and cleared the wrong track (example : working on track 2 thought train was on 1 and cleared 1 by fouling 3, train on track 3).  All sorts of possibilities. 

The dispatcher doesn't clear trains by gangs.  He issues the bulletins, grants the work group the authority, and routes the trains on the proper track.  After that it is up to the work group and the trains to get by each other safely.  The dispatcher can't see what the work group is doing.  The dispatcher isn't part of the conversation between the the work group and the trains.

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