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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 23, 2017 8:26 AM

BroadwayLion
 
243129
Amtrak's hiring and training procedures are contributing factors to these disasters. I include a missive here that I have sent to numerous Amtrak officials, politicians and the news media to no avail. Sadly this warning was ignored and the prediction of a prescription for disaster has come to fruition...again. Below is a 'view from the trenches' if you will. June 24, 2014 Amtrak: An accident waiting to happen.....again... 

I found your post to be very interesting, but you have failed to consider one important aspect, an over riding aspect of AMTK management. 

AMTK is NOT a railroad, it is a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM and as suck it must comply with and respond to the political requirements of a leftist, socialist government program. 

It is before all else a jobs program for the underclass. Skill, dedication and profesionalism are NOTX government requirements, gender and race are.

LION is NOT racist, him will hire lions, tigers, leopards and even bears, but he can do nothing to keep the aligators off of his railroad. Aligators have government rights too.

 So the heck with professionalism, we will leave that to the private railroads, thank you, AMTK is a Socal Justice program and nothing more. 

ROAR

Sorry Lion - Amtrak employes are covered by the regulations of the Railroad Retirement Bureau - just like all other railroaders.

Handling 31M passengers per year would make it the 8th largest Airline - were it's product air travel.

While Amtrak does rely on governmental subsidy, it's charter is to be self sustaining.  The subsidy and the manner in which Congress plays around in authorizing it is more of a millstone around Amtrak managements neck than it is a benefit.  How can you make Capital Investment decisions when you have no assured funding.  Amtrak owns and operates the NEC trackage between Boston and Washington DC - all this trackage had been owned by BANKRUPT prior owners that limited maintenance to the least amount they could get away with for decades prior to the trackage being conveyed to Amtrak - can you spell DEFERRED MAINTENANCE, maintenance Amtrak had to make up just to have a legitimate product to sell to the traveling public on the NEC.

Your final statement is a INSULT to the men and women that have kept Amtrak running for the past 46 years, when it was a foregone conclusion at the time it was authorized in 1971 that it would defunct and out of existance by 1976.

http://cs.trains.com/trn/f/743/t/266368.aspx

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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, December 23, 2017 8:38 AM

rdamon
Granted I am just an armchair amateur, but you would think there would have been a more authoritative application of the brakes. The quotes in the article make it sounds as if he just cleared the overspeed. Euclid alluded to an earlier thread on not wanting to use emergency braking; this may have be the case here. I wonder how much of this information will be in the preliminary report.

 

The advance warning signs were missed by two people at 2mi out, so if the signal aspect was clear and the lighting was just right that the extension of I-5 made it appear that there was no curve…. I know lots of speculation … maybe too much egg nog. Geeked
Robert
 

Amtrak has a culture of the unknowing teaching the unknowing.

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, December 23, 2017 9:16 AM

BroadwayLion
 
243129
Amtrak's hiring and training procedures are contributing factors to these disasters. I include a missive here that I have sent to numerous Amtrak officials, politicians and the news media to no avail. Sadly this warning was ignored and the prediction of a prescription for disaster has come to fruition...again. Below is a 'view from the trenches' if you will. June 24, 2014 Amtrak: An accident waiting to happen.....again...

 

I found your post to be very interesting, but you have failed to consider one important aspect, an over riding aspect of AMTK management.

AMTK is NOT a railroad, it is a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM and as suck it must comply with and respond to the political requirements of a leftist, socialist government program.

It is before all else a jobs program for the underclass. Skill, dedication and profesionalism are NOTX government requirements, gender and race are.

LION is NOT racist, him will hire lions, tigers, leopards and even bears, but he can do nothing to keep the aligators off of his railroad. Aligators have government rights too.

So the heck with professionalism, we will leave that to the private railroads, thank you, AMTK is a Socal Justice program and nothing more.

ROAR

Lion,

You make excellent points in this post.  Also excellent is the post you cite by 243129 on page 8 of this thread.

In my opinion, these characteristics that you mention may also influence the government investigation of this accident and others involving Amtrak. 

The factors you cite are what I would like to evaluate in the training, experience, and competence of the engineer in this derailment, and also in a detailed interview with him to hear his complete explanation of what happened.  I hope he recalls these details by the time they interview him. 

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Saturday, December 23, 2017 9:22 AM

BaltACD
Sorry Lion - Amtrak employes are covered by the regulations of the Railroad Retirement Bureau - just like all other railroaders.

 

Yes they must hold the same paper, but the selection of whom they hire has deep political implications.

 

*I* can jump through the hoops and pass a test, but that does not make me a railroader.

 

I read the OPs missive, and an impressive missive it is, but he is not going to change the culture of AMTK which is political not industrial.

Not everybody that they put on a train is a real railroader, they are simply people filling a job title.

So I was answering the OPs complaint as to why AMTK has not imporoved in 40 years.

 

ROAR

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 9:56 AM

BaltACD

 Your final statement is a INSULT to the men and women that have kept Amtrak running for the past 46 years, when it was a foregone conclusion at the time it was authorized in 1971 that it would defunct and out of existance by 1976.

 

 

 
 
I know some people, retired in these cases, who worked for Amtrak in management.  They are sharp as tacks and very knowledgeable about railroading.  I'd trust them to pilot my train IF they affirmed they were qualified.
 
On the other hand, there's the Chester PA crash.  Where NO ONE had the smarts to shunt the track that was occupied by two soon to be dead workers.  I'll not say those decision makers were political appointees.  I'll just fall back on words like slack-jawed morons.
 
 
Ed
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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, December 23, 2017 10:33 AM

BroadwayLion
I found your post to be very interesting, but you have failed to consider one important aspect, an over riding aspect of AMTK management.

 

AMTK is NOT a railroad, it is a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM and as suck it must comply with and respond to the political requirements of a leftist, socialist government program.

 

It is before all else a jobs program for the underclass. Skill, dedication and profesionalism are NOTX government requirements, gender and race are.

LION is NOT racist, him will hire lions, tigers, leopards and even bears, but he can do nothing to keep the aligators off of his railroad. Aligators have government rights too.

 

So the heck with professionalism, we will leave that to the private railroads, thank you, AMTK is a Socal Justice program and nothing more.

 

As a newbie here, I took the time to read the rules. It's crystal clear that political posts are not allowed.

Still in training.


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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 23, 2017 10:59 AM

7j43k
On the other hand, there's the Chester PA crash.  Where NO ONE had the smarts to shunt the track that was occupied by two soon to be dead workers.  I'll not say those decision makers were political appointees.  I'll just fall back on words like slack-jawed morons.
 
 
Ed

Chester was a total lack of field level communication.  The Night Supervisor released the track to the Train Dispatcher WITHOUT ensuring that the track was clear of all MofW employees and equipment.  The equipment operator 'thought' he was protected by the Night Supervisor holding the track.  For MofW equipment shunting is not a reliable form of protection.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 12:38 PM

BaltACD

For MofW equipment shunting is not a reliable form of protection.

 

 

Why is that?

 

 

Ed

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:16 PM

BroadwayLion
Yes they must hold the same paper, but the selection of whom they hire has deep political implications. *I* can jump through the hoops and pass a test, but that does not make me a railroader. I read the OPs missive, and an impressive missive it is, but he is not going to change the culture of AMTK which is political not industrial. Not everybody that they put on a train is a real railroader, they are simply people filling a job title. So I was answering the OPs complaint as to why AMTK has not imporoved in 40 years. ROAR

So, do you know anyone that works for Amtrak?  I work with many. For the most part (like any profession - Abbey monks included ((even the furries)) - I'm sure),  do their jobs with professionalism and the best of their abilities.  To imply otherwise just seems to be some sort of anti-gov't bias you harbor.

  

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

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:18 PM

7j43k
 
BaltACD

For MofW equipment shunting is not a reliable form of protection. 

Why is that? 

Ed

Shunting does not give them AUTHORITY to be on the track.  Track occupancy is based upon parties having AUTHORITY to be on the track.  Trains have authority by Signal Indication or Track Warrant authority.  Train Dispatchers grant specific authority to MofW Personnel to occupy specific track(s) in conjunction with train messages (or other forms of formal communication - per each company's rules) that establish designated work zones.

On my former employer CSX, Work Zones (known as 707's for the Rule that permits them) designate a named 'flagman' that must be contacted by EACH TRAIN that needs to operate through the Work Zone PRIOR to entering the zone.  The Work Zone is established by Mile Post, track designation (normally all tracks are specified in multiple track territory) and times of operation.  The Flagman is responsible for being in contact with all the units that comprise the mechanized gangs that perform production level MofW work and/or Contractors that are doing work for the company and need track foul protection.  A train that enters a Work Zone without the Flagman's express permission, from a disciplinary standpoint, is considered equivalent to passing a Absolute STOP signal without permission.

The Flagman can withhold permission if necessary or authorize a train through the Work Zone at maximum authorized speed and any necessary restrictions in between. 

If the work equipment will occupy one track but will foul another track while working, the Flagman will communicate with the Train Dispatcher so that the Dispatcher can use that information to figure out how to 'set up' his railroad.

Track occupancy is not something to be taken lightly - BY ANYBODY - Train Dispatcher, MofW or Trains.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:28 PM

Yes, all true.  But you didn't answer the question.

I would say it is an exceptionally reliable form of protection.  It would have told the signal detection the block was occupied, and the oncoming locomotive would have been informed of that by the signals.

It is an additional layer of safety that would have saved two lives if it had been used.

Well, assuming the engineer didn't blow past the signal.  You know, like the guy who just blew past the reduce-speed warning.

I propose an even more reliable protection for track workers:  a 200 ton block of steel placed on the track at an appropriate distance.  Ain't no one blowing past that.

 

Ed

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:38 PM

7j43k
Well, assuming the engineer didn't blow past the signal. You know, like the guy who just blew past the reduce-speed warning.

Be hard on the NEC with cab siganl drops. 

  

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:46 PM

zugmann

 

 
7j43k
Well, assuming the engineer didn't blow past the signal. You know, like the guy who just blew past the reduce-speed warning.

 

Be hard on the NEC with cab siganl drops. 

 

 

OK.  I'll cancel my requisition for two (2) blocks, steel, very large.

 

Ed

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 23, 2017 3:48 PM

7j43k
OK. I'll cancel my requisition for two (2) blocks, steel, very large.

We had a trucker try your trick with a concrete bridge beam.  It worked - train stopped.  Don't think the bridge construction crew was very happy, though.

  

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, December 23, 2017 4:01 PM

7j43k
I would say it is an exceptionally reliable form of protection.  It would have told the signal detection the block was occupied, and the oncoming locomotive would have been informed of that by the signals.

It is, at best, a secondary means of protection.  Balt outlined the primary method.   Model boards (the screen the dispatcher sees) have the ability to lock out a section of track.  This will be put in place when MOW requests the track and will prevent the dispatcher from issuing track warrants, etc, or lining a route through that section.

Even towers had the ability to lock out a section of track, even if it was just a couple of tin cans painted red placed over the appropriate handles.

There are other considerations, like if the shunt is placed in the approach circuit for a crossing, the signal department will have to get involved.

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 4:07 PM

tree68

 

 
7j43k
I would say it is an exceptionally reliable form of protection.  It would have told the signal detection the block was occupied, and the oncoming locomotive would have been informed of that by the signals.

 

It is, at best, a secondary means of protection.  Balt outlined the primary method. 

 

 

It looks like the "primary" method is also an "at best".  Because it didn't work.

Yes a shunt is secondary, in that it is a safety back-up.  But calling it "secondary" and "at best" doesn't negate that it would very likely have saved two people's lives.

 

Would YOU decline to use a shunt under these same circumstances?  Because it's secondary?

 

Ed

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Posted by RR Johnson on Saturday, December 23, 2017 4:21 PM

zugmann

 

 
RR Johnson
Have you, for instance, read the book: The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein, copyright 2008. Its been almost 10 years since then and the problem keeps getting worse!!!..........Edward Johnson

 

Looked at the cover on amazon.  Looks liek it has Gundams on it.  That's cool.

 

But then read the back cover.  Is it any more interesting than some old fart complaining about kids playing their gamestations?

 

zugmann

 

 
RR Johnson
Have you, for instance, read the book: The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein, copyright 2008. Its been almost 10 years since then and the problem keeps getting worse!!!..........Edward Johnson

 

 

 
 

Mr Zugmann - I think you need to read this and other books that have been documenting the general decline of our nation's young people over the past twenty years or so. Article after article, book after book describe the ongoing collapse of our educational systems, the rapid decline in empathy among the young, decling mental health, accelerating opioid addiction among the general population, no matter what age or class. The young no longer read much of anything that is serious, so they don't know anything about our nation's problems or how to function in the workplace, that is suddenly becoming much more dangerous, not just in the area of human caused railroad accidents. Please read the book by the late Neil Postman "Amusing Ourselves to Death" who predicted over 30 years ago (before cellphones) that this predicament would happen, but I am certain he would be shocked at how rapid the decline has been in our new century. This is not politcal; I don't care what party you belong to; these are well documented facts that most people are in complete denial about; but these issues must be addressed if we want to reduce human caused accidents on railroads or in any other workplace. Meanwhile, we need to implement mutiple redundancies in our electronic, mechanical and passive systems to help us avoid the human factor..........Edward Johnson  

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 4:36 PM

I think I'd skip the book.  If you haven't figured it out on your own by now, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

And.

It's my STRONG impression that workplaces are MUCH safer than in "the olden days".  About the most dangerous thing in all those new e-businesses is the extension cords across walking pathways.  And maybe eyestrain.

 

Ed

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 23, 2017 4:58 PM

RR Johnson
Please read the book by the late Neil Postman "Amusing Ourselves to Death" who predicted over 30 years ago (before cellphones) that this predicament would happen,

I have to catch up on my comic books first.

 

 

  

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Posted by RR Johnson on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:10 PM

7j43k

I think I'd skip the book.  If you haven't figured it out on your own by now, you're part of the problem, not the solution.

And.

It's my STRONG impression that workplaces are MUCH safer than in "the olden days".  About the most dangerous thing in all those new e-businesses is the extension cords across walking pathways.  And maybe eyestrain.

 

Ed

 

 

 

 

 

 

7j43k:  OSHA has just recently announced that there was a dramatic uptic in fatal workplace injuries last year, rising over 7 per cent over the number tallied in the previous year (2015) which also had an increase over the previous year (2014). More workers lost their lives in transportation accidents than in any other group. Violence and drug use are also increasing since 2012. Thus, we need muliple redundancy in our safety systems to help counter this trend.   ...........Edward Johnson

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:34 PM

An increase in the rate of natural selection.  Except for taking others with them, some might view that as a good thing.  And some not.  Of course.

 

We are wandering away from the topic:  The Amtrak crash in Washington State.  And perhaps a discussion of rail safety.

 

 

Ed

 

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Posted by RR Johnson on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:48 PM

7j43k - Atlantic Monthly Mag. Sept 2017: "Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?" A whole generation of young people, living largely empty lives, hopelessly addicted to electronic devices, facing a major mental health crises. How is this generation going to function in the workplace. Answer: Multiple redundancy in rail safety systems!!!

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:51 PM

  

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, December 23, 2017 5:53 PM

Regarding shunts, there is something to be said for the person at risk having the absolute means of protection under his own control rather than rely on a ponderous system of rights and procedures amoung several different people. 

As I recall, there was a lot said about shunts in threads, reports, and professional references in the wake of that recent Amtrak MOW accident.   

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 6:07 PM

Euclid

Regarding shunts, there is something to be said for the person at risk having the absolute means of protection under his own control rather than rely on a ponderous system of rights and procedures amoung several different people. 

As I recall, there was a lot said about shunts in threads, reports, and professional references in the wake of that recent Amtrak MOW accident.   

 

 

Yeah.  I was one of the ones doing the saying.

 

Ed

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Posted by 7j43k on Saturday, December 23, 2017 6:11 PM

RR Johnson

7j43k - Atlantic Monthly Mag. Sept 2017: "Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?" A whole generation of young people, living largely empty lives, hopelessly addicted to electronic devices, facing a major mental health crises. How is this generation going to function in the workplace. Answer: Multiple redundancy in rail safety systems!!!

 

 

It's not going to go well for you if it turns out the engineer on the Amtrak train was an old guy tellin' the new kid all the stuff HE knows about railroading and life and women and dogs and real estate and government and gardening.....

until the kid's ears were about to fall off.

Instead of working.

 

Probably not too well for the old engineer, either.

 

 

Ed

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Posted by RR Johnson on Saturday, December 23, 2017 7:44 PM

7j43k - Well said!! And Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Trains Magazine and to all of the people who write on these blogs!!!  (Let's hope 2018 is a better year) .........Edward Johnson

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Saturday, December 23, 2017 7:53 PM

RR Johnson

7j43k - Atlantic Monthly Mag. Sept 2017: "Has the Smartphone Destroyed a Generation?" A whole generation of young people, living largely empty lives, hopelessly addicted to electronic devices, facing a major mental health crises. How is this generation going to function in the workplace. Answer: Multiple redundancy in rail safety systems!!!

 

One of the silliest, poorly-researched articles I've ever seen.  No wonder it is in The Atlantic rather than a scholarly journal.

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Posted by AnthonyV on Saturday, December 23, 2017 7:59 PM

Euclid

Regarding shunts, there is something to be said for the person at risk having the absolute means of protection under his own control rather than rely on a ponderous system of rights and procedures amoung several different people. 

As I recall, there was a lot said about shunts in threads, reports, and professional references in the wake of that recent Amtrak MOW accident.   

 

I agree.  As a layman, it's insane for someone to be on the tracks relying soley on others for protection.  Whether they have the "authority" to be on the tracks is irrelevant.  The shunt acts as an additional layer of protection in case there is a screw up.  Shunting  brings to everyone's attention that someone is on the tracks, whether they should be there or not.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Saturday, December 23, 2017 8:25 PM

I am not familiar with the term "shunt" in this context. Could someone explain to me what it means? Thanks.

Still in training.


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