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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:04 PM

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:04 PM

Local news apparently contacted an engineer, Robert Bregent, and had a phone interview with him.  Here is some of the discussion:

It is nice to see the news report trying to use reliable sources.  Wish I agreed with more of what I hear from them, though!

 Note that Bregent confirms the speed restriction from an approach board marked T30 (T being "Talgo"). 

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Posted by Deggesty on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:14 PM

I would hope that every conductor and engineer who would be operating over this track that was newly opened for passenger service would have made enough trips over it so as to be fully familiar with it. I may be wrong, but I do not think that it would have been necessary to cover the entire Seattle-Portland route, just the new to passenger service portion, complete with its approaches and exits. 

Johnny

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Posted by K. P. Harrier on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:17 PM

Aerial views of the crash site depict derailed UPRIGHT power and cars AND more cars traveling in TWO angled directions, which to me is theoretically impossible.  Trains just don’t derail that way, especially the lead locomotive upright off the right-of-way, which suggests to me a device was used to deliberately derail the train, and once the derailing device was destroyed the following cars jackknifed while following the NORMAL route.  It should be interesting to hear what the NTSB finds as the probable cause.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- K.P.’s absolute “theorem” from early, early childhood that he has seen over and over and over again: Those that CAUSE a problem in the first place will act the most violently if questioned or exposed.

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:21 PM

Look at 6:45 in Overmods post ...  is that a signal tower bunched up?

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Posted by MikeF90 on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:34 PM

My condolences to the families of this terrible, multiple fatality incident.

samfp1943
"Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens," Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson told transportation officials in early December, according to Seattle's KOMO News..."

Typical politician who redirects blame. Local government bears >90% of the responsibility for bad planning and zoning, thus the lack of grade separations. In addition to better crossing protection, the Mayor and JB Lewis-McChord leaders need to buy a pallet of personal lube to help local drivers pull HOA. BTW there are no grade crossings anywhere this derailment. Now back to topic .....

Idiot cable channel reporters are focusing on PTC relevance but AFAIK it is not yet activated. Since Sound Transit now owns and dispatches this line, it is their responsibility to manage PTC activation (not Amtrak or BNSF).

NTSB is on its way so every comment until then is speculation. This 'bypass' project refurbished or built new all of the trackage on this new line, but slower curves at either end are not '79 mph' as quoted previously. Amtrak crews had been taking familiarization trips for the last few months, so anticipating the Dupont S-curve & bridge should have been no problem.

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:39 PM

Newsmedia and the newsworkers are once again showing how ignorant they can be. Some of their "expert" commentary seems to be coming from someone who rode the train once (maybe).  BossHen was seriously laughing at some of the dumber comments on TV (CBS & CNN -Kinda stupid watching them equate transit to freight rail)

DOT 085 839A  MP 10.15 BNSF Lakeview Spur -Northwest Region (Lakeview-NisquallyVancouver) Line Segment 401 (Old SB Pacific Hwy) in what had been a 10 MPH low use branch before upgrading with an eight degree curve reversing into a seven degree curve, (There is only sooooo much elevation to get up to 80 mph, so if the pendelum in the Talgo cars were not working right, centripital force and Isaac Newton take over), 1.5% grade northward.....passenger speeds would only be good for 20-40 mph with max elevation (Guessing 6" if you keep freight off it to save the low rail). No idea what kind of speed exemption a Talgo pendulum allows. Nobody is gonna put 33 inches of superelevation into a curve for normal passenger operation in order to get 80MPH.

In Northern Pacific's Heyday, the best it ever was was 30MPH (NP American Lake Line - 17th Sub. built circa 1891)...Don't think the track was at fault here. Good reason to believe the wannabe's and bus people at WashDOT are going to be exposed for the rail experts that they never were and Amthrax is also going to get a beatdown in the final analysis.

For the Record: BNSF sold the line to Sound Transit in 2005 (FD-34747  9-28-05) and Tacoma Rail was assigned any freight obligations in 2004b(FD-34555 10-19-04) for what was supposed to be a passenger only operation.

 

UPDATE: The curve was boarded for 30MPH / passenger & freight. A long overdue "come to jesus" moment is in the offing for all the wannabe and novice railroaders. (This includes the transportation planners and most of the DOT's (maybe fix FTA while they are at it)...lots of fines coming here along with examination of the overhyped PTC aspect.)

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 Overmod on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:45 PM

rdamon
Look at 6:45 in Overmods post ...  is that a signal tower bunched up?

Looks like it to me, and notice the divots adjacent to the ROW, and the way the end tie cribs have been carefully broomed out in a couple of places.  Curiouser and curiouser...

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Posted by samfp1943 on Monday, December 18, 2017 3:56 PM

rdamon

News said that they were running on a new route on recently renovated track.

 

And then there is this:"Anarchists Bragged in April about Sabotaging Railroad Tracks to Block Fracking" 

linked@https://pjmedia.com/trending/anarchists-bragged-april-sabotaging-railroad-tracks-block-fracking/

Who knows? Something like this will bring out the nutjobs; all seeking a modicum of notice. Terrorism now seems to be the order of the day?  PNW seems to have their fair share, even saw an article that was tying ISIS to potential harm up on the Corridor in the NE.  It will be up to the experts to assign responsibility.

 

 

 


 

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:03 PM
I can't speak to specifics or with authority, but people have been posting pictures of the training movies being conducted on this line for at least the last month. Likley longer. I've been seeing them on PacNW Yahoo group. So certainly some significant training has been going on. Whether it has been sufficient I will not speculate.
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Posted by 243129 on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:04 PM

I would wager a guess that of lack of situational awareness, poor training and high speed contributed to this disaster. The engineer contributor (Bregent)who was interviewed lost credibility with me when he stated that"hitting an object may have kept the engineer from braking the train".

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Posted by domefoamer on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:19 PM

No training necessary here. CNN reports that this happened on a stretch of the normal route, well south of the junction for the Point Defiance and Bypass routes. Casdades trains have been traveling this accident site for many years. 

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Posted by MikeF90 on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:31 PM

samfp1943
And then there is this:"Anarchists Bragged in April about Sabotaging Railroad Tracks to Block Fracking" linked@ https://pjmedia.com/trending/anarchists-bragged-april-sabotaging-railroad-tracks-block-fracking/

Another 'barely competent' media outlet not worth quoting. You do know that on this route through freight trains are Not allowed;  only a few Tacoma Rail locals are allowed during non-commute hours.

domefoamer
CNN reports that this happened on a stretch of the normal route, well south of the junction for the Point Defiance and Bypass routes.

TOTAL BS! @domefoamer, you really need to look at the map links closely. The only rail crossing of I-5 in the area is the bridge near Dupont on the new 'bypass'.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:44 PM

samfp1943
 
rdamon

News said that they were running on a new route on recently renovated track. 

And then there is this:"Anarchists Bragged in April about Sabotaging Railroad Tracks to Block Fracking"  

linked@https://pjmedia.com/trending/anarchists-bragged-april-sabotaging-railroad-tracks-block-fracking/

Who knows? Something like this will bring out the nutjobs; all seeking a modicum of notice. Terrorism now seems to be the order of the day?  PNW seems to have their fair share, even saw an article that was tying ISIS to potential harm up on the Corridor in the NE.  It will be up to the experts to assign responsibility.

Don't overlook ISIS potentially claiming responsibility - of course there wasn't a big boom which they favor.

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:52 PM

That looks like too much wreckage for derailing upon striking an object at 30 mph, and too little wreckage for climbing the rail or overturning at 80 mph.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, December 18, 2017 4:59 PM

Overmod
is that a signal tower bunched up?

This google view show the multihead signal shadow.

https://www.google.com/maps/place/Tacoma,+WA/@47.0825946,-122.6746722,60m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m5!3m4!1s0x549054ee2b659567:0x62219c07ebb09e82!8m2!3d47.2528768!4d-122.4442906

I took a straight edge to the google map and a tangent to the track before the curve takes a line right into the signal. I deduce that the Charger didn't follow the curve and went almost straight ahead. Why? I would like to think that it might have started to follow the curve before climbing the rail. To have struck the signal means it had little deflection in the direction of the curve. Does anyone see any ground evidence of the path of the locomotive near the signal?

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Posted by oltmannd on Monday, December 18, 2017 5:19 PM

Scaling off Google Maps, that's a 13 degree curve (plus or minus).  6" superelevation and 3" cant deficiency gets you 30 mph.  9" CD gets you 40 mph.  

 

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by NorthWest on Monday, December 18, 2017 6:35 PM
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Posted by PNWRMNM on Monday, December 18, 2017 6:42 PM

Mudchicken quoted 8 degree curve north of bridge and 7 degree south. Those figures are reasonable, but 13 degree is not.

I am very familiar with this spot. The train was headed geographic south and was closely approaching Nisqually Junction with BNSF two track main. The engine on the track was the LEAD unit. Since there are some Talgo cars off the high side of the curve North of the freeway and the rear unit looks to be south of the freeway, I think the investigation will show that the first thing to derail were at least two cars more or less in the middle and that they went flying. Talgo cars are not supposed to do that. Likely another car started down the bank towad the high side of the curve and the oncoming rear of the train went to the inside of the curve due to resistance of the grounded car to end up on the inside of the curve.

If there are any BNSF guys on the ground, which there is no reason for other than to limit bureaucrat lies, they have it figured out already. WSDOT people have no clue. ATK might know, but if they are smart anybody below VPO level will keep their mouth shut. Get ready for a couple of years of NTSB theatre.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, December 18, 2017 6:53 PM

One piece of information that the recording of the dispatcher feed is that BNSF is dispatching the Lakewood spur.

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Posted by Buslist on Monday, December 18, 2017 8:20 PM

blue streak 1

One piece of information that the recording of the dispatcher feed is that BNSF is dispatching the Lakewood spur.

 

one Ironic thing is that BNSF and WasDOT got AREMA’s W.W. Hay award for their work upgrading this route.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, December 18, 2017 9:57 PM

PNWRMNM
The engine on the track was the LEAD unit.

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/photos-from-amtrak-train-derailment-near-olympia/

What do you mean by "LEAD" unit? The Seiman's Charger was on the front of the train and left the track upon entering the curve and wound up on the southbound lane of I-5. the front power car and about four coaches followed the Charger, the following cars separated and went various ways while the last two coaches are hanging off the track on the inside of the curve and the transition car plus the P42 remained on the track. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Monday, December 18, 2017 10:08 PM

Bus: Nothing wrong with the track. The track apparently performed as expected. The operating side can't claim that.

Buslist
 
blue streak 1

One piece of information that the recording of the dispatcher feed is that BNSF is dispatching the Lakewood spur.

 

 

 

one Ironic thing is that BNSF and WasDOT got AREMA’s W.W. Hay award for their work upgrading this route.

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 BaltACD on Monday, December 18, 2017 10:17 PM

Google Earth view of the area -

 

Note the 'black' segment of track below I-5.  That is a segment of wood crossties with the balance of the area being laid with concrete ties.

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, December 18, 2017 11:37 PM

BaltACD
Note the 'black' segment of track below I-5.  That is a segment of wood crossties with the balance of the area being laid with concrete ties.

The concrete ties are on the Tacoma side of the curve. Is there a point to the observation? I don't think concrete ties are required for high speed are they? And the curve was posted for T-30 mph. 

Also, south of I-5 on the south side of the right hand curve is a section that looks like it is blacktoped. Wonder what that is.

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Posted by Saturnalia on Monday, December 18, 2017 11:46 PM

Buslist

 

 
blue streak 1

One piece of information that the recording of the dispatcher feed is that BNSF is dispatching the Lakewood spur.

 

 

 

one Ironic thing is that BNSF and WasDOT got AREMA’s W.W. Hay award for their work upgrading this route.

 

 

For all the evidence pointing to a simple overspeed disaster, there is no evidence that the engineering of the route had anything to do with the incident. 

As I said in the comments of the NewsWire article, I'd like to know how soon PTC was due to be installed. For all of the upgrades going on over this line, why was PTC not turned on before revenue service begins? Not that it is a requirement until the end of next year, and we can't place fault in it not being there, but it'd be an interesting piece to the puzzle.

Like Amtrak 188 on the NEC, it appears as though both curves were due to have PTC online and functioning within months after the respective disasters. 

I used to be a PTC skeptic but with three passenger overspeed incidents in as many years, it is clear that the system is needed to protect passenger movements. Consider me still a skeptic on freight-only lines, but when it comes to passenger safety, these are happening too often. 

While we used to anticipate airline disasters on a fairly regular, grim interval, the last fatality-causing Commerical Airline disaster in the US on  a US carrier was all the way back in 2009. It's time to finish patching up what safety holes remain in Rail. Our industry used to be the safest, but now it is not. 

Transportation will always involve risk. You're more likely to drive on your way to the station and trains are extremely safe. But that does NOT excuse us from using the tools and technologies available to us to prevent accidents such as this. 

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Posted by Phoebe Vet on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:31 AM

PNWRMNM

I am very familiar with this spot. The train was headed geographic south and was closely approaching Nisqually Junction with BNSF two track main. The engine on the track was the LEAD unit. Since there are some Talgo cars off the high side of the curve North of the freeway and the rear unit looks to be south of the freeway, I think the investigation will show that the first thing to derail were at least two cars more or less in the middle and that they went flying. Talgo cars are not supposed to do that. Likely another car started down the bank towad the high side of the curve and the oncoming rear of the train went to the inside of the curve due to resistance of the grounded car to end up on the inside of the curve.

If there are any BNSF guys on the ground, which there is no reason for other than to limit bureaucrat lies, they have it figured out already. WSDOT people have no clue. ATK might know, but if they are smart anybody below VPO level will keep their mouth shut. Get ready for a couple of years of NTSB theatre.

 

I cannot even picture any dynamic that would leave all the debris where it is if that engine still on the track was the lead engine.  The train had to have run straight off the curve.

Dave

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Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 8:03 AM
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 8:18 AM

Electroliner 1935
Also, south of I-5 on the south side of the right hand curve is a section that looks like it is blacktoped. Wonder what that is.

When you actually use Google Earth and go down to a lower eye level you can see that they are wood ties and not blacktop.  Why wood ties are at the location for that segment is the question.

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 8:25 AM

It has been reported that the train was traveling 80 mph in a 30 mph zone.  Where did the 30 mph zone begin in relation to the curve?  I understand that there was an advance warning sign.  What did that sign say?

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