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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:39 PM

mudchicken: Thanks for the information.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:44 PM

Electroliner 1935
When you drive on a highway, you see warning signs for XX SPEED ZONE AHEAD, then 500 to 1000 feet further, you see the SPEED LIMIT XX, The vehicle should pass the SPEED LIMIT sign at XX speed. Same for a train. Is that clear?

Except that precisely what he was asking is "how much advance warning to accomplish that 'reduce speed to xxx' was given?" and the correct answer appears to be 'none directly'.  Hence my earlier comment about why this isn't a MUTCD kind of situation.

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 1:56 PM

Electroliner 1935
It surprises me that it appears that the Locomotive did not appear to have any deflection to its left but stayed straight ahead.

Here is the first of what I expect to be many reconstructions of the accident physics:

I do not see this explaining the signal-bridge damage, so expect ongoing revisions.

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:04 PM

Euclid

 

 
Overmod
I agree that we should wait for the NTSB preliminary report, as I think they will have both the GPS tracking data and the information from the LER to tell us EXACTLY how fast the train was going at all the points of interest, what the brake transitions were, and most of the other information related to the question you thought you were asking.

 

I am quite certain about what question I am asking. It is a very simple question.  It has not been answsered as far as I know.  And I don't intend to wait for the NTSB to answer this incredibly simple question.  Here is that question:

At what point does the speed limit change from 79 to 30?

 

At the beginning of the curve...  Where does it end?  At the end of the curve.

 

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

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Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:15 PM

I measured 2 miles advance warning.

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Posted by oltmannd on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:18 PM

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

Some of us have BNSF trackcharts.  Some of us only have Google maps.  I am not aware of any mainlines in the east with 13 degree curves.  Closest I know of is 12 degrees on connection in Harrisburg PA.  Still my trusty compass and scale on map got 13.

I make no appologies.  

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

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:19 PM

Ahead of the curve, it looks like the track was straight for approximately 2500 feet, giving a clear view of the curve location, and yet the engineer ran right up to that 30 mph curve at 80 mph. 

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Posted by MOWBill on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:29 PM

On the BNSF the sign is the beginning of the restriction.

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:36 PM

BNSF'S speed boards are very simple and derived directly from Northern Pacific practice.

A horizontal board with a number is placed at the point the restriction becomes effective. An advance warning is placed two miles in advance of the restriction. These signs are placed on a diagonal, 45 degrees I think, to distinguish them from the "at restriction signs. As someone else mentioned this is analagous to home signal, approach signal logic.

The type of train to which the restriction applies is also shown on the speed sign. Unique to my knowledge to the Seattle-Portland line is type T for Talgo. P for passenger and F for freight are used system wide. It is thus possible, between Seattle and Portland, for a single curve to have three different speed restirctions, say T 70, P 60, F 50 and they would be stacked that way with the T speed on top. The images I have seen that are said to be at the entrance to this curve are horizontal T 30 and P 30, which is consistent with late NP speed limit of 30 MPH shown on track chart.

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Posted by rdamon on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:40 PM

Reposting the Advance Warning signs to illustrate PNWRMNM's point

 

 

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:48 PM

MOWBill

On the BNSF the sign is the beginning of the restriction.

 

So, assuming that applies to the line in question, that means that the speed limit is 30 mph for two miles preceding the start of the curve.  That paints a quite different picture indeed.

That means that the NTSB statement that the train was moving 80 in the 30 zone could mean that this overspeeding occured say a mile ahead of the curve, but that the engineer realized his mistake in time to begin braking and considerably slow the train. 

That may explain why the wreck damage does not look quite as extensive as one might expect for a train going on the ground at 80 mph.  I wonder what the maximum speed is that would allow the train to travel around the curve without derailing.  Could it be as low as 60?

If so, he might have braked down to say 63 mph before the train derailed. 

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Posted by JEREMY ENGLISH on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:57 PM

"Is there any chance the problem could have been with the rear engine - the one still on the rails? Like the engineer in the lead unit throttling down and applying brakes when he should have, but somehow the rear engine not responding due to some mechanical failure."

I note that there is a photograph of a new Siemens SC-44 on Rail Pictures (by Steve Carter) in the caption to which he notes that the locomotive, no. 1402, was photographed "After a long delay in Seattle's King St Station trying to get WSDOT's new Charger locomotives to link up with Mater (Cab Car), a Cascades test train arrives in Tacoma's Tacoma Dome Station . . . ."

This is the locomotive involved in the accident. The photo was taken 4 weeks ago (November 22nd). Is it possible there is a fault with the software which hasn't yet been sorted fully?

Jeremy English

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 2:58 PM

Euclid

 

 
MOWBill

On the BNSF the sign is the beginning of the restriction.

 

 

 

So, assuming that applies to the line in question, that means that the speed limit is 30 mph for two miles preceding the start of the curve.  That paints a quite different picture indeed.

That means that the NTSB statement that the train was moving 80 in the 30 zone could mean that this overspeeding occured say a mile ahead of the curve, but that the engineer realized his mistake in time to begin braking and considerably slow the train. 

That may explain why the wreck damage does not look quite as extensive as one might expect for a train going on the ground at 80 mph.  I wonder what the maximum speed is that would allow the train to travel around the curve without derailing.  Could it be as low as 60?

If so, he might have braked down to say 63 mph before the train derailed. 

 

The speed restriction begins at the curve; the sign  two miles in advance warns the engineer that the train is approaching the speed restriction. 

Johnny

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:25 PM

On another site saw a poor depiction of USGS maps that appeared that before I-5 was built that "S" curve was not there.  Some one who knows did Washington DOT put that "S" curve in to reduce costs of the bridge over I-5 ?  Even with the graffiti the bridge does appear fairly new ?

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:25 PM

Deggesty
 
Euclid

 

 
MOWBill

On the BNSF the sign is the beginning of the restriction.

 

 

 

So, assuming that applies to the line in question, that means that the speed limit is 30 mph for two miles preceding the start of the curve.  That paints a quite different picture indeed.

That means that the NTSB statement that the train was moving 80 in the 30 zone could mean that this overspeeding occured say a mile ahead of the curve, but that the engineer realized his mistake in time to begin braking and considerably slow the train. 

That may explain why the wreck damage does not look quite as extensive as one might expect for a train going on the ground at 80 mph.  I wonder what the maximum speed is that would allow the train to travel around the curve without derailing.  Could it be as low as 60?

If so, he might have braked down to say 63 mph before the train derailed. 

 

 

 

The speed restriction begins at the curve; the sign  two miles in advance warns the engineer that the train is approaching the speed restriction. 

 

 

Well now that you mention it, I am not sure which sign MOWBill is referring to as the sign.  Both the advance sign and the sign at the curve are being referred to as "the sign."

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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:29 PM

JEREMY ENGLISH
"Is there any chance the problem could have been with the rear engine - the one still on the rails? Like the engineer in the lead unit throttling down and applying brakes when he should have, but somehow the rear engine not responding due to some mechanical failure."

I heard in a news video that the P42 was in idle the whole run to the south.
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Posted by MikeF90 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:38 PM

There's been some good speculation and discussion here, but one possible condition has not been brought up IIRC.

This was an Inaugural run, so it is VERY likely that extra personnel were in the P42 cab: RFE, Amtrak executive, political VIP, you pick.

Hopefully the NTSB will find out and publish if 'distracted driving' was a factor.

Links to my Google Maps ---> Sunset Route overview, SoCal metro, Yuma sub, Gila sub, SR east of Tucson, BNSF Northern Transcon and Southern Transcon 

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:41 PM

Euclid

So, assuming that applies to the line in question, that means that the speed limit is 30 mph for two miles preceding the start of the curve.  That paints a quite different picture indeed.

That means that the NTSB statement that the train was moving 80 in the 30 zone could mean that this overspeeding occured say a mile ahead of the curve, but that the engineer realized his mistake in time to begin braking and considerably slow the train.

Euclid,

NO, NO, NO a thousand times NO!

The 30 MPH restriction begins where the speed horizontal speed sign is placed, in this case immediately North of the begining of the curve. The advance warning (angled sign) is placed two miles before the restriction. I explained all of this a few posts ago.

The limit in the intervening two miles is whatever the previous horizontal sign the train passed says. I have no knowledge what that was/is and doubt you do either.

Mac

 

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Posted by JEREMY ENGLISH on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 3:51 PM
I was quoting someone else here - my point was to do with the Charger being the same one (1402) which gave trouble "talking" to its train some 4 weeks ago.
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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:05 PM
The map might leave a wrong impression. There were extensive upgrades to the tracks all of the way to the freeway overpass. We enjoyed watching all of the work along side of the freeway over the last several years.
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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:18 PM

MikeF90

There's been some good speculation and discussion here, but one possible condition has not been brought up IIRC.

This was an Inaugural run, so it is VERY likely that extra personnel were in the P42 cab: RFE, Amtrak executive, political VIP, you pick.

Hopefully the NTSB will find out and publish if 'distracted driving' was a factor.

 

According to the NTSB news conference, there were four people in the cab of the locomotive. 

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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:31 PM
Likely similar to a highway, the 'speed reduction ahead' sign tells you to have slowed down to the lower speed by the time you arrive at that sign.
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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:44 PM

Euclid
 
MikeF90

There's been some good speculation and discussion here, but one possible condition has not been brought up IIRC.

This was an Inaugural run, so it is VERY likely that extra personnel were in the P42 cab: RFE, Amtrak executive, political VIP, you pick.

Hopefully the NTSB will find out and publish if 'distracted driving' was a factor. 

According to the NTSB news conference, there were four people in the cab of the locomotive. 

Next question is who was at the controls?

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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:52 PM

Here is a link to Seattle Transit of today's date, it gives a quick history of the Tacoma/Fort Lewis/Nisqualley bypass. It answers a number of questions that have come up.

apologies for doing this as a reply to another post, I can't find the link to make a new post. Perhaps a moderator will correct this for me. Thanks

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 4:57 PM

BaltACD

 

 
Euclid
 
MikeF90

There's been some good speculation and discussion here, but one possible condition has not been brought up IIRC.

This was an Inaugural run, so it is VERY likely that extra personnel were in the P42 cab: RFE, Amtrak executive, political VIP, you pick.

Hopefully the NTSB will find out and publish if 'distracted driving' was a factor. 

According to the NTSB news conference, there were four people in the cab of the locomotive. 

 

Next question is who was at the controls?

 

Yes--was the person at the controls qualified for this section of track?

Johnny

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:33 PM

blue streak 1

On another site saw a poor depiction of USGS maps that appeared that before I-5 was built that "S" curve was not there.  Some one who knows did Washington DOT put that "S" curve in to reduce costs of the bridge over I-5 ?  Even with the graffiti the bridge does appear fairly new ? 

To add to this question was this bridge built for the US-29 expressway ?  Then when I-5 was an additional lanes built to the east ?  That might explain why the bridge supports  appear about 1936-1938 era ?  Some one who knows please enlighten  ? ? ?

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:43 PM

Deggesty
 
BaltACD
 
Euclid 
MikeF90

There's been some good speculation and discussion here, but one possible condition has not been brought up IIRC.

This was an Inaugural run, so it is VERY likely that extra personnel were in the P42 cab: RFE, Amtrak executive, political VIP, you pick.

Hopefully the NTSB will find out and publish if 'distracted driving' was a factor. 

According to the NTSB news conference, there were four people in the cab of the locomotive.  

Next question is who was at the controls? 

Yes--was the person at the controls qualified for this section of track?

One other thing enters in the equation - Was this the first revenue operation of the Charger that was the lead locomotive?  I have seen where a number of Chargers have been transported to users.  I haven't heard where they have been put in operation.  Had Chargers been in use on the Puget Sound route?

I know when MARC got their MP36's they spent several weeks on having their crews operate them with 'test trains' so the crews could get familar with their operation, both as the lead locomotive as well as when used as a pusher in cab car operation, before placing them in revenue service.

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:52 PM

They said there was the engineer, a conductor, an assistant conductor, and an engineer in training in the cab together.  Here is an article that says the NTSB wants to learn whether the engineer was distracted by the trainee engineer.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/amtrak-train-hurtles-off-overpass-at-least-6-people-killed/2017/12/18/4381da24-e450-11e7-927a-e72eac1e73b6_story.html?utm_term=.d2b6e460244f

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Posted by MOWBill on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 5:56 PM

The horizontal sign, common sense goes a long ways...

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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:10 PM

Electroliner 1935

When yo drive on a highway, you see warning signs for XX SPEED ZONE AHEAD, then 500 to a 1000 feet further, you see the SPEED LIMIT XX, The vehicle should pass the SPEED LIMIT sign at XX speed. Same for a train. Is that clear? 

 

No, it's not clear.  UP doesn't do that and I didn't think BNSF did either.  GCOR says the sign will be placed in advance of the beginning point with no mention of another sign at the actual beginning point.  The exception is where the restriction changes from a lower to higher speed.  The distance from the sign to the beginning of the speed restriction is up to the individual railroads and would be in their special instructions.  (Our timetable speed restriction table will note when the sign isn't placed the prescribed distance.) 

There should be a resume speed sign at the end of the restriction.  Seeing the back side of that sign is where I can tell where the permanent speed restrictions I encounter actually begin.

Jeff

MOWBill, you have two posts. One saying two miles in advance for BNSF, the other saying at the beginning.  Which ist it? 

 

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