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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by Jim200 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:16 PM

rdamon

Reposting the Advance Warning signs to illustrate PNWRMNM's point

 

 

 

At 80 mph the train will go 117 ft in 1.0 second. This angled speed restricting sign is at the front of the third white rail car. If you zoom back (with minus sign) and click the left arrow so that you go north to a position three rail cars from the sign,(there is no rail car there, only a bush),you will be about 150 ft to 180 ft from the sign. If you look back south, the front of the white automobile will be about at the sign. To see the sign you will need to zoom in (with plus sign) and you will also see the back of a highway speed limit sign in the shade near the automobile. At 80 mph it takes about 1.3 to 1.5 second to see the sign from a distance of three rail cars. If you can see the sign from six rail cars away, then you will need twice the time to be distracted to lose situational awareness. Of course, we will let the NTSB find the cause, but it does seem that more warnings should be given to help the engineer. 

Also note that this photo was taken in the morning, due to the tree shadow to the west. The shadow would be opposite in the evening which could darken the angled restricting sign.

You may need to go back to rdamon's post to see the google view, although now it seems to be alright.

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Posted by NorthWest on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 6:29 PM

1402 has been around for a while and has lead quite a bit.

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Posted by Euclid on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 7:54 PM

Now they are saying that the engineer of the train never applied the brakes.  The train made an emergency application that was not initiated by the engineer.  I assume that was when the engine jumped the curve and the first air hoses parted.

In one report, it also said that only the engineer and a trainee were in the cab, as opposed to four people as stated by the NTSB this morning.

http://katu.com/news/local/ntsb-derailed-amtrak-trains-emergency-brake-automatically-activated

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 7:55 PM
I don't claim to know much about how various railroads operate. But clearly, if the curve is a 30 mph curve, then the train has to get down to 30 mph BEFORE (or exactly as) it arrives at the curve.

Still in training.


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Posted by JL Chicago on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 9:48 PM

Count me in as well as a PTC skeptic who now thinks we have no choice but to adopt it.  The safety record of rail is now abysmal compared to the airlines.  Amtrak has fatal wrecks it seems every year.  Add in another commuter wreck somewhere each year and it's getting to be too much.

I've worked in both the airline and railroad industry.  No longer in either but still follow then closely, including still reading industry trade mags and occasional conferences.

The airline industry and the FAA, after a string of wrecks in the 90s and early 2000s took a new approach to safety with a zero tolerance of accidents.   Their goal was zero (and I do mean zero) accidents.  And it's worked.  No fatalities amongn US airlines this decade.

Sadly to say, neither the FRA nor the rail industry seem to have a similar goal.  Their attitude, seems to me, is that accidents are not completely avoidable, so why make it a goal, we must learn to live with them.  Yes minimize them but can't totally avoid them.  With that attitude it's not a surprise we are having so many accidents.  Don't believe me?   Look at some of the responses from what appear to be from industry insiders, especially on another forum site I frequent but no longer post to.

The auto industry is also going the way of the airlines.  Volvo's goal is zero fatalities by 2020.  According to NHTSA stats, zero people die in Volvo's already in some years now.   Same true for some other high end brands.

Rail will lose huge market share among millennials if they don't soon fix this issue.  My generation (baby boomer) is willing to accept some risk.  But not the newer gen.  My school DePaul did a study a couple years back on millennial travel and their first choice is Uber for local and MegaBus for distance.  Metra and Amtrak?  For some it doesn't even register.   And these are Chicago college students with trains at their doorsteps.

Argh.   The attitude of some of the people in this industry is maddening.

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Posted by JL Chicago on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 10:00 PM

Not quite correct on the non-use of spiral curves on freeways.   Older ones didn't have them but some newer ones often do.   A good example is I-80 through Pennsylvania built late 20th century which is easily my favorite interstate east of the Mississippi.  And quite mountainous to boot.  It's a superb engineering feat.

Car seems to guide itself around the curves.  Road starts to bank just before the curve starts and it spiral in, so that the car actually (and ever so slightly) starts to guide itself around the curve on its own as the road starts to turn.  It's very subtle but very noticeable to a sports car driver like me.   Reminds me of the banks on a racetrack.   

Compare that to I-70 that also runs through the same state, but a bit further south.   It was built in the 50s.   Horrible road.  Curves are not spiralled at all.  And sharp too.  So transition is instantaneous.  Difficult to stay in lane if you even are ever so slightly un-alert.  And if it's rainy or icy?   That's why you see pileups.   Design is important.   Safety has to be designed in.  Too many people seem to think it's up to the operational people (loco crews or auto drivers) to manage safety after the fact.   But good built in design helps too.  

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Tuesday, December 19, 2017 11:31 PM

jeffhergert
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.

From GCOR;

Permanent Speed Signs Permanent speed restriction signs will be placed in advance of permanent speed restrictions. Numbers on the face of these signs indicate the highest speed permitted over the limits of the restriction. Two Sets of Numbers When two sets of numbers are shown, the greater number governs trains consisting entirely of passenger equipment. The lesser number governs all other trains. Resume Speed Signs A permanent resume speed sign or a speed sign showing a higher speed will be placed at the end of each restriction. Crew members must not exceed the speed shown on each permanent speed restriction sign until the rear of the train: • Has passed a permanent resume speed sign or a sign showing a higher speed. or • Has cleared the limits of the restriction. Restricted Area Resume Higher Speed 10 50 30 [Diagram A.]

6.31.1 Permanent Speed Restrictions Permanent speed restrictions must not be exceeded until the rear of the train clears the limits of the restriction, unless otherwise specified.

Isn't this similar to the distant signal for a home signal where the indication instructs the engineer what to expect at the home signal and aproach it at the speed indicated, much as an approach medium signal tells the engineer to approach the home signal at medium speed and to be guided by the home signal. Just as when on the highway the speed zone ahead sign tells the driver that he is approaching a speed zone and to bring the vehicle's speed to conform to the indicated speed.

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 4:26 AM

BaltACD
One other thing enters in the equation - Was this the first revenue operation of the Charger that was the lead locomotive?

The following information was collected from several minutes of Section 305 Technical Subcommitee meetings.

Pre-revenue testing of all WSDOT locomotives was completed early july 2017.
The locomotives were ready for revenue service in the beginning of October 2017.
Revenue service started in early November 2017.

To start revenue service the lease contract between WSDOT and Amtrak had to be finalized.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by petitnj on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:34 AM

Some technical facts about keeping the train on the tracks. What holds the train on the rails is the ratio of Lateral Force (L) to Vertical Force (V). The flange provides the L and the weight of the train provides the V from gravity. Typically track design keeps L/V less that .5 for safe operation. Lateral force comes from the flange pushing back on the tendency of the wheel to move sideways. On a curve, the lateral force moves the train around the arc. L is proportional to the speed of the train around the curve squared devided by the radius. As the speed increases the L needed to hold the rail goes up by the square. 

So in the case of a 30 MPH curve design, lets say the L/V is limited to .3 (I am guessing well below the .5 limit). If the train now takes the curve at 80 MPH that multiplies the lateral force needed by 7 ( square of 80/30) so the L/V becomes 2 and that means there is not enough force from the flange to keep the wheel from riding over the rail. In the images the lead locomotive didn't deviate very far from the straight line of the rail just before the curve. It took with it the following cars until the brakes and the ground stopped the cars. The weight of the trailing locomotive pushed some of the cars along the straight (remember lighter cars have a lower V so they are even more susecptible to climbing the rail than the heavier locomotive) until the speed dropped to the point that the wheels held the rail and went along the curve. Then the speed dropped and L dropped quickly (again as the square of the speed) and the cars held the rails until pulled off the rail by the cars ahead. Then the coupling between cars broke due to lateral forces and the middle cars (now off the rail) were pushed along in an accordian like way until stopping. Note that the heavy trailing locomotive stayed on the rail as it hit the curve at a much slower speed. 

Physics -- it actually works. 

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:51 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
 
BaltACD
One other thing enters in the equation - Was this the first revenue operation of the Charger that was the lead locomotive? 

The following information was collected from several minutes of Section 305 Technical Subcommitee meetings.

Pre-revenue testing of all WSDOT locomotives was completed early july 2017.
The locomotives were ready for revenue service in the beginning of October 2017.
Revenue service started in early November 2017.

To start revenue service the lease contract between WSDOT and Amtrak had to be finalized.
Regards, Volker

Had familiarization trips over the new route been made by the engineer involved using a Charger before this first revenue trip?

With the train making the emergency application, as has been reported, the engineer's mind and actions weren't 'in the game'.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:56 AM

petitnj
Physics -- it actually works. 

It's the law!

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 7:57 AM
Could someone explain what an "X degree curve means?" Let's say 13 degrees. I would imagine that means the track will change direction 13 degrees in some specified distance. What is that distance?

Still in training.


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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:32 AM

Artilce from the AP about PTC ..

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/amtrak-didnt-wait-for-system-that-couldve-prevented-wreck/ar-BBH2V7y?ocid=spartandhp

 

Good picture of the point that the restriction is in place and what looks like a transition to wood ties.

 

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Posted by petitnj on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:52 AM

Made a quick table of safe speeds

Track Radius             Safe Speed (L/V=.5)            L/V at 80 MPH
   in feet                     in MPH                                unitless

    300                        48                                     1.4
    500                        62                                       .8
   1000                       87                                       .4
   1500                      107                                      .3
   2500                      138                                      .2
   5280                      200                                      .1
 10000                      275                                      .04

I rounded off the numbers but you can see how high L/V jumps if the radius gets small. Clearly the radius at this accident was in the range of a few hundred feet and the safe speed well below 80.

 

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:06 AM

Electroliner 1935
Isn't this similar to the distant signal for a home signal where the indication instructs the engineer what to expect at the home signal and aproach it at the speed indicated, much as an approach medium signal tells the engineer to approach the home signal at medium speed and to be guided by the home signal. Just as when on the highway the speed zone ahead sign tells the driver that he is approaching a speed zone and to bring the vehicle's speed to conform to the indicated speed.

I don't think so; the slant-board signs previously discussed perform the 'warning' function, but they are not 'required' in GCOR.

Perhaps the best way to think of the 'speed restriction' signs are to compare them to the weight-restriction signs on smaller road bridges.  They are posted 'far enough ahead' of the restriction to give fair warning that there is a 'hard' requirement to traverse it, but there is no requirement for signs further up the road that say 'restricted bridge ahead - trucks use alternate route' (although of course it would be wise to provide them)

Here, "in advance of" the restriction does not mean by more than the distance seen at the Lakewood curve; it should most emphatically not be understood as 'far enough in advance to allow running speed reduction from prior speed limit'.  It is merely a marker that a restriction will closely follow.

 

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Posted by MOWBill on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:07 AM

OK I will go through this again.

1. Advance Speed Restriction sign two miles away from restriction at a diagonal on the Post.

2. Speed Restriction starts at the horizonal sign (in this case the Talgo speed is the same as Passenger Trains)

3. Sign on the left that you see the back of is the Green Sign for the end of the restriction for Eastbound trains.

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Posted by samfp1943 on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:27 AM

rdamon

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

 

            FNC was reporting further on the 'Cascades' wreck on the Morning News, this AM (12/20/17). One interesting point was that the Engineer was actually a Conductor- in- training(?), which may have been causal to his 'distraction' while operating the train(?) Were there other personnel/officials in the cab, as well?

    I am curious about possible train handling dynamics(?)

    The Siemens 'Charger' Is considered a 'multi-purpose' type locomotive, and able to be hooked/coupled, to any available train consist(?). 

   Generally, the TALGO- style locomotives, seem to appear to be of a less-heavier construction(?). My guess is that this WSDOT Service does regularly, utilize heavier, types of General Electric P-42 style locomotives in this service(?).   The pusher locomotive on Train 501 appears to be a P-42 style engine(?).

 When Charger #1402 left the rails(at speed(?); it seemed to vere to the outside of the tangent of the track, and at some point, apparently, rolled over (number of times(?) . The roof sheet appeared to have been displaced to the rear(?). Charger #1402 also appeared to have lost at least the leading truck, and took one Talgo car with it.   The rest of the trains cars appeared to be pushed off the track to the inside of the curve, and down the bank next to the bridge(?). With the pusher, P-42 seeming to remain on the track(?). Was its' weight a factor in this movement?  

*Was this because of the pusher locomotive's lack of PTC Controls? 

*Had a complete TALGO manufactured train set been available, would this derailment been avoided?

* It has also been noted that the reconstruction of the track, in the area was done at a cost of something-like $800 million dollars; to gain the goal of a high speed, line.  It would be interesting to see what the WSDOT got for that expenditure of funds> $$$Obama-Admin/ Stimulus Funds(?)<

Here is an article from LA Times: Linked @ http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-washington-amtrak-derailment-20171219-story.html

Rail experts ask why new track in Washington state Amtrak crash did not have speed control system

{All the reasons WHY there was no PTC on the newly revonated tracks}

 

 

After a speeding Amtrak train derailed during its first trip on a new rail line — on the heels of two deadly passenger rail crashes blamed on high speed since 2015 — safety experts on Tuesday asked why the train did not have the latest automated control system.

The train was traveling 80 mph in a 30-mph zone on a newly opened $181-million segment of track south of Seattle, according to the National Transportation Safety Board. Train cars spilled onto busy Interstate 5 and killed three train passengers.

The new 14.5-mile bypass, developed by the local government agency Sound Transit, was designed to allow the train to travel at faster speeds by avoiding cargo traffic.

But the passage was not yet equipped with what is known as a “positive train control system.” Such systems automatically slow down trains when they are approaching curves too quickly or headed toward a collision with another train.

Sound Transit is working to install the complex electronic system, having outfitted the majority of the equipment on its tracks and trains, but does not expect the automatic system to be operational until the second quarter of 2018, said spokesman Geoff Patrick.

When everything else goes wrong, the positive train control is supposed to intervene. Investigators said the lack of such a system contributed to eight deaths in an Amtrak accident in 2015 and a single fatality in a New Jersey Transit crash in 2016.

“Why they didn’t have positive train control is a question in my mind,” said Michael McGinley, a railroad safety expert and track engineer. “Why wouldn’t they build a new system with the latest technology?”

The simple answer is that U.S. railroads and their government regulators have been slow to implement the tricky system, leaving the majority of trains unprotected. McGinley noted that the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Federal Communications Commission, among other federal agencies, took more than a year to coordinate their rules for the system.

Much of the freight railroad industry fought the regulations, arguing it was not economical. And when the companies were finally ordered to adopt the technology, suppliers were backed up to design and produce the custom systems.

“I think it should make people very angry,” Keith Millhouse, the former board chairman for Southern California's Metrolink commuter rail system, said of the lack of positive train control on the Washington track. Metrolink installed positive train control after the 2008 Chatsworth train disaster, which was caused by a texting Metrolink engineer.

Congress had originally given the nation’s rail services until 2015 to finish installing positive train control systems on their lines. But that deadline was extended until the end of 2018 as rail officials complained about the technical challenges of implementing the safeguards.

To positive train control advocates such as Millhouse, that delay has been deadly.

“It was clear that train could not handle that curve going 80 miles an hour,” Millhouse said of Monday’s Amtrak crash. “Given the fact positive train control was mandated in the Rail Safety Act of 2008, the delays in getting it implemented around the country are really inexcusable, and it’s cost people their lives.”

Patrick, the Sound Transit spokesman, said installation of the positive train control was not behind schedule and that the agency always intended to have it operational some months after the service began. He noted that other segments of the Amtrak rail system between Seattle and Portland, Ore., also do not have operational systems.

NTSB officials gathered the speed data from the rear engine of the 14-car train, which appears to be the only car that did not derail on a bridge over Interstate 5. About five crew members and 80 passengers were on board.

However, it’s “too early to tell” why the train was traveling so fast in a slow zone, NTSB member Bella Dinh-Zarr said at a Monday night news conference, as federal investigators began arriving at the scene of the crash.

She did not say whether investigators believed speed was the cause of the derailment and added that the train crew had not been interviewed yet.

“We will be looking at all the different areas of this accident” to look for possible factors leading to the crash, Dinh-Zarr said. “We don’t have a great deal of information to report.”

Typically, train engineers are supplied with “employee timetables” that include speed limits on every inch of the track they will go over.

About one mile before a speed-restricted curve, signs are posted notifying the engineer of a speed change. And engineers are required to be “territory qualified” and familiar with their route, particularly on an inaugural journey like the one the Amtrak train was taking, said McGinley, a railroad safety expert and track engineer.

The Amtrak’s front locomotive was reportedly carrying two engineers when it crashed, not the typical single train operator used on most trains. The presence of two engineers will probably be examined by investigators.

“Whether they were distracted when they passed the speed sign, we don’t know,” said Steven Ditmeyer, a retired research and development chief at the Federal Railroad Administration.

Monday’s crash seems to share some similarities with a 2015 Amtrak crash in Philadelphia, which derailed after a distracted engineer entered a curve too quickly. At a 2016 meeting announcing the board’s findings of the Philadelphia crash’s causes, NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart said positive train control would have stopped “this entirely preventable tragedy.”

“Unless positive train control is implemented soon, I’m very concerned that we’re going to be back in this room again, hearing investigators detail how technology that we have recommended for more than 45 years could have prevented yet another fatal rail accident,” Hart said at the May 17, 2016, meeting.

The three dead on the train included two rail aficionados, Zack Willhoite and Jim Hamre, who were on board for the inaugural journey.

Willhoite worked as an IT customer service support specialist for Pierce Transit, a Pierce County transit agency.

“Behind the scenes he was a writer and advocate for better transit for all,” tweeted Pierce Transit board member Chris Karnes, a crash survivor, who said Willhoite had also helped the board with IT issues. “He will be missed.”

Hamre was a board member for the Rail Passengers Assn., a transit advocacy group, and he formerly worked at the Washington State Department of Transportation.

“Jim combined personability and kindness, and paired it with an intricate and detailed knowledge of transit policy and technical insight,” the association said in a statement. “This made him an extremely powerful advocate and an inspiration for others.” Willhoite was also a member of the association.

Tuesday was expected to be the first full day on the scene for NTSB investigators. Dinh-Zarr, the board member, said investigators were often on scene for seven to 10 days. It’s common for reports issuing probable-cause findings for the reasons for crashes to take a year or longer.

“Our mission is not just to understand what happened, but why it happened, and to recommend changes so we can prevent another tragedy from happening again,” Dinh-Zarr said, noting that the NTSB has recommended the implementation of positive train control for years.

Millhouse, the former Metrolink chairman, urged swifter action.

“The NTSB report will be very exhaustive but will take a year or 18 months to come out,” Millhouse said. “In the interim, the people of Washington and Oregon just can’t sit back and cross their fingers and hope nothing happens again. They have to be proactive now and take measures with their system.”

 
Republicans pass tax overhaul
 
Remains of mountain lion P-41 tested positive for rat poisoning
 
The Lakers retired both of Kobe Bryant's numbers Monday night
 
State officials have warned against building homes within 500 feet of freeways
 
Amtrak train derails over I-5 in Washington state
 

UPDATES:

4:50 p.m.: This article was updated to report that the derailed train was not equipped with the latest technology designed to slow trains traveling at excessive speeds.

12:40 p.m.: This article was updated throughout with staff reporting.

This article was originally published at 12:20 a.m.

 

 

 


 

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Posted by petitnj on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:35 AM

Railroad curves. Railroad curves are so large it is impractical to find the center of a curve and use a line to draw the circle around it. Some of those centers would be in the middle of mountains and streams. So what they do is measure how much the direction of the rail changes in 100 feet. You take a 100' long rope and run it from rail ahead to the same rail (not across the gauge). Now measure the angle between the starting track and the rope. That is the degree of the curve. 

Here is another table

Degree of Curvature                     Curve Radius
           1                                             5000
           2                                             2800
           3                                             1900
           4                                             1500
           5                                             1100
           7                                               800
          10                                              600
          18                                              310
          24                                              240
          36                                              160

Typical locomotives cannot take curves sharper than 20 degrees and some steam engines less than that. 

 

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:38 AM

Apparently, the train entered the 30 mph curve at 80 mph and jumped the track without any brake application by the engineer.  If the engineer had somehow become unaware of the approaching curve, I would expect that he would have become fully aware as the curve became completely evident right in front of him. I would expect him to have made an emergency application at that instant even though it was too late to stop.  Yet he made no brake application before or during the derailment process.  Apparently, the brakes automatically made an emergency application due to the separation of air hoses after the derailment began.

 

 

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:50 AM

petitnj

Made a quick table of safe speeds

Track Radius             Safe Speed (L/V=.5)            L/V at 80 MPH
   in feet                     in MPH                                unitless

    300                        48                                     1.4
    500                        62                                       .8
   1000                       87                                       .4
   1500                      107                                      .3
   2500                      138                                      .2
   5280                      200                                      .1
 10000                      275                                      .04

I rounded off the numbers but you can see how high L/V jumps if the radius gets small. Clearly the radius at this accident was in the range of a few hundred feet and the safe speed well below 80.

 

 

With the curve at the wreck site, 30 mph was deemed to be a safe speed.  What would be the approximate highest speed possible without causing a derailment?

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:10 AM
petitnj, thanks for explaining the curve degrees.

Still in training.


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Posted by rdamon on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:11 AM

So far the articles are stating information recovered from the event recorder in the trailing P42. It will be interesting to see if there are any differences in what was seen in the recorder on SC-44 if it survived.

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Posted by lionelsoni on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:58 AM

"...lighter cars have a lower V so they are even more susecptible to climbing the rail than the heavier locomotive..."

Both the vertical (gravitational) and horizontal (centripetal) forces are proportional to the mass of the vehicle, so the mass does not affect their ratio.

 

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:59 AM

BaltACD
Had familiarization trips over the new route been made by the engineer involved using a Charger before this first revenue trip?

If he had a trainee conductor with him I would say yes but the investigation will show.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:20 AM

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Posted by Norm48327 on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:25 AM

Euclid

Apparently, the train entered the 30 mph curve at 80 mph and jumped the track without any brake application by the engineer.  If the engineer had somehow become unaware of the approaching curve, I would expect that he would have become fully aware as the curve became completely evident right in front of him. I would expect him to have made an emergency application at that instant even though it was too late to stop.  Yet he made no brake application before or during the derailment process.  Apparently, the brakes automatically made an emergency application due to the separation of air hoses after the derailment began.

Brandon Bostian, the engineer of Amtrak 188, did indeed recognize his predicament and in a last ditch attempt to make an emergancy stop to prevent the carnage, (assuming I've read the report correctly),  tried to stop the train as best he could at that point. IMO, Bostian lost situtional awareness which we in aviation refer to HOA syndrome. It could, for various reasons, have happened to the engineer in charge. Perhaps he was distracted for whatever reason. We will have to wait for the NTSB report before making judgement. No need to crucify the crew before having all the facts.

Sure, something/someone screwed up. Until the NTSB report is made public our speculations will prevail.

As previously said many times before I am willing to wait to see what the professional investigators turn up and in the mean time I discount the opinions of armchair experts.

I have been witness to too many aviation accidents and called to testify about them to make a hasty decision.

 

Norm


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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:41 AM

Considering how the NTSB's officials are being directly quoted in this article, I don't know if we can place our former level of trust in the NTSB, which over the years has become a place for political hacks with limited if any knowledge on the subject matter at hand.

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/amtrak-derailment-conductor-was-cab-engineer-deadly-washington-train-crash-n831341

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:44 AM

samfp1943
One interesting point was that the Engineer was actually a Conductor- in- training(?), which may have been causal to his 'distraction' while operating the train(?) Were there other personnel/officials in the cab, as well?

According to NTSB there were the engineer and a trainee conductor.

 

samfp1943
The Siemens 'Charger' Is considered a 'multi-purpose' type locomotive, and able to be hooked/coupled, to any available train consist(?).

It is a passenger locomotive (multi-purpose to me means freight and passenger). It was designed to go with all passenger equipment.

The modern Talgos are usually DMUs or EMUs.The power cars tilt too in these trains. On the Cascade trains the locomotive didn't tilt so curve speed limit were identical for Talgo and ordinary passenger equipment. It is just more comfortable in Talgo trains. The EMUs are used to get higher curve speeds.

The P42 at the wasn't a pusher. It was for protection in case the SC44 failed and was in idle when at the end.

samfp1943: When Charger #1402 left the rails(at speed(?); it seemed to vere to the outside of the tangent of the track, and at some point, apparently, rolled over (number of times(?).

As fas as we know it derailed at 80 mph. I don't think it rolled over. It fell on its side and was somehow righted at the end of its travel.
IIRC there is an animation of the possible course of the derailment on page 4.

sampf1943: *Was this because of the pusher locomotive's lack of PTC Controls?

The route wasn't equipped with a working PTC yet.

sampf1943: *Had a complete TALGO manufactured train set been available, would this derailment been avoided?

A Talgo DMU would have tolerated higher curve speeds but not 2.6 time the limit of 30 mph. It would have derailed as well. In Europe it is said that the allowable curve speed of a Talgo DMU can be one third higher than for a conventional train.

sampf1943: * It has also been noted that the reconstruction of the track, in the area was done at a cost of something-like $800 million dollars;

The Port Defiance Bypass was about $180 Mio.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:45 AM

petitnj

Some technical facts about keeping the train on the tracks. What holds the train on the rails is the ratio of Lateral Force (L) to Vertical Force (V). The flange provides the L and the weight of the train provides the V from gravity. Typically track design keeps L/V less that .5 for safe operation. Lateral force comes from the flange pushing back on the tendency of the wheel to move sideways. On a curve, the lateral force moves the train around the arc. L is proportional to the speed of the train around the curve squared devided by the radius. As the speed increases the L needed to hold the rail goes up by the square. 

So in the case of a 30 MPH curve design, lets say the L/V is limited to .3 (I am guessing well below the .5 limit). If the train now takes the curve at 80 MPH that multiplies the lateral force needed by 7 ( square of 80/30) so the L/V becomes 2 and that means there is not enough force from the flange to keep the wheel from riding over the rail. 

 

 

L and V act on the center of gravity.  For example, if the center of gravity is VERY high, it will take very little L to tip it.  If the center of gravity is very low, it will take much more L.  If the center of gravity is at zero height, you cannot tip it.

Thus a vehicle with a low center of gravity can go faster around a curve.

If the center of gravity of a car is 28.25 inches above railtop, the car will tip when L = V.  If it is below that in height, it will not.

Discussing particular tipping ratios while ignoring the height of the center of gravity appears meaningless.

Perhaps the writer is working with a "standardized" height of center of gravity.  With that, the height of the center of gravity is not a variable, and can be ignored.  But it is incorrect to initially describe the system without at least acknowledging that it operates on the center of gravity.

 

Ed

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:57 AM

The term "situational awareness", when used in these crashes, seems to mean "not being where you think you are".

Bostian was operating at night, with a consequent lessening of visual clues.  He apparently thought he was on a different section of track, and made (in)appropriate assumptions.

This engineer was operating in daylight, with everything well lit.  For this to be a situational awareness problem, he would have had to have thought he was somewhere else.  That is, NOT approaching a sharp curve.  So it will be interesting to hear how he figured he was somewhere else.

OR.

He wasn't thinking at all where he was.  He was so distracted.  That's something you can do on a bright clearly-lit day.

Perhaps "situational awareness" comes in two varieties: "confused and misdirected" and "just not at home right now".

 

Ed

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