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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 6:10 PM

I'm not an engineer by any means but it is a mystery to me why you would have a 30 mph curve in the middle of a high speed line.    I could see it close into one of the terminals  or if confined by space in someway but the aerial photos here show they had plenty of space to redesign this part of the line.    They spent $180 million.........maybe they should have spent a little more.

Then again also a mystery to me why CP maintains a yard limit from the West end of the Milwaukee Amtrak Station almost all the way to North Milwaukee cutoff.    I could see that restricted speed back in the hey day of Muskego yard but now the yard is largely dormant.    Would seem to me they could safely raise the speed limit over that 5 to 7 miles of track and get the Empire Builder in and out of town a lot faster as well as their own freight trains.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 6:16 PM

CMStPnP
I'm not an engineer by any means but it is a mystery to me why you would have a 30 mph curve in the middle of a high speed line.    I could see it close into one of the terminals  or if confined by space in someway but the aerial photos here show they had plenty of space to redesign this part of the line.    They spent $180 million.........maybe they should have spent a little more.

Then again also a mystery to me why CP maintains a yard limit from the West end of the Milwaukee Amtrak Station almost all the way to North Milwaukee cutoff.    I could see that restricted speed back in the hey day of Muskego yard but now the yard is largely dormant.    Would seem to me they could safely raise the speed limit over that 5 to 7 miles of track and get the Empire Builder in and out of town a lot faster as well as their own freight trains.

I suspect if the bridges and approaches had to be re-engineered the total cost of the line would have become $200-220M.

Like anything else in this world money detirmines what you can do.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:05 PM
There are three ways to ease that S-surve: 1) Cross the highway at a shallower angle. This means a much longer bridge, and I'm not sure you could even build one with a shallow enough angle to achieve a 79 mph entry. If you could, it would be mega-expensive, I'm sure. 2) Arc the line out before you reach the bridge, to get your turning done before you arrive at the bridge. Then do the same on the other side of the bridge. This involves extensive new right-of-way and track construction, and the taking of lots of land by eminent domain. 3) Some combination of the two. Any way you look at it, it's a very expensive way to eliminate one very short slow zone. I think it's probably cost-prohibitive. Everything has limits of feasibility.

Still in training.


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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:07 PM

 

Is it even conceivable that the NTSB has not recovered both video cameras from the locomotive and has viewed the video recordings?  If the engineer and trainee conductor were not too severely injured, is it conceivable that the NTSB has not talked to them about what happened?

 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 8:29 PM

Euclid
Is it even conceivable that the NTSB has not recovered both video cameras from the locomotive and has viewed the video recordings? If the engineer and trainee conductor were not too severely injured, is it conceivable that the NTSB has not talked to them about what happened?

Patience grasshopper, patience.

  

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 Norm48327 on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:03 PM

Euclid

 

Is it even conceivable that the NTSB has not recovered both video cameras from the locomotive and has viewed the video recordings?  If the engineer and trainee conductor were not too severely injured, is it conceivable that the NTSB has not talked to them about what happened?

I believe it was said earlier that the video cameras were damaged and were sent to a lab to determine if the data could be recovered. If it can be recovered it will be of help in the investigation; if not it's a whole nuther kettle of fish.

Norm


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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:17 PM

Overmod

 

 
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.

 

 

The slant boards would be the GCOR required sign.  The sign that the BNSF does use at the point where the restriction begins is not a GCOR requirement.  I found some old info that showed the BN using the second sign, except where old GN boards were still in use.  

UP does not use a second sign post at the beginning of the restriction.  Detouring over a couple of other GCOR users, they also only had one sign in advance of the restriction.  Sorry for the confusion on my part, I figured all GCOR users did the same.  In any case, all permanent speed restrictions are in the time table.

Earlier this year, they put a new permanent speed restriction on a bridge.  They placed the speed sign on a convenient mile post, which placed the sign about 160 feet out of system standards.  I pointed that out to my conductor one trip who said we should notify the dispatcher on the theory (which he explained to the dispatcher) that we are held to exact standards, so should the railroad.  The dispatcher agreed and passed it on.  A couple of days later I saw they fixed the problem.  They pulled the numbers of the mile post.  A few months later the numbers reappeared, but the speed sign is still technically out of place.

Jeff  

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:45 PM

Jeff, was the man who directed that the number be removed from the mp the man, who had been an MOW man and had been told to do something with respect to a certain mp--and when he was told that he had not done the job at the right place went back out and moved the mp?

Johnny

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:48 PM

I have a question; some posts say that the man at the controls was a conductor-in training. Was he not a conductor who was in training for engineer?

Johnny

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Posted by PNWRMNM on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 9:53 PM

CMStPnP

I'm not an engineer by any means but it is a mystery to me why you would have a 30 mph curve in the middle of a high speed line.   

This location is NOT in the middle of a high speed line. It is about one mile from a junction with the BNSF two main track line between Seattle and Portland.

If I were designing that junction the diverging route of the main track switch would be no more than 30 MPH because the next mile or so is posted for 30 MPH.

Could WSDOT have straightened out the two curves to get a safe speed in the 50-60 MPH, or even better, range? Of course, but bring more money. They obviously made the decision it was not worth the many million dollar cost.

Mac

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 10:53 PM

Norm48327
 
Euclid

Is it even conceivable that the NTSB has not recovered both video cameras from the locomotive and has viewed the video recordings?  If the engineer and trainee conductor were not too severely injured, is it conceivable that the NTSB has not talked to them about what happened? 

I believe it was said earlier that the video cameras were damaged and were sent to a lab to determine if the data could be recovered. If it can be recovered it will be of help in the investigation; if not it's a whole nuther kettle of fish.

If the data is not recoverable in what, for the locomotive, was a 'relatively' mild crash without any real heavy impact with imovable objects.  I would have to ask, what good are they.  Who designed their location on the Charger that would make them vulnerable to being destroyed by such a 'relatively' mild incident.

No doubt that the cameras themselves could be easily destroyed, however, the data output of those cameras should be stored in a manner similar to the data recorders that track throttle, brake and all the other aspects of locomotive operation.

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Posted by Gramp on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:12 PM

Meaning no disrespect to those who experienced or are connected to the horror of the derailment. Can someone comment on whether the harm to passengers and crew might have been reduced had conventional railcars been involved rather than the Talgo equipment?

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 11:51 PM

Gramp

Can someone comment on whether the harm to passengers and crew might have been reduced had conventional railcars been involved rather than the Talgo equipment?

 

Yes.

 

Comment: No.

 

The people who accepted the design of the Talgo equipment realized that there could not be any sacrifice in safety in using this design.  Knowing this, and that they take full responsibility for any failure in the matter, the design must be at least as safe as conventional equipment.  If it were not, that would signify a failure in carrying out their responsibilities.

 

Ed

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Posted by Gramp on Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:05 AM

Thanks, Ed. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 3:12 AM
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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, December 21, 2017 6:50 AM

BaltACD
 
Norm48327
 
Euclid

Is it even conceivable that the NTSB has not recovered both video cameras from the locomotive and has viewed the video recordings?  If the engineer and trainee conductor were not too severely injured, is it conceivable that the NTSB has not talked to them about what happened? 

I believe it was said earlier that the video cameras were damaged and were sent to a lab to determine if the data could be recovered. If it can be recovered it will be of help in the investigation; if not it's a whole nuther kettle of fish.

 

If the data is not recoverable in what, for the locomotive, was a 'relatively' mild crash without any real heavy impact with imovable objects.  I would have to ask, what good are they.  Who designed their location on the Charger that would make them vulnerable to being destroyed by such a 'relatively' mild incident.

No doubt that the cameras themselves could be easily destroyed, however, the data output of those cameras should be stored in a manner similar to the data recorders that track throttle, brake and all the other aspects of locomotive operation.

 

I don't see any reasons why the data should be lost.  I cannot imagine a reason why the cameras cannot be made robust enough to survive any crash.  They are small objects, so it is not cost-prohibitive to make them robust enough to withstand the impact or crushing forces.  And can't the data be backed up in real time in other drives on the train or even off the train in remote backup storage?

Railroaders worry about inward cameras catching something that is embarrasing, irresponsible, or incrimidating.  Might Amtrak have the same sort of worries? 

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Posted by RDG467 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:17 AM

How might the talgo design with a conventional locomotive affect the L/V?  I'm thinking that there is a certain amount of lateral horizontal motion inherent in the knuckle coupler system, but Zero lateral motion (rotational only) in the talgo set.  This would make it 'stiffer' than a normal Amtrak consist and less forgiving in a curve overspeed situation.

Also, there's a difference between the CG of the Siemens unit and the Talgo cars. How large of a factor might that have been?  

Remember, the MM&A locomotives at Lac Megantic successfully negotiated a 10 mph turnout in the yard while traveling over 60 mph. It was the third or fourth tank car which derailed, perhaps from damage to the switch from the forces applied by the locos and cars involved.

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Posted by petitnj on Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:34 AM
The numbers are rounded off for easy reading. I have a 7 degree curve with a radius of 817 feet rounded to 800 feet. Your explanation is difficult to read for those without the tables in front of them. Sorry, one of our goals here is to make things understandable.
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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:06 AM

Euclid
I don't see any reasons why the data should be lost. I cannot imagine a reason why the cameras cannot be made robust enough to survive any crash.

As Norm already told, the NTSB reported that the cameras were damaged. When I look at the SC44's front damage it looks like it plowed through the earth. Here a photo from the link blue streak provided: http://www.kiro7.com/news/photos-massive-locomotive-moved-after-train-derailment/666679669#

Regards, Volker

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Posted by petitnj on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:11 AM
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degree_of_curvature is there another definition?
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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:19 AM

Why does the media and some folks here refer to that bypass as a "high speed" line? 79 MPH speed limit does not qualify as high speed.

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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:27 AM

If a car or a bus was going 79 mph (and there are some reports that this train was going faster) missed a curve, and was as spectacularly smashed up as the train the percent of fatalities is typically much higher - often 100%. So how did some 80 people endure this accident and all but 3 survived? Obviously 3 deaths are not acceptable, but still amazing.

If you want to read how things can go wrong, the Fitzgerald and McCain navy disasters are relevant. I read both the initial 80 page report and the final 175 page one (numbers are approximate). As a former destroyer sailor it all is inconceivable. 7-10 sailor had be totally not doing their jobs in each accident. Yet it happened, not once but twice.

This speaks to the cognitive ability of our specie to remain alert and aware of what we are doing - and for long periods of time. Obviously the schedule train control system about to be installed is essential. Attention to human fatigue and other such issues may also be in order. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:36 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
 
Euclid
I don't see any reasons why the data should be lost. I cannot imagine a reason why the cameras cannot be made robust enough to survive any crash. 

As Norm already told, the NTSB reported that the cameras were damaged. When I look at the SC44's front damage it looks like it plowed through the earth. Here a photo from the link blue streak provided: http://www.kiro7.com/news/photos-massive-locomotive-moved-after-train-derailment/666679669#

Regards, Volker

Cameras are (or should be) expendable - however, the data they generate should be stored in a hardened data storage location in real time, the same as the existing event recorders.

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:46 AM

petitnj
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degree_of_curvature is there another definition?

Is this in regard to mudchicken's post. His degree of curvature definition isn't different. His ordinate of 8'' is as follows: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circular_segment

h = ordinate; R = Radius; c = chord.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, December 21, 2017 10:30 AM

RDG467

How might the talgo design with a conventional locomotive affect the L/V?

As asked, it does not.  And cannot.  That is affected only by the curve radius that generates the ratio.

 

Also, there's a difference between the CG of the Siemens unit and the Talgo cars. How large of a factor might that have been?  

 
Well, you don't KNOW there's a difference in CG's, and which is higher.  But it does SEEM, just looking at the equipment, that the Siemens would have a higher CG.  And so would tip easier than the Talgo cars.  And, being the first element of the train, then take the rest down with it.
 
If the Siemens somehow (magically) had a LOWER CG than the following cars, it MIGHT have made the turn, only to have the trailing HIGH CG cars tip, and probably turn it sideways.  Which did not happen.
 
 
 
Ed
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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, December 21, 2017 10:30 AM

VOLKER LANDWEHR
 
Euclid
I don't see any reasons why the data should be lost. I cannot imagine a reason why the cameras cannot be made robust enough to survive any crash.

 

As Norm already told, the NTSB reported that the cameras were damaged. When I look at the SC44's front damage it looks like it plowed through the earth. Here a photo from the link blue streak provided: http://www.kiro7.com/news/photos-massive-locomotive-moved-after-train-derailment/666679669#

Regards, Volker

 

Yes I understand what the NTSB said and what Norm said.  I am sure the cameras are capable of withstanding the damage inflicted on the locomotive, and I expect that the camera data is automatically saved to safe storage sites as it is recorded by the cameras.  Therefore, I do not understand the NTSB's comments that seem to imply that recovering data from damaged cameras is not a sure thing.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 10:42 AM

Volker,

I respectfully disagree. Mud Chicken works for one of the most respected survey firms in the US and I believe his qualifactions are abobe reproach.

MC has done his homework well and is trustworthy. I have done land title in the past but have not had toresearch things to the drgree he is required to.

I am a bit awed by his ability to research things of yestearyear and dertermine railroads right of way.

Mud Chicken is a specalist in that regard and I take his word as gospel.

Norm


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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 21, 2017 11:08 AM

Norm48327
Volker, I respectfully disagree. Mud Chicken works for one of the most respected survey firms in the US and I believe his qualifactions are abobe reproach.

Norm, what problems do you have. I haven't criticized mudchicken, at least it wasn't my intention.

I answered to petitnj's post who had problems as I  understood with mudchicken's post on the page before. The degree of curve definition uses a 100' chord and mudchicken used a 62' chord instead but not to define the degree but to show the ordinate h. With given radius and degree of curvature you can use whatever chord length you like you just get different ordinates.

To show this context I linked the Wiki circular segment website.

If it was understood as criticism I apologize. It is a foreign language and I know what I want to say.

On the other hand I don't automatically believe a statement just because it is from an expert. If I had done so I wouldn't have survived in my occupation as civil engineer and structural design manager.
Regards, Volker

Edit: BTW someone who passes out in this way like mudchicken (quote) Some of the other so-called "experts" on spirals on this forum apparently do not live in the real world or are chronic liars looking for attention, should be able to take criticism

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 11:46 AM
Are posters in this forum who have more tenure here given priority in the queue and vetting process than newbies? (Like moi.) My posts seem to linger in limbo longer.

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 11:49 AM

No sooner did I post the above, then things changed. That above post appeared in the forum instantly! Smile

Apparently I was on probation through the first five posts. ??

Anyway, it's all good. Great forum.

Still in training.


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