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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by erikem on Thursday, December 21, 2017 12:57 PM

My understanding is that new members are automatically on moderation (i.e. moderators review submissions before posting) for the first few posts. If the posts consistently pass muster, the settings are reset so that submissions are posted without moderation. This helps to keep the number of trolls down.

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Posted by erikem on Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:20 PM

VOLKER LANDWEHR

I haven't criticized mudchicken, at least it wasn't my intention.

Your replies to the dirty feather guy (Mudchicken) came across to me as an alternative explanation of MC's statements rather than a criticism.

I generally find MC's posts to be enlightening.

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Posted by Norm48327 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:25 PM

Volker,

I do not know Mud Chieken personally but I have researched him and feel comfortable vouching for him based on his experience both as a former road master and the surveeyir he is.

MC has my ultimate respect.

Norm


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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:39 PM

What mudchicken wrote seemed to be misleading to at least one person. So I tried to explain what he meant with the help of Wiki.

From an expert I would expect a more moderate reaction than the quote at the end of my last post.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, December 21, 2017 1:53 PM

My question is, if the emergency brake application was train-initiated (caused by the cars derailing), how did the trailing locomotive go from 80 mph to a dead stop in one train length (14 car lengths).  

Am I missing something, or does passenger equipment just have really good brakes?

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, December 21, 2017 2:41 PM

I may occasionally take issue with some on the forum*, but I haven't so far with Volker's comment. No problem here. Cool it folks.

The view from my muddy boots down here in the trenches in the real world is just what it is.

 

(*) usually when opinions or bad assumptions expressed as fact try to hijack a thread.

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 Thursday, December 21, 2017 3:01 PM

Well, this thread has derailed into the mud.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by 7j43k on Thursday, December 21, 2017 3:45 PM

It's kind of hard to find data on the height of center of gravity for railroad equipment.

But.

EMD said an F9 had a CG height of 63".

 

My calculations say that the radius of curve for that locomotive to tip at 80 MPH is 988'.  The curves have been said to be, earlier on this forum, 7 and 8 degrees.  That is 819' and 716'.

That's for a flat curve.  With a 4.5" superelevation, the radius decreases to 915.

From these numbers, the train couldn't make it.  As we know.

With the above, it would seem the train would have made it farther around the curve, though.  It looks like it happened "earlier".

One thing that would cause an early tip would be hunting in the engine track.  That is, if it is oscillating from side to side, there would be an additional force to add to the tip.

Something else:  the above calculation assumes that the intersection of the rail and the flange is a simple form with a 90 degree notch shoved against a 90 degree rail edge.  This is not the case.  A typical flange has a 75 degree face against the rail at the tipping point.  So there is a fulcrum for the tip and also a sliding surface.  This fact will also produce an "earlier" failure.

 

Ed

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, December 21, 2017 3:59 PM

BaltACD

Well, this thread has derailed into the mud.

 

Embarrassed

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 Deggesty on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:02 PM

243129 asks, "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." The answer may be believing that saving ten minutes between Tacoma and the first scheduled stop must require high speed, and do not realize what is being avoided is a longer distance and track that does not allow fast movement. The media, apparently, are ignorant of what is now avoided.

Johnny

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:27 PM

SD70Dude

My question is, if the emergency brake application was train-initiated (caused by the cars derailing), how did the trailing locomotive go from 80 mph to a dead stop in one train length (14 car lengths).  

Am I missing something, or does passenger equipment just have really good brakes?

 

 
I've been wondering the same thing.
 
Maybe the train was still relatively intact when the lead engine began plowing into trees and earth, causing a severe braking effect throughout the entire train, momentarily, before the jackknifing began??? That might help explain the high number of injuries.

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:35 PM

Unless the two cab crewmembers were 100% engaged in a bull session, it seems that someone would have finally seen that curve ahead. Since data show that the braking happened only after the lead engine derailed, I am wondering this: could the engineer have decided that, since an intentional brake application would have to be so intense at that point as to almost ensure a jackknifing, perhaps it was best to simply hold on and hope the train somehow miraculously negotiated the curve?

 

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:39 PM

Does the NTSB generally issue a preliminary report? And how long after an event does that usually take place?

Still in training.


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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:45 PM

Finally, for now ...

Since my newbie, probationary posts fell into the thread long after the thread had moved on, and therefore may not have been noticed, I will ask this question again, as there appears to be a lot of technical knowledge available on this forum:

Couldn't they have a device that is tripped by every approaching train, every time, which causes a speaker in the cab to say (in a computer voice), loud, "You are approaching a 30 mph curve?" Have several: at 2, 1, .5 and .25 miles out. If this is one of the few slow zones on this route, it would seem to be a relatively cheap solution until PTC comes on line; and then retain it anyway. We already have hotbox detectors with similar (I think) technology, and my Honda Accord can talk to me; so this doesn't seem like a big ask.

Still in training.


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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, December 21, 2017 4:47 PM

The following video was already linked on page 4 of this thread: https://youtu.be/cJrCza9iSQw

It shows a possible development of the accident. Perhaps it helps to answer the questions.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by 243129 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 5:19 PM

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

June 24, 2014

Amtrak: An accident waiting to happen.....again.

I am a recently retired locomotive engineer. My career in engine service spanned the years 1963-2014. I started with the New York, New Haven and Hartford R.R. and after a series of takeovers and mergers I ended my career with Amtrak in 2014. I have experienced many different forms of railroad management techniques from five entities and I must say that Amtrak tops the list as the very worst.
Amtrak is an accident waiting to happen. I loosely compare Amtrak's 1983 takeover of operations on the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to Robert Mugabe's takeover of Rhodesia. Mugabe expelled the resident farmers and intellectuals who brought prosperity and technology to the country. Amtrak took over the NEC and installed their own management team eschewing input from the resident veterans. Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, continues to be in dire straits, their currency is worthless and their economy is a shambles. Amtrak is still employing the hit and miss, trial and error tactics it has utilized since inception accompanied by inept,wasteful managerial practices and to this day has still not achieved that which it is capable of. Until recently Amtrak has trundled along despite their inadequacies because their veteran workforce was there to 'bail them out'. That resource is now dwindling and it is showing in recent mishaps. That having been said it is time again to focus on Amtrak's hiring and training practices.
 During the past eight months Amtrak has had two major incidents,the latest with fatalities, that are a result of their hiring and training procedures coupled with grossly unqualified supervision. Since 2011 I have implored Amtrak management to review their training and hiring practices and use the knowledge and input of their dwindling veteran workforce to no avail. I have written to Chairman of the Board Carper, President Boardman, Vice Presidents of Operations Geary and Stadtler, Vice President of Transportation Phelps, Congressmen John Mica, William Shuster, Senator Charles Grassley, Robert Samuelson of the Washington Post, Brian Ross of ABC, Bill O'Reilly and others pleading with them to have Amtrak review their hiring and training procedures and listen to their seasoned veteran workforce. With the exceptions of Phelps and Stadtler I have been ignored. Phelps answered my letter to Boardman after I sent the same letter three times via registered mail return receipt requested. Stadtler patronized me with a visit to Philadelphia with those responsible for the training program where they very politely nodded their heads in faux concern at my presentation. Sensing their disinterest in what I had to say I called an end to the meeting citing that I felt it was an exercise in futility and took the next train back to New Haven.
I have stated repeatedly to all who would listen, and those listed above who did not, that with the right combination of these recently trained individuals it could be a prescription for disaster, a 'perfect storm' if you will.
They have ignored all warning signs of impending disasters. There was the incident in November 2013  of an inexperienced and obviously poorly trained crew wandering six miles in the wrong direction on a foreign railroad. Still Amtrak did not review it's training and qualification regimens. Then came Frankford Jct.(added 2016)
As a rule I try to refrain to telling anyone that 'I told you so' but after Frankford Jct. I felt that it was appropriate to do so in an effort to demonstratively drive home the fact that Amtrak's training and hiring programs are abject failures and downright dangerous. The following is my email of May15 2015 to Vice President of Operations D.J. Stadtler who has absolutely no previous experience in railroad operations. It was ignored.


 
Mr. Stadtler:
The recent tragic event in North Philadelphia will have once again brought to light the inadequacies of Amtrak's training and hiring procedures. There are folks out 'there'still who have no business operating trains. Your training and hiring procedures, for lack of a better analogy, have come back to bite you in the ass once again. I had previously attempted to effect change by stressing the value and input of your veteran but aging remaining workforce to no avail.
I no longer work for Amtrak , I retired in July 2014 after 51 years in the operating department. That being said I still retain the esprit de corps instilled in me by my employer 50 plus years ago and I feel that I would like to help restore the professionalism that existed before Amtrak and it's cadre of inexperienced managers eroded that attribute. I have a template for hiring and training. Should you be interested in seriously entertaining my ideas, this time, I would be happy to impart them, once again, to you.
I have attached the presentation I made to CTO Nichols in December 2013  and my correspondence to then Vice President of Operations Richard Phelps for your perusal.
In one of my missives I made reference to a prescription for disaster, a 'perfect storm'if you will, which sadly seems to have come to fruition.      

This past week on my former home division there was another stop signal violation. The individual involved has an atrocious work record in his 3 year career as an engineer, it was the second stop signal violation in 13 months coupled with a forgotten passenger station stop (Mystic CT), overshooting others due to misjudgment, running over a derail on a track belonging to another railroad where he had no business being and sundry other miscues that were 'overlooked'. Where was supervision?
Amtrak has the unknowing teaching the unknowing. If one were to check the pedigree of these so called instructors one would find that they themselves have minimal experience. All of the technology such as Positive Train Control, speed control cab signal etc. cannot preclude proper training and experience because if those systems were to fail, and they do, 90% of the present operating workforce, including supervision, would not have a clue as how to operate.
I stand behind all I have stated here. I am supported by my fellow veteran railroad men. I can prove or qualify all that I have stated here and am prepared to do so. Hopefully this missive will find it's way to the proper authority and an oversight committee of experienced railroad operations employees can be established to set the proper guidelines for training personnel for railroad operations on Amtrak.

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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, December 21, 2017 7:02 PM

LithoniaOperator

Does the NTSB generally issue a preliminary report? And how long after an event does that usually take place?

 

It could take a year or more for the final report to be released.  Sometimes they do release preliminary reports about information learned along the way.  In this case, the 600-pound gorilla of preliminary information that could be released today or tomorrow would be what the engineer says when they ask him why he was speeding.  Two days ago, we were told that they would interview the engineer in one or two days.  But then they carefully added the word "hopefully" which I guess means that the formal arrangements might take a few more weeks to perfect. 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, December 21, 2017 7:13 PM

Quick video moving 1402 to McCord.

https://www.facebook.com/Q13FOX/videos/10157174689159199/

 

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Posted by Euclid on Thursday, December 21, 2017 7:32 PM

VOLKER LANDWEHR

The following video was already linked on page 4 of this thread: https://youtu.be/cJrCza9iSQw

It shows a possible development of the accident. Perhaps it helps to answer the questions.
Regards, Volker

 

I think that video model of the deraiment is probably quite accurate in the relative details, but maybe quite a bit off in the matter of true scale.  The video just seems too blocky and clunky in its scale and motion to represent a 135-ton locomotive heading into the forest at 80 miles per hour. 

Usually, riding in a vehicle subdues the perception of speed.  You can get a much better perception by putting your head out the window so you can see the ground come right to you in your field of vision.  Eighty is spectacularly fast. 

Apparently the locomotive left the rails at 80 and stopped in just 300 feet or so. I look at the wreckage and have to wonder if the train was really going 80 mph when it derailed.  Granted, the whole train took additional time to derail, and it was decelerating under heavy braking during that time, but still. 

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, December 21, 2017 7:58 PM

No ATS on the line, never needed it in the past. It was restricted to 79MPH for a reason.  If it were ATS, the voice in your ear would not be kind or muted. Newsworkers and NTSB spokesperson, to date, show zero comprehension for what PTC would do. The black box must just be "magic" and its witless lemmings are worshipping what they do not comprehend...

Also noted in a new set of pictures where the POD fell and the lack of lubrication. The wheel lift and climb got sped up.

LithoniaOperator

Finally, for now ...

Since my newbie, probationary posts fell into the thread long after the thread had moved on, and therefore may not have been noticed, I will ask this question again, as there appears to be a lot of technical knowledge available on this forum:

Couldn't they have a device that is tripped by every approaching train, every time, which causes a speaker in the cab to say (in a computer voice), loud, "You are approaching a 30 mph curve?" Have several: at 2, 1, .5 and .25 miles out. If this is one of the few slow zones on this route, it would seem to be a relatively cheap solution until PTC comes on line; and then retain it anyway. We already have hotbox detectors with similar (I think) technology, and my Honda Accord can talk to me; so this doesn't seem like a big ask.

 

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 ruderunner on Thursday, December 21, 2017 8:45 PM

LithoniaOperator

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.

 

 

A little off topic but, it does make things harder to follow when newly approved posts show up basically out of nowhere.   To me at least it might make more sense to have the newly approved posts show up when approved, not when entered.

Modeling the Cleveland and Pittsburgh during the PennCentral era starting on the Cleveland lakefront and ending in Mingo junction

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:05 PM

LithoniaOperator

Finally, for now ...

Since my newbie, probationary posts fell into the thread long after the thread had moved on, and therefore may not have been noticed, I will ask this question again, as there appears to be a lot of technical knowledge available on this forum:

Couldn't they have a device that is tripped by every approaching train, every time, which causes a speaker in the cab to say (in a computer voice), loud, "You are approaching a 30 mph curve?" Have several: at 2, 1, .5 and .25 miles out. If this is one of the few slow zones on this route, it would seem to be a relatively cheap solution until PTC comes on line; and then retain it anyway. We already have hotbox detectors with similar (I think) technology, and my Honda Accord can talk to me; so this doesn't seem like a big ask.

 

LithoniaOperator, first let me welcome you to the wonderful world of giving and receiving information by way of these forums.Welcome

Yes, there is a world, and more, of technical information concerning railroads available from many of the posters. I have been learning as much as I can for more than sixty-five years, and I appreciate the patience shown by those who know far more than I do as I take part in the various threads. I have had the pleasure of meeting, in person, some of the other posters, and I would be glad to have the opportunity to meet more.

Again, welcome!

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 21, 2017 9:09 PM

LithoniaOperator
 
SD70Dude

My question is, if the emergency brake application was train-initiated (caused by the cars derailing), how did the trailing locomotive go from 80 mph to a dead stop in one train length (14 car lengths).  

Am I missing something, or does passenger equipment just have really good brakes? 

I've been wondering the same thing.
 
Maybe the train was still relatively intact when the lead engine began plowing into trees and earth, causing a severe braking effect throughout the entire train, momentarily, before the jackknifing began??? That might help explain the high number of injuries.

The coefficient of friction of wheels on the ground - plowing - is significantly higher than properly braked steel wheels on steel rail, add in the accordian crushing effect of couplings breaking - some things can stop very quickly

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by oltmannd on Friday, December 22, 2017 7:47 AM

Euclid
Apparently the locomotive left the rails at 80 and stopped in just 300 feet or so. I look at the wreckage and have to wonder if the train was really going 80 mph when it derailed.  Granted, the whole train took additional time to derail, and it was decelerating under heavy braking during that time, but still. 

That would be 24 ft/s/s deceleration, about .75 g's.  About what a really hard stop in an automobile would be.  About 3x what you could get for steel wheel on steel rail braking.

 

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

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, December 22, 2017 10:10 AM

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Friday, December 22, 2017 11:08 AM

Deggesty
LithoniaOperator, first let me welcome you to the wonderful world of giving and receiving information by way of these forums.icon_smile_sign_welcome.gif

 

Thanks so much, Deggesty. I will enjoy participating and learning.

 

(Re my pseudonym: back in 1974, one of my first jobs after college was a brief stint as the nighttime operator at Lithonia GA on the Georgia Railroad. I still have fond and not-at-all-fond memories from then. I did not go on to become a railroader; I became a commercial photographer; I've done a lot of train-shooting, mostly for fun, some for work.)

Still in training.


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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, December 22, 2017 11:41 AM

oltmannd
  That would be 24 ft/s/s deceleration, about .75 g's. About what a really hard stop in an automobile would be. About 3x what you could get for steel wheel on steel rail braking.

When looking at the damaged front of the SC44 the locomotive didn't just active friction when going down the slope. For me it looks like it digged in and activated passive earth pressure/resistance, multitudes higher than friction.
Regards, Volker

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, December 22, 2017 12:13 PM

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/amtrak-derailment-dupont-washington-video-shows-crew-not-using-electronic-devices/

Federal investigators say video aboard the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state shows crews weren't using personal electronic devices and that the engineer remarked about the speed six seconds before the train went off the tracks south of Seattle, killing three people.

The National Transportation Safety Board also said Friday that the inward-facing video with audio showed it did not appear that the engineer placed the brake handle in the emergency braking mode. The train was recorded at 78 mph -- more than double the posted speed limit.

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, December 22, 2017 12:19 PM

I estimate that the locomotive excavated 220 cubic yards of soil as it traveled from the track to the highway.  Much of that soil can be seen surrounding the locomotive where it came to rest on the highway. 

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, December 22, 2017 12:26 PM

rdamon
the engineer remarked about the speed six seconds before the train went off the tracks

Any chance of telling us what the remark was?

I guess the engineer's mouth just opened, and out came the word, "speed".

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