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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 9:18 AM

charlie hebdo

 

 
ROBIN LUETHE

How do you begin to train an engineer who can't figure out/remember that about ten minutes after leaving Tacoma you should slow to 30 MPH?  

 

 

 

Very true.  This relates to the poor vetting process.  I agree with Joe McMahon on this, disagree somewhat on what is wrong and how to correct it.

 

What are your thoughts on what is wrong and how to correct it?

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 8:48 AM

ROBIN LUETHE

How do you begin to train an engineer who can't figure out/remember that about ten minutes after leaving Tacoma you should slow to 30 MPH?  

 

With proper supervision and training which Amtrak seems incapable of providing. They have the unknowing teaching the unknowing.

Inaugural revenue trip and no supervision present?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Wednesday, December 19, 2018 7:49 AM

ROBIN LUETHE

How do you begin to train an engineer who can't figure out/remember that about ten minutes after leaving Tacoma you should slow to 30 MPH?  

 

Very true.  This relates to the poor vetting process.  I agree with Joe McMahon on this, disagree somewhat on what is wrong and how to correct it.

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Posted by ROBIN LUETHE on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 9:35 PM

How do you begin to train an engineer who can't figure out/remember that about ten minutes after leaving Tacoma you should slow to 30 MPH?  

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, December 18, 2018 3:09 PM

rdamon

The big questions are, what has Amtrak learned from this tragedy and what have they done to improve their training regimen?

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 6:33 PM

Overmod

 

 
Electroliner 1935
What "PITFALLS" are you alluding to?

 

They can start with finding out 'what they don't know', as Balt indicated.  But there are plenty of reported quirks and shortcomings of PTC, and of course the basic flaws in the thing as mandated and implemented, some of which have been discussed in these forums, that might not even prevent a 'repeat' of the Brown Shorts Affair.

It's called a 'pitfall' in large part because you don't know it's there before it gets you.

 

The biggest "pitfall" will be when the system fails and most of these ChooChoo U. trained grads become lost.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, September 26, 2018 8:25 AM

Electroliner 1935
What "PITFALLS" are you alluding to?

They can start with finding out 'what they don't know', as Balt indicated.  But there are plenty of reported quirks and shortcomings of PTC, and of course the basic flaws in the thing as mandated and implemented, some of which have been discussed in these forums, that might not even prevent a 'repeat' of the Brown Shorts Affair.

It's called a 'pitfall' in large part because you don't know it's there before it gets you.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, September 22, 2018 7:39 PM

Electroliner 1935
 
BaltACD
So after the NTSB report is published the parties involved will then find out the pitfalls of PTC when revenue service begins on the Point Defiance bypass. What maroons! 

Balt, this confuses me. What "PITFALLS" are you alluding to? 

If you ae not using it on a REVENUE TEST basis now and finding out any bugs or quirks that MAY show up in routine operation - both on train - on track - back room handling of multiple trains concurrently.  Your REVENUE TEST will then commence after the report is published.

Until something is used for a period of time in real world day in day out service, you don't know what it is that you don't know - YET.  Things may go fine, they may not.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, September 22, 2018 5:20 PM

BaltACD
So after the NTSB report is published the parties involved will then find out the pitfalls of PTC when revenue service begins on the Point Defiance bypass. What maroons!

Balt, this confuses me. What "PITFALLS" are you alluding to? 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, September 21, 2018 2:08 PM

rdamon

So the hypocracy continues.  Testing has been done and PTC functions, however, real world revenue testing of PTC on the territory won't start for another six months or so until AFTER the NTSB report is published, as the Point Defiance bypass will not get used for revenue service until the NTSB report is published.

So after the NTSB report is published the parties involved will then find out the pitfalls of PTC when revenue service begins on the Point Defiance bypass.

What maroons!

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

              

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Posted by rdamon on Friday, September 21, 2018 11:14 AM

Final testing of PTC on Cascades Line.

http://mynorthwest.com/1114764/final-testing-ptc-system-amtrak/

 

 

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Posted by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak on Thursday, September 6, 2018 9:56 AM
Please keep it to railroads. No politics. No personal attacks. You will make me most happy.

Angela Pusztai-Pasternak, Production Editor, Trains Magazine

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 9:31 PM

7j43k

 

 
243129

Euclid, do you really think that the Washington Post or another major news outlet would entertain an op-ed warning of Amtrak's dangerous hiring and training procedures while they have this moron who occupies the White House providing fodder on a daily basis for sensational coverage?

 

 

 

 

I think the New York Times would print such a thing, hopefully as a more in-depth article.  It would have to be written in the it's-a-crisis we're-all-going-to-die style that newspapers like these days.  But then, that's sort of what you've been saying here.  But with less flamboyance than would be needed.

Also, the NYT seems to break up their all-Trump-all-the-time stuff with a touch of variety.  And this story is certainly that.

I do believe if it was written in a style that THEY want, that they'd print it.

 

Ed

 

I'll give it a try. Thanks.

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Posted by 7j43k on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 8:56 PM

243129

Euclid, do you really think that the Washington Post or another major news outlet would entertain an op-ed warning of Amtrak's dangerous hiring and training procedures while they have this moron who occupies the White House providing fodder on a daily basis for sensational coverage?

 

 

I think the New York Times would print such a thing, hopefully as a more in-depth article.  It would have to be written in the it's-a-crisis we're-all-going-to-die style that newspapers like these days.  But then, that's sort of what you've been saying here.  But with less flamboyance than would be needed.

Also, the NYT seems to break up their all-Trump-all-the-time stuff with a touch of variety.  And this story is certainly that.

I do believe if it was written in a style that THEY want, that they'd print it.

 

Ed

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 1:23 PM

243129

Euclid, do you really think that the Washington Post or another major news outlet would entertain an op-ed warning of Amtrak's dangerous hiring and training procedures while they have this moron who occupies the White House providing fodder on a daily basis for sensational coverage?

 

No I would not count on a major news outlet like Washington Post to be your platform.  And it would have to more in depth than just an op-ed piece.  I would conclude that since Railway Age was willing to run your story, you have a message that will sell.  And if it will sell, it will find its own platform.  Maybe you would need to do something like publishing a book with either a publishing company or others investors financing the publication.  So the published work and its production and distribution, all together, will be the platform to get the message out. 

Maybe there are other publication venues that could also be used.  You could do some research into the ways that this sort of publication could be marketed.  My basic thought is that if the information content is good, it will produce demand.  And if it does that, the platform will come along naturally.  You might ask the people at Railway Age what they think of the idea.     

 

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 12:17 PM

Euclid, do you really think that the Washington Post or another major news outlet would entertain an op-ed warning of Amtrak's dangerous hiring and training procedures while they have this moron who occupies the White House providing fodder on a daily basis for sensational coverage?

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 9:24 AM

243129

Euclid, I appreciate your advice and input however gaining a platform to publicize Amtrak's inadequacies is virtually impossible because of the circus we have masquerading as an administration, replete with the chief clown, in Washington D.C.

I seek no remuneration for my story, I seek to save lives. As I have stated previously, and I would hope to be wrong, Amtrak is an accident waiting to happen and it is just a matter of time until the next disaster.

 

I understand your point about not seeking remuneration.  But my point is not that direct payment for the story is important, but rather that the significant element of remuneration is in the value of the platform that comes as part of the remuneration. 

Your challenge is far more than just providing the facts in a public outlet.  It is a marketing challenge.  In effect, you have to advertise the facts and make them understood by the public.  Moving the public is the only way you will ever get Amtrak to respond.  This kind of marketing effort needs a big platform.  You probably could not buy such a platform with $100,000.  Certainly there is no free platform that will get the job done. 

But a marketable piece of writing will provide that platform as the remuneration for your effort.  You will also have expenses such as editing and research, but these costs will be tiny compared to the cost of the workable platform. 

Also consider that Amtrak is a polarizing issue in terms of national policy.  So there are powerful forces on both sides of the issue, and they will fund the marketing of opinions on both sides of it.

Particularly the 501 wreck offers the opportunity to focus a bright light on Amtrak's safety culture, and that will be highly energizing to anyone to whom it is presented in detail and clarity. Right now the raw material for that presentation is just sitting there waiting for the light of day.  There is probably even time to develop this presentation before the NTSB releases their report.  That would be kind of a wild card that could have its own risks an reward/punishment.  I am sure that the NTSB report would act as a catalyst in some way.  Another high profile Amtrak wreck could also be a catalyst.   

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Posted by 243129 on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 8:49 AM

Euclid, I appreciate your advice and input however gaining a platform to publicize Amtrak's inadequacies is virtually impossible because of the circus we have masquerading as an administration, replete with the chief clown, in Washington D.C.

I seek no remuneration for my story, I seek to save lives. As I have stated previously, and I would hope to be wrong, Amtrak is an accident waiting to happen and it is just a matter of time until the next disaster.

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Posted by Euclid on Monday, September 3, 2018 9:11 AM

243129
Finding a platform to advance my 'case' is the problem.

All I am saying is that the information about Amtrak’s lack of adequate training for the new route is obviously the key cause for the 501 disaster, and the details of that failure are just sitting there in the public domain free for the taking.  Although these details have been released to the public, the information has gone in one ear and out the other for two reasons:

  1. The pubic does not understand it technically.

  2. The public has been exposed to it fragmentarily, one piece at a time without being able to assimilate and perceive the whole context and significance. 

Therefore, the task would be to collect this free public information and process it like an editor would.  Explain the technical points.  Tell the whole story first in an introductory overview that explains why this is important and establishes the context; and then in full detail, plugging the technical details into the context. 

Right now, we are waiting the insufferable delay of the NTSB and their final report which may or may not get into these details depending on their political whims.  But in the meantime at least, the potential for this latent information on Amtrak’s culpability is dynamite.  If you bring forth this potential, the platform will come to you.  It will come in two ways:  One way is that it will pay you for the story.  The other way is that it will be a big platform with a lot of reach.

Those are the two things you need.  The only other options for platforms are free platforms that have tiny reach or big reach platforms that you have to pay for.  The first is pointless and the second will be cost prohibitive.  There is also the free platform of Amtrak, but they will not allow themselves to be used as a platform speaking against their own interest.

So collecting, organizing, and editing the written information on Amtrak’s failure regarding #501 is a golden opportunity for the reasons I have stated.  It is also golden because it is a treasure trove of exactly the information that makes your point that Amtrak’s training has become inept. 

This project would require research and writing.  You could hire professional help for these tasks and pay for it with the proceeds of the publication rights.  You would be the author and your work experience would give you the credibility needed for the authorship. 

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, September 2, 2018 7:33 PM

Euclid

 

 
243129
 
Euclid

It would be an interesting and maybe worthwhile project to write a detailed account of how the training and preparation of this engineer was accomplished.  From a variety of reports that I have read, there have been descriptions of a rushed schedule of training; training being done at night with up to six people in the cab with some facing backwards as they rode; training runs being operated at very low speeds not representative of the actual trains speeds after regular service was to begin; minimal and perhaps insufficient training time; distraction of a second person in the cab of the engineer’s first run; and unfamiliarity with the locomotive of the first run. 

There seems to have been a lot of information reported about this, so it would be nice to see it all laid out in one total comprehensive summary presentation.  All the information should be readily available.  Maybe a person could even uncover more information.

And then to accompany that, one could write another summary of what should have been included with a thoroughly proper training program.  That way you could look at the two reports side by side and get a clear picture of what happened and how it placed the public at risk. 

 

 

 

Agreed. However it all harks back to poor vetting, poor training and poor supervision. The major portion of the blame lies with management.

 

 

 

The 501 crash may indeed have been caused by management failures, but it will be very easy to divert attention to the cause being the engineer’s loss of situational awareness, if the NTSB decides that they don’t want to tarnish the reputation of Amtrak and public rail transportation. Or, if they don’t want to pile all the blame on the engineer, the NTSB could easily find that the cause was the lack of PTC. 

But the role of Amtrak’s management in the cause of the disaster is a smoking gun that is plain to see, and has already been uncovered in a surprising amount of bad press.  However, it lacks clarity because the reporting has all come out in pieces, and nobody is able to see the whole picture at this point.  So I see the topic as having a very potent potential to focus attention on the exact problem that you have confronted Amtrak with in your writing.  The role of Amtrak management already published in a list of specifics is a gift to your cause.

If the Amtrak management failures leading into the 501 accident were laid out in a perfectly understandable presentation, it would be the most effective tool imaginable to advance your case in your dispute with them and their safety culture. 

 

Finding a platform to advance my 'case' is the problem.

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Posted by Euclid on Saturday, September 1, 2018 1:00 PM

243129
 
Euclid

It would be an interesting and maybe worthwhile project to write a detailed account of how the training and preparation of this engineer was accomplished.  From a variety of reports that I have read, there have been descriptions of a rushed schedule of training; training being done at night with up to six people in the cab with some facing backwards as they rode; training runs being operated at very low speeds not representative of the actual trains speeds after regular service was to begin; minimal and perhaps insufficient training time; distraction of a second person in the cab of the engineer’s first run; and unfamiliarity with the locomotive of the first run. 

There seems to have been a lot of information reported about this, so it would be nice to see it all laid out in one total comprehensive summary presentation.  All the information should be readily available.  Maybe a person could even uncover more information.

And then to accompany that, one could write another summary of what should have been included with a thoroughly proper training program.  That way you could look at the two reports side by side and get a clear picture of what happened and how it placed the public at risk. 

 

 

 

Agreed. However it all harks back to poor vetting, poor training and poor supervision. The major portion of the blame lies with management.

 

The 501 crash may indeed have been caused by management failures, but it will be very easy to divert attention to the cause being the engineer’s loss of situational awareness, if the NTSB decides that they don’t want to tarnish the reputation of Amtrak and public rail transportation. Or, if they don’t want to pile all the blame on the engineer, the NTSB could easily find that the cause was the lack of PTC. 

But the role of Amtrak’s management in the cause of the disaster is a smoking gun that is plain to see, and has already been uncovered in a surprising amount of bad press.  However, it lacks clarity because the reporting has all come out in pieces, and nobody is able to see the whole picture at this point.  So I see the topic as having a very potent potential to focus attention on the exact problem that you have confronted Amtrak with in your writing.  The role of Amtrak management already published in a list of specifics is a gift to your cause.

If the Amtrak management failures leading into the 501 accident were laid out in a perfectly understandable presentation, it would be the most effective tool imaginable to advance your case in your dispute with them and their safety culture. 

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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, September 1, 2018 12:30 PM

ns145

 

 
243129

 

 
ns145

The trouble with the Amtrak engineer is that he knew just enough to be dangerous.  He thought he had it all figured out, when in fact he did not.  When push came to shove he really didn’t know exactly where the curve was.  Then he compounded his error by under-reacting to the situation thinking he could get the train speed low enough to not fly off of the curve.  

I believe there is a good reason why the Amtrak Road Foreman called the engineer before the run and expressed his concern about not being able to ride along: he clearly was not comfortable with this engineer running solo on the new route.  It will be interesting to find out why Amtrak did not have a supervisor riding in the cab with the engineer on that first run on a new line.  The engineer even stated during his interview that he was surprised by the absence of a supervisor because first runs like this are usually “crawling with officials”.  Given how Amtrak rushed the route familiarization training, the one sure safety backstop would have been having a route-qualified RFE in the cab with the engineers for the first week or two of runs.

 

 

Your observations are accurate. However if the RFE as you say was so concerned and clearly uncomfortable with this engineer why did he not replace him or send another supervisor?

 

 

 

I don’t think this question has been answered in the materials released so far to the public. Hopefully it will be in the NTSB’s final report. That RFE not being in the cab surely was an important contributory factor.  The RFE, with all the training runs he participated in, would have been the most qualified individual to operate the train.  Reading between the lines, that last minute call to the engineer by the RFE suggests to me a conflicted low level manager wanting to do one thing but being told by higher ups at Amtrak to do something else.  I can’t imagine what could have been more important on Amtrak’s agenda than a first run on a new line.  I was shocked when I heard that the second person in the cab was not an RFE, but a conductor taking a route familiarization trip.  A lot of corner-cutting happened here.  Of that there is no doubt.

 

The RFE most certainly will be one of the 'sacrificial lambs'.

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Posted by ns145 on Saturday, September 1, 2018 12:07 PM

243129

 

 
ns145

The trouble with the Amtrak engineer is that he knew just enough to be dangerous.  He thought he had it all figured out, when in fact he did not.  When push came to shove he really didn’t know exactly where the curve was.  Then he compounded his error by under-reacting to the situation thinking he could get the train speed low enough to not fly off of the curve.  

I believe there is a good reason why the Amtrak Road Foreman called the engineer before the run and expressed his concern about not being able to ride along: he clearly was not comfortable with this engineer running solo on the new route.  It will be interesting to find out why Amtrak did not have a supervisor riding in the cab with the engineer on that first run on a new line.  The engineer even stated during his interview that he was surprised by the absence of a supervisor because first runs like this are usually “crawling with officials”.  Given how Amtrak rushed the route familiarization training, the one sure safety backstop would have been having a route-qualified RFE in the cab with the engineers for the first week or two of runs.

 

 

Your observations are accurate. However if the RFE as you say was so concerned and clearly uncomfortable with this engineer why did he not replace him or send another supervisor?

 

I don’t think this question has been answered in the materials released so far to the public. Hopefully it will be in the NTSB’s final report. That RFE not being in the cab surely was an important contributory factor.  The RFE, with all the training runs he participated in, would have been the most qualified individual to operate the train.  Reading between the lines, that last minute call to the engineer by the RFE suggests to me a conflicted low level manager wanting to do one thing but being told by higher ups at Amtrak to do something else.  I can’t imagine what could have been more important on Amtrak’s agenda than a first run on a new line.  I was shocked when I heard that the second person in the cab was not an RFE, but a conductor taking a route familiarization trip.  A lot of corner-cutting happened here.  Of that there is no doubt.

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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, September 1, 2018 7:04 AM

Euclid

It would be an interesting and maybe worthwhile project to write a detailed account of how the training and preparation of this engineer was accomplished.  From a variety of reports that I have read, there have been descriptions of a rushed schedule of training; training being done at night with up to six people in the cab with some facing backwards as they rode; training runs being operated at very low speeds not representative of the actual trains speeds after regular service was to begin; minimal and perhaps insufficient training time; distraction of a second person in the cab of the engineer’s first run; and unfamiliarity with the locomotive of the first run. 

There seems to have been a lot of information reported about this, so it would be nice to see it all laid out in one total comprehensive summary presentation.  All the information should be readily available.  Maybe a person could even uncover more information.

And then to accompany that, one could write another summary of what should have been included with a thoroughly proper training program.  That way you could look at the two reports side by side and get a clear picture of what happened and how it placed the public at risk. 

 

Agreed. However it all harks back to poor vetting, poor training and poor supervision. The major portion of the blame lies with management.

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, August 31, 2018 9:43 PM

It would be an interesting and maybe worthwhile project to write a detailed account of how the training and preparation of this engineer was accomplished.  From a variety of reports that I have read, there have been descriptions of a rushed schedule of training; training being done at night with up to six people in the cab with some facing backwards as they rode; training runs being operated at very low speeds not representative of the actual trains speeds after regular service was to begin; minimal and perhaps insufficient training time; distraction of a second person in the cab of the engineer’s first run; and unfamiliarity with the locomotive of the first run. 

There seems to have been a lot of information reported about this, so it would be nice to see it all laid out in one total comprehensive summary presentation.  All the information should be readily available.  Maybe a person could even uncover more information.

And then to accompany that, one could write another summary of what should have been included with a thoroughly proper training program.  That way you could look at the two reports side by side and get a clear picture of what happened and how it placed the public at risk. 

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Posted by 243129 on Friday, August 31, 2018 7:07 PM

ns145

The trouble with the Amtrak engineer is that he knew just enough to be dangerous.  He thought he had it all figured out, when in fact he did not.  When push came to shove he really didn’t know exactly where the curve was.  Then he compounded his error by under-reacting to the situation thinking he could get the train speed low enough to not fly off of the curve.  

I believe there is a good reason why the Amtrak Road Foreman called the engineer before the run and expressed his concern about not being able to ride along: he clearly was not comfortable with this engineer running solo on the new route.  It will be interesting to find out why Amtrak did not have a supervisor riding in the cab with the engineer on that first run on a new line.  The engineer even stated during his interview that he was surprised by the absence of a supervisor because first runs like this are usually “crawling with officials”.  Given how Amtrak rushed the route familiarization training, the one sure safety backstop would have been having a route-qualified RFE in the cab with the engineers for the first week or two of runs.

Your observations are accurate. However if the RFE as you say was so concerned and clearly uncomfortable with this engineer why did he not replace him or send another supervisor?

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Posted by ns145 on Friday, August 31, 2018 10:45 AM

The trouble with the Amtrak engineer is that he knew just enough to be dangerous.  He thought he had it all figured out, when in fact he did not.  When push came to shove he really didn’t know exactly where the curve was.  Then he compounded his error by under-reacting to the situation thinking he could get the train speed low enough to not fly off of the curve.  

I believe there is a good reason why the Amtrak Road Foreman called the engineer before the run and expressed his concern about not being able to ride along: he clearly was not comfortable with this engineer running solo on the new route.  It will be interesting to find out why Amtrak did not have a supervisor riding in the cab with the engineer on that first run on a new line.  The engineer even stated during his interview that he was surprised by the absence of a supervisor because first runs like this are usually “crawling with officials”.  Given how Amtrak rushed the route familiarization training, the one sure safety backstop would have been having a route-qualified RFE in the cab with the engineers for the first week or two of runs.

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Posted by Euclid on Friday, August 31, 2018 7:34 AM

Well, whatever the air brake facts of #501 were, I am going to assume that the engineer’s choice of brake application was not nearly as effective as an emergency application would have been.  I believe he was in denial about the situation he saw unfolding ahead of him.  He did say that he believed he could get around the curve without derailing.  I don’t believe this guy had ever thought through the exact requirements and consequences of that curve even though he had learned about its existence.  If he knew the consequences, he would have made sure he would be prepared to encounter it.  He would have made sure he did not get lost. 

But he was not that kind of person.  He lacked what it took to take on that responsibility.  Even though it may be said that anybody can lose situational awareness, he lost it too easily.  This is what Amtrak should have detected in their hiring of him.  This engineer was in complete denial of the situation right up to the point where he said, “Aw, we’re dead” just as the train was about to leave the rails. 

Whether or not Amtrak taught him to use service applications in emergencies is probably something we will never know.  I am not sure if a team of experts would agree on how the two braking applications would compare.  People working for Amtrak might easily misunderstand the subject and hold erroneous views about it.  The engineer may also have misunderstood what Amtrak told him about the two different brake applications, or he may not be telling the truth about that claim.  He may be back in denial after the crash.   

In my opinion, the engineer’s claim that the brake response was not taking hold was due to his exaggerated expectations of its capability as he struggled to deny the peril and therefore the need for extreme braking.    

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, August 30, 2018 9:29 PM

Questions about the braking not apparent

1.  If a SC-44 goes into emergency does that sutomatically activate loco sanding ?

2. Are the Talgos ECP and especially with full service and emergency ?

3.  Dis the P-42 trailing mirror the SC-44 electronically emergency and sanding ? 

 

 

 

/

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