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Amtrak 501 Derail in Washington State

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Sunday, February 14, 2021 8:02 PM

As usual, the cause is multifactorial. OM and Allen are certainly correct about the track layout lacking a transition from 79 to 35. Joe, OM, and Mac are correct about deficient training. Plenty of blame for this and tragically Amtrak does not seem to be mending its ways, figuratively and literally.  

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Posted by 243129 on Sunday, February 14, 2021 9:49 PM

charlie hebdo
tragically Amtrak does not seem to be mending its ways, figuratively and literally.  

Where does one obtain a platform to point out Amtrak's dangerous (to the traveling public) deficiencies and not be portrayed as 'Chicken Little'?

 

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, February 15, 2021 10:36 AM

Major media?   CNN? 

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Posted by 243129 on Monday, February 15, 2021 2:44 PM

charlie hebdo

Major media?   CNN? 

 

I tried but the previous administration hogged all of the air and print time. Maybe I will try again now that civility and competent governance has been restored.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 15, 2021 2:52 PM

243129
Maybe I will try again now that civility and competent governance has been restored.

I'd try with the 'political side' first -- but I wouldn't ramp up beyond letters of introduction until 'the first hundred days' is over, and the people with the most influence or clout are no longer preoccupied.

The only way to get those folks at Amtrak 'training' to listen and listen good is to have some bigger influence 'sic' you on them.  Make your case to the 'men who manage the men who manage men' ... and have plans including agile 'midcourse corrections' to implement in detail from 'day one' once the boom is brought down.

Keep in mind that one of the most hellishly difficult prospective concerns is that Amtrak, for likely insurmountable political reasons, needs to hire from a range of cohorts that are decidedly not traditional railroaders or, yet, have traditional-railroader sensibilities or priorities.  The training program needs to have sections that recognize the problems, teach 'the best ways for these cohorts to learn', and then work to instill the right stuff by what may be very diverse, and possibly slow, ways.

As I previously note, much of the safety related planning ought to be done through the unions (with Amtrak's only real 'contribution' being to subsidize it financially) just as with private carriers.  That, at least, you could start on today.

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Posted by 243129 on Monday, February 15, 2021 5:03 PM

Thank you charlie and OM I shall endeavor to persevere....again. I hope I don't end up Bang Head again.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 15, 2021 6:54 PM

The problem with some of the major media is that they can acquire a sort of 'muckraking urge' that leads them to attack certain 'causes' if they choose not to like the company concerned, no matter what the actual facts were.  One memorable case in point was the GM 'cars that turned themselves off' because of "defective" ignition switches.

I'd retain the two aspects of the 'publicity' approach until there has been overt failure to get political and internal sources to address the situation, or Amtrak has started stonewalling in one way or another.  The initial approach I'd take would be some kind of 'better' improvement of disparate people from "diverse" backgrounds into Better Railroaders (introducing the important characteristics peripherally during the discussion, not as the important things Amtrak Needs To Do NOW!! or, worse, the dysfunctional things Amtrak perpetuates that are killing people (true as we know that to be).

Only bring up the "specific Amtrak failures that killed people and could have been prevented with simple training improvements" if the proactive and 'win-win' methods have failed ... and give them a fair chance before pulling the chain.

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Posted by 243129 on Monday, February 15, 2021 10:02 PM

This is a matter of public record posted on Railway Age November 3, 2017 and one month later 501 derailed!  

Guest Blog: Amtrak—another accident waiting to happen? - Railway Age

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Posted by MMLDelete on Monday, February 15, 2021 11:34 PM

Joe, that was a great piece you wrote. I am wondering: after the 501 wreck, did Railway Age perhaps point out to its readers that your column had just recently dealt with the training issue, to double down on the message?

From the beginning of this discussion, I have been amazed that the FRA doesn't have ironclad rules about how engineers must be qualified. I would have thought that was the case. They could have procedures outlined, and create a mandatory reporting system that makes it difficult for the carriers to shortcut the training.

That was shocking hearing that RFE saying that they'd "qualify" a guy, and that guy would qualify another, and so on. Give me a break. Only a few get qualified by an actual veteran, then those newbies are now   "trainers?" OMG. It's like the old telephone game; each repeating of the "knowledge" compounds errors.

What a $#!tshow.

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 7:21 AM

Unfortunately, the way the passenger industry is going - probably be a long while until someone new is hired that needs trained. 

   The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 8:20 AM

The reason I favor a broad audience media approach is to grab the attention of whatever portion of the public using Amtrak.  Once enough people are concerned/scared because of safety, the legislators, regulators and Amtrak management will step up, likely in that sequence.  That is the story of PTC. 

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 8:51 AM

zugmann

Unfortunately, the way the passenger industry is going - probably be a long while until someone new is hired that needs trained. 

 

There are plenty of the poorly trained presently employed.

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Posted by 243129 on Tuesday, February 16, 2021 9:02 AM

Lithonia Operator

Joe, that was a great piece you wrote. I am wondering: after the 501 wreck, did Railway Age perhaps point out to its readers that your column had just recently dealt with the training issue, to double down on the message?

From the beginning of this discussion, I have been amazed that the FRA doesn't have ironclad rules about how engineers must be qualified. I would have thought that was the case. They could have procedures outlined, and create a mandatory reporting system that makes it difficult for the carriers to shortcut the training.

That was shocking hearing that RFE saying that they'd "qualify" a guy, and that guy would qualify another, and so on. Give me a break. Only a few get qualified by an actual veteran, then those newbies are now   "trainers?" OMG. It's like the old telephone game; each repeating of the "knowledge" compounds errors.

What a $#!tshow.

 

Thank you. The RFE in charge of OJT(Beatson) was himself newly qualified as were his subordinates. My mantra of 'the unknowing teaching the unknowing who are supervised by the unknowing' applies here. Your observation is correct it is a $#!tshow.Bang Head

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 11, 2021 7:32 AM
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Posted by 243129 on Friday, November 12, 2021 8:30 AM

BaltACD

Hopefully, the parties involved, namely Amtrak, will have learned from past errors. I am skeptical to say the least.

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Posted by ns145 on Friday, November 12, 2021 8:56 AM

At least the PTC system is up running now.  What can go wrong?

... go wrong? 

... go wrong?

... go wrong?

Devil

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Friday, November 12, 2021 9:45 PM

ns145
... go wrong?

Darling, why is the pilot walking to the door with a parachute on?

This is perfectly safe NOW isn't it?

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Posted by ns145 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 6:46 AM

Electroliner 1935

 

 
ns145
... go wrong?

 

Darling, why is the pilot walking to the door with a parachute on?

This is perfectly safe NOW isn't it?

 

It might be as long as the Amtrak crews have been properly qualified.  I have no qualms with PTC, but it should be the backstop not the primary means of insuring safe operation.

What do you wanna bet that there's an Amtrak RFE in the cab on the first run on November 18th?

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, November 13, 2021 11:30 AM

Agree with the previous posting.  Moist probably never another "incident" on the specific bypass.  Will the lesson be learned for other situations and locations?  That is our real concern.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, November 13, 2021 11:52 AM

ns145
It might be as long as the Amtrak crews have been properly qualified.  I have no qualms with PTC, but it should be the backstop not the primary means of insuring safe operation.

PTC is now integral to how you run the train.  It's not just something in the background nor can be treated as such by design.  Not saying it's better or worse than running pre-PTC, but it is the new reality. 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 4:46 PM

If I am correct PTC will NOT stop slow speed (>20 mph) accidents. So if an engineer slows to 15 mph and doesn't STOP at a STOP & STAY (Home) signal, will PTC initiate a penalty application and prevent a potential accident if there is a train in the block ahead of it?

Nothing can go wrong...

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, November 13, 2021 4:48 PM

If PTC is active it will enforce (stop) you at a stop signal if you are going 100 or 1 and don't stop on your own. 

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 4:56 PM

But if you are coming into a terminal with a track that stops at a bumper post, will it keep you from hitting the post at 15 mph?

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, November 13, 2021 4:59 PM

Electroliner 1935
But if you are coming into a terminal with a track that stops at a bumper post, will it keep you from hitting the post at 15 mph?

You could set up a stop signal/0 speed at the bumper, then it would.  Otherwise, you have to follow restricted speed rules. 

 

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Posted by 243129 on Saturday, November 13, 2021 6:13 PM

Automation addiction will result in more disasters.

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, November 22, 2021 12:07 PM

Well the bypass was to begin operation on the 18th - it is now the 22nd and I haven't heard of any major derailments.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, November 22, 2021 9:48 PM

OOPS double post

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Monday, November 22, 2021 9:49 PM

This poster is worrried that PTC that the freight RRs have will not last due to GPS problems.  The more expensive Amtrak ACSES probably will survive.

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