Washington Train Wreck

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rcktnut

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After a couple of people on the train stated that at the time of the wreck that they were traveling faster than the cars on I-5 and seeing this picture, I have a itty bitty teeny weeny hunch of what caused the wreck:

EXCESSIVE SPEED

BBH038C.img.jpg
 
After analyzing the satellite views of the area some general conclusions can be made without much assumption:
The easement curve to the railroad bridge would not support a consist movement of 79 MPH. If you correlate the resting location of the equipment it is very similar to the crash of AMtrak 188. The locomotive enters the curve at a speed above the rated speed for the curve, begins to tilt outward from the curve. Derails at that point and probably rolled on her right side, taking the first few cars in the consist with it. (Judging from the damaged SC-44 locomotive, it rolled over and back on undercarriage) This chain of events dissipates energy rapidly and the rear half or so of the consist is now traveling slow enough to be guided by the rails and not tip; however, other than the last car and locomotive, being derailed they were allowed to fall from the right of way into the bridge and the highway below.
Reports from passengers onboard stated “the train was passing interstate traffic” just prior to the crash. We all know how fast we drive on the interstate. If that is true...my money is on “too great a speed for the curve”
My 2 cents
 
Antifa claimed responsibity for a prior train wreck in Washington.

After today’s derailment, Antifa scrubbed their website of the claim.

Antifa has a history of causing train wrecks. They are a global organization and are not limited to Washington State or the US.
 
I won't presume that the rush hour traffic on I-5 was going the posted speed limit.

Agreed! At 7:30 in the morning I-5 down by Joint Base Lewis/McCord is certainly not going to be going the posted speed limit (60 mph there). I'd be surprised if it was moving at half that. So concluding the train was going too fast just from the comment they were passing traffic on i-5 is extrapolating too much.

That said, this was the very first run on this particular route, which was changed in part to speed things up between Seattle and Portland. We need to see what the NTSB finds.
 
And we now know that, based on gps data, the train was taking a curve with a 30 mph limit at 80.
 
This chain of events dissipates energy rapidly and the rear half or so of the consist is now traveling slow enough to be guided by the rails and not tip; however, other than the last car and locomotive, being derailed they were allowed to fall from the right of way into the bridge and the highway below.

Thank you for making me look up and learn about the alternate definition of the word consist!
 
Antifa claimed responsibity for a prior train wreck in Washington.

After today’s derailment, Antifa scrubbed their website of the claim.

Antifa has a history of causing train wrecks. They are a global organization and are not limited to Washington State or the US.

And a guy in Arizona claims the earth is flat. A member of an antifa group claimed to have blocked train tracks in Olympia, approximately 20 miles away. They did not claim responsibility for a train derailment. The post was also taken down months ago because various far-right conspiracy theorists then blamed every single train accident on antifa regardless of any evidence. The statement about antifa being global can be applied to just about any group active in politics.

I'm pretty sure we would have heard by now if there was any evidence of tampering with the track in the area of the derailment. Until there's actual evidence, let's stick with the facts.
 
Today’s local far-left (California) fishwrap says authorities are now looking at a “foreign object” on the tracks.
 
When Positive Train Control is being discussed in news about Amtrak crash, keep these things in mind: and I don't expect the fine details will make the current national news.
This is intimately relevant, must be addressed, and is impossible to address without dancing on the razor's edge of politics.

"Amtrak and the FCC
What bad wireless spectrum policy has to do with the recent, deadly train derailment."
May 2015.
"But following the Amtrak derailment, people are suddenly conscious of the fact that the nation’s policies on access to the airwaves will impact almost everything in their lives.

So is Amtrak’s claim that spectrum access is a factor in this disaster legitimate? The answer is yes and no. Amtrak asked for exclusive, and expensive, spectrum, and this request—while puzzling—highlights deep structural problems with how our government has parceled out and regulated spectrum in the past."

https://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2015/05/amtrak_train_derailment_positive_train_control_and_wireless_spectrum_policy.html


and

"4 June 2017
Positive train control: is the US on track?
By Eva Grey

Another critical drawback is the issue of integration: PTC deployment requires various technical components to work together, many of them being ‘first generation technologies’ specifically designed and developed for PTC. The lengthy testing of these components takes time, which slows down delivery. Limitations in radio bandwidth and incomplete radio system requirements also played a big role.

“Interoperability sits upon the foundation of a huge, shared database with information the different railroads need to update and access regularly,” leading PTC expert and ARR consultant Jeff Young, wrote in an editorial.

“This includes information like the precise locations of thousands of railroad switches and wayside signals. This has been an enormous challenge, because rail operators need to keep this information updated even as switch and signal location changes are constantly changing,” he adds."

https://www.railway-technology.com/features/featurepositive-train-control-is-the-us-on-track-5825798/


And then a bit of info from a train website member,

From Railpictures dot net last night;

"Most of the 78 passengers and crew were injured and between 3 and 6 people perished. I had 3 friends as passengers, in addition to the engineer. It took some time but eventually I was informed that all of my friends survived, but were hospitalized with pretty serious injuries. It should be noted, there were two people in the cab. Both survived and were taken to local hospitals."
...

"Hearing the conductor make his emergency call was very scary, made worse by the knowledge of all the people I knew on board. Please keep the crew, passengers and loved ones of those affected in your prayers.

Please keep any comments positive and avoid speculation on the cause. Lets wait until the investigation is complete. "

https://www.railpictures.net/photo/641592/
 
Will be interesting to see what may come out of those two items,

“A downward grade coming into that curve, you’ve got that working against you. You’ve got to make a pretty good estimate of how to get that down from 81 to 30,” Hiatt said of the track, located near Mounts Road outside of DuPont. “From what I’ve heard, there were several complaints by engineers about this.'"
and

"However, an official who was briefed on the investigation but not authorized to discuss it publicly told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity that preliminary signs indicate the Amtrak train may have struck something on the track before going off the rails. No other evidence Monday has indicated anything was on the tracks."

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/train-derails-from-bridge-onto-interstate-5-near-olympia/

And preparation pays off;

"His department has conducted tabletop exercises involving “train cars dangling over the freeway.”

People say, “Oh, that’s never going to happen. And here we are,” Sumerlin said."
 
Today’s local far-left (California) fishwrap says authorities are now looking at a “foreign object” on the tracks.

NTSB also pulled the data recorder from the trailing locomotive and announced that the train was going 80 in a 30 zone. While I'm sure the authorities will look for foreign objects on the track, speed is a major issue. Our local paper notes that the slowdown area from 80 to 30 is also on a downhill section of track. That can't be an easy braking maneuver.
 
A Google Plus friend brought this to my attention.
A Cruel Irony’: 2 Killed in Amtrak Crash Were Rail Fans Eager for Maiden Run

By JULIE BOSMANDEC. 19, 2017

So quite a few of the people who boarded Train No. 501 on Monday for the maiden run were rail fans. And when the train crashed off the newly refurbished rails south of Tacoma with 77 passengers aboard, at least two of the three people who were killed in the accident came from that world.

James Hamre, 61, was a train enthusiast to his marrow, the son and grandson of railway employees, who spent his retirement promoting train travel. Zack Willhoite, 35, his close friend, worked for a transportation agency in Washington State and volunteered his free time for a regional rail advocacy group. Mr. Hamre’s family and Mr. Willhoite’s employer confirmed their deaths.

“It’s a cruel irony,” said Malcolm Kenton, a writer and consultant in the passenger rail industry who knew both men.

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/19/us/amtrak-derailment-victims-washington.html
 
It seems to be the week for inaugural train troubles - from a Google Plus friend in India;
Train of Delhi Metro's Magenta line derails, crashes into wall even before inauguration

A trial run of a Metro train on the Magenta Line went off the rails.
IndiaToday.in | Posted by Bijin Jose
New Delhi, December 19, 2017 | UPDATED 19:43 IST

In an unfortunate turn of events, a trial run of a Metro train on the Magenta Line went off the rails (pun intended). The unmanned Metro train crashed into the wall of the Kalindi Kunj Metro depot.

The Kalkaji Mandir-Botanical Garden line of the Delhi Metro, which will reduce the travel time between Noida and south Delhi, will be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25.


Also of interest with in it;
Metro's new generation trains, which can run without drivers, will run on this section where an advanced Communication Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling technology that will facilitate movement of trains with a frequency of 90-100 seconds will also be pressed into service.

As a matter of fact, when the trains are in car shade they are operated manually. It remains unclear whether the train that crashed had a driver in it or not at the time of the accident.


https://indiatoday.intoday.in/story...ine-kalindi-kunj-depot-pm-modi/1/1113629.html
 
Uh... The train was going too fast. No need for bizarre conspiracy theories or rants about domestic terrorism. Someone(s) at Amtrak and associated authorities screwed up and people died.

It also disturbs me to see the label antifa used in such contexts, particularly for the lunatic fringe. When I was growing up our term for anti-fascists was "Patriots" or simply "Americans." When being anti-fascist becomes a bad thing, we know we have lost the ball game.
 
Yeah. This one was excessive speed. I get really pissed about people intentionally putting stuff on tracks/runways/airport taxiways and doing intentional harm to others.
 
I don't care what political group or what agenda. When you tamper with a national transportation system with intent to do harm you have done a terrorist activity that is not in the interest of general public safety. When a train, plane, truck, or boat crushes you for standing in the wrong place at wrong time, you deserved it. Peaceful protests use official paperwork along designated sidewalks or closed off streets. Doing otherwise gives your group the respect level lower than dogsh*t.

Not interstates. Not active runways at busy airports. Not flight lines. Not docks. Not channel locks. Not middle of downtown streets. And not rail road tracks. Let professionals work. As you can see this Amtrak driver had a bad enough day without any distractions.
 
Fair enough, tampering is terrorism, I'm with you on that. However, right now there's no credible evidence that this tragedy is anything other than the result of poor process control, insufficient checks and balances, and human error (probably at multiple levels). Everything I'm hearing is that due to some incorrect process and procedure, the train was going 80 in a 30 zone and couldn't make the turn. Let's figure out why that happened.
 
In aviation they preach crew resource management. This means the work environment in cockpit of a plane is a sterile quiet professional work space with positive responses in communication to ensure multiple crew members are performing necessary tasks in a safe organized distraction free manner. I do not know if railroad train drivers have a similar process or why the rear locomotive if crewed did not tell the forward locomotive to slow down. Amtrak could consider implementing multiple crew members. The FAA does it for aircraft over 12,000 lbs. It greatly increases safety for the yearly salary of an additional crew member. Amtrak should stop complaining about FCC with PTC and implement other safety policies with additional crews until the FCC passes a PTC system.
 
Maybe the NTSB or some kind of railroad safety committee should approve a regulation requiring multiple crew members on a passenger train service. They can leave cargo alone for all I care. A lot of industries do not have the level of oversight as aviation does. PtC would improve its safety even beyond multiple crew members. This way if PTC failed the additional crew member could save the lives of 70+ to possibly hundreds of people.
 
When I worked at VW as an engineering intern. I saw the car factory didn't have a spare parts place for the robots. With aviation, they had every single piece required to nearly rebuild it on sight. It was regulated versus the car factory wasn't. The paperwork tracking part numbers and hours replaced per part would fill freaking multiple small buildings. And you began to wonder somebody had some serious OCD about at blah hour on Hobbs meter rip part off airplane and replace. This made aviation very expensive. However the regulations greatly improved service turnaround times and also reliability of components. The car factory CEO guy was complaining upon hours of downtime with broken machines costing him millions. Turns out it took thirty days to order specialized robot parts from out of country.

It's amazing to see how maintenance ops are handled from industry to industry.
 
It would suck if a train derailed over a 12 cent nylon washer sticking up a throttle control. Seen pressure safety switches zip tied on factory floors. Nearly hurled about that. Lol @ deregulation somedays.
 
https://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases/Pages/PR20171222.aspx
The lead locomotive’s event data and video recorders were successfully downloaded with the manufacturer’s assistance and processed in the NTSB’s lab in Washington, D.C. An initial review of the final portion of the accident sequence revealed the following information, which is preliminary and subject to change as the investigation continues:

Inward-facing video with audio captured the crew’s actions and their conversations. A forward-facing video with audio captured conditions in front of the locomotive as well as external sounds.
The crew was not observed to use any personal electronic devices during the timeframe reviewed.
About six seconds prior to the derailment, the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.
The engineer’s actions were consistent with the application of the locomotive’s brakes just before the recording ended. It did not appear the engineer placed the brake handle in emergency-braking mode.
The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.
The final recorded speed of the locomotive was 78 mph.

A preliminary report detailing the facts and circumstances of the crash developed in this early stage of the investigation will be available on the NTSB website in the coming days.

The entire investigation is expected to last 12-24 months.
 
Uh... The train was going too fast. No need for bizarre conspiracy theories or rants about domestic terrorism. Someone(s) at Amtrak and associated authorities screwed up and people died.

It also disturbs me to see the label antifa used in such contexts, particularly for the lunatic fringe. When I was growing up our term for anti-fascists was "Patriots" or simply "Americans." When being anti-fascist becomes a bad thing, we know we have lost the ball game.

+1 for sure...
Well said..

Teddy
 
I am in the mood to add a bit of related content from one of the 4 Ry trade journals regularly looked at.

Talgos take over Cascade corridor
01 Feb 1999

INTRO: Amtrak and Washington State DoT have put new tilting trains into service in the US Pacific Northwest, where traffic has doubled in the last five years.
...
Branded as Amtrak Cascades, the Talgos are the latest element in a long range plan that could see up to eight daily return trips between Seattle and Portland at up to 200 km/h.
...
Early reaction to the trains has been extremely positive, further vindicating WSDoT's aggressive pro-passenger rail policy. The new stock forms part of a $200m programme to improve services and upgrade the 750 km Cascade corridor, most of which falls within the state. Some funding has come from Oregon, the US federal government, and British Columbia. Allowing the tilting Talgos to run at higher speeds through curves has already cut 25min off the 3h 55min schedule for conventional Amtrak rolling stock.

Annual ridership in the corridor has jumped from just over 226000 in 1993, the year before the first of two leased Talgos were placed in service, to 550000 in 1998, an increase of 137%.
...
The Talgos operate in push-pull mode with a so-called cabbage (cab-baggage) car at one end. These are life-expired F40 locos with the diesel engine removed and the engine compartment converted into baggage storage space. The cab and controls are retained to work with the F59.

https://www.railwaygazette.com/news/single-view/view/talgos-take-over-cascade-corridor.html
 
"A retired railway official who worked on PTC offers the following observations:

“BNSF is not responsible for track construction and maintenance or signal installation and maintenance on the formerly BNSF-owned Lakewood Subdivision. Those functions have been assigned to contractors by the present owner, Sound Transit. BNSF does provide dispatching service. The dispatcher is the Seattle Subdivision dispatcher.

“Even though PTC was an unfunded mandate for all of the freight railroads, BNSF leadership was determined to have PTC installed by the original December 31 2015 deadline. That would have happened had it not been for the Federal Communications Commission blocking the permitting of the necessary communication towers until pressured into changing the process by the Obama Administration and Congress. BNSF had planned to develop and install PTC on its own before the 2008 mandate, and intended to pay for it with crew size reductions in the core territories where implemented."

For many months now, the only trains operating on the Seattle Subdivision without operational PTC have been Amtrak trains. The same situation exists on many other BNSF subdivisions. As a matter of fact, PTC had already been installed and was in full operation on the Seattle Sub when an Amtrak train passed a red absolute signal and derailed in the switch point power derail protecting the Chambers Bay Drawbridge earlier this year. The problem was Amtrak trains were not PTC-equipped.

“The question has been asked as to why the new operation on the Lakewood Subdivision was implemented on December 18, before PTC implementation was complete. The answer: it did not make any difference since none of the Amtrak locomotives had PTC anyway.

https://www.railjournal.com/index.php/north-america/overspeed-likely-cause-of-amtrak-crash.html
 
“The question has been asked as to why the new operation on the Lakewood Subdivision was implemented on December 18, before PTC implementation was complete. The answer: it did not make any difference since none of the Amtrak locomotives had PTC anyway.

THIS. Everyone is clamoring about PTC but no one realizes that most of the locomotive fleet has yet to be equipped with PTC yet.

I'm pretty tired of everyone harping on PTC preventing the accident when the locomotives did not have PTC.

However, I'm somewhat surprised that the Charger involved did not have PTC installed already, being such a brand new locomotive, and knowing that the line was going to be protected by PTC when it was built (as evidenced by PTC already being installed on the line).

It was indeed a sad day for all. I have friends in the industry that were dispatched to the wreck as part of the NTSB response team. One has posted his experience of the accident, and the whole mess that goes along with it. It's amazing how much media, social media, and ambulance chasing lawyers are interfering with the process.

Where in mid-missouri are you, modeltrains?? St. Louis here. Was an Engineer/Fireman for the Arborway, T.T. and Northwestern Railroad before it shut down a few weeks ago, and am a engineer/fireman/head mechanic at Wabash, Frisco and Pacific Railroad, among other adventures.
 
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