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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Amtrak Crash Near 30th St Stn. (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Amtrak Crash Near 30th St Stn.
PullmanCo
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If I were the General Counsel of Amtrak, I would hold all members of this crew from service until NTSB has completed the investigation.

WRT the Conductor, GBN worked with Railroad Retirement, and indeed has to this day a Railroad Retirement Card. What are the rules on total disability under Railroad Retirement? Anyone know the rules and coverages under Amtrak?

Much will depend on the outcome of the NTSB investigation. If the engineer committed an act of criminal negligence or gross civil negligence, ...

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Marriott Biscayne Bay Miami

Haven't read this yet, but The Times has been "part of my life" for over 65 years, and I trust it will be fair, balanced, and in depth:

http://nytimes.com/2016/01/31/magazine/the-wreck-of-amtrak-188.html

Fair use:
  • From 30th Street Station, the train glided northwest out of Philadelphia, tracing the arc of the freeway. Near the old Schuylkill River Bridge, it jogged right, gathering speed, bound for the New Jersey border. Had you been standing anywhere near the tracks, you would have heard Amtrak 188 before you saw it, in the hum of the rail bed and the metallic shiver of the electricity in the overhead catenary wires. And then you would have felt it, in the vibration of the earth: the combined weight of a 98-ton locomotive and seven 50-ton cars, carrying a total of 258 people, eight of them employees.

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Vincent206
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The article offers a couple of plausible explanations for the wreck, both involving a large object thrown at the locomotive causing the engineer to temporarily lose "situational awareness".
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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
From Marriott Biscayne Bay Miami

Haven't read this yet, but The Times has been "part of my life" for over 65 years, and I trust it will be fair, balanced, and in depth:

Sadly you'd be very wrong. A lovely, flowery article which relates more to the author's dreams than actual reality. Where do I start?
- "21,300 miles of rail operated by Amtrak." No, Amtrak travel over 21,300 route miles but operate a much smaller amount.
- "“cab signals,” an internal device that automatically displays information about obstacles or other trains ahead." No, it provides limited information about the signal ahead. There is absolutely zero information about obstacles or other trains.
- "Europe/Asia us what is known as PTC in the US." It's like comparing oranges and oil rigs.
- "Traction motors lost their grip [on the rails]." Since they never grip anyway, there was nothing to lose.
- "The fate of 188, by contrast, appeared to be a genuine mystery. There was no obvious cause, no readily apparent smoking gun." Within hours there was reasonable evidence that the train was speeding - not only from the way the vehicles left the track, but also by Amtrak's own train tracker system that shows the last reported speeds of the train. While I hesitate to jump to conclusions, the primary cause of this one was fairly obvious.
- "A notoriously tricky piece of track." It had a speed limit. Engineers are trained to know the speed limits. Notorious would be something like a steep, twisting down grade with mixed trains. Not a speed limit.

And the final nail in the coffin: the story describes in intimate detail the engineer's life story and the hours up to the event - and then admits near the bottom they couldn't even speak to him. So everything is pure speculation, or anecdotes from 3rd parties - the worst kind of journalism.

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Geoff M.

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Gilbert B Norman
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From Bedroom A line 5240 train 52 (26) car 32504 sitting in Sanford

As I noted earlier, I have not read the article. I realize not all hold The Times with the same esteem as do I.

Thinking it over driving up here to Sanford, I was surprised that the article was published prior to release of the NTSB investigation. While on the surface, it would appear Amtrak "owns it", and with some $150M in pending claims, I trust The Times Legal Department carefully reviewed the timing of this publication.

Those here who object to this journalism, The Times has an independent Public Editor, and I'd suggest making any concerns known to that office.

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Geoff Mayo
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I don't recall anything that could be considered libel in the article so legally it's probably fine. It was just the clearly embellished nature of the "story" that irked me, along with its technical errors.

As to contacting the editor, what's the point. The story is done and "out there", and when the next story comes out the chances are there will be other errors.

I have no opinion on the rest of their journalism.

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Geoff M.

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Gilbert B Norman
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public@nytimes.com

Here is The Times Public Editor's e-address lest anyone here have concerns regarding any journalism appearing in The Times.

I don't know of any other news source having such a position.

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Geoff Mayo
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
public@nytimes.com

Here is The Times Public Editor's e-address lest anyone here have concerns regarding any journalism appearing in The Times.

I don't know of any other news source having such a position.

Slight correction: here is an email address handled by a bunch of low paid staffers whose job it is to filter through the junk and occasionally pass on anything which they might consider of merit to the next highest level of management.

If this newspaper is any different from any other public-facing organisation with thousands++ of customers (readers?) I'd be amazed. Editors don't have time to read Joe Public's emails.

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Geoff M.

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Gilbert B Norman
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All right everybody, I've now read the article in print sitting in my Ekornes Stressless easy chair, which means "I've read it".

My overall impression is that it is an ill-timed human interest story long on the interest, short on fact. In view of the imminent release of the NTSB Preliminary Report, publication of this article, could have waited until that document is within the public domain.

But the fact remains "Amtrak owns it" like no prior fatal incident, such as Bayou Canot or Tonti. There are reportedly $150M in claims pending, as well as possible criminal prosecution. Much as I wish I didn't have to say this, Gray Lady allowed more speculation to appear in print than "we" have allowed ourselves here at our essentially self-moderated Forum.

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Gilbert B Norman
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The Wall Street Journal has posted at their site an article with further information. In essence, "the train and infrastructure are off the hook":

http://www.wsj.com/articles/philadelphia-amtrak-derailment-investigators-rule-out-train-track-signals-as-causes-1454350232

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  • Investigators probing the deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia last May have ruled out issues with the locomotive, track or train signals as causes, an official with the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.

    The NSTB released a trove of documents from its investigation on Monday. While the safety board didn’t identify a probable cause of the accident, the elimination of those factors appeared to winnow down the potential causes to the actions of the engineer behind the train’s controls.

    The NTSB official said investigators had twice interviewed the engineer, Brandon Bostian. The official described Mr. Bostian as “extremely cooperative.”

    The board is expected to formally declare a probable cause this spring.

Regardless of what is contained within the Final Report, we must not lose sight that "Amtrak owns it", as distinct from immediately noted Tonti, where it can be said the IC owned that one. Of further interest; under then existing contractual relationships, IC assumed all liability arising from such.

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Gilbert B Norman
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NTSB Final Report is released. Engineer lost "situational awareness", no PTC, problems with evacuation of cars, no seat belts, no enclosed overhead compartments.

addendum: here is NBC Nightly News coverage aired this evening:

http://www.nbcnews.com/nightly-news/video/ntsb-engineer-was-distracted-before-deadly-amtrak-crash-687537219507

At nearly the end of the report, it is noted that criminal prosecution is not yet "off the table". Why push it; the Engineer, Mr. Bostian I'd dare say, is already "doing life without parole".

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yukon11
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I get the feeling they are grasping at straws. I think they're trying to determine the cause by elimination. That tells me that they still don't really know.

If the engineer was distracted by radio traffic, would that really explain why the train was going 100 mph over a 50 mph curve?

Richard

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George Harris
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We can armchair quarterback all we want, and frankly some of the NTSB reports approach armchair quarterbacking, something like some of the court decisions where they take hours to debate on whether a decision make is seconds was reasonable or not. However, yes it is possible to lose "situational awareness" in many situations, it is just when operating a train it is hard to significantly change speeds in a matter of seconds and impossible to change direction at all. In both NTSB reports and ICC reports before them their suggestions always seemed to be on the lines of "if only" they had had one more step in the laundry list of "lights, bells, and whistles" the accident could have been prevented. If it was a timetable and trainorder piece of railroad, then it should have had ABS. If it had ABS, then it should have had ATC, and on and on.

I have no idea what they could charge this poor guy with. As Mr. N said, Mr. Bostian is effectively already doing life without parole. He is probably done when it comes to working in his profession. That is a sentence.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Richard, there was conjecture within the Board. One member dissented stating the primary cause was the lack of PTC. The majority held that "situational awareness" was primary and that the PTC deficiency was contributing.

I think track is best advised to both screen and train their Engineers in "situational awareness" in.much the same manner as do airlines. Hey those trains are operating at 135 and soon will do so at 160.

But air transport is not immune to situational awareness. Try Asiana 214 at SFO. At least that incident occurring when it did, held down coverage of Megantic.

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Geoff Mayo
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How many of us have been driving for a while on a freeway and suddenly realise one has no idea of where one is until one passes the next sign? Fortunately there are rarely sudden changes in speed limits on freeways. It happens and engineers are no exception, but fortunately rarely results in a problem - until it does. Airline pilots, those people who we generally think are top notch, are also no exception even when their ears and eyes are telling them one thing but their instruments are telling them something else. One can train employees as much as you like but you're dealing with Mk.1 Human.

If radio chatter is a problem - and I don't really know if it is - then perhaps secure one-to-one comms is the next Big Step. Dare I say it but to-train communication in Europe is generally one-to-one - and drivers are free to ignore any non-emergency incoming calls in the context of sterile cab - braking for a red signal or station stop, for example, same concept as the sterile cockpit upon landing or take-off. But signallers (dispatchers) can still group call or broadcast any emergencies, and commuter trains with only a driver and no other crew have a way for the signallers to talk directly over the train's PA system to passengers.

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Geoff M.

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yukon11
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I've read, elsewhere, that many are suggesting that all Amtrak trains operate with a two man engineering crew. I know that is very controversial, but maybe it's something that should happen.

I've even read suggestions for (heaven forbid!) seat belts for every passenger.

Richard

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Geoff Mayo
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Plenty of crashes with two people up front. It's impossible to calculate how many, if any, accidents might have been avoided by having that second person, but the fact there are accidents with two people suggest it's not a solution.

--------------------
Geoff M.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Two in the cab for this one - 1955 Bridgeport CT. Loss of situational awareness:

http://www.allhandsworking.net/Old-School-Fire-disasterPhotos/Old-School-Fire-Photos/i-MpT4gXq/A

Only train control: wayside Automatic Block - no cab signals, no radios, only lineside phones.

Two men in the cab for this incident, this one was thanks to an Engineer medically (as distinct from impaired) unfit for service:

https://youtu.be/mKgDUJpr_l4

Seat belts, never: will the train crew be required to "play Flight Attendant" and check every passenger before they highball?

Enclosed luggage racks: surprised this has only been implemented on Acela to date.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Associated Press has reported that the Engineer wants his "pieces of silver" as well. While of course the $50K he seeks is pocket change in a $300M incident, it certainly is testament to our societal "grab what I can" mentality.

If the Engineer has faced criminal charges, that has not been reported. Also not reported is the disposition of any employee discipline assessed.

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Gilbert B Norman
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Yesterday

Fair Use:
  • PHILADELPHIA—The speeding Amtrak engineer involved in a derailment that killed eight people and injured about 200 others in Philadelphia won’t face criminal charges, the city district attorney’s office said Tuesday.

    Prosecutors said they can’t prove engineer Brandon Bostian acted with “conscious disregard” when he accelerated the train to 106 mph on a 50 mph curve.

    Federal investigators concluded that Mr. Bostian lost track of his location, or “situational awareness,” before the May 12, 2015, crash after learning that a nearby commuter train had been struck with a rock. They found no evidence he was under the influence of drugs or alcohol or distracted by a cellphone

Today

Fair Use:
  • President Judge Marsha Neifield of Philadelphia Municipal Court ordered the city District Attorney’s Office on Thursday to reverse course and charge Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian with involuntary manslaughter and reckless endangerment.

    To avoid a potential conflict of interest, the District Attorney's Office responded that it would refer the prosecution to the state attorney general.

    Neifield issued the order following a request from lawyers for victims of the May 12, 2015, derailment of Amtrak Train 188 that the case be reopened. On Tuesday, the District Attorney's Office had said that, following a lengthy investigation, it had concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring charges

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Gilbert B Norman
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CNN, along with other newssources, has reported that Mr. Bostian now faces criminal charges:

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/12/us/amtrak-derailment-philadelphia-charges/

Fair Use;
  • The Amtrak engineer in a 2015 derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people and injured more than 200 was charged Friday with a felony count of causing or risking a catastrophe and multiple counts of misdemeanor involuntary manslaughter.

    The second-degree felony charge that Brandon Bostian faces carries a punishment of up to 10 years in prison. It alleges he was reckless in the operation of the train.
    He also is charged with eight counts on involuntary manslaughter, a first-degree misdemeanor, and "numerous" charges of reckless endangerment, a second-degree misdemeanor, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said Friday

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Gilbert B Norman
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In her coverage, Gray Lady has provided more regarding how a Lower Court has such standing to reverse a decision made by a prosecutor:

http://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/12/us/amtrak-derailment-crash-philadelphia.html

Fair Use:

  • Thomas R. Kline, a lawyer for the Jacobs family, said he was worried the district attorney’s decision left no other recourse for charges. But then a former city prosecutor, Richard A. Sprague, called him and told him about another option, using an obscure Pennsylvania law, Mr. Kline said.

    The law allows anyone to file a private criminal complaint in municipal court requesting misdemeanor charges against someone. In Pennsylvania, involuntarily manslaughter and reckless endangerment are misdemeanors.

Might it be time for the Javert's in this world to move on?

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Gilbert B Norman
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The Engineer, Brian Bostian, has had the criminal charges against him dropped:

http://nypost.com/2017/09/12/amtrak-engineer-cleared-of-criminal-charges-in-deadly-derailment/

Fair Use:

  • A judge Tuesday dismissed all criminal charges against the Amtrak engineer blamed in a train crash that killed eight outside Philadelphia in 2015.

    The ruling was delivered after a preliminary hearing for engineer Brandon Bostian, 34.

    Judge Thomas Gehret called the crash “more likely an accident than criminal negligence” in dismissing the charges.
Hope nobody thinks that Mr. Bostian's life will be "back to normal" being "restored to service with seniority unimpaired but without payment for time lost". What discipline, if any, assessed by Amtrak is "sealed".

Although I believe Mr. Bostian is a good man who wanted only to operate trains reliably and safely, no road under FRA jurisdiction will again afford him that opportunity. Maybe some railroad museum will allow him.

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MargaretSPfan
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I am profoundly relieved that all criminal charges have been dropped against Brandon Bostian. Treating him like a common criminal was a travesty of justice. That poor man.

And -- Every. Single. Time. that any train has an accident and either things get badly damaged and / or people get hurt and maybe killed, the railroad's management *always* "throws the engineer under the bus". With this as the horrible reality, why on earth would anyone even think for one minute of being a locomotive engineer? I know -- the paycheck, but, really -- being a locomotive engineer nowadays forces every engineer to gamble with his or her future. Seems as though this society has gone from "innocent until proven guilt" as what most people believe to the Napoleonic "guilty until proven innocent" as what most people assume. What a shame.

And because of this horrible reality, and just the human need to find someone to blame, and right away, all locomotive engineers are, in a way, playing Russian roulette with their lives by being locomotive engineers.

None of this means that I do not want all incidents properly investigated by impartial and very qualified investigators of high integrity. Then, and only then, decide whether or not the engineer was really at fault. But this garbage of automatically throwing the engineer to the wolves has got to stop. NOW.

Footnote to this discussion:
There is a lot of evidence that Bostian's train and two other passenger trains were shot at that night. Do any of you think for one minute that you could control a train if you were being shot at?

And the FRA's glazing regs require -- as far as bullet-resistance goes -- that the glazing be able to stop a bullet no larger than 22 caliber from penetrating the glazing. No FRA-approved glazing can stop any bullet larger than 22 caliber from penetrating the glazing. No, I have no idea how large the bullets were that were being fired at Bostian's train, but they may well have been much larger than 22 caliber.

Also, it is fact that during the gunfire, Bostian pushed himself away from the engineer's console and in doing so, apparently pushed the throttle away from him, which made the train speed up. He hit his head and was knocked unconscious for 15 minutes. His head wound required 14 stitches to close. Of course he was not able to remember what happened during that time. He was unconscious!

All this was reported +right after the accident. So, no, there was NO criminal intent on Bostian's part, and prosecuting him for what happened was a huge travesty, and a huge miscarriage of justice. But people were crying for blood and wanted someone -- anyone -- punished, and FAST. So Bostian paid the expected high price. He even had to do a "perp walk" - twice! -- outside the courtroom, just to pl;ease the media. For shame!

(This case is why some of us call it our "criminal injustice system". Might makes right, and whoever has the best arguer (lawyer) who can the most skillfully and effectively play on a jury's emotions will win. What a shame.)

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George Harris
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Margaret: What I see here is also police and prosecutorial laziness. If there has been any effort to go after those that initiated the event, that is the shooters, it sure hasn't been publicised. Much easier to go after a man that was literally caught in the crossfire while doing his job.
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MargaretSPfan
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George Harris--
Thank you very much for the support. At least some people see what is going on.

I do not see the lack of investigation as laziness on the part of the police and prosecutors, but rather, as has been pointed out elsewhere, as the results of the actions of a D. A. who saw this horrible crash as a way to get some free publicity, which would help him during his next election campaign. Sounds plausible to me. Bostian was thus just a convenient tool to use to further someone's political career. That is pretty disgusting, but elected official rarely pass up a chance to get some good publicity after a tragedy.

"In a war, truth is the first casualty." This also applies to any really big tragedy.

Poor Brandon Bostian.......

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