RailForum.com
TrainWeb.com

RAILforum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Amtrak to stop nationwide services?

   
Author Topic: Amtrak to stop nationwide services?
yukon11
Full Member
Member # 2997

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for yukon11     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What are the odds?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/10/06/us-usa-trains-safety-amtrak-idUSKCN0S02D320151006

I was under the impression that Congress is about to extend the Dec 31 deadline for another 2 years (?).

Richard

Posts: 1790 | From: Santa Rosa | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
notelvis
Full Member
Member # 3071

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for notelvis     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is about PTC.

Most of the freight railroads have already contacted the Feds with a similarly worded, lawyer-crafted letter advising that withouot an extension for having PTC up and running that they will have to cease operations January 1st.

Not sure what Amtrak stands to gain by throwing in with the pack as it's a given that if BNSF and UP shut down, most of the Amtrak LD's are shut down too.

--------------------
David Pressley

Advocating for passenger trains since 1973!

Climbing toward 5,000 posts like the Southwest Chief ascending Raton Pass. Cautiously, not nearly as fast as in the old days, and hoping to avoid premature reroutes.

Posts: 4203 | From: Western North Carolina | Registered: Feb 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
IMO,

It's a lobbying move by AAR to show unanimity. As David said, UP/BNSF stopping takes:

1/2
3/4
5/6
7/8
11/14
21/22

Among many others, out of play.

Add NS to that list, ditto CSXT and Amtrak, beyond the Corridor, does nothing.

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
yukon11
Full Member
Member # 2997

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for yukon11     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Sept. TRAINS has an article on the PTC deadline. It mentions that the Federal Railroad Administration, in lieu of PTC until it is implemented, requires railroads to use "alternative safety technologies", whatever that implies.

Also, a dilemma for the freights. CSX and others are required to accept freight for transportation, by law. If the Dec 31 deadline isn't met, and if hazardous chemicals are shipped, the freights will be breaking the law by shipping those hazardous chemicals without PTC. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

David and Mr. Pullman, dittos.

Richard

Posts: 1790 | From: Santa Rosa | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I do not pretend to be an expert on this subject, but consider myself to be a well-informed member of the public.

AFAIK, the RSIA (Rail Safety Improvement Act) requires PTC to be installed only where passenger trains run and where trains carrying TIH -- Toxic Inhalation Hazard -- run. (The two TIH chemicals I know of are chlorine and anhydous ammonia. There may be others.) Because anhydrous ammonia is -- from what I read -- essential to make fertilizer, the ag industry has a lot to lose if the deadlne is not extended, and I would expect that it would have already been pressuring many Concress-critters to extend the deadline.

I very much hope that Congress extends the impossible-to-meet Dec. 31, 2015, deadline for full PTC implementation.

For those who want facts about why the NS says it will be impossible for it to meet the deadline, please read the long (9 pages) letter from James Squires, NS's President and CEO, to Senator John Thune, (R-SD), Chairman of the senate Committee on Business, Commerce and Transportation:

http://www.nscorp.com/content/dam/nscorp/get-to-know-ns/NorfolkSouthernCorp_8K_20150909.pdf

FYI -- I only just now learned that President Obama supposedly is against extending the deadline. I very much hope that his buddies in Wall Street will take him aside and tell him the economic facts of life about how essential it is to keep all our railroads operating -- indefinitely.

So -- Congress is probably going to "kick the can down the road", so it does not have to deal right now with the dreadful consequences of a massive shut-down of our railroad system, and the economic devastation that would cause.

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks, MargaretSPfan, an interesting report. I note that the report is heavy on blame and light on acceptance of their own failings.

Put simply, the 2015 deadline was fully achievable had US railroads adopted technology that was proven in use around the world with existing supply chains and expertise, and which would have exceeded PTC requirements. But no, "not invented here", so the various railroads started off re-inventing the wheel separately instead of pooling their resources together, resulting in delays and massive cost overruns - and they're not even finished. More recently they've grouped together somewhat but far too late. Two years ago there was concern over how many different sets of PTC equipment would need to be fitted to an Amtrak loco if that loco were to have free reign over any Amtrak route: now I think it might "only" be two.

As for extending the deadline, well, there isn't much choice. It's not a good idea to say "hey, have another 5 years, it's ok", but it's not practical to say "no". I suspect it'll be extended with strict deadlines for specific targets - and then no more.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
Full Member
Member # 2077

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for George Harris     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Having met quite a few of these wonderful technologies "proven" in other places I am inclined believe that if not proven by extensive in service here it should not be taken on here. So of these wonders have left with a jaw dropping "they do what!!" when looking at the details of the subject.

For example: I was around for the initial experience with concrete ties. "Proven" in Europe turned into rubble under US conditions. Only after considerable sad and not so sad experience and realistic redesign for realistic US conditions do we have functional concrete ties here. And, even now, unless they have recently changed their mind, NS feels that wood makes more sense, and they definitely know what it takes to have good track. Much of what is done in Europe and other places in railroading is intolerably maintenance intensive by US standards. Remember, that for almost the entire rest of the planet railroads are government agencies or just barely removed from being a government agent with all the baggage that entails.

I feel that it is good to learn from what is done in other parts of the world, but we must shop carefully to get that which is useful and nothing more. We are visiting the store, not buying the store, or at least should not be buying the store.

Posts: 2693 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
VERY VERY well-put George!
Thank you very much for sharing your experience. That is essential and priceless.

Geoff Mayo wrote ---
"I note that the report [the 9-page letter from NS's CEO to Sen. Thune] is heavy on blame and light on acceptance of their own failings."

Would you please be so kind as to point out some examples in the letter from James Squires that you see as blame and failings? Sure looked like hard facts to me.

And, yes, IF the RRs had been told merely to use existing and well-proven technology, that certainly would take far, far less time than forcing them to use a system that did not even exist at the time the RSIA was passed in October of 2008. It still would take a long, long time to change all the signaling systems and locomotives in the US, and train every single employee in the use and maintenance of those new systems. (There were around 113,000 railroad employees at the end of 2012, according to the Bureau of lLabor Statistics). That is a lot of people to train! And there are around 233,000 miles of track in the US.)

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
yukon11
Full Member
Member # 2997

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for yukon11     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree with George and Margaret.

It does seem like the government's own bureaucracy has a lot to do with not meeting the Dec 31 deadline.

Little flies in the ointment. For example, some Native American (Indian) tribes need to approve, one by one, antennae that will need to be installed on their sacred land. The Choctaw, Muscogee, and Navajo nations must approve some 22,000 of the antennas. Also overlapping agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Dept. of the Interior, and, of course, the EPA will have their say.

One of my favorite quotes:

"Bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy". O. Wilde

Richard

Posts: 1790 | From: Santa Rosa | Registered: Jan 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
Geoff Mayo wrote ---
"I note that the report [the 9-page letter from NS's CEO to Sen. Thune] is heavy on blame and light on acceptance of their own failings."

Would you please be so kind as to point out some examples in the letter from James Squires that you see as blame and failings? Sure looked like hard facts to me.

Certainly.
* The December 31, 2015 deadline was
established without any analysis that it could be achieved. In short, the deadline was an arbitrary date, and there was no rational basis
for the deadline Congress established.
* the PTC deadline is arbitrary and disconnected from the great task and inevitable delays, including those created by the
government itself
* the FRA’s final PTC regulation was not promulgated until January 2010,
* as of the date of this letter has not been addressed by FRA
etc etc.

Of course, you won't find failings listed because the relevant party is trying to extol its virtues, not its failings. The obvious failing, even to those not in the business, is that the FRA was open to direction but instead many of the RRs sat back and waited to be told what to do - and then complained when the FRA was "late" or didn't decide to do what the RRs wanted them to do. There are other failings I'm not privy to discuss on an open forum being in the position I am.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
And, yes, IF the RRs had been told merely to use existing and well-proven technology, that certainly would take far, far less time than forcing them to use a system that did not even exist at the time the RSIA was passed in October of 2008.

It's a common misconception but the FRA did not tell the railroads that they must do X, or invent Y, or change Z. The language was written in the form of requirements: that (simplifying heavily) a train must be forced to stop at a red signal. Not HOW it was to stop, or exactly what technology to use.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
It still would take a long, long time to change all the signaling systems and locomotives in the US, and train every single employee in the use and maintenance of those new systems. (There were around 113,000 railroad employees at the end of 2012, according to the Bureau of lLabor Statistics). That is a lot of people to train! And there are around 233,000 miles of track in the US.)

Again, another misconception. Not all the signalling, locomotives, track, or employees needed to be altered or re-trained as appropriate. You even said yourself earlier that it mostly involves routes with toxic inhalation issues or passengers. That means that - for an interim period at least - pools of engineers and locomotives can be "cleared" for PTC route segments, while others are restricted to non-PTC segments. And this is exactly the plan rolling out over the next few years.

Not forgetting, of course, this is an issue other countries have successfully dealt with, without all the amateur dramatics playing out here.

I don't usually go into my background but it might be useful to understand my position on this. At my previous employer I was the "software technical authority", a title which basically meant I had to be aware of rail developments around the world and how they would be applied to software - like a bridge between railway domain knowledge and software engineers who can write code but otherwise know little about railways. That position required me to be familiar, even competent in, ERTMS and at least aware of PTC. However, my interest was more than just awareness and to this end I received formal training in PTC and even sat on AREMA's PTC subcommittee for a very brief period - head-banging-wall after such meetings was not conducive to maintaining real world knowledge. Finally, I am also a Member of the Institute of Railway Signalling Engineers, moving from Associate to Member at a vote of nods at their meetings instead of the usual "submit vast professional works experience documentation and we'll evaluate" which is the normal method of rising through the ranks, nods being their knowledge of the work I'd achieved being well known.

As I say, not to blow my own trumpet, but just to point out that my knowledge of PTC does not come from TRAINS magazine or the Internet but real world work experience.

Incidentally Mr Harris' idea of visiting the store and then not buying reminds me of an analogy: amateur DIY enthusiast goes to the store but thinks the product on offer is too expensive and not suitable, so he buys a few bits, does a bit of research, tinkers with his bits trying to figure out how to make them work together, and ends up spending vast amounts of money on bits and pieces that don't work properly, and finally calls in the experts anyway!

Finally, in a positive note, Amtrak somehow had great foresight with their ACSES system on the Northeast Corridor. While there are certainly issues in upgrading the balises to PTC requirements, they were already a great deal of the way to compliance with PTC long before PTC even existed. What I'm trying to establish through other channels is whether the balises are the same type used for ERTMS - I was told by some PTC insiders that they were, but I've been unable to independently verify this. If they are then Amtrak also, perhaps inadvertently, also avoided a design-and-supply issue by buying off-the-shelf proven technology, again before PTC! [Edit] Somebody sent me the specs: ACSES II does indeed use Alstom/Ansaldo Eurobalises.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
Full Member
Member # 2077

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for George Harris     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Geoff Mayo:
Incidentally Mr Harris' idea of visiting the store and then not buying reminds me of an analogy: amateur DIY enthusiast goes to the store but thinks the product on offer is too expensive and not suitable, so he buys a few bits, does a bit of research, tinkers with his bits trying to figure out how to make them work together, and ends up spending vast amounts of money on bits and pieces that don't work properly, and finally calls in the experts anyway!

Sorry, Geoff, I do think I know what I am talking about when I say that, and I am not tinkering. After all, I have played with track in a couple of places outside the US, and know exactly what I am talking about when I was go shopping in the store, don't buy it. So far as track is concerned, and that is a thing I think I know fairly well in several versions, there are some very good ideas to be found in European designs, but they are frankly a few things that have left some of us that have worked in a few places saying about some of these things done in some of the European places, "They did what??!!" and breaking into laughter.

One of the things that is obvious to me from a lot of the details I have seen in the fabrication of specialwork is that the people that design the stuff have never been involved in maintenance of it, and if they have only supervisory, and never sweating and getting their hands dirty. Some of the sharp corners would disappear in a hurry it they had, and this is not to mention that the tolerance for a not completely closed switch is less due to the sharp cornered point.

Considering my present job, I better quit instead of going into some of the specifics. However, I will say that it has literally been part of my job at one point to look at track practices worldwide.

Just to mention one of the more incomprehensible things to me, is the insistence in most places European that track joints, and for some, even welds must be set precisely square with each other. The decision to make sure that this does not happen and that they should be staggered was make so far back in railroad history here that I have not been able to find it other than a statement in one of the late 19th century discussions on railroad construction that track laid with squared joints showed that the contractor building the track knew more about his job than the track engineer of the railroad company knew about his. It is easier to build but more maintenance intensive. Just think of the difference in impact between hitting a pothole in a road with one wheel versus hitting a dip of the same size perpendicular to the direction of travel which you hit with both wheels at the same time.

Posts: 2693 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:
quote:
Originally posted by Geoff Mayo:
Incidentally Mr Harris' idea of visiting the store and then not buying reminds me of an analogy: amateur DIY enthusiast goes to the store but thinks the product on offer is too expensive and not suitable, so he buys a few bits, does a bit of research, tinkers with his bits trying to figure out how to make them work together, and ends up spending vast amounts of money on bits and pieces that don't work properly, and finally calls in the experts anyway!

Sorry, Geoff, I do think I know what I am talking about when I say that, and I am not tinkering. After all, I have played with track in a couple of places outside the US, and know exactly what I am talking about when I was go shopping in the store, don't buy it.
I know your skills and it wasn't those I was referring to in my analogy - it was the basic scenario rather than specifically about PTC or track, which is why I mentioned neither in that analogy.

Trackwork is and has never been anything I've had more than a passing interest in so I don't make any claims to knowledge: I think the forum can consider you the resident expert on that. Apologies if my post was misleading or ambiguous in that respect.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Geoff Mayo and George Harris ---
Thank you very very much for your interesting and helpful comments. Dearie me -- I had no idea whatsoever that I was "talking" to real experts and industry insiders! [ [ I am feeling abashed and humbled... ]

My biggest question now is:
If ACSES really does satisfy all RSIA and FRA PTC regs, why aren't the Class 1s installing that?? Rather than the new and unproven GPS-based system they have spent billions on?

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
Full Member
Member # 1541

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for Gilbert B Norman     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
First the disclaimer: although my "CV" holds eleven years experience within the railroad industry, none of such includes technical aspects.

Positive Train Control, lest we forget, was Congressional reaction to Chatsworth within Rail Safety Improvement Act 2008. It, along with its "tack on" PRIIA 08, was enacted by a Lame Duck administration, who, along with the legislators who passed it, I doubt knew much about the provisions within such. The "old saw" of "you'll have to vote for it to find out what's in it" was certainly applicable here.

What did President Bush care; he was just "kicking the can down the road" to an incoming administration! He's "outta there" before anything within the Act was to be implemented.

With this being said, I think the industry figured "it'll just go away". I think that at the outset, the industry's reaction was, if ever implemented, it would simply cover passenger trains where operated in any volume (the Amtrak "one a day' exempt). If that comes to pass, well that is what T/P's pockets are for (oh and T/P; that's IRSese for Taxpayer). But as the FRA began drafting Regulations representing their interpretation of the Act, it became evident that HAZMAT in practically any volume would be brought in. The industry's "now we believe" moment came when the realization that all lines handling freight above a very low level of volume were within the scope of the Regs.

I of course defer to those well informed on the technical aspects such as Messrs. Harris and Mayo. I also note Richard's submission of Oscar Wilde's quotation of what makes bureaucracies go round and round.

All told, since Chatsworth, there has been, just off my head, Red Oak, Goodwell, and Frankford Jct - all of which had fatalities and would have been avoided had PTC, as presently defined, been active.

For the industry, freight and passenger, there appears 'no way out" other than to comply.

Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree with GBN's final assessment.

The question is "Will there be relief before 1 January 2016 with the current 535+1?"

My estimate: I seriously doubt it. It will take the railroads notifying FRA they are ceasing movements and running the locomotives to terminals for powered up storage (it is winter after all) for anything to happen.

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
Geoff Mayo and George Harris ---
Thank you very very much for your interesting and helpful comments. Dearie me -- I had no idea whatsoever that I was "talking" to real experts and industry insiders! [ [ I am feeling abashed and humbled... ]

Thanks, much appreciated. No need to feel humbled though - we're all experts in our own fields!

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
My biggest question now is:
If ACSES really does satisfy all RSIA and FRA PTC regs, why aren't the Class 1s installing that?? Rather than the new and unproven GPS-based system they have spent billions on?

ACSES wasn't compliant from the get-go, and there were issues with making it compliant. Something to do with accuracy (or precision - I can never remember the difference between the two). But since Amtrak are on course to complete PTC by the end of this year I guess they resolved the issues.

As to why nobody else wanted it, I have no idea. Perhaps in the densely populated NEC (in terms of trains and signals) it made sense, but in the great deserts of the west it was less cost effective.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
With this being said, I think the industry figured "it'll just go away". I think that at the outset, the industry's reaction was, if ever implemented, it would simply cover passenger trains where operated in any volume (the Amtrak "one a day' exempt).

I think you're right there. Some RRs didn't even announce their winning bidders (suppliers) until 2012 or even later, which was far too late.

I'm still not entirely sure how they're working out issues with a non-compliant RR crossing a PTC-compliant RR on the level. It's no good having a protected railway if something unprotected can just cross over on a flat diamond. Derailers at a guess.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Geoff:

This was part of the Kansas City conundrum. Kansas City Terminal is a Class II or III, and not subject to PTC (even though it moves a lot of stuff across its trackage). Amtrak has six movements a day on KCT ... 2 Missouri Pacific Eagles each way and 1 Santa Fe Chicagoan's each way.

I think Amtrak ended up splitting the difference with UP and BNSF (principal owners of KCT) over this.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
I agree with GBN's final assessment.

The question is "Will there be relief before 1 January 2016 with the current 535+1?"

My estimate: I seriously doubt it. It will take the railroads notifying FRA they are ceasing movements and running the locomotives to terminals for powered up storage (it is winter after all) for anything to happen.

If that were to happen - and I could well believe operations could start to shut down early on New Year's Eve - I suspect there would be several mini UP-like meltdowns around the country. And/or a situation like the afternoon of 9/11/2001 when the nation's airports were full of aircraft that were supposed to be in the air, resulting in aircraft being parked anywhere where there was space including taxiways and even runways.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by PullmanCo:
Geoff:

This was part of the Kansas City conundrum. Kansas City Terminal is a Class II or III, and not subject to PTC (even though it moves a lot of stuff across its trackage). Amtrak has six movements a day on KCT ... 2 Missouri Pacific Eagles each way and 1 Santa Fe Chicagoan's each way.

I think Amtrak ended up splitting the difference with UP and BNSF (principal owners of KCT) over this.

Ah, that's interesting to hear how they might have resolved it. I was more referring to a simple flat crossing though, rather than sharing ROW for miles. This picture might help describe what I mean: the rails across the width of the image might be a main line for passengers, while the track the photographer is on might be a short line with no requirements for PTC other than crossing this one main line. How to stop the short line trains from fouling the main line without forcing PTC on the short line? Again, I guess derailers - probably of the electric and "proved" (ie interlocked and detected in the "throw off" mode in order for the main line to show proceed aspects) sort.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Absolutely agree on an interlocking or diamond...

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Mr Mayo...

We agree on the consequences. A shutdown of US rail service will be, shall we say...

exciting

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Thanks, Geoff, for your kind words about the non-necessity for me to be humbled. Wow..... And thank you very much for telling us that -- IMO, unfortunately -- ACSES does NOT comply with the RSIA or FRA regs. Darn!

Throwing caution to the winds, I will dare to ask 6 questions:

1. What error rate is acceptable in its software?
Operating system?

2. what happens if/when a locomotive’s PTC system cannot get strong enough signals from enough GPS satellites?

3. How will every PTC installation be able to be updated quickly when its software requires this?

4. Will GPS signals be able to be received by every PTC installation 24/7, on every inch of every RR where PTC is required?

5. What are planned as back-ups when/if PTC fails badly enough to be a problem?

6. Do either of you two gentlemen -- Messrs. Mayo and Harris -- think there is any reason to be concerned about any PTC being hacked anywhere? Remember -- hackers even have gotten into the Pentagon, so no system can be made perfectly safe from being hacked.

And I would appreciate your comments about the "Petition for Declaratory Order" filed Sept. 30, 2015, before the STB by 3 chemical and ag industry organizations against all 7 Class 1 railroads that operate in the US, Re: PTC, which would require those railroads to keep transporting TIH after Dec. 31, 2015, even if all those RRs would not be in compliance with the RSIA and FRA regs by Jan. 1, 2016.

I thank you gentlemen in advance for any answers you can give to my questions.

All I want is to learn more about this issue, so I can better understand what is going on, and why. And I well know that "the devil is in the details", so -- please give some details, if you can. I think I understand the context.

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
To your last item, the ag industry is basically siding with the railroads: They want the PTC rule extended or set aside while the Class Is work to fulfill it. That way, commerce by rail continues after 312359Dec2015.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Remember, the railroads comments to the Senator are a request for relief from the compliance date.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
And thank you very much for telling us that -- IMO, unfortunately -- ACSES does NOT comply with the RSIA or FRA regs. Darn!

Did not, but presumably now does, at least in the areas finished.

Did anyone else note how quickly Amtrak managed to install ACSES at the site of the Philadelphia derailment? Seems the plans were already approved, maybe even some installation already done, and it was scheduled to be completed within months of that fateful night.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
1. What error rate is acceptable in its software?
Operating system?

I don't know, but I suspect the answer is "it depends" as there are many suppliers - not to mention PTC is not "a" piece of software but lots of bits all interacting together. In its simplest form you have the loco, the wayside devices, and the interlocking. But then the loco's on-board systems consist of many components, of which the wayside comms unit is just one.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
2. what happens if/when a locomotive’s PTC system cannot get strong enough signals from enough GPS satellites?

ACSES uses beacons in the track which transmit a short packet of information very quickly as the loco's transponders read as they go over. The range is something like just 8ft. Non-ACSES I believe do use over-the-air transmissions and I believe there are various backup methods of transmitting/receiving information including cell phone towers. Tunnels and tight canyons are probably the worst areas - maybe some sort of leaky feeder cable would work.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
3. How will every PTC installation be able to be updated quickly when its software requires this?

Software and data. Safety critical (aka vital) software shouldn't change that often as it takes a long time to test and ensure it's safe. As for data, as I understand it, the trains planned route is downloaded at the start of each run so theoretically it's always up to date. That can cope with switching between multiple tracks but a complete re-route requires new data which I think can be done on-the-fly, if there is enough time to download it.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
4. Will GPS signals be able to be received by every PTC installation 24/7, on every inch of every RR where PTC is required?

Short answer: No. But I suspect interlockings and areas around automatic block signals will have good coverage, while plain line in mountainous areas may be less reliable (and don't need to be).

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
5. What are planned as back-ups when/if PTC fails badly enough to be a problem?

Pass.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
6. Do either of you two gentlemen -- Messrs. Mayo and Harris -- think there is any reason to be concerned about any PTC being hacked anywhere? Remember -- hackers even have gotten into the Pentagon, so no system can be made perfectly safe from being hacked.

Your last 10 words are something a lot of software engineers fail to understand. Once one realizes that anything can be hacked, one can then work back from there and say, "ok, we know it can be hacked, but what can we do to lessen the effects of being hacked?".

In answer to the question, I don't think too much can be done. Theoretically one could get a signal to display a green aspect instead of a red but there are easier ways of doing that.

In fact, with the over-the-air communications to most interlockings in remote areas, it is not beyond the realms of possibility to ask an interlocking to do something undesirable simply by pretending to be the control center sending it a message as there is no encryption. Note that I said "undesirable" rather than "unsafe". The dispatcher would note within seconds or minutes at most that something was up anyway, as his/her requests to the interlocking would be out of correspondence to the indications coming back.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
And I would appreciate your comments about the "Petition for Declaratory Order" filed Sept. 30, 2015, before the STB by 3 chemical and ag industry organizations against all 7 Class 1 railroads that operate in the US, Re: PTC, which would require those railroads to keep transporting TIH after Dec. 31, 2015, even if all those RRs would not be in compliance with the RSIA and FRA regs by Jan. 1, 2016.

Sorry, too political/legal for me!

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Goeff Mayo ---
THANK you VERY VERY much for your VERY interesting and VERY informative replies to my questions! I can hardly find words to express how grateful I am that you take me and my questions seriously, and answer them politely and in depth. You, sir, are a real gentleman.

I have read references to "balises", which are used all over Europe and in China to give the exact location of every train that passes over them. What a great idea! Who needs GPS?

Not surprised at all that you did not want to touch the subject of that lawsuit. I understand.

It is a real privilege to be able to "talk" with real experts, such as you and George Harris, on this forum.

(I have learned to ask questions, rather than to make statements, when I am posting on subjects I am not an expert in.)

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
I have read references to "balises", which are used all over Europe and in China to give the exact location of every train that passes over them. What a great idea! Who needs GPS?

Balises are in fixed positions, usually between the rails, so they are absolute. But it's another piece of equipment to install, albeit very low maintenance.

GPS, as you probably know, works off satellites and the time it takes for a signal to bounce off them, triangulation. While it might be good enough to determine your position within say a 30ft x 30ft box, it's not good enough to determine which track you're on when two or more are side by side.

quote:
Originally posted by MargaretSPfan:
(I have learned to ask questions, rather than to make statements, when I am posting on subjects I am not an expert in.)

I'm still learning that one - really have to bit my tongue on some forums when I see nonsense posted from so-called experts. It's all too easy to jump in and try to correct people, but often they do not want to know. That's why I like this forum: people tend to respect each other.

Anyway, in my opinion, PTC is definitely a Good Thing, just a little lackadaisical and non-joined-up-thinking in implementation.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
Full Member
Member # 2077

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for George Harris     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
replaced with following
Posts: 2693 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MargaretSPfan
Full Member
Member # 3632

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for MargaretSPfan     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
George Harris:
Would you please mind explaining what you meant by what you posted above? I value your contributions here, and really want to understand you.

Thanks!

Posts: 211 | From: California | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
George Harris
Full Member
Member # 2077

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for George Harris     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Got interrupted I will put it all here

A comment: Per unit of traffic, track maintenance is much higher in Europe.

As an example of European spec that is ueed when beneficial, the as rolled rail straightness in the UIC/EN is significantly straighter than that in AREMA, and that or something close to the UIC/EN straightness can be found in some specs where ride quality is considered of major significance. Generally it is with the numbers converted US units and a few other things made more coherent, and without attribution, among other things, because it is not really exact.

Just FYI, when it comes to accidents, and think that is relevant to accidents, it is not just congress, but the NTSB and the ICC before them commonly recommended that some safety or control feature be added to whatever was on the track. Generally they would just ask for one step further even if there had been other accidents equipped with the things they were asking for in the conclusion to whatever accident it was they were investigating.

Posts: 2693 | From: Olive Branch MS | Registered: Nov 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Gilbert B Norman
Full Member
Member # 1541

Member Rated:
4
Icon 1 posted      Profile for Gilbert B Norman     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The Gray Lady speaks this morning:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/19/opinion/congress-should-extend-rail-safety-deadline-with-safeguards.html

Fair Use:

  • Despite the technical and other challenges, a few railroads will meet the deadline. Amtrak says it will have the technology in place on most of its Washington-to-Boston corridor, except for a few stretches of track that it does not own. Commuter trains in Philadelphia and Southern California are also expected to comply. Congress, regulators and railroads need to do everything they can to make sure the rest of America’s rail system catches up with them soon.

Posts: 9388 | From: Clarendon Hills, IL USA (BNSF Chicago Sub MP 18.71) | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
RRRICH
Full Member
Member # 1418

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for RRRICH     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Mr. Norman and others -- every time I click on one of your New York Times links and read the article, when I go back to this Rail Forum, names of posters do not show, and on the topics home page, not only names, but post times also do not appear.
Posts: 2427 | From: Grayling, MI | Registered: Mar 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sounds like you need to:

1) Purge your cache.
2) Make sure your browser is fully patched up.
3) Make sure your system is fully patched up.

When was the last time you did a cold reboot?

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by George Harris:
A comment: Per unit of traffic, track maintenance is much higher in Europe.

A response: the derailment rate is much lower in Europe - and that's without adjusting for the fact that the FRA doesn't even require to be informed about low value derailments, unlike the EU where all derailments are required to be reported no matter the reason or cost.

Accident rates in general are broadly half that of the US. There are all manner of factors involving reporting requirements, what actually counts (suicides don't, persons taken ill onboard through no fault of the RR do, grade crossings don't as long as the RR couldn't have reasonably prevented it, etc, etc. Units of measurement can warp the figures so ton/miles, passenger/miles, train/miles etc vary. A busy passenger train could have more fatalities than a lightly-loaded one for exactly the same accident, skewing certain units of measurements. So actual figures could vary - but you can Google various general media, rail media, independent studies, and they all come to the same conclusion: accident rates in Europe are half that of the US. Now try telling me that that higher track maintenance figure is not a factor.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
palmland
Full Member
Member # 4344

Member Rated:
5
Icon 1 posted      Profile for palmland     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm sure better maintenance produces fewer derailments that are in fact track related. That seems quite logical. The best comparison would be to see figures of derailments that have track related issues as the primary cause. I know U.S. railroads report that, wonder if it is available in the EU? That would be a better comparison than the overall derailment rate.

I suspect the overall rate here is affected by the many other factors Geoff mentions. In my mostly rural state I'm sure good ol' boys or log trucks running around crossing gates, if there are any, skews the data.

Since here the FRA does govern the speed based on track conditions, I would think in the EU they have to have better maintenance to support the much higher speed limits. Here, outside the NEC, 90mph is a big deal, in the EU that would probably be considered slow on most lines.

If the track maintenance is done to maintain the standard for that class of track then the track related derailment rate should be comparable to the derailment rate that occurs on track with better maintenance to maintain that higher class of track with its higher speed. If it's not, then either the railroad is not maintaining the track to its appropriate standards or the standard is wrong.

Even assuming we are just comparing track related derailment rate, since I'm sure our track standards are different than the EU, it would seem that it would be really hard to compare apples to apples.

Posts: 2394 | From: Camden, SC | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Geoff Mayo
Full Member
Member # 153

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Geoff Mayo   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by palmland:
If the track maintenance is done to maintain the standard for that class of track then the track related derailment rate should be comparable to the derailment rate that occurs on track with better maintenance to maintain that higher class of track with its higher speed. If it's not, then either the railroad is not maintaining the track to its appropriate standards or the standard is wrong.

Even assuming we are just comparing track related derailment rate, since I'm sure our track standards are different than the EU, it would seem that it would be really hard to compare apples to apples.

Correct, and you brought up issues that I neglected - while no derailment is good, a broken joint (whether welded or bolted) is bad news on a main line, not so bad in a 5mph yard. And reporting/categorization in each country is different too.

In case I wasn't clear, my previous reply's first paragraph was about derailments, while the second was accidents in general.

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

Posts: 2426 | From: Apple Valley, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
PullmanCo
Full Member
Member # 1138

Icon 1 posted      Profile for PullmanCo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The NPR :20 minute news squib on Morning Edition mentioned PTC and the relief the railroads are requesting. They want 5 more years to complete it. It sounded like Congress was amenable to it, but there's also the budget and the debt ceiling to work through.

--------------------
The City of Saint Louis (UP, 1967) is still my standard for passenger operations

Posts: 1392 | Registered: Oct 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Home Page

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2




Copyright © 2007-2016 TrainWeb, Inc. Top of Page|TrainWeb|About Us|Advertise With Us|Contact Us