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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Amtrak » Cascades Derailment (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Cascades Derailment
Vincent206
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The NTSB issued an update on January 25th.

Some of the most interesting bullet points:

a) In the five weeks preceding the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of track following the completion of seven to 10 observational trips in the locomotive as well as three trips operating the equipment, two northbound and one southbound.
b) The engineer told investigators that he was aware that the curve with the 30 mph speed restriction was at milepost 19.8, and that he had planned to initiate braking about one mile prior to the curve.
c) The engineer said that he saw mileposts 16 and 17 but didn’t recall seeing milepost 18 or the 30 mph advance speed sign, which was posted two miles ahead of the speed-restricted curve.

So, how did the engineer miss the speed restriction sign 2 miles before the curve and then also miss the MP 18 sign? Lack of attention or lack of training? I imagine the NTSB will find fault with both Amtrak and the individual engineer.

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yukon11
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Yes, I think it all boils down to your last paragraph, Vincent.

If there was a lack of attention, how do you remedy that problem? There does seem to be a number of reports pointing to a lack of adequate training for Amtrak engineers and crew members:

https://is.gd/4BQwa3

Richard

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Gilbert B Norman
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Today I observed a Wisconsin Talgo near MP 18 being moved Westward at about 2PM. Heading it were two P-42's and a SC-44. On the rear was "Duckbill Platypus". There are reports at other sites that the move is now on former ATSF rails, so it would appear off to Pueblo.

Will next stop be Cascade revenue service?

This Letter from Amtrak to the FRA suggests that both Wisconsin sets will enter Cascade revenue service.

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daniel3197
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
Today I observed a Wisconsin Talgo near MP 18 being moved Westward at about 2PM. Heading it were two P-42's and a SC-44. On the rear was "Duckbill Platypus". There are reports at other sites that the move is now on former ATSF rails, so it would appear off to Pueblo.

Will next stop be Cascade revenue service?

This Letter from Amtrak to the FRA suggests that both Wisconsin sets will enter Cascade revenue service.

Gil,
Reliable sources report that THe Talgo extra AMtrak train 963 that you saw today (weds 31 Jan 2018) in INdeed enroute to the Pac Northwest after testing is complete at PUeblo CO. This talgo set WILL be a replacement for the crashed talgo that was destroyed on Dec 18, 2017.

I must says it was very interesting to follow this via Railcam today.

This special trian departed Chicago MH Twer at 1334 CT --Passed Galesburg amtrak dpot at 412 PM CT or 1612 CT and passed La Plata MO at 1957 CT--or 757pm CT. This special Talgo extra was held at Ft Madison, IA for Amtrak trian 3 of 31 to overtake it.
Those are the timepoints that I saw it pass various Live Railcams.
---Daniel

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Jerome Nicholson
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HLN says some of the trainees were seated facing backwards on the training trips. This might account for the engineer's lack of awareness.
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Vincent206
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Some updates regarding restarting service on the Bypass:

Testing is scheduled to start sometime "in the coming months" on the Bypass route.
quote:
In the coming months, please expect to see periodic Sounder and/or other test trains operating on the Lakewood Subdivision tracks adjacent to I-5 between Lakewood and DuPont as part of ongoing implementation of positive train control systems.
OregonBusiness.com has an interview with an ODOT official, Hal Gard, who gives a progress report on restoring service on the Bypass route.

quote:
OB: What is the status of implementation?
HG: Per Class I freight railroads that use PTC for their systems and equipment, it is up and running. And for the Point Nisqually bypass [the site of the derailment], the trackside sensors are there; it’s ready to go. Essentially all the major pieces for the WSDOT locomotives are ready to go. All of Amtrak's locomotives have hardware installed. We are in the process of having two Oregon train sets retrofitted; that should be done by this spring.The tall pole in the tent are the back office servers for Amtrak that make parts talk.

Adding up the 2 interviews, it seems that the PTC technology is ready to go but Amtrak is working on its back office servers and building its safety culture. Until those boxes are checked off, the Cascades trains will stay on the Point Defiance route.
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Gilbert B Norman
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Bloomberg reports that the Preliminary Report from the NTSB has now been released. There is interesting reading regarding the Talgo equipment.

Fair Use:
  • The passenger rail cars on an Amtrak train that derailed near Seattle last December, killing three people, were allowed by federal regulators to stay in service even though they didn’t meet current crash-protection standards, federal investigators said Tuesday......The NTSB is conducting a two-day hearing . As part of the hearing, it released preliminary reports on the Dec. 18 accident in DuPont, WA...The three people who died had been traveling in one of the rail cars that was severely disfigured by the crash impact, NTSB said. Two of them were thrown from the car. A total of 74 people were injured, including 57 passengers on the train.....The car’s floor buckled, its roof collapsed and most of the seats were crushed, the NTSB said
Mr. Anderson has deemed, and I'd dare say with much foundation, that the Amtrak safety culture - passenger and employee - is broken. Even if the incident is clearly laid at the feet of employee negligence, Anderson was never in his past life persuading the FAA to allow flying of aircraft that did not meet prevailing safety standards.

While I doubt if the Talgos will be withdrawn from service, I would not expect to see any further orders for such.

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George Harris
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quote:
Originally posted by Gilbert B Norman:
"The passenger rail cars on an Amtrak train that derailed near Seattle last December, killing three people, were allowed by federal regulators to stay in service even though they didn’t meet current crash-protection standards, federal investigators said Tuesday..."

Anderson was never in his past life persuading the FAA to allow flying of aircraft that did not meet prevailing safety standards.

While I doubt if the Talgos will be withdrawn from service, I would not expect to see any further orders for such.

Actually Amtrak's management had very little to do with the realities for the use of the Talgo trainsets. This was one of the outcomes of "The way they do it in Europe has got to be the way to go" mindsets. It was known from the get-go that these things did not and could not be made to meet FRA safety standards. But, but: They meet the Spanish (and probably also UIC) safety standards so they got to be good. Therefore they were ordered and put into service. Given that these trains consist of a string of these Talgo cars sandwiched between US diesels on each end, I have felt since I first saw them that this was a string of soft drink cans with a brick on each end of the string.

If you want to really understand how good the Euro standards are, look up information on the Eschede derailment in Germany. Aside from it being used as an example of the "cascade of events" in a disaster, in at least one of the pictures you can see where in the collision with the bridge at least one of the cars unzipped along the welds between sides and roof and sides and floor, so rather than protect the occupants it probably either ejected or crushed them. There were several conditions in this equipment and features of this location and structures that simply would not be allowed in the USA.

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Gilbert B Norman
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If you had to be a passenger at either, which would you choose?

Chase v. Eschede

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Vincent206
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I watched a good bit of the hearing tonight. The NTSB panel seemed to be focused most directly on the plan (or lack of plan) for ensuring that the 30mph curve was handled safely. There also were quite a few questions about the training program for the engineers and conductors prior to the start date. A few questions were asked about the grandfathering of the Talgo equipment. Amtrak and WSDOT didn't have a lot of good answers for the panelist's questions. At one point an NTSB panelist asked who was responsible for the overall safety coordination of the project and none of the reps could answer the question.
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Vincent206
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WSDOT is planning to return to the Pt. Defiance bypass route "In spring 2019". No firm date or month was announced because WSDOT is waiting for the NTSB to finish its investigation and issue recommendations before switching service back to the bypass route.

WSDOT also expects PTC to be fully implemented on the Cascades route by the December 31, 2018 deadline.

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