BNSF derails, again

BoxcabE50 Jul 16, 2022

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  2. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Haven't heard any potential cause, but weather being in the high 80s recently, I could guess a sun kink. Nothing more than a guess.
    I don't know when the tracks were opened, but Friday evening I saw a V-train head west of Minot. No place for a V train between here and the derailment site, just east of Stanley, so maybe staging trains to wiggle thru the shoofly as cleanup progressed.
     
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  3. sidney

    sidney TrainBoard Member

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    as they continue cutting cost these will increase........
     
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  4. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    Not much information coming out on this derailment so far.
    I don't remember all that much info on that AMTK derailment earlier this year coming forth either.
    An 80 deg day is not all that noteworthy on its own. What makes a huge difference is the degree of temp swing during a 12-16 hour period.
    The RR hates the term "sun kink", the college degrees like "thermal mis-alinment" much mo better. This can happen while the train is going over a section of track. On curves, it can make a sharper segment of the curve too.
    On the Moffat Sub, it can make a large chunk of the Sub a 10mph slow order.
    I have always wondered why the brain trust couldn't design rail segment to expand by width, other than length, then no kinks.
     
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  5. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I hadn't thought of that before, but your idea has merit. Even some sort of sensor system would help in the segments of line most likely to be at risk. We depend on the massive weight of rail, ties and stone to hold immense thermal forces at bay. Bad things happen when an irresistible force meets an immovable object.
     
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  6. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    Yessir bad things happen like you say, I been there when a truck met a locomotive on a couple occasions, and a pickup truck too (thats, a whole nother set of stories) the trucks didn't fair all that well, just thank goodness I never had fatalities. I will always be thankful for that
     
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  7. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    BNSF's spend on annual track maintenance has increased from $2.4 Billion to $2.7 Billion over the last several years and this doesn't include investment in expanded line capacity. Total BNSF capital spend this year will be $3.55 billion in 2022, up from $2.97 billion in 2021.
     
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  8. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    But is that enough, considering all that must be maintained across a system this large? The train lengths/tonnage increases, need for stronger bridges in places, etc, etc? Does this number include the equipment and their associated costs, which would need to be acquired or for their upkeep? Also, how much can be factored into that now higher 2022 number, simply due to inflation?
     
  9. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Those are difficult questions, very hard to establish a standard. Even if we were to calculate capital expenditures as a percentage of revenue and compare it to UP, NS and CSX, a case could be made that none meet a hypothetical number someone feels is proper.

    I still think that loss of coal tonnage has been a critical reversal for railroading, a high fixed cost business. Utility coal revenue could once be depended on in good times and bad, and it helped underwrite maintenance in bad times. With coal mostly gone, railroad earnings are now tied to economic cycles like most businesses and that can make for some newfound difficulty in planning expenditures. I'm glad I'm not the guy who has to figure this all out. :)
     
  10. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Unfortunately this loss of revenue is the result of very poor decisions, where the railroad(s) "cherry-picked" customers, and let far too many others fall away to trucking or ruin. When this source of money began failing, they had nothing else to bring in cash. Unlike a few decades back, when they had marketing departments which beat the brush for any potential shippers..... While they should be learning a hard lesson, they are not. Yet.
     
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  11. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Can't find fault with any of that for sure. They failed to keep their traffic base diversified and failed to maintain a boxcar fleet to serve their customers. When I started my transportation career in 1980, railroads had a plentiful supply of excellent boxcars, but they weren't replaced as they aged and what remains today is often garbage. It's good to see the new FBOX and TBOX cars in service, but I see these spotted at the local brick plant, which is the kiss of death for use in pulp and paper service. No matter how well swept out, tiny pebble-sized pieces of brick remain and will ruin a roll of paper when set on top of them and bring a very expensive damage claim. I can't figure why these cars are in brick service, but maybe there's nothing else available.

    2016-11-12 FBOX 506550 Boxcar - for upload.jpg
     
  12. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Brain Trusts have great difficulty overcoming elementary physics. When steel is heated - it expands in all directions vertical, horizontal and longitudinal. By the same token, when it gets cooled it retracts in all directions. Welded rail is a technology that HAS YET to be fully mastered; it is most of the way there - but it isn't there yet. The geometry of the track structure requires rail to remain statically in place for the safe movement of trains. Crossties, ballast section, tie plates and spikes or some other form of fixation of the rail to the ties, tie plates and rail anchors to restrict longitudinal movement on the ties are all tools that are used to this end. The movement of trains act as a 'vibrator' applying rhythmic stresses to the track structure and can cause failure - failure in the form letting the energy that is being restrained by the tools, overcome the tools restraint along the length of rail.

    The elements that make the system work are gravity, force resistance and spring pressure. The weight of the rail initially brings the rail in contact with the tie plate which is sitting on top of the cross tie. The cross tie has weight that holds it to 'the ground'. The cross tie is held in place by the ballast that is applied to the track structure - filling the space between ties and building up a shoulder beyond the end of the cross ties. The rail is held in contact with the tie plate/cross tie interface by either cut steel spikes or some form of a spring clamp. The rail is held in place longitudinally by having rail anchors clipped to the rail that are held in place by spring pressure. Rail anchors are normally clipped to both sides of the ties.

    The stresses that build up in rails from temperature fluctuations both up and down have the power to overcome all the physics that is holding the track in place, especially when vibrated by the passage of a train wherein each passing axle is a vibratory element.

    As a individual, I have serious doubts that the industry will ever master welded rail technology so that it won't have to get more through inspection and maintenance than it is presently being given.
     
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  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    When I watch a any train, especially one of our present day mega/super/whatever name, trains roll past, I hear many, many defective (in varying degrees) wheels, banging past. I wonder just how much this constant hammering shortens rail life? Some of those wheels are just ugly to hear. We all know this is a bad thing. It changes the metal structure of the rail, creating hard spots, and the obviously starting the rail on its way to fracturing. Surely this damage is multiplied when extremes of heat come into play.

    Do we need a mandatory car wheel inspection created, having defined time intervals? Increased track geometry and rail detection? Both? Other? Of course the railroads would fight such an expenditure. But is derailment cleanup, injury/death/destruction and resulting litigation cheaper?
     
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  14. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Can't speak to what other carriers are doing. CSX has installed Wheel Impact Load Detectors (WILD) at strategic locations around the property. The WILD's are integrated with the carriers 'car & train movement' data system. When trains pass a WILD each car is measured for the impact load of each wheel across the detector. Cars report to the system as one of four levels. Level 1 is no measurable impact. Level 2 is a 'measurable impact' no further action is required. Level 3 is a significant impact, however, car can continue to the next terminal at 30 MPH after being inspected by the train's crew. Level 4 is a major impact - car must be set out and not exceed 10 MPH between location where crew inspects it and location of set out.

    In WILD reports being matched with the Car & Train database, notification of Level's 3 & 4 are made to the Headquarters Car Department management and to the Trick and Chief Dispatcher's that are handling the train.

    Level 3 WILD indications are required to have their wheel(s) changed out at the the 'next terminal'. Level 4 WILD indications will have their wheel(s) changed out at their set out location.

    On my territory, the WILD was located at Sleepy Creek, WV East of Cumberland with the intent of catching all traffic moving to Baltimore, especially the Export Coal destined to Curtis Bay and Consol coal pier operations.
     
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  15. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Sounds like a good idea. Hopefully it works very well. I was thinking of the couple of recent dumps by BNSF in North Dakota, and all of the flat spots I hear in every train of theirs, passing by. Some are real nasty sounding whacks on rails. Hopefully they also have some equipment, but bam, bam, bam, bamm sure seems doubtful. Especially when there is decent yard with facilities able to make a wheel swap, right in the area.
     
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  16. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    I retired at the end of 2016. Baltimore, being the destination terminal for virtually everything over the WILD detector, does have shop facilities for wheel change out. The Car Departments from Cumberland, Brunswick and Baltimore were all equipped with Shop Trucks that were equipped to make wheel changeouts on cars, in some cases if necessary, multiple cars set out on line of road. The WILD's activated for both Eastbound and Westbound trains, though 99% of all exceptions were encountered on Eastbound trains.

    As a employee, with access to car tracing through the Car & Train Database, you could track the history of impacts from Level 1, to Level 2 to Level 3 or 4. You could also see where a destination shop didn't 'do their duty' on a Level 3 that came to them. When the cars were empty and were going back to the mines they would register as a Level 2 - since the didn't have the weight of lading to enhance the impact. On their next loaded trip over the WILD the cars would normally register as Level 4 requiring immediate set out.
     
  17. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I wonder if BNSFs detectors are equipped with impact detectors? I see signs for "DED+" which as an outsider I interpret as dragging equipment detection, but have no idea what the plus means.
     
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  18. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Can't speak to BNSF.

    CSX 'Super Detector" installed South of the Waycross, GA hump yard

     
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  19. gjslsffan

    gjslsffan Staff Member

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    BNSF has them too. Like you say it all depends on the level of thump. I work BNSF trackage right trains over the UP (ex-DRGW) and they have a few, the DS will tell you if the car needs set out, otherwise I would think it is relayed to appropriate personnel for remedy. I is amazing how square some of the wheels are. It is also amazing how many Carmen have been let go here at least, there used to be a dozen, now there are maybe 3, so no surprise there would be so many defects go un-noticed. The carriers all seem to want to push all that responsibility to the trainmen, who is not a qualified mechanical person. I always say, if in doubt, set it out, when all the house tracks and a few sidings have B/O cars in them, I bet some attention will be given.
    As almost always is the case, the worst thing you can do to about any class one outfit, is to do "exactly as instructed".

    Got called at zero dark thirty on a frac MT, east from GJ-DV, now, this train originated at an intermediate terminal, and had been over 20 trackside, automated detectors (NO DEFECTS) you have all heard that from a detector, I was the hoghead, 2 big jacks 90 some MT's, a good train. We had gone 146 miles from GJ, we were highballing thru Bond and an alert off duty UP crew came on the radio (stop your train, stop your train) so, I grab a gob of air, get it stopped most ricky tick, the guy said you guys have a sparking car about 70 cars back, we will check it out for you, I'm thinking hey this guy is alright. Well turned out there was a handbrake tied on that car, and he said there were multiple 6"+ flat spots on the wheels. Yikes! How did we make it over all them switches without un-railing, on a 50mph train, wow, we lucky. He did all the work for my conductor, a great guy for sure. That car sat at east bond for a month waiting on a new set of wheels. I to this day dont know who that UP fellow was, I would like to buy him a few beverages. We have helped them a few times as well, so it all comes around.
     
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  20. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Just read that NS is reopening hump operations at Macon, GA and Bellevue, OH. They realized that too many crews are engaged in flat switching cars at these locations, wasting work hours of valuable employees that are more so needed for running trains. Yay!

    Unlike CSX which bulldozed many of its humps to highlight its "never going back" PSR operations policy, NS has kept most of theirs intact.
     
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