Freight, commuter trains collide in Los Angeles

SecretWeapon Sep 13, 2008

  1. Westfalen

    Westfalen TrainBoard Member

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    Looking at the engineers shift I'm surprised this sort of thing doesn't happen more in the U.S., whatever else was involved fatigue must surely be considered a contributing factor, just because you are rostered for a few hours rest in the middle of the day doesn't mean you will get it. It's no secret here that QR would love to introduce split shifts like this for commuter train crews to spread us over the morning and evening peaks but the two traincrew unions would likely bring the system to a halt if they tried. I did it many years ago when I was what you would call a station agent and that was bad enough. Our present rostering is based on a maximum shift of 9 hours, (average 8 1/2), with a minimum 35 minute, (though it can vary up to three hours or so depending on the job), meal break between 3 1/2 and 4 1/2 hours after the start of the shift that is included in the nine hours, and 12 hours minimum time off between shifts. Our freight crews work longer at 11 hrs maximum but running a stop/start commuter with more restricted signals encountered is more demanding in some ways than running a freight outside the suburban area.

    I too am surprised that there is nothing like AWS or cab signals with only one man in the cab, when our AWS or ATP (Automatic Train Protection) fails the guard (conductor) has to ride up front to call the signals, or in the case of one man crewed freights the train stays put until a second crewman is taxied to the train to do the same.
     
  2. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have been reading this post since day one.

    Replies by the engineers amoungst us has been a real eye opener. The information provided by them on RR operations has been quite thought provoking. I will except most of this as fact...as they have lived it!

    As for as this accident however...

    I have been trying to hold my tongue until further 'evidence' comes to light and I try not speculate. Taking all the things mentioned...HOS...sleep deprevation, health issues, mechanical failures. electronic failures...everything else aside. IF...and the evidence is becoming quite compelling...that Mr. Sanchez was in fact text messaging while operating HIS locomotive...this would clearly lead to his being self-distracted...then the blame for this accident would squarely fall on his shoulders alone. Distractions we have no control over may be forgiven...BUT...distractions, such as text messaging, that we fully have control over can not be. JMO !

    I didnt know Mr. Sanchez...I cant speak for him. He died in this horrible accident too and cant defend himself. I will NOT speak ill of the man. It was an accident, however avoidable, and not premeditated murder.

    However, We ALL have to now rely on factual evidence, all of the above speculations notwithstanding, that best pieces together the timeline of events. FACT...Cell phone records so far are proving Mr. Sanchez WAS in fact texting while 'driving'. I wont get on my soapbox about cellphone usage. BUT...I will contend that texting, especially while 'driving', is clearly a distraction from our 'driving' duties, and clearly an avoidable distraction.

    If the final hard evidence proves Mr. Sanchez was in fact at fault, I hope the Good Lord in his infinite wisdom, has mercy on his soul for his death and the death of the many innocent people involved.

    Sorry if anyone feels offended. That is not my intention at all. Everyone has a right to an opnion and I have the right to express mine...ty
     
  3. cajon

    cajon TrainBoard Member

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    The problem w/ all this "factual" evidence to date is that it's mostly media hearsay. There is nothing out there now that really qualifies as factual & won't be until the NTSB comes out w/ it's final report. Until then any discussion of the events leading to this accident will only be hearsay & speculation.
     
  4. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    Not all hearsay...


    Federal investigators said Wednesday that records from Metrolink engineer Robert M. Sanchez's cellphone show that he sent and received text messages while on duty Friday, the day he was involved in a catastrophic train collision in Chatsworth.


    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-traincrash18-2008sep18,0,6806620.story
     
  5. cajon

    cajon TrainBoard Member

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    It's still hearsay because they haven't shown proof exactly when the text messages were sent & received. It's so easy to cast aspersions on the engineer because he's dead & can't defend himself. Wondering myself if he was incapacitated somehow. Find it very hard to believe a good engineer can be so distracted by text messaging that 2 signals & a switch are run thru. And alot of people can do texting w/o even looking at the phone. But there I go speculating, but at least I'm trying to defend him contrary to so many others posting on these "discussion" boards.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'd bet that when the entire investigative process is completed, we'll see a finger of blame pointed at more than one factor. All adding up to what happened as a whole.

    Boxcab E50
     
  7. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    "Federal investigators said Wednesday that records from Metrolink engineer Robert M. Sanchez's cellphone show that he sent and received text messages while on duty."

    Once again... I am not speaking ill of the guy...so dont go there. All I said was...IF in fact he was on his cellphone while on duty...which it has been confirmed he was......it WAS bad judgement on his part. IF he was texting it would be impossible for him to be incapacited ex: heart attack, stroke, or asleep at the controls. I dont particularly care for the media either...BUT when federal sources are quoted...I tend to pay more attention...

    "The safety board will correlate those records with other investigative information to determine as precisely as possible the exact times of those messages in relation to the engineer's operation of his train," a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board said in a written statement."
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 19, 2008
  8. Newman

    Newman TrainBoard Member

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  9. Paul McGuffin

    Paul McGuffin TrainBoard Member

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    Posted By Cajon
    Find it very hard to believe a good engineer can be so distracted by text messaging that 2 signals & a switch are run thru. And alot of people can do texting w/o even looking at the phone. But there I go speculating, but at least I'm trying to defend him contrary to so many others posting on these "discussion" boards.

    Yes! I feel like yelling, "the King has no clothes!" That was EXACTLY my point in the earlier post. Remember? Making coffee, playing the guitar. I was chastised by some railfan, told me I was an accident waiting to happen. I was trying to make a point. Naturally, the railfan must have thought I did this every time I made a meet with another train. If in fact, he was text messaging, AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT, then I'll apologize and eat crow.
    PM
     
  10. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    Oh, guess I misunderstood. I didn't realize that engineers knew EXACTLY when they were gonna meet another train. (what, is it like ESP? The Force?) I foolishly thought that's what the signals were for. Maybe your guitar has a transmitter that changes the signals to green like the firetrucks? As you can see, I'm really ignorant of the process, being a railfan and all. How embarrassing for me.

    My apologies.

    In fact, I hope more engineers pick up guitar, needlepoint, model railroading, etc while in transit. Honestly, GE should start installing Wii's in the cab...I bet that'd be fun!!!

    Guess I should take my banter to a railfan site. Oh wait, this IS a railfan site!
     
  11. Newman

    Newman TrainBoard Member

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    Every engineer worth his snuff knows when he is going to meet another train. This can be done by;
    A. Listening to the RADIO....
    B. Calling the dispatcher and asking
    C. Looking at the siding to see if someone is there....file this one under (DUH!!)

    and on and on...BNSF dispatchers are VERY good at letting you know when and where your going in or or out and who for and how many and on and on....


    LOL, I always try to smile as I go by, never know how long they been there waitin'....;)




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  12. mtntrainman

    mtntrainman TrainBoard Supporter

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    PM?

    If he was 'on duty' and say at the terminal...in the mens room, on the toilet, and texting, ...I'll have a slice of that crow. Even though...'on duty' means you are on 'company time' and shouldnt be on a cell phone anyways... IMHO.

    BUT...If he was in fact in the cab of that loco and 'operating' the train...at any point in time...not just specifically "AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT"...this meaning he was using his cell phone and possibly missed 2 signals and a switch prior to the actual "time of the accident"...I'll be glad to cook that crow for ya !
    :tb-wink:
     
  13. Paul McGuffin

    Paul McGuffin TrainBoard Member

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    Posted by Doug
    Oh, guess I misunderstood. I didn't realize that engineers knew EXACTLY when they were gonna meet another train. (what, is it like ESP? The Force?) I foolishly thought that's what the signals were for.

    You're right Doug, by your own words, " you foolishly thought." I was trying to make a point, by "exaggerating" a little. You are trying to make me out as an irresponsible mainline engineer, going down the pike playing, "The City Of New Orleans."That's just not the case. I think BNSF Engineer Joe, from Bakersfield, tried to show you my point a little. Trust me, I ran for 27 years, over more division as an engineer, than anyone one in the country. I NEVER had an accident. I NEVER ran a red signal. I NEVER split a mail line switch. In the locomotive cab,you can be just as distracted changing the radio channels, trying to reset some relay,etc. as you would be text messaging on a cell phone. Have I made my point now?
    PM
     
  14. Paul McGuffin

    Paul McGuffin TrainBoard Member

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    BUT...If he was in fact in the cab of that loco and 'operating' the train...at any point in time...not just specifically "AT THE TIME OF THE ACCIDENT"

    Naturally...I meant, "at the time of the accident," minutes before, not the exact time. May I have A-1 Sauce ?
    PM
     
  15. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    Reminder

    OK, let me jump in again here just as a quick reminder that we are talking about a serious tragedy and what is being posted might be read by a victim or family/friend of someone that might have been killed in this horrible, horrible accident. When the debate of what might have happened, might fix the issue, might this, might that gets a bit heated someone might forget this and post something that crosses the line. Not saying someone has crossed the line, just a reminder is all since this is a very real issue and we need to be sensitive to those closely impacted that might read this topic. Who knows, someone from the Media might quote what you are saying on the front page of the paper tomorrow…

    :peace::peace::peace::peace:​
     
  16. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    I'm not saying there aren't distractions or disputing that experience tells engineers when a meet is likely, etc. Suggesting you are so experienced about when you're gonna meet another train that you don't worry about signals...that is another thing. I doubt too many engineers think..."awe, it's red but you know that train is always late I'll be four siding up the line before I even have to worry". I also think boasting about playing a guitar in a locomotive is unwise, and pretty easy to criticize, regardless of your self-proclaimed "perfect" career. MY point is that there ARE distractions already, and there is no need to add to them.

    EVERYBODY thinks they can drive and text, drive and eat, drive and put on makeup, etc. Then when 80% of those CRASH, they are dumbfounded as to what happened. Or, as in your case, they have a bunch of people making excuses for them.

    BTW, I don't have an opinion on this particular situation, as I agree the facts are pretty well unknown at this time. I'm referring to the umpteen other similar events where it's never human error until, lo and behold, it is. Everybody makes mistakes, and it's an unfortunate, sad truth that engineers can make mistakes that cost lives. Think about what would have happened if the engineer had survived an accident that killed 25 people and he was using his phone or playing the guitar at the time...you still think that guy is gonna be as proud of his texting as you are of your guitar playing?
     
  17. Paul McGuffin

    Paul McGuffin TrainBoard Member

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    Posted By Doug
    Or, as in your case, they have a bunch of people making excuses for them.

    Doug, let's agree to drop it. The Moderator here is correct. The wrong people could twist this. I understand your point. But, I think you have no interest in what I am saying. Further more, I have a feeling you don't even believe I know how to blow the whistle or ring the bell. Your "post" indicates that. So, let's agree to drop it. Okay?
    PM
     
  18. Stourbridge Lion

    Stourbridge Lion TrainBoard Supporter

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    I think I understand what you are trying to point out Doug about distractions and our Police here like everyplace else always preach about HANG UP & DRIVE. Problem is I see them talking on their cell phones and looking at what is displayed on their laptops that are now installed into their patrol cars while they drive down the street and shake my head in dismay. A few years ago we left the “Industrial Age” and entered what they now call the “Information Age” and part of that is all this PED stuff that has become part of our every day lives. I see folks that I think keep their Bluetooth ear piece on 24/7 to where I can only envision the BORG is actually us.

    :tb-wacky: :tb-wacky: :tb-wacky: :tb-wacky:
     
  19. pastoolio

    pastoolio TrainBoard Member

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    Please....

    Seriously, com'on guys, text messaging? What, was he writing a novel on his phone? To miss the signals and run the switch? I'm more distracted turning the volume up or down on my car stereo or hitting "next" to go to the next song than I do texting someone. Especially using T9word. How many of you actually text message people on a daily basis? How many of you even know how to text?

    I personally feel that he had something happen to incapacitate him, but no matter the outcome, we all know it was "text messaging" since that is what the media and the state of CA are forcing down our throats.
    And I really appreciate those of you who are/were locomotive engineers for your inside viewpoints. Us "railfans" and "foamers" can only know so much without actually walking in those shoes.

    -Mike
     
  20. Doug A.

    Doug A. TrainBoard Supporter

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    No problem. Lest we forget it is you who chose to address my comments one page back.
     

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