Dec 18, 2017
According to the news this morning the speed limit is 30 and the train was going 80
If true, I fear the engineer might have been too excited by the moment. An official first run of this particular train on the line.
I have a feeling certain management was determined to make the trip look as good and fast as possible to justify the cost and demonstrate to the public how wonderful it is. I still can't believe they would have a train go 80 MPH ion a 30 MPH zone, however. That still doesn't compute.
I would not be surprised that your "feeling" is somewhere to be found in all of this horror story.
I was thinking the same thing. An Amtrak wreck on the corridor near Philadelphia was caused by an Engineman's distraction after his cab windshield was shattered by a projectile. In the moment he lost his situational awareness and crashed on the next curve from excessive speed. I'm assuming that the Washington State train had two qualified people in the cab, but perhaps not.
Wondering if anyone here knew Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite, who were killed in the crash. Both were active members of a rail advocacy organization called All Aboard Washington that is very active in the legislative process.
Hate to hear this
Tragedy and politics aside, the NTSB will get to the bottom of this. We just have to wait 2 years for the final report...
Sad week for railroading here in the PNW, can't begin to say how I feel for those who went through this and the loved ones lost, my condolences.
The design is flawed, the 79 limit is going to fall to 59 is my prediction. Having the curve at a solid 30 is just bad, the branch was designed for slow running initially. Sped up the straight stretch to 79 for the new service and didn't doing anything at the west end in case something like this happens. This was almost inevitable either way, whether a mechanical or human error if something happens there isn't any recourse. We now know how far a locomotive will fly off the tracks at 80. I hope to never see that happen here ever again. or anywhere for that matter.
This is just a tragic thing all the way around. I run here in mountain grade territory in many instances where 79mph track goes to 35/25/20 mph trackage in many places, you just gotta know where you are at, and what kind of tonnage/braking effort you have to work with. This is early in the investigative process, and has been said before, likely a long time before we really know what happened. What is reported in the press is all too common, "not what happened". Just yesterday, I personally saw a "RR expert, (NOT)" on a world viewed C** program, say, "we will see if the driver pressed on the brake pedal", yep that concerns me on several levels.
The STB and NTSB are very good at figuring out what happened. We can opine as we wish, but at the end of the investigation the NTSB's ruling is what will stand.
I would ask we not turn this into a political thing, but just see it as a tragedy for everyone effected. Truly, the two train advocates being two of the three dead so far, is something we need to reflect on, an appreciate their dedication and thus far their sacrifice for the preponderance of this service.
I do not have a grade/alignment chart for this segment, and that has a great deal to do with train handling, and familiarization over the segment of trackage. But as the industry standard goes, the RR employer and not the employee sets the standard for how many trips an engineer gets before the employer deems the engineer "qualified". And this needs to change, industry wide. PTC seems to be the flavor of the day fix, but it cannot be so simply diluted.
Years ago Engineers were hired first as Firemen, and given actually years to get to know the territory, and the vast amount of circumstances involved with handling trains over a given territory. It has been over the last 20 years that RR's have been given the authority to deem a person "qualified" over a territory after a given number of trips, whether or not these individuals are actually qualified.
Understand. Qualified on the RR's part. Does not mean the engineer is actually qualified.
Also the media seems to be alarmed that the train Conductor was not in the cab.... Well the conductors job is to be within the trains consist, dealing with the multitude of passenger issues that can be within the confines of his/her job requirements.
This stuff just drives me nuts. So many people on TV talking so much about how little they know about RR operations, whether freight or passenger.
Thanks for listening..
Thanks Tom for your explanation. I really appreciate expertise that's shared. Ego driven blather only clouds the issue with misinformation.
1st of all, engineers are not allowed to run on territory they are not qualified on. I'm a little surprised that there wasn't a roadforman in the cab with the engineer. Only because he would be there as extra eyes & answer all questions. Plus 1st day of service.
2nd, engineers, RR enthusiasts or not, are professional. Speaking from experience, when you're on the job, you're on the job. When you're on a run that you're not familiar with or unsure because you haven't been on for a while, you don't run faster. YOU GO SLOWER. Safety is always the main concern. You do what you have to. Books out, bulletins out & highlighted for that trip, etc.
3rd, here on the east coast, the 1st reports said the train hit an obstruction. Pictures of the lead engine had damage on the nose. I haven't seen pictures of that unit since. The P-42 #188 was the trailing unit.
As far as the speed goes, was the 30mph a freight restriction or all trains? If they spent all this money on the "high speed" rails, why wouldn't they ease the curve to allow the faster trains? Remember, you can't rely on the media. Those idiots can't get past the idea that the conductor DRIVES the train.
I hope this isn't the beginning of a cover up like Philly was. That train was shot at. Just like the Septa & the Acela 20 mins. before him. Bullet holes were in both of those trains. Along with bullet holes in the windshield of the train that derailed. Those were not from rocks. But you must remember to wait until the true facts are in.
The US Post Office cancelled all rail/mail contracts in 1967, Without that financial base, the railroads could no longer afford to operate passenger service, so lobbied Congress for a government funded service. Amtrak, a Government owned corporation, is the result. Rio Grande and Southern did not join Amtrak immediately. but maintained their own passenger service as long as they could. Sadly, even they had to give in to the heavy financial losses eventually.
NO MORE POLITCIAL COMMENTS!
I am purging all political commentary (and meta comments) from this thread. Please continue to discuss the derailment
Some preliminary information has surfaced from NTSB investigators and black box data.
Sensationalism and oblivousness sadly seems to outpace accuracy in reporting these days.
Now for thoughts on the situation generally.
If this was the first run of over this particular segment, wouldn't it make sense for the engineer to be familiar with the line prior to tossing someone else into the cab, who was also unfamiliar with the line, with them? It just seems to be a big error on the part whomever (Is it Amtrak, I don't actually know in this case) provides the crews for this run. However, these are humans we're talking about. As perfect as we want our engineers and other crew members to be, they do slip up every now and then even if they are unintentional ones. Still, it seems to me that you would've wanted engineers to be familiar with the track conditions prior to introducing trainees.
One other thing that I think adds to the severity of this incident is the fact that the Talgo equipment was involved. As I was explaining to a friend, these cars are all articulated and interconnected to a degree, so if one were to go, most if not the rest would follow. Now, I'm not saying the results wouldn't have been as catastrophic if conventional equipment was involved, but I do feel that it does add to that element.
Regardless, it's quite the unfortunate and tragic incident. I feel certain that the two gentleman who lost their lives in the crash that were rail passenger advocates would've continued to defend the service had they not.
My condolences to all people involved.
This accident reminds me the one in Spain 4 years ago when another talgo oversped a bend and shattered in the right of way, unfortunately killing more than 80 people.
I may concur with Legomabill as the peculiar structure of the Talgo rolling stock (single axle shared between two cars) may also be contributing to the derailment and consequent jackknifing. Also standard rolling stock is prone to jackknifing, and would not have helped much except for more structural toughness.
By contrast, ACELA like trains (french TGV architecture), connected with Jacobs bogies are pretty much safer in these situations as the train will stay together in all but the most severe impacts.
Interesting engineering lesson Maurizio. I looked up Jacobs bogies and learned a lot. It ends up that these were also used on the North Shore's highly successful Electroliners as built in 1941. A compacted view of a trainset is below.
Interesting question. The three fatalities were all train enthusiasts. Was that because most of the passengers were, or were they the only ones in an area not frequented by others?