Talgo Falls Off Tacoma Bridge Onto I-5

acptulsa Dec 18, 2017

  1. GN-Z-phile

    GN-Z-phile TrainBoard Member

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    The 501 is the first run of the day out of Seattle (https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/...imetables/Amtrak-Cascades-Schedule-121817.pdf), at 6 a.m. Previously, the 501 left at 7:25 (https://www.amtrak.com/content/dam/...imetables/Amtrak-Cascades-Schedule-022016.pdf). The 6 a.m. departure time for the 501 was brand new as of Monday morning. It's reasonable to guess that a) it would be train-folk who would want to be on the inaugural run on the revised route, and b) fewer people might be on this new and earlier run. It's not proof-positive, but not an unreasonable premise.
     
  2. BnOEngrRick

    BnOEngrRick TrainBoard Member

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    79 MPH is the maximum speed a passenger train can run without cab signals or ATS. 59 MPH is the maximum a passenger train can run in territory where there are no signals.

    One of the reports showed the Permanent Speed Restriction sign at this location. It was a dual speed sign, but it was labelled "T-30" and "P-30", meaning that the speed authorized at that location was 30 MPH for both "T"algo trains and standard "P"assenger trains.
     
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  3. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    All of the effected I-5 lanes were reported to be reopened Wednesday, late afternoon.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  5. Kurt Moose

    Kurt Moose TrainBoard Member

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    Dang......
     
  6. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Today's WSJ reports that a plan to eliminate the 30mph curve was contained in the original scope, but it was trimmed from the budget because of high expense, including land acquisition cost, eminent domain battles, environmental impact filings and the modest number of daily runs on the line.

    The story also confirmed that the Engineer was not using a cell phone prior to the derailment.
     
  7. Point353

    Point353 TrainBoard Member

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    One could certainly question the added cost of the project based on the low frequency of operation.
    Judging from an aerial photo, virtually all of the land required would be directly adjacent to I-5 or in the median, so the need to acquire any land appears quite limited, and likewise for any environmental impact.
    However, about a mile away is a junction that would likely require a significant speed reduction, so the benefit of easing that curve would seem to be rather minimal. Sooner or later the train would need to slow down.
     
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  8. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    Yeah, let's not try to assign alternate causes. There was NO excuse for all those involved to not know the track layout and speed limits. That's all pretty basic in Railroading.
     
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  9. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    That's what I've been thinking since learning the train entered a 30 mph curve at 81. I read in the linked Railway Age story that PTC would not have prevented this accident because no Amtrak locomotives are PTC equipped.
     
  10. BnOEngrRick

    BnOEngrRick TrainBoard Member

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    Not quite right. PTC would have prevented it, if it were in place and operational. Amtrak locomotives are not all fully equipped, yet.
     
  11. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    That was my point; what good is PTC without locomotives that speak PTC.
    http://m.railwayage.com/index.php/passenger/intercity/amtrak-train-derails-south-of-seattle.html
    “The question has been asked as to why the new operation on the Lakewood Subdivision was implemented on Dec. 18, before PTC implementation was complete. The answer: It did not make any difference since none of the Amtrak locomotives had PTC anyway.
     
  12. HemiAdda2d

    HemiAdda2d Staff Member

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    We'll just assume that I know nothing about PTC. With train speed so high and more than double the curve's restricted speed, would functional PTC have activated in time to prevent this accident?
     
  13. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    That is exactly one kind of situation PTC is designed to prevent. By knowing where a train is, how fast it's moving, and details of the track, PTC can provide early warning and if necessary apply brakes ahead.
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    For this incident, it appears that blame will be more than to just the all-to-common "human error" (engineer) theme.
     
  15. Doug Gosha

    Doug Gosha TrainBoard Member

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    And I am not necessarily putting all the blame on the engineer. If he didn't know that stretch was limited to 30 mph, WHY didn't he know it?

    Doug
     
  16. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    My understanding is that railroad rules require engineers to qualify on all routes where they will run trains. Qualifying requires knowing the specific details about the route, including speed limited curves. If railroad management allowed an unqualified engineer to run then they share blame. Along BNSF Wayzata sub I see speed limit signs and advanced notification of reduced speed limits when coming into town. I don't know if railroads typically post speed limits for curves, or if knowing the location of permanent speed restrictions, such as curves, are part of qualifying over a route.
     
  17. hoyden

    hoyden TrainBoard Supporter

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    I have read many NTSB railroad accident reports and note that as automation and modernization increase railroad safety and reduce crew responsibility, the new technology leads to new ways to have accidents. For example, crew fatigue and falling asleep leads to a whole new category of accidents. I can imagine that fatigue would be a persistent problem, but was the crew falling asleep while running a problem in the era before diesel and electric locomotives? It's hard for me to imagine how both engineer and fireman could fall asleep while running a steam locomotive.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    One report I have read, was quoted to an NTSB investigator. That person stated quite flatly that the engineer should not be blamed at this point. They went on to further state that the training they had been informed took place, was at night. Thus the engineer was not familiar with such as daylight landmarks. All of which help locate them to various actions they need to undertake, while running their train. They also commented upon the training procedures they'd been told took place, and were not exactly pleased by such information. Am trying to find that bookmark again.
     
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  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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  20. Eagle2

    Eagle2 Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Although by the report, the person quoted isn't actually part of the investigation. He does raise some potentially valid points, but more from a knowledgeable outsider's perspective.
     

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