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Amtrak Derailment Philadelphia (5/12/2015)

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There's no sense blaming the engineer for anything unless facts emerge that prove he had something to do with the speed. While possible (even probable) there are other explanations.
Exactly who in the world else would have ANYTHING at all to do with the speed of the train other than the sole occupant of the cab, the engineer? All this 'don't jump to conclusions' nonsense has surpassed the level of ludicrousness. There was no track speed greater than 80 MPH from PHL to the site of the accident...he'd already stepped in it when he hit 90 (10 over is decertifiable under FRA). To say, 'well, maybe he thought he was further down the line' makes the assumption that he didn't know where he was.
Let's take off the kid gloves and call a spade a spade. This guy stepped in it - big time. I've heard all the other bs as well....'he's a nice guy' is the other excuse people seem to be using. Railroading is not (and never should be) a popularity contest. Do your job safely and and go home, do it again tomorrow....but making excuses for this kind of disaster is pound foolish.
 

mgl1978

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I have a kind of unrelated/related question I remember a few years ago a regional blew through the Elizabeth S-Curve at over 100MPH and I can only find one quote about it here on AU from Jis. Can anyone provide a comparison of the track geometry?

Yes. Absolutely. Although, tilting is not particularly going to prevent tipping. The height above rail of the center of gravity of the unit would be the critical determining factor for that. The more immediate problem is how much damage is done to the track more than anything else. In an unintended event an AEM-7 with a bunch of Amfleets managed to go through the Elizabeth S-Curve at over 100mph once without derailing or tipping, but it did damage the track enough that they had to basically rebuild the track. The lack of derailment for partially credited to the stability of track on concrete ties. Also it was not a pleasant experience for the folks on the train. The conductor described the experience starting with something like "After I had picked myself off the floor and managed to hit the emergency brakes .... ", so you can imagine. The net result is that now all trains get a approach medium as it approaches the S-curve.
From this thread.

Different geometry leading to a different outcome or did Amtrak really dodge a bullet there. Seems to me like a very similar situation with vastly different outcomes.
According to my old track chart the curve at Elizabeth had a max curvature of 2.23 degrees versus 4 degrees at frankfurt junction. The speed limit is 55 vs 50 respectively. That could be enough to explain the difference. See my earlier post for the track diagram of Frankfurt Junction.

SCAN0002.JPG
 

Long Train Runnin'

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I have a kind of unrelated/related question I remember a few years ago a regional blew through the Elizabeth S-Curve at over 100MPH and I can only find one quote about it here on AU from Jis. Can anyone provide a comparison of the track geometry?

Yes. Absolutely. Although, tilting is not particularly going to prevent tipping. The height above rail of the center of gravity of the unit would be the critical determining factor for that. The more immediate problem is how much damage is done to the track more than anything else. In an unintended event an AEM-7 with a bunch of Amfleets managed to go through the Elizabeth S-Curve at over 100mph once without derailing or tipping, but it did damage the track enough that they had to basically rebuild the track. The lack of derailment for partially credited to the stability of track on concrete ties. Also it was not a pleasant experience for the folks on the train. The conductor described the experience starting with something like "After I had picked myself off the floor and managed to hit the emergency brakes .... ", so you can imagine. The net result is that now all trains get a approach medium as it approaches the S-curve.
From this thread.

Different geometry leading to a different outcome or did Amtrak really dodge a bullet there. Seems to me like a very similar situation with vastly different outcomes.
According to my old track chart the curve at Elizabeth had a max curvature of 2.23 degrees versus 4 degrees at frankfurt junction. The speed limit is 55 vs 50 respectively. That could be enough to explain the difference. See my earlier post for the track diagram of Frankfurt Junction.
Thanks to both of you for posting more information. I couldn't help but think about the incident in Elizabeth and this. One has long been forgotten, and the other will be in our minds for a long time to come.
 

ALC Rail Writer

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There's no sense blaming the engineer for anything unless facts emerge that prove he had something to do with the speed. While possible (even probable) there are other explanations.
Exactly who in the world else would have ANYTHING at all to do with the speed of the train other than the sole occupant of the cab, the engineer? All this 'don't jump to conclusions' nonsense has surpassed the level of ludicrousness. There was no track speed greater than 80 MPH from PHL to the site of the accident...he'd already stepped in it when he hit 90 (10 over is decertifiable under FRA). To say, 'well, maybe he thought he was further down the line' makes the assumption that he didn't know where he was.
Let's take off the kid gloves and call a spade a spade. This guy stepped in it - big time. I've heard all the other bs as well....'he's a nice guy' is the other excuse people seem to be using. Railroading is not (and never should be) a popularity contest. Do your job safely and and go home, do it again tomorrow....but making excuses for this kind of disaster is pound foolish.
Couldn't we wait and see what the NTSB has to say about this relatively new engine? Is it really implausible to consider there was a mechanical failure? I don't know this engineer, I can't speak for his character. I can say that a train is a complicated system with possibilities for failure that must be examined as part of a comprehensive investigation that looks for the contributing factors of the accident.

Refusal to acknowledge these possibilities will not make rail travel safer and indeed disqualifies you as 'credible'.

Provide the evidence that dismisses these reasonable doubts and others will abide by your conclusion.
 
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rusty spike

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There's no sense blaming the engineer for anything unless facts emerge that prove he had something to do with the speed. While possible (even probable) there are other explanations.
Exactly who in the world else would have ANYTHING at all to do with the speed of the train other than the sole occupant of the cab, the engineer?
A mechanical or electronic malfunction for one thing. Why don' t we let the facts come in and avoid the "lynch mob" mentality. OK?
 
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Someone with more knowledge than I: if something became wrong with the brakes just before the curve, and the engineer knew it, what would the engineer do in order to save the situation that might work?
 

amtrakwolverine

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Someone with more knowledge than I: if something became wrong with the brakes just before the curve, and the engineer knew it, what would the engineer do in order to save the situation that might work?
If the brakes failed the only thing would be either dynamic brakes or put the engine in reverse to try and slow it down.
 

WICT106

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I have to share my wonderment and disappointment here as well. How could this engineer go that far over the speed limit in ACSES territory ?
 
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Guestly

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If that segment of track around Frankford Junction and Shore Interlocking wasn't equipped with ACSES, wouldn't the cab still receive a Signal Speed Display (Instead of a Track Speed Display, which is active when ACSES is Cut-In), and thereby trigger a Penalty Brake Application if an Overspeed Condition wasn't corrected? Or am I mixing the systems up?

This "expert" Michael-something on MSNBC was talking about how the PTC system can be Cut-in and Out by the Engineer when they need to "make up time," which is absolute ludicrous. A malfunction is one thing, but to make up time? Come on...
 
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Guest3

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It will be very interesting to see what the LDVR shows when they get the footage.
 

capltd29

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If that segment of track around Frankford Junction and Shore Interlocking wasn't equipped with ACSES, wouldn't the cab still receive a Signal Speed Display (Instead of a Track Speed Display, which is active when ACSES is Cut-In), and thereby trigger a Penalty Brake Application if an Overspeed Condition wasn't corrected? Or am I mixing the systems up?

This "expert" Michael-something on MSNBC was talking about how the PTC system can be Cut-in and Out by the Engineer when they need to "make up time," which is absolute ludicrous. A malfunction is one thing, but to make up time? Come on...
Mayor Nutter was saying the same thing. I mean, you'd have to be an idiot to think that was actually the motivation of the engineer. These people should keep their mouths shut if they aren't saying anything intelligible.
 

chakk

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Amazing! Only took 137 posts on this thread before Godwin's Law applied.
 

Long Train Runnin'

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Someone with more knowledge than I: if something became wrong with the brakes just before the curve, and the engineer knew it, what would the engineer do in order to save the situation that might work?
If the brakes failed the only thing would be either dynamic brakes or put the engine in reverse to try and slow it down.
Air brakes on trains are designed to fail closed. So if the system lost air pressure the brakes would go into full application.
 
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amtrakwolverine

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Someone with more knowledge than I: if something became wrong with the brakes just before the curve, and the engineer knew it, what would the engineer do in order to save the situation that might work?
If the brakes failed the only thing would be either dynamic brakes or put the engine in reverse to try and slow it down.
Air brakes on trains are designed to fail closed. So if the system lost air pressure the brakes would go into full application.
I know how they work. But if something prevented them from being applied like a blockage or kink in the line. It has happened before though not on Amtrak.
 
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cirdan

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A mechanical or electronic malfunction for one thing. Why don' t we let the facts come in and avoid the "lynch mob" mentality. OK?
Software errors can occur but are highly unlikely.

However, just in case the software goes crazy (as you can never be 100% sure), there is still a hard reset option with which the engineer can bypass the software and apply the brakes directly using an emergency air valve which I think is located on the underside of the control desk. I think there is similarly a switch to shut down all power on a low level bypassing the software.
 
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G

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However, just in case the software goes crazy (as you can never be 100% sure), there is still a hard reset option with which the engineer can bypass the software and apply the brakes directly using an emergency air valve which I think is located on the underside of the control desk. I think there is similarly a switch to shut down all power on a low level bypassing the software.
Isn't this what happened? The engineer engaged the emergency air brakes, but apparently, not soon enough.
 

FormerOBS

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On the morning of January 15, 1953, the Pennsylvania Railroad's train 173, the Federal Express, was approaching Washington Union Station when the brakes failed due to an angle **** that had been inadvertently left in the closed position, probably by a Baltimore car inspector, although there may still be some question as to who was at fault. The train crashed into the station with GG1 locomotive 4876 and two cars going through the floor, into a lower level baggage room. The locomotive still exists, owned by the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, and is evidently a low priority for restoration. This was a very unusual ---almost freakish --- accident, but such things do happen.

A mechanical problem is still a possible explanation for this one, too. Don't jump to conclusions.

Tom
 

afigg

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I don't know if this was posted earlier in this thread, but just for the record, the status map's archive on-time report for #188(5/12) is posted below. #188 departed 30th Street Station on time.

Code:
* Train 188 of 05/12/2015. 
* THIS TRAIN EXPERIENCED A SERVICE DISRUPTION.
* Northeast Regional
* +---------------- Station Code
* |    +----------- Schedule Arrival Day 
* |    |  +-------- Schedule Arrival Time
* |    |  |     +----- Schedule Departure Day
* |    |  |     |  +-- Schedule Departure Time
* |    |  |     |  |     +------------- Actual Arrival Time
* |    |  |     |  |     |     +------- Actual Departure Time
* |    |  |     |  |     |     |     +- Comments
* V    V  V     V  V     V     V     V
* WAS  *  *     1  710P  *     716P  Departed:  6 minutes late.
* NCR  *  *     1  722P  *     725P  Departed:  3 minutes late.
* BWI  *  *     1  737P  *     739P  Departed:  2 minutes late.
* BAL  *  *     1  754P  *     755P  Departed:  1 minute late.
* ABE  *  *     1  816P  *     817P  Departed:  1 minute late.
* WIL  *  *     1  843P  *     846P  Departed:  3 minutes late.
* PHL  *  *     1  910P  *     910P  Departed:  On time.
  TRE  *  *     1  937P
  MET  *  *     1  959P
  NWK  *  *     1  1014P
  NYP  1  1034P *  *
 

afigg

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im a member of another forum nyctf, and some members posted the image in the article of the engine and someone else noticed what they think looks to be bullet holes? are you seeing what looks like what they are too?
If the windshield of the locomotive had been hit by bullets, I'm pretty sure the FBI and NTSB would know it and we would be seeing a full court press criminal investigation underway. The video from inside the cab looking forward through a part of the windshield could show when the windshield damage occurred. Presumably the windshield was damaged by debris during the derailment.
 

keelhauled

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I'm sitting at Baltimore Peen Station right now waiting for a MARC train. They seem to have cancelled all Acelas on the south end of the corridor. 185 originated in Philadelphia. 174 is listed as going to New York, but I assume it's terminating in Philadelphia The Carolinian originated at Philadelphia. The Crescent, oddly, seems to be terminating in Baltimore, unless the board is wrong about that too.
 

VentureForth

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I don't know if this was posted earlier in this thread, but just for the record, the status map's archive on-time report for #188(5/12) is posted below. #188 departed 30th Street Station on time.

<SNIP>
There was a quote in some article somewhere about someone saying the train was 15 minutes late when they boarded.

Glad to see reality smack in the face of conjecture.
 

Ryan

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If the windshield of the locomotive had been hit by bullets, I'm pretty sure the FBI and NTSB would know it and we would be seeing a full court press criminal investigation underway.
What makes you think that they don't know and that this isn't happening?
 

neroden

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If that segment of track around Frankford Junction and Shore Interlocking wasn't equipped with ACSES, wouldn't the cab still receive a Signal Speed Display (Instead of a Track Speed Display, which is active when ACSES is Cut-In), and thereby trigger a Penalty Brake Application if an Overspeed Condition wasn't corrected?
OK. As I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong) the difference is this. With ACSES operating, the train would have had to slow down sufficiently far in advance to reach the correct speed limit before hitting the curve, and ACSES would have kicked the brakes on early enough to enable this.
Without ACSES, the train could blow through at excessive speed, the engineer would be told to hit the brakes, and if he didn't, the automatic system wouldn't hit the brakes until a bit *later*... by which time the train might have derailed around a curve, or whatever.

In short, properly working ACSES should activate the brakes earlier than the other systems. (In the case of an engineer who has not acted correctly for whatever reason, disability, confusion, or whatever.)

I've also been told that not all the curve speed restrictions are programmed into the old cab signal system, and that only with ACSES are all the curve speed restrictions enforced.
 
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