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Amtrak Derailment Philadelphia (5/12/2015)

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cello

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This is beginning to sound like what happened in Spain not too long ago.
 

Rover

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Has data been released yet as to what car(s) the fatalities were recovered from?
 
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At a news briefing, Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said his department was working with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on an investigation.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-usa-train-derailment-idUSKBN0NZ18Z20150514

This kind of ridiculousness is exactly why train crew are instructed to never talk to local police. What makes the PPD think that they are better qualified to investigate this incident than the Amtrak Police Department or the FBI? Or even that they have the jurisdiction to do so?
 
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Andrew Ziolo

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Question for the engineer experts... The Gulf curve Little Falls accident of 1940 New York Central Lake Shore Limited involved a 45 mph rated curve taken at 59mph with brakes applied and throttle backed off entering the curve. There was some speculation that had the engineer throttled through the curve and not applied the breaks, the derailment might have been avoided.

Despite the significantly higher excessive speed, is it possible the derailment could have been less violent had the engineer maintained throttle through the curve at Philadelphia?
 

jis

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At a news briefing, Police Chief Inspector Joe Sullivan said his department was working with Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams on an investigation.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/05/14/us-usa-train-derailment-idUSKBN0NZ18Z20150514

This kind of ridiculousness is exactly why train crew are instructed to never talk to local police. What makes the PPD think that they are better qualified to investigate this incident than the Amtrak Police Department or the FBI? Or even that they have the jurisdiction to do so?
Why of course taking care of those endless criminals throwing stuff at trains is so boring! Why bother with your primary responsibility when you can poke your nose somewhere where it probably does not belong and show some brotherly love? :p
 
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Rover

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NTSB: 43 seconds before end of recording, train speed exceeded 80 mph, 16 seconds before end of recording it was 100mph
http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-amtrak-train-derail-20150514-story.html#page=1

Sumwalt said the train was traveling above 70 mph 65 seconds before impact. At 43 seconds before impact it exceeded 80 mph. At 31 seconds it had increased to 90 mph. Sixteen seconds before impact it topped 100.

The speed limit before the curve is 80 mph but drops down to 50 going into the turn.

Sumwalt: Moments before derailing, train was placed into “engineer induced braking,” with full brake application. https://twitter.com/NTSB/status/598598196898725888

Just before entering the curve, the sound of the engineer applying the emergency brake is heard. https://twitter.com/NTSB/status/598969077051293696
 
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saxman

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The plot thickens. The NTSB says that the train accelerated from 70 to 100 mph within seconds not long before the accident.
 

Ziv

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I don't mean to be flippant but the ACS-64 can accelerate like a... Sprinter.

From loafing along at 58 mph then up to 80 mph at 43 seconds before the corner and 106 mph 3 seconds before they hit the corner. I know cars that struggle to go from 80 to 106 in 23 seconds.
 
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cello

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Judging from the occupations of many of the deceased, it seems likely they were in BC, which would be where in the consist... Yep... The most mangled one.
 

niemi24s

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. . . 80 mph at 43 seconds before the corner and 106 mph 3 seconds before they hit the corner.
To put these figures into perspective (assuming uniform acceleration during that 40 second interval)), the train accelerated at a rate of 0.95ft/sec² or 0.03g (where g = the acceleration due to gravity = 32.2ft/sec²). In comparison, if an automobile accelerates from 0 to 60mph in ten seconds, its acceleration is 8.8ft/sec² or 0.27g. - about 9X that of the train.
 
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Ziv

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My point was that I always thought of trains as being pokey, and since most autos (definitely not all) tend to accelerate from 80 to 100 mph in a rather leisurely manner, I just assumed that a locomotive would have trouble getting 7 passenger cars to accelerate from 80 to 106 that quickly. I knew logically that the ACS-64 was designed to do this, but this really put the numbers in perspective. It is one thing to have a decent 0-60 time, it is entirely another to be accelerating like this from 80 to 100 mph.

On edit: Which gets me to thinking about a Top Gear for trains episode with three or four Stigs, one from France, Japan, Spain and maybe German, or better yet, with the young turk Stig from China taking on all the old fogie Stigs.

And then Elon sends his Stig to the track... Hyper Loop, FTW!

. . . 80 mph at 43 seconds before the corner and 106 mph 3 seconds before they hit the corner.
To put these figures into perspective (assuming uniform acceleration during that 40 second interval)), the train accelerated at a rate of 0.95ft/sec² or 0.03g (where g = the acceleration due to gravity = 32.2ft/sec²). In comparison, if an automobile accelerates from 0 to 60mph in ten seconds, its acceleration is 8.8ft/sec² or 0.27g. - about 9X that of the train.
 
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Ryan

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I thought I read somewhere that he was back in the cafe car when it happened.
 

Triley

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Lots of theories and no conclusive evidence yet except for the 106 MPH speed of the train. With all of the fail safe measures on an Amtrak locomotive (especially a new one like the one in the crash) everything points to human error. What is surprising is that there are two people in an Amtrak locomotive cab and both apparently didn't notice that the train was going unusually fast heading into an area with a known curve? The engineer is not saying anything so the NTSB needs to question the conductor (they probably already have) but with two black box recorders and a video system, they know exactly what happened.
There's..only one person in the cab. The engineer. There should never ever be two people in the cab, unless one is a trainee, or someone qualifying on the route.
Never is not necessarily the right wording. Railroads used to require two people upfront, and if in a curcumstance where the engineer might become unconscious or unable to control the train, there is someone who could more or less have the ability to stop the train.
I was referring to Amtrak rules, not other railroads.
 

OlympianHiawatha

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We have now heard from the NTSB the train was actually speeding up as it approached the curve; since the ACS-64 is such a new Locomotive, I will be interested to find out if the Engineer was momentarily confused by the controls. This has happened from time to time on newly introduced airliner models, such as the Electra, and resulted in some serious crashes.
 

George K

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The plot thickens. The NTSB says that the train accelerated from 70 to 100 mph within seconds not long before the accident.
Any speculation as to why that would have happened? As I mentioned to my wife, any engineer knows that to exceed the speed limit is a quick path to a new career.
 
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