Derailment of Cascades #501, DuPont WA, 2017-12-18

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Just-Thinking-51

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There a 30mph switch, then the 30mph curve that was the cause of the derailment. So I think how slow you can go while on the straight away southbound before the curve is irrelevant. The engineer miss a small sign, and had a lack of knowledge of the territory. With PTC and a few bigger signs no reason not to run at speed. The PTC will give a penalty brake application if you overspeed before the curve or switch. The lack of using this route is politically in nature. Who is to blame game, still going on. See the new Safety Director at Sounder Transit post above.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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zephyr17

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Lakewood doesn't want 79 mph trains through their town on tracks that were previously a low use/low speed freight line. They were doing everything they could to throw roadblocks at it before service began with 501, and the wreck gave them leverage. They are seizing on every little thing. NIMBYism at its worst. That, combined with Sound Transit now doing post accident CYA when the NTSB revealed a virtually non existent safety culture there.
 

Willbridge

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Before WWII this was a main line. (The kink was added to the downgraded line to lower the cost of building the highway underpass.) On any rail project it seems that NIMBY's expect the rail line to deteriorate and then be abandoned. In some cases real estate sales people have been the source of that idea.
 

Acela150

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So, he's suing Amtrak saying he was improperly trained but readily admits he took control of something he wasn't trained on?


I'm curious to the logic as well. But, let the legal system figure this out.

As far as the "being properly trained" on the Physical Characteristics of the RR I'll give you my two cents on things.

During my time at NS the "Choo Choo U" section of things for them is 15 days. So three weeks. I then had 3 months of OJT before marking up and getting my Conductor Card. 3 months of OJT is not enough time to learn Physical Characteristics of hundreds of miles of Railroad, learn the crucial rules like NORAC Rule 80. (Movement at Restricted Speed) I was given 2 weeks to learn the railroad between PHIL and BELL on the Corridor as well as PARK and GLEN on the Harrisburg Line. Amtrak required 3 R/T's on the head end to even take the PC test. I'm not kidding, I took 10 R/T's for each section of RR. So two a day. I truly believe that I could have been perfectly fine with 3 R/T's on the PH line. But there is a HUGE difference between day running and night running. So I did 1 R/T during daylight hours, and one after dark. Best choice I made. Plain and simple. So bottom line as far as OJT went at NS. I had 10 weeks of it. When I went to the division office to Mark Up, they asked if we saw everything that we should have saw, or if we needed more time to see things. Between myself and one of my Brother Conductors, we told them that 10 weeks of OJT is a joke, that we felt rushed, and that the practice of rushing CT's through OJT will lead to more and more incidents. I told them that I hadn't been to a yard that we served 7 days a week and I'd like two weeks to go over that yard. They laughed and said, "Get a pilot if you go there." 2 weeks later I got called for a train to that yard, and I asked for a pilot Conductor. I explained to the crew caller who was the best, that I hadn't been there and so and so from the division office told me to request a pilot. After I hung up with them 10 minutes later the Terminal Super called me and asked why I marked up without going to the yard. I told him what happened. So once he got my side of the story, he was understanding. But the guys and gals that work as middle upper management laughing at a request for two weeks to go to a yard that we served 7 days a week is horrifying to me. I've interviewed to go back to NS twice, and they reduced the period of OJT from 3 months to 2 months. My main concern is that they are putting out guys and gals on the RR to learn hundreds of miles of RR in such a short amount of time. These days it's all about layoffs. Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) is all about shareholder value, getting things to their destination on-time, not safety. Derailments have gone up dramatically over the past 5 years, since CSX became the first US Freight Carrier to adopt PSR, followed by UP, and NS. PSR is an extremely dangerous trend. And I truly believe that the only way to end it, is that Congress steps in.

Now as far as Amtrak's training methods on the T&E side. I can't speak to any of it since I'm not an Amtrak employee. I've heard that it's very detailed. I know that for new hire engineers there is about 2 years of OJT before being marked up and running you're on your own. And honestly, that's the way it should be. With Amtrak you're hauling people at a wide range of speeds that top out on the NEC at 150 mph. I recently was speaking with the conductor and engineer of a train that I ride frequently. The day before I was talking with them, it came up that the engineer had a student running for a certain period of time. And the student was running in the 150 mph zone in RI near TF Green. He opened it up and kept an eye of the speedometer and panicked at 147 and throttled off before he should have. That is part of the training. The speed is no joke and it'll mess with you.

Bottom line, Passenger and Freight are completely different beasts. But, IMO Amtrak is doing the right things as far as training for Student Engineers. Freight has work to do right now. Right now as it stands freight is laying thousands of employees off for the shareholders, and the heck with safety. Even when they did hire people it was a rushed process. If someone makes one wrong move, it can injure that person at a minimum, and kill them and potentially others in a worst case scenario.
 

John Santos

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Thanks Acela150. That was very informative.
Is the main problem with PSR that it treats train crew as interchangeable parts and doesn't account for the fact that each person has different experience and training? Resulting in people running trains on routes and equipment where they've had minimal training or insufficient experience, because the RRs can cut payroll and save money by doing that?
 

Thirdrail7

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They laughed and said, "Get a pilot if you go there." 2 weeks later I got called for a train to that yard, and I asked for a pilot Conductor. I explained to the crew caller who was the best, that I hadn't been there and so and so from the division office told me to request a pilot. After I hung up with them 10 minutes later the Terminal Super called me and asked why I marked up without going to the yard. I told him what happened. So once he got my side of the story, he was understanding.
So...you were unsure...and you asked for assistance. If he felt uncomfortable, perhaps he should have asked for assistance as well.
 

Thirdrail7

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and he got laughed at for doing so....
So? Acela150 handled it accordingly. He asked for the pilot, received the call and told what happened. If someone laughing at you impacts your ability to use your judgement when it comes to safety, perhaps you shouldn't be in a position that puts lives directly in your hands.
 

Acela150

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So? Acela150 handled it accordingly. He asked for the pilot, received the call and told what happened. If someone laughing at you impacts your ability to use your judgement when it comes to safety, perhaps you shouldn't be in a position that puts lives directly in your hands.
Well said, and I think the part that was most disturbing to me was someone who had zero experience doing the job of a Conductor laughing at a simple request. My terminal super on the other hand was a Conductor, and a rather famous one for NS. He actually thanked me for asking for a pilot since I wasn't familiar with something. I believe said Terminal Super/Former Conductor is in management with Amtrak these days.
 

flitcraft

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The Seattle Times posted this item on the death of one of the Washington State Patrol officers who was instrumental in investigating the Cascades accident using drone technology. WSP trooper whose work was key to investigation of 2017 DuPont Amtrak derailment dies from COVID

Ironic that this article came out today, after the EB crash. Sadly, the officer was only 38 years old. And, strangely to me, the Washington State Patrol is counting his death as 'in the line of duty,' saying that he caught COVID on the job. I'm not sure how they know that, and even if he did, that isn't usually what we mean when we say that an officer died in the line of duty. No matter what, though, it's tragic when a young person like that with kids dies from COVID these days.
 

neroden

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The Seattle Times posted this item on the death of one of the Washington State Patrol officers who was instrumental in investigating the Cascades accident using drone technology. WSP trooper whose work was key to investigation of 2017 DuPont Amtrak derailment dies from COVID

Ironic that this article came out today, after the EB crash. Sadly, the officer was only 38 years old. And, strangely to me, the Washington State Patrol is counting his death as 'in the line of duty,' saying that he caught COVID on the job. I'm not sure how they know that, and even if he did, that isn't usually what we mean when we say that an officer died in the line of duty. No matter what, though, it's tragic when a young person like that with kids dies from COVID these days.
Antivax insanity is apparently unusually common among police, more than among the general population, unfortunately. They don't know whether he was vaccinated, but statistically, he probably wasn't.
 

sitzplatz17

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The Seattle Times posted this item on the death of one of the Washington State Patrol officers who was instrumental in investigating the Cascades accident using drone technology. WSP trooper whose work was key to investigation of 2017 DuPont Amtrak derailment dies from COVID

Ironic that this article came out today, after the EB crash. Sadly, the officer was only 38 years old. And, strangely to me, the Washington State Patrol is counting his death as 'in the line of duty,' saying that he caught COVID on the job. I'm not sure how they know that, and even if he did, that isn't usually what we mean when we say that an officer died in the line of duty. No matter what, though, it's tragic when a young person like that with kids dies from COVID these days.
COVID has been the #1 killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021. I saw the article said it wasn’t clear if he was vaccinated or not but his age and health coupled with the fatality rate for non-vaccinated individuals would indicate he wasn’t.
Back to Amtrak: indeed very eerie that this was published right after the the EB accident.
 

NW cannonball

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COVID has been the #1 killer of law enforcement officers in 2020 and 2021. I saw the article said it wasn’t clear if he was vaccinated or not but his age and health coupled with the fatality rate for non-vaccinated individuals would indicate he wasn’t.
Back to Amtrak: indeed very eerie that this was published right after the the EB accident.
Indeed, so far this year Law Enforcement officers deaths have been more from Covid-19 than the previous years top cop-killer which was "Motor Vehicle Accidents"
Search for '2021-Mid-Year-Fatality-Report_FINAL.pdf' published by NLEOMF
 

Chris I

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To change topics a bit, where are they at with the Point Defiance Bypass these days? Are they expecting to start using the route at some point this year?
 
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