Empire Builder accident (9/25/21)

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Devil's Advocate

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The easiest way to get more Superliner cars to the resumed EB is to change the consist on the CL from Superliners to Amfleet IIs and Viewliners. That would free up 10 cars.
What's the reason for keeping Superliners on the CL to begin with?

The deadhead SSL was taken off in either WI or MN for, ironically, emergency response training.
Ironically is a understatement.
It's really just a coincidence but these days the terms seem to be used interchangeably.

(Picture by the Toronto Star)
Where I live those emergency numbers are not answered by actual railroads and instead go to highway patrol, who seem to have no idea what to do about it and may not have jurisdiction to do anything. My guess is that they write down what they think you've said and then relay it to someone else like a clumsy game of telephone. That being said you bring up a good point about adding emergency numbers to your phone ahead of time when everything is clear and calm.
 
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Engineer probably didn’t even dump the air, the cars did that for him when they separated. Anyone know what the track speed is there?
thanks for the links everyone. I hadn’t seen that photo. It actually supports my theory even more that the train picked the switch and the resulting forces turned over the last cars.

Just my theory of course. Also an earlier article had said the last cars went down an embankment, those photos show that is not the case so those cars just fell on their side. Still terrible but better than an embankment.

Again, very very sad for all involved. Most likely The Portland SCA was in the back of the train and he or she would be most likely moving about the train. :(


Sleeping car attendant in 2730 was Alberto. My son and I were in 2730 from MSP to Glasgow, MT on Saturday. We got on 8/28 heading east five to ten minutes before this accident. I asked about Alberto when we were at breakfast Sunday morning. Word from the dining car attendant on 8/28 was that Alberto was fine. I think he is visible in one of the numerous videos that I've seen of the accident site.
 

KiraPi

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I'm supposed to be on this train from Seattle to Chicago a week from Thursday. Does anyone know about how long it'll be before the route is back on it's tracks? I can't handle a long bus ride and would like to make arrangements as soon as I can. I can barely handle a short bus ride, to be honest.
I'm thinking that the severity of the accident might mean it's going to be longer that a week and a half for things to be back.
I feel awful for asking all things considered.
 

jis

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Does PTC force a slowdown when approaching a red signal?
Yes. PTC is supposed to enforce a safe stop before passing the red signal, if it is working as intended. The proposed scenario is highly unlikely.
 
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NSC1109

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If there was a red signal at the beginning of the siding then there would have been at least one if not two approach signals preceding it so the engineer would have had ample time to slow the train down, I think in most cases you have to be down to at least 30 mph at the signal before the stop signal. So if is unlikely that a red suddenly appeared.

Not necessarily. On BNSF it goes Clear, Approach Medium (Advance Approach on the eastern roads), Approach, and then stop. There could be any number of scenarios that would trigger a sudden “stop” indication such as a broken rail, a signal failure, etc.

Yes. PTC enforces a safe stop before passing the red signal. The proposed scenario is highly unlikely.

Again, not necessarily. PTC is still very much a work in progress. We just had a train run through a red signal on the main a few days ago. Back in July we had a train run through a work zone. They were not PTC enforced when they should have been. There are still system issues to work out.
 
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The deadhead SSL was taken off in either WI or MN for, ironically, emergency response training.

View attachment 24582
I saw a picture on Instagram of the extraction by firefighters (I believe it was taken by an AU’er as well). Didn’t realize it was the same train!

it must be that Amtrak is trying to destroy all their SSLs to further degrade long distance travel.

Yeah I was wondering what good this actually does. Using an open floorplan lounge for training seems kind of dumb. We all feel that using that great lounge car elsewhere would be preferable, but wouldn't it make more sense to use a sleeper since that is where people could get trapped in an accident? If these firefighters aren't familiar with the layout of that more complicated segmented car then they should be exposed to that environment rather than an open floorplan car.

Condolences to all involved. Any deaths are horrible. It will be important to find out where the fatalities occurred and why.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Yeah I was wondering what good this actually does. Using an open floorplan lounge for training seems kind of dumb. We all feel that using that great lounge car elsewhere would be preferable, but wouldn't it make more sense to use a sleeper since that is where people could get trapped in an accident? If these firefighters aren't familiar with the layout of that more complicated segmented car then they should be exposed to that environment rather than an open floorplan car.

Condolences to all involved. Any deaths are horrible. It will be important to find out where the fatalities occurred and why.
Who's to say they haven't already been trained on sleeper and coaches. I'm sure it's a good idea to be trained on all types of cars.
 

jis

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Again, not necessarily. PTC is still very much a work in progress. We just had a train run through a red signal on the main a few days ago. Back in July we had a train run through a work zone. They were not PTC enforced when they should have been. There are still system issues to work out.
I did not say it is impossible. I said it is unlikely. There are many ways in which things can fail. So very few things that do not outright violate the laws of Physics are impossible.
 

basketmaker

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What's the reason for keeping Superliners on the CL to begin with?



It's really just a coincidence but these days the terms seem to be used interchangeably.


Where I live those emergency numbers are not answered by actual railroads and instead go to highway patrol, who seem to have no idea what to do about it and may not have jurisdiction to do anything. My guess is that they write down what they think you've said and then relay it to someone else like game of telephone. You bring up a good point about adding emergency numbers to your phone ahead of time so that in an actual emergency you can get to business quickly with a minimum of fuss and confusion.
When I lived in Antioch, TN right near a crossing CSX had the same sign posted with their emergency number and the crossing number posted on the the crossbucks/lights. Called it a few times over the years and it always rang to CSX operations in Jacksonville. They dispatched local authorities or maintainence for whatever the situation was. It has been 15 years since I lived there but it is still there.
1632759071154.png
 
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Ziv

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I hear you, Sporter. Everyone has a different threshold for tolerating risk of late. Pre-existing health issues, older family members, you name it, we all have to balance the moderately greater inherent risks of travel of late and our desire to get out there and travel. But it sounds like traveling in a commercial jet is not as risky as it would seem, even now that we are back to jets operating at full capacity. YMMV.
I imagine that the people on the unlucky Empire Builder had their own worries about traveling in a time of Covid. And that turned out to be the last of their worries.
But I think the one article I have read about Covid that seems to be the most accurate was a NYT piece a couple months ago that I would paraphrase as, "We simply don't know that much about Covid. A great deal of what we thought we knew was wrong."
I am back to traveling while taking precautions. If I could bring a can of Lysol on my flights all my rental cars and hotel rooms would get a good spray, but that ain't happening! LOL! But I have to admit that I used to get a can of Lysol when I arrived at my destination and I haven't done so since Spring.
My girlfriend is still in 'stay at home with minimal trips out to shop and relax' mode. There are a LOT of people that agree with her, not me.

I spent all day yesterday getting flights, etc. I was due to ride the train on Tuesday from Pasco, WA to Toldeo, OH to see family. I am very nervous flying with COVID everywhere.
 

MilwaukeeRoadLover

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Lots of interesting discussion about what might have caused this, the forces involved with a train going 79 mph at the time of the accident, and which cars were involved. But, not much discussion about what the passengers in those cars that turned on their side must have experienced.

I have thought about this before this accident. Regardless of whatever car I might be riding when something like this happened, how could I escape with my train car ended up on its side? Being on the upper side of the car would pose different issues than if I was on the bottom side.

What would I do? What should I do? There is no information in the safety pamphlet provided Amtrak passengers about such a situation other than how to remove a safety window in order to escape. That's fine, as long as my train car remain upright. But, if it doesn't......?
To complicate that question, some cars... like the roomette cars..have compartment doors. So if the doors were closed, I would think youd get a different result than,say, a coach.
 

crescent-zephyr

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To complicate that question, some cars... like the roomette cars..have compartment doors. So if the doors were closed, I would think youd get a different result than,say, a coach.

You’d certainly have more to brace yourself against in a roomette. Of course if the door is closed you might be trapped in your roomette since the door could become stuck.

That was one of the issues in the City of New Orleans derailment many years ago.

It’s not fun to think about.
 

Devil's Advocate

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When I lived in Antioch, TN right near a crossing CSX had the same sign posted with their emergency number and the crossing number posted on the the crossbucks/lights. Called it a few times over the years and it always rang to CSX operations in Jacksonville. They dispatched local authorities or maintainence for whatever the situation was. It has been 15 years since I lived there but it is still there.
That's good to hear. For basic maintenance it probably works fine as-is but if there was a bent track or fouled crossing calling highway patrol may not be enough to prevent disaster in a timely fashion. I don't have to call those numbers often so maybe things have changed since the last time.

But it sounds like traveling in a commercial jet is not as risky as it would seem, even now that we are back to jets operating at full capacity.
Short domestic flights seem to be safe but on long haul flights it's not as easy to maintain standards. Meals in all cabins with masks off, longer sleeping periods with masks scrunched or askew, dark cabins with difficult to spot troublemakers, and extended downtime when nobody is checking anything.

If I could bring a can of Lysol on my flights all my rental cars and hotel rooms would get a good spray, but that ain't happening!
I've read hundreds of articles about the pandemic but none has ever shown a substantial causal link from secondary surface contact. I'm also hesitant to hose everything down with household disinfectants in a country that rarely bans chemicals thanks to a presumption of safety in the absence of absolute proof.

 
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NSC1109

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I did not say it is impossible. I said it is unlikely. There are many ways in which things can fail. So very few things that do not outright violate the laws of Physics are impossible.

Agreed. Just wanted to mention that it happens a lot more than people think it does, unfortunately.
 

Cal

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I'm going with NO. If you go back and look at photos taken the day of the incident, the last three cars are on their right side with trucks facing the tracks. I think they were rolled on Sunday... with the roofs facing the tracks.
Another miscommunication with the definition of roll. I was saying all Portland cars fell. on their side
 

alpha3

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Aw, man. Poor Amtrak; not what they needed. So sad to hear about this, especially thinking of the several times I've ridden the EB. A terrible thing to happen; I can't imagine experiencing the train coming off the rails at 79mph; must have been terrifying. But, like aircraft accidents, the NTSB will investigate and find stuff out and make recommendations. This doesn't seem gross negligence or anything like it, but maybe track maintenance at the turnout or the ties. That being said, I'd get on the EB tomorrow without a second thought.
 
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