Empire Builder accident (9/25/21)

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AmtrakBlue

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I don’t see any fact in your statement. Those cars were definitely separated and rolled during the derailment. There are a few photos of emergency personnel working on those cars to rescue passengers. There is no way those cars would have been purposely tipped with people inside.
My guess is thinking “roll” as in rollover the roof onto the other side which is what is shown in the picture. The rollover occurred, after everyone was removed, during the cleanup.
 

F900ElCapitan

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I never said they were tipped with people inside. When they use the word “rolled” that infers more than just tipping onto their sides. Don’t put words in my mouth.
Ok, I see what you are saying. I read that you were saying that they hadn’t rolled on their sides during the derailment, my apologies. We’ll have to disagree about the definition of rolling. Those cars definitely rolled 90 degrees onto their sides during the derailment. But I now also see that they were rolled again from their original position to their current position to get them out of the way.
 

Irelandvegas65

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Its disheartening to see the injuries and loss of life to those who were aboard. I watched a press conference that explained how many volunteers had pitched in to help, thats the best side of Americans to be sure. I have no hesitation to ride the train and am scheduled to go from CHI to SEA this Thursday. ( edit if need be moderator). I am wondering if any here could guess at a regular resumption of service or a bus bridge? The other parts of my trip will be on the Coast Starlight and California Zephyr, so Id need to get to Seattle ( on a flight ) and book that asap. Right now 5pm sunday, Amtrak said the system is down and she can't tell me what trains have been officially cancelled yet. I am back in the Automatic call back system again, and its not too bad actually!
I know others are wondering these same things but most so far have been talking about trips that are a bit later than mine this week.

Thanks for best guess, intuition and all the combined wisdom here, TY!
 

rrdude

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Ok, I see what you are saying. I read that you were saying that they hadn’t rolled on their sides during the derailment, my apologies. We’ll have to disagree about the definition of rolling. Those cars definitely rolled 90 degrees onto their sides during the derailment. But I now also see that they were rolled again from their original position to their current position to get them out of the way.
So Hulcher, (or whomever the Cleanup company is) “rolled over three Suplerliners, in a straight line, still coupled together”? Doesn’t seem practical, (except to clear wreckage in a hurry…but they are are all lined up so straight)


Photo from Welland Tribune.
 

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F900ElCapitan

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So Hulcher, (or whomever the Cleanup company is) “rolled over three Suplerliners, in a straight line, still coupled together”? Doesn’t seem practical, (except to clear wreckage in a hurry…but they are are all lined up so straight)

I agree and the fact they are so straight is what stumped me too. But if you look closely at the later pics when the tractor cranes are in view, the cars are laying with their trucks away from the tracks instead of next to them that was shown in the rescue pics.
 

rrdude

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I agree and the fact they are so straight is what stumped me too. But if you look closely at the later pics when the tractor cranes are in view, the cars are laying with their trucks away from the tracks instead of next to them that was shown in the rescue pics.
“With the trucks AWAY from the tracks” is what led me to speculate that they rolled, 2/3 over, and, as you mention, it does’t jib with other photos showing rescue teams, with the trucks nearer and facing tracks, so, “they must have been rolled” by contractors….
 

Qapla

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As someone who also lives in St. Paul - there's still plenty of solid lodging options.
Since I do not live anywhere near St Paul I will defer to your knowledge of the area - I was only going by what my friend told me just as I was typing my post ... she also lives in ST Paul.

~~~~~~

On another thought - one of the news videos I watched (one of the above links) had some interviews with people who had been on the train. One guy was in one of the cars that fell over.

I would love to hear more information on how the survivors are doing before I worry about why the train derailed
 

Exvalley

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Assuming the cars are taken out of operation for quite some time (or forever), will there be a long lasting impact on operations? They aren’t exactly making new Superliners.
 

Cal

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“With the trucks AWAY from the tracks” is what led me to speculate that they rolled, 2/3 over, and, as you mention, it does’t jib with other photos showing rescue teams, with the trucks nearer and facing tracks, so, “they must have been rolled” by contractors….
Nope, the cars originally were on their side right next to the tracks, trucks closer to the tracks. That is why the caption is a bit off as it is misleading.

Assuming the cars are taken out of operation for quite some time (or forever), will there be a long lasting impact on operations? They aren’t exactly making new Superliners.
Well it certainly wont' help the SSL shortage.
 

Cal

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Through many accidents over their 40 years they have shown themselves to be very well engineered, much better it seems than the single level cars. Just think of all the cars twisted akimbo we saw in Philly for example.
Well that was also on a curve going too fast, I wonder how the superliners would fare in a situation like that.
 

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After the Feb. 2009 Colgan Air crash, 5 people have died in crashes aboard regularly scheduled commercial (non-sightseeing, non-charter) flights in the US. In the same period with Amtrak through this Montana crash (assuming the 3 killed figure holds), 21 people aboard have died in crashes. And that's with some 99% fewer passenger miles as planes.
Commercial airplanes and passenger trains are both incredibly safe compared to trucks, pickups, automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles. In Montana the pandemic has apparently killed more than all forms of transportation combined so if someone can get over that risk the rest is just a rounding error.

Very sad and shocking news. One thing as an overseas resident that seems a positive, if one can forgive such a term at this point, is that the coaches seem to be very strongly constructed to withstand such an accident. I have in mind many pics from other countries of much more damaged rolling stock?
Many industrialized democracies try to ensure passenger trains never crash while in the US we try to make them more crashworthy. In my view Japan is the gold standard for passenger rail safety but lopsided indemnity agreements and a failure to monitor and prevent domestic terrorism complicates the issue here.

North edge of nowhere, safety net in place. Medevac helos available. Good.
Although potentially helpful in a desolate location during a pandemic there is a dark side to Medevac.

 
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I had to check when they returned daily service since the covid 3 times per week schedule. It started May 24 so there are 5 Empire Builders on the tracks going both directions.

As far as the Union station in St. Paul, westbound is scheduled to arrive at 10:03 pm and depart at 10:27 pm. There usually is not much going on around there that late at night.
 

Cal

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Commercial airplanes and passenger trains are both incredibly safe compared to trucks, pickups, automobiles, motorcycles, and bicycles. In Montana the pandemic has apparently killed more than all forms of transportation combined so if someone can get over that risk the rest is just a rounding error.


Many industrialized democracies try to ensure passenger trains never crash while in the US we try to make them more crashworthy. In my view Japan is the gold standard for passenger rail safety but lopsided indemnity agreements and a failure to monitor and prevent domestic terrorism complicates the issue here.


Although potentially helpful in a desolate location during a pandemic there is a dark side to Medevac.

Wendover Productions (and his other channel, Half as Interesting) is a great channel. I actually got into him by seeing his video "Why trains suck in America".
 

WWW

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Assuming the cars are taken out of operation for quite some time (or forever), will there be a long lasting impact on operations? They aren’t exactly making new Superliners.
This may very well change the number of cars in the consist and possibly the frequency of daily operation of the EB
and the Portland section trains 27 & 28 change to a different consist requiring a train change at Spokane
There is only one SSL per EB train set consist with the 3 Portland cars - no SSL car on the SEA - Spokane segment.
 

jis

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Through many accidents over their 40 years they have shown themselves to be very well engineered, much better it seems than the single level cars. Just think of all the cars twisted akimbo we saw in Philly for example.
There is a huge difference between hitting a solidly planted pole at 125mph sideways and merely falling off the track at something under 79mph though. 😏
 

NW cannonball

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My personal summary of this incident now is --
A - what happened? Nobody knows. The NTSB is doing a seriously thorough investigation. Lotsa speculation.
B - What damage? 3 pax died, 5 still in hospital, out of about 150 souls on board. Minor injuries and inconveniences -- nobody knows but some may be serious for the victims
C - Damage to the railroads -
a - Amtrak -- damage to reputation, damage and loss of rolling stock.
b - BNSF -- damage to reputation, loss of use of a major rail line already near capacity account of "post-covid recovery container revenue", and the trivial cost of fixing the track
D - Local emergency response to the accident. Amazingly good. (Not amazingly, just reasonable people prepared for any accident where they are an hour or more from any level trauma center)
I've been looking at Montana local news sources and the previously posted link to the Montana governor's presso. Makes sense to me. When your nearest neighbor is 20 miles away, and the nearest trauma and coronary care centers are a few hundred miles away -- you will be glad to pay taxes to have a few medevac helos on standby statewide.

I've done MSP - SEA - MSP more than 6 times in the last 30 years. And a few part-air part-Amtrak trips. And my (then) 20-someting daughter told me (then) about talking with a dead-heading Amtrak crew who knew where the pronghorn colonies were.
Riding Amtrak 7-8 has been a small, but significant part of my life
 
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