Southwest Chief derailment

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west point

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There is no way sunlight will be a factor.
1. Truck was north bound.
2. Driver would have turned to look SW along the train track. Needs to look left 135 degrees from straigh ahead ( North )
3. Time of accident near 1PM daylight time puts sun time somewere between 1130 and 1200. Sun would be near zenith.
 

zephyr17

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So this is just a gut feeling…but I am a bit worried for further use of the Sightseer Lounge cars. Much like the EB accident where at least one fatality was in the SSL, I’m afraid this has repeated. In the helicopter footage after the crash, the last rescue efforts were from that car, which doesn’t bode well for the severity of injuries. I know it’s only my speculation, but I’m afraid if these issues are correlated, it might lead to restrictions or the end of the sightseer‘s and that will be a sad day.
Well, the big windows are clearly more of a issue when the train flops over the big windows scrape over ballast at speed, plus many people in them are facing windows rather than parallel to them. On the Builder, one of the fatalities was from the Sightseer, but another was just in a room, both were victims of broken windows scraping over ballast on the car's side. I think there is somewhat more "exposure" to injuries in that situation in the Sightseer, but the problem isn't inherently different and essentially the same thing happened in a Superliner sleeper.

I am a lot more worried about the reduction in numbers of a popular car type that is being stretched thin. We'll know more when the NTSB reports on the EB wreck and this one are released and see if the cars are specifically out in the survival factors section of the report.
 

George Harris

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This may have already been said, as I have not gone back and read the whole thread. One of the pictures shows a crossbuck with a stop sign attached. It can well be argued that this is sufficient protection based on the road and traffic. Inherent in a stop sign is that the vehicle at the stop sign must be sure that the way is clear before they move. Some railroad companies are beginning to fight lawsuits from crossing accidents if everything satisfies legal requirements rather than settle for the sake of public relations. Here, BNSF would have a very good case to fight against any claim or suit.

As to grade separate everything everywhere, that is simply not practical. In many cases physically not practical and for situations such as this economically not practical. There is not an unlimited bucket of money out there. All state highway and other public roads agencies have a list of things they want to do but are not financially able to do. There is this thing called the benefit-cost ratio. The projects with the highest benefit to cost ratio are, rightly, the first ones to get built. If the ratio is less than one, it should not be built. Usually, the ones that get built have ratios well above one. Unfortunately, this factor can be trumped by politics so that some politician's pet project gets built even when it makes no economic sense.
 
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What an odd way to move a Superliner on a flatbed. 80 or so tons on a highway.
I would imagine that the alternative of moving them by rail would require insuring they were roadworthy enough to be able to move on their trucks and that they would have to have at least working brake lines, all of which would probably take some work at the site to get them ready to move. Much quicker to just load them on a flatbed and go.
 

joelkfla

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This may have already been said, as I have not gone back and read the whole thread. One of the pictures shows a crossbuck with a stop sign attached. It can well be argued that this is sufficient protection based on the road and traffic. Inherent in a stop sign is that the vehicle at the stop sign must be sure that the way is clear before they move. Some railroad companies are beginning to fight lawsuits from crossing accidents if everything satisfies legal requirements rather than settle for the sake of public relations. Here, BNSF would have a very good case to fight against any claim or suit.

As to grade separate everything everywhere, that is simply not practical. In many cases physically not practical and for situations such as this economically not practical. There is not an unlimited bucket of money out there. All state highway and other public roads agencies have a list of things they want to do but are not financially able to do. There is this thing called the benefit-cost ratio. The projects with the highest benefit to cost ratio are, rightly, the first ones to get built. If the ratio is less than one, it should not be built. Usually, the ones that get built have ratios well above one. Unfortunately, this factor can be trumped by politics so that some politician's pet project gets built even when it makes no economic sense.
I don't think the freight railroads care much about public relations. Whether to settle or defend is probably a purely financial and risk-based decision (that's risk of a jury trial.)
 

Just-Thinking-51

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So this is just a gut feeling…but I am a bit worried for further use of the Sightseer Lounge cars. Much like the EB accident where at least one fatality was in the SSL, I’m afraid this has repeated. In the helicopter footage after the crash, the last rescue efforts were from that car, which doesn’t bode well for the severity of injuries. I know it’s only my speculation, but I’m afraid if these issues are correlated, it might lead to restrictions or the end of the sightseer‘s and that will be a sad day.

The sightseer railcars have a poor design for accident survival. This is how they came out of the factory. If you been travel many years, you will recall how at first the seats could be rotated. Pull the handle and turn them. After a big bad derailment, Amtrak bolt the seats into a single position. The handle was removed and a bolt replaced it. The problem was the bolt was removed/fell out, and there was nobody was assigned to maintained it in a lock position. So you could find at least a few seats that would rotate in a sightseer lounge. Seats that rotate are not your friend when the train derails. You will get throw out of the seat and start to fly around the railcar. Then you have many more things to hit with your body. The more things you hit with your body, the more injuries you receive.
 

joelkfla

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The sightseer railcars have a poor design for accident survival. This is how they came out of the factory. If you been travel many years, you will recall how at first the seats could be rotated. Pull the handle and turn them. After a big bad derailment, Amtrak bolt the seats into a single position. The handle was removed and a bolt replaced it. The problem was the bolt was removed/fell out, and there was nobody was assigned to maintained it in a lock position. So you could find at least a few seats that would rotate in a sightseer lounge. Seats that rotate are not your friend when the train derails. You will get throw out of the seat and start to fly around the railcar. Then you have many more things to hit with your body. The more things you hit with your body, the more injuries you receive.
Personally, I'd rather take my chances and have the convenience & comfort of a rotating seat. IMHO, we've gone way too far in trying to protect everyone from dangers with miniscule chances of happening.
 

crescent-zephyr

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So this is just a gut feeling…but I am a bit worried for further use of the Sightseer Lounge cars. Much like the EB accident where at least one fatality was in the SSL, I’m afraid this has repeated. In the helicopter footage after the crash, the last rescue efforts were from that car, which doesn’t bode well for the severity of injuries. I know it’s only my speculation, but I’m afraid if these issues are correlated, it might lead to restrictions or the end of the sightseer‘s and that will be a sad day.
2 of the deaths were ladies that were “waiting to use the restroom” according to one report. (The 2 sisters - they had gone downstairs to use the restroom.).

Was the other fatality in the SSL?
 

George Harris

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In my unlegally-educated opinion the trucking company has good cause to delay the case until the NTSB releases at least it's preliminary report, if not the final one.
The NTSB reports cannot be used as in component of a legal proceeding by law. However, this does not mean that a party to a suit cannot use them as a roadmap to find information that will be useful in their action.
 

billosborn

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I am curious about the repair / restoration process that will occur on the 7 Superliners that were on their side - is anyone familiar with the process used in prior derailments? At the very least all the windows need replacing on the right side, and those on the left that were smashed to save people's lives.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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The condition of the railcars frame is the critical part. The outermost sheet metal is replaceable. Windows are stock. The inside feature can be replaced as needed. The sleepers walls are built into a Superliner so rebuilt can be done, but not by swapping a module.

Really about the labor cost and time needed.
 
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and those on the left that were smashed to save people's lives.
Generally, the windows don't need to be broken. The rubber gasket holding the glass in place is removable from the inside or outside to allow removal of the entire plate of glass. The glass itself would be very difficult to break/shatter.

20201012_121906.jpg IMG_2172.JPG
 
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Personally, I'd rather take my chances and have the convenience & comfort of a rotating seat. IMHO, we've gone way too far in trying to protect everyone from dangers with miniscule chances of happening.

I agree. It's impossible to remove all the hazards of life. It's ridiculous for anyone to even think about removing the SSL from service or to keep people from sitting in them because of "what if"....
 

crescent-zephyr

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I agree. It's impossible to remove all the hazards of life. It's ridiculous for anyone to even think about removing the SSL from service or to keep people from sitting in them because of "what if"....
Yes and no.

Having booths instead of chairs in the lounge and diner is an excellent law that surely prevented injuries and deaths in this and other accidents.

Having appliances bolted to the wall / counter, and having latches on all doors in the cafe and diner kitchen / prep area as well.
 
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Yes and no.

Having booths instead of chairs in the lounge and diner is an excellent law that surely prevented injuries and deaths in this and other accidents.

Having appliances bolted to the wall / counter, and having latches on all doors in the cafe and diner kitchen / prep area as well.

I agree mostly with what you are saying. Having only booths in the SSL is not as desirable for sightseeing as individual seats, in my opinion. Someone is going backwards all the time.
 

crescent-zephyr

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I agree mostly with what you are saying. Having only booths in the SSL is not as desirable for sightseeing as individual seats, in my opinion. Someone is going backwards all the time.
The SSL chairs are fine, they are bolted down, I was referring to the types of chairs in older lounge cars (a few remain in the yet to be refurbished Park Cars on VIA.)
 

Qapla

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The condition of the railcars frame is the critical part. The outermost sheet metal is replaceable. Windows are stock. The inside feature can be replaced as needed. The sleepers walls are built into a Superliner so rebuilt can be done, but not by swapping a module.

Really about the labor cost and time needed.

At least, if they are repairable, they will have clean windows
 

joelkfla

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Yes and no.

Having booths instead of chairs in the lounge and diner is an excellent law that surely prevented injuries and deaths in this and other accidents.

Having appliances bolted to the wall / counter, and having latches on all doors in the cafe and diner kitchen / prep area as well.
Those things are fine; they don't affect the quality of the experience. And seatbelts in cars save a significant number of lives at the cost of a minor annoyance.

It's when people stop me from doing something or detract from an experience (like locking the SSL seats in place) because of the remote possibility of an accident that I get annoyed.
 
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I agree. It's impossible to remove all the hazards of life. It's ridiculous for anyone to even think about removing the SSL from service or to keep people from sitting in them because of "what if"....

I hope this accident (along with the EB tragedy) doesn't prompt another serious discussion about seatbelts on trains.
 

zephyr17

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It was mentioned briefly by the NTSB chair. I don't know whether it was for historical perspective or something they're still interested in.
I looked at the NTSB recommendations for the Nisqually crash, which did involve passenger ejections, and the NTSB did not issue any recommendations in that report regarding adding seat belts/seat restraints. There were a number of recommendations issued about rotating seats and locking mechanisms, and one recommendation about use of child seats which did refer to lack of seat restraints (btw, the seat was ejected, but that parents had taken their child out of it by the time of the crash).

I also briefly looked at the recommendations coming out of Cayce, SC accident where Silver Star had a head on crash with a freight train due to an improperly lined switch.

Those are two most recent completed NTSB investigations on accidents involving Amtrak, with everything final and available. No official NTSB recommendations for seat belts/seat restraints were issued for either. I would have expected it in the Nisqually wreck if they were going to go that way.
 
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