Why does a trespasser Incident take so long?

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Anderson

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It is partly exposure to stories such as the above that have almost totally sapped my sympathy for whomever is trespassing at the time. Put plainly, the experience is traumatic for the crew (as a rule; I know at least one crew member who was ex-military and I think they'd already "seen enough" so it didn't affect them, but such is the range of human experience). They have my sympathy.

With a sort of narrow exception (essentially the "car broke down at the worst possible moment and you've got a kid in a carseat so you can't get clear"), you generally have two categories to deal with: Suicides and Darwin candidates. Neither are deserving of any particular sympathy. Any sympathy I might have had for them evaporates when they go off and do this. To be clear, if I decide to go absent-mindedly walking down the tracks or try to beat a train, I'm deserving of the same mockery and lack of sympathy, full stop. If a friend does it, you can expect a very salty handling of the situation from me. Frankly, I think any outpouring of sympathy is (if anything) counterproductive. Please note that I think I've indicated that a thorough thrashing of folks causing "grade crossing incidents" would be healthy for some time, and I'm going to double down on that (and add that if the driver survives but a passenger dies, barring that narrow exception above I think manslaughter charges are appropriate).

Also, for the record, I've had to deal with several suicides in my family's social circle over the years. At this stage I suspect that if they did it by train, my reaction would go from "Oh, crap..." to "Oh, come on, are you kidding me?" And I don't think such shift in reaction is unreasonable, based on what I've seen as a result of this sort of thing over the years (e.g. the roughly monthly disruptions to Brightline, the harm to the crews, and so on and so forth). My reaction to a "grade crossing incident" is also likely to be a strange mix of mourning and annoyance at "How [bleep]ing stupid could they have been?"
 

neroden

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That may be ... but I would want that verified before I continued on a train driven by someone who was on something or in some other way not paying attention - not to mention expecting the current driver to continue if he is now suffering stress from just seeing someone die before his eyes. I don't think Amtrak keeps a spare driver on their trains just in case the current driver becomes unable to drive.
I understand waiting for a new crew, but when I was on an Empire Service train which was delayed by a really malicious suicide of a track worker, they took far far longer than the time needed to replace the crew. Then made us all get on a different train at a low platform station. Totally ridiculous.

Missed a funeral because of the delay due to the suicide. Amtrak said they'd talk to passengers to reschedule, and did not. Finally got compensated by Customer Relations, who were horrified at the mistreatment of passengers at Penn Station.
 

neroden

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There's a much bigger difference between all of those things and the end of a human life (either from suicide or human error). Crescent-zephyr's advice to re-evaluate is good advice. If you still can't get over your overinflated sense of self-importance, I can only hope that you're not touched on the receiving end of something that's *actually* bad happening to you or someone you love.
Get over your own phoney sense of self importance, Ryan. I missed the funeral of a close friend -- someone who died of a terrible and unexpected medical issue -- because of the arrogant irresponsibility and sense of self importance of a suicidal track worker. Frankly, that trackworker can go to hell.

And Amtrak needs to learn how to move trains faster after these suicides. 2 hour delay, fine... 4 hour delay should not happen, not in an area where a new crew can arrive in less than an hour.
 

Ryan

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There is literally nothing self-important about my post. Quite the opposite, actually.

I'm sorry that you missed the funeral of a friend.

I'm also sorry for the track worker and their family.

Perhaps with a little bit more sympathy and a little less damning people to hell, we can have a few less suicides to inconvenience your life.
 

blueman271

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Get over your own phoney sense of self importance, Ryan. I missed the funeral of a close friend -- someone who died of a terrible and unexpected medical issue -- because of the arrogant irresponsibility and sense of self importance of a suicidal track worker. Frankly, that trackworker can go to hell.

And Amtrak needs to learn how to move trains faster after these suicides. 2 hour delay, fine... 4 hour delay should not happen, not in an area where a new crew can arrive in less than an hour.
Telling someone to get over their own self importance and then complaining because your train was delayed by a suicide is rich. I’m sorry you missed your friends funeral but I have the same amount of compassion for you as you did for the poor soul that took his own life.
 

neroden

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I do not have compassion for people who decide to harm large numbers of strangers out of egotism. You don't either, you just think you ought to.

I initially figured it was some sort of horrible failure of the signalling and communication system at Amtrak (I mean... a train hit a *trackworker*, that should never happen), and *then* I was sympathetic.

*When there wasn't an NTSB investigation*, and it was all quietly hushed up, I realized it must have been a selfish suicide.

A trackworker knows damn well that if they suicide in front of a train, they are going to traumatize the train crew, disrupt service, and cause trouble for hundreds of passengers.

It's a malicious act, similar to (though certainly not as bad as) "suicide by cop" or committing suicide by gunning down a classroom of schoolchildren until a cop comes to shoot them. I feel sorry for people who can't handle life any more, but making the decision to go out in the way which damages the largest number of people they can think of... that, I am not sympathetic to.

The suicide of the Metra (Chicago) executive who got caught stealing from Metra falls in the same category -- he deliberately threw himself in front of a Metra commuter train, and I can only describe it as an act of petty revenge. He knew exactly what he was doing to Metra's employees and passengers.
 
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Qapla

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Amtrak needs to learn how to move trains faster after these suicides. 2 hour delay, fine... 4 hour delay should not happen

As someone mentioned earlier - it is not always Amtrak that is holding up the train. It could be law enforcement, the investigation unit or the coroner who have not released the scene ... getting upset at Amtrak will not help if/when it is not their fault the delay takes as long as it does
 
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As someone mentioned earlier - it is not always Amtrak that is holding up the train. It could be law enforcement, the investigation unit or the coroner who have not released the scene ... getting upset at Amtrak will not help if/when it is not their fault the delay takes as long as it does
With Amtrak, we know that they really don't care. I have never heard of anything Amtrak has done to try to alleviate the difficulties posed to their passengers in these situations.
 

ScouseAndy

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I was on a train over the English Pennines late at night one winter. We hit a jumper who had jumped in front of the train. As it was a DMU and I was sat close to the drivers cab door I saw the state of the driver and the shock incurred. Trust me I was very glad that he wasnt forced to continue taking the train as he was in no fit state to and no one who saw that poor drivers face straight after the incident would have wanted to remain under his care (although he did opt to continue to the next station under supervision which apparently is recommended here). Due to being in no cell phone coverage area and a long way from any roads we sat there for over 4 hours over night whilst they removed the remains of the corpse from under the train and completed the nessacary investigations. Sadly the guy who took his own life had been hit by another train around 2 months earlier and had just been released from the mental health unit that same day such is the effectiveness of the UK mental health treatments currently :(
 

ScouseAndy

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*When there wasn't an NTSB investigation*, and it was all quietly hushed up, I realized it must have been a selfish suicide.

Wait because there was no investigation you decided it must be a selfish suicide of a track worker?

How did you know it involved a track worker then? Please don't see this was based solely off an on board announcement or some sloppy local journalist.

Even if it was a suicide of a track worker do you have any idea how ill or desperate some one needs to be to even consider taking their own life? Show some damn compassion for your fellow kind, but for the grace of God etc.

And allowing just a 4 hour window of delay to get to a funeral when traveling by any form of public transport is a risk I certainly wouldn't take.
 

Thirdrail7

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This is another fascinating and revealing thread. It also shows why it is difficult to form procedures because, in the end, each person is out for themselves. I suppose that is natural but I've been on trains where medical emergencies existed (like someone having a heart attack) and people were annoyed since the train was being somewhere to wait for medical assistance. I will never forget the person that said "can't you just put them off to wait? I have a meeting to get to."


Wait because there was no investigation you decided it must be a selfish suicide of a track worker?

That's pretty interesting logic, isn't it? He's an accountant and a psychologist in his off-board life. The thing is, the NTSB rarely gets involved in on track fatalities. Typically, they get involved if passnegers are injured. The FRA gets involved with employee deaths and they DID get involved in this incident.

How did you know it involved a track worker then? Please don't see this was based solely off an on board announcement or some sloppy local journalist.

It was definitely a track worker. Here is the thread if you want to review it Sad - Amtrak employee killed on duty Oct 29

The track worker was a mother and ended up on the wrong track that she though was under protection. I'm not sure why this makes her suicidal. I guess everyone involved with 89 in Chester must have wanted to go for the mass suicide then.


I also sympathize with the passengers who through no fault of their own suddenly find themselves facing a four or five hour delay. Perhaps I am wrong but I don't think that Amtrak provides any particular consideration for their passengers in these situations. Hopefully someone will correct me if I am mistaken.

With Amtrak, we know that they really don't care. I have never heard of anything Amtrak has done to try to alleviate the difficulties posed to their passengers in these situations.

You would know this how? Some incidents take longer than others because each person handles it differently. There are crews that will violate hours of service (which comes with fines since it is willful) in these incidents or will take the train to their relief so they don't punish the passengers. However, that still takes time since the police are the ones that close the tracks and treat it as a crime scene. When they release the hold, if there is a crew nearby, they may have made it there. If there is another train nearby (even a passenger train belonging to another company), they will transfer them over. However, if you're the only train out there and you have to wait for your new crew (which may take hours) there isn't a lot of options. When things happen, Amtrak will often hold connecting trains, give out refunds or vouchers and put people in hotels if they miss their connections...etc.

I'm not sure what else you'd like Raputin. Perhaps a massage?


It seems that these trespasser strikes have an outsize impact on passenger rail traffic which is not the case when someone jumps off a bridge or is involved in a fatal auto accident. I usually do not see the bridge being closed for five hours or for both lanes of the highway being closed for that period of time.

They routinely close highways and roads when accidents or fires occur. However, you would likely be detoured around it or you would make a U-turn and go back the way you came to avoid it. That is because you are in a car, that isn't on a dedicated infrastructure. Trains do not have this option. Even if there is a detour available, the crew may not be qualified to operate on it.
 

neroden

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CW: suicide, death, speculation of motive.

Thanks for the inside information, Third rail. I stand corrected.

And I apologize for saying there was no NTSB report, since I finally found the NTSB report for the 2014 incident. I have no idea how NTSB hid it so well; I have been looking for it for years; I finally found it through a union website about railroader deaths on the job. NTSB actually does investigate all deaths of employees on mainline track, as far as I can tell. Not usually in yards, though they investigated one this year.

After reading the report, it sure looks like a suicide to me -- that or another form of sudden insanity. Her actual job that day was making sure a contractor practiced track safety, and earlier in the day, she did that. Then she went to "stretch her legs" and proceeded down the track which she knew, from work earlier in the day, was in service. When she was not supposed to be near the tracks at all. When she had radioed the dispatcher each time before *crossing* the track earlier in the day. When she heard the train blowing the horn, she then waved at the train without turning around or getting off the track. If not suicide, gross recklessness which doesn't match her behavior only hours earlier... There were other places to take a walk.

After the initial several-hour delay, passengers were forced to change trains at a low platform station, luggage, wheelchairs, and all. The new conductor, full credit, said he had tried to get Amtrak to let them take the original train into Penn without moving the passengers, or at least to switch trains at Poughkeepsie which is high level. But fine, this was all understandable.

It would have all been fine if Amtrak had, as they were supposed to, and as they claimed they would, talked to each of the disrupted passengers upon arrival in Penn Station to make arrangements. They did not. I do not think that is much of a standard to meet. After additional hours waiting in Penn, I had to walk out and get my own hotel. I got my first assistance from Amtrak the next morning after phoning Customer Relations.

Amtrak could sure as hell have handled passengers' needs a lot faster than *the next morning*.
 

neroden

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CW: suicide discussion

Even if it was a suicide of a track worker do you have any idea how ill or desperate some one needs to be to even consider taking their own life? Show some damn compassion for your fellow kind, but for the grace of God etc.
Yes, I have every idea, because I have been there. (I am OK now.). You can take your arrogance and shove it. Show some humility, and don't make assumptions about the people you're talking to.

I realize that a lot of suicides are impulsive, and I am somewhat compassionate to the fact that many people have a lack of impulse control, and 'civilians' might not realize how many strangers they hurt by dying in front of a train, but darnit, a railroad employee should have just enough self-control to avoid *that* method of suicide.

and allowing just a 4 hour window of delay to get to a funeral when traveling by any form of public transport is a risk I certainly wouldn't take.
We were mildly annoyed at my late friend's husband for scheduling the funeral on extremely short notice *very* soon after her death. I have mentioned that I don't fly. I had to make a connection in NYP; I had an allowance for 12+ hours of delay after that, and allowed the maximum possible connection time which was still possible (which was only 2.5 hours). That is usually enough when arriving on a corridor train.

If they had released the train fast and let everyone off at the next station I could have caught a taxi and made it. If they'd held the connecting train I might have made it.

But Amtrak's cardinal sin was failing to communicate with the passengers at all; I did not even find out whether they were holding connecting trains until arriving at NY Penn. Then nobody showed up to reschedule me. At all. After I actively searched for someone, still nothing. I kept being told to wait for someone who never appeared, for hours. They could have been handling this before I even arrived at Penn. The train crews seemed to care about the passengers, but nobody else at Amtrak did. It is actually the hours spent at Penn with nobody doing anything for the passengers which were inexcusable, and they were openly using the dead trackworker as an excuse, as if that excused not doing their jobs.

The attitude from upper management and Penn Station staff (NOT the crews, the crews were great) of "if a train hits someone, we can just delay the passengers forever with no communication" isn't appropriate. Other countries do handle trespasser incidents faster and more consistently. It would be hard to handle them much worse than what I experienced.
 
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ScouseAndy

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CW: suicide discussion


Yes, I have every idea, because I have been there. (I am OK now.). You can take your arrogance and shove it. Show some humility, and don't make assumptions about the people you're talking to.

Well I apologise that I jumped to conclusions based on the fact that you showed someone who in your opinion had committed suicide zero compassion because in your opinion they should have known better and the inconvenience if would cause others.
 

blueman271

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CW: suicide discussion


Yes, I have every idea, because I have been there. (I am OK now.). You can take your arrogance and shove it. Show some humility, and don't make assumptions about the people you're talking to.

Just like you showed humility and didn’t make assumptions when you told me how I felt up thread? Or does your advice only apply to everyone but you?
 

ScouseAndy

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The attitude from upper management and Penn Station staff (NOT the crews, the crews were great) of "if a train hits someone, we can just delay the passengers forever with no communication" isn't appropriate. Other countries do handle trespasser incidents faster and more consistently. It would be hard to handle them much worse than what I experienced.

Without jumping to conclusions just however many trespasser incidents including fatalities have you directly experienced worldwide? I have sadly seen them in the UK (around 4 hours delay, then a 30 or so minute wait on a platform at the next station waiting for a further service and a 4am arrival in to my destination and then we were abandoned at the station to locate transport to lodgings/end destinations ), Italy (service suspended and busituted after a 3 hour delay and arrived at my end destination 6 hours late). Rural China (less than an hour, Beijing - China (3-4 hours), not sure if law enforcement actually attended the Chinese ones or if it was left down to the railway to sort it, indeed in rural China I arent even certain medical teams arrived to remove the body or if it was left at the side of the line for relatives to collect as we certainly didnt see anyone official around.

The Italian one was by far the worse as we actually had constant updates with various promises but each time these promises fell through with a further update with complete contridiction to the last. Not sure if we had updates in China as not speaking the lingo. In the UK the only update we got was we will let you know as soon as the police release the train.

Whilst every country deals with such incidents differently I dont feel any country excelled in these situtations but then I am not clued up on the legalities and requirements in each country.
 
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