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WSDOT retiring, selling Talgo trainsets, not acquiring "Wisconsin" trainsets yet

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Chris I

Train Attendant
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Jan 8, 2019
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Portland, OR
A few quick thoughts:
  • Talgo, who had a lot to lose in the ruling, claims that the report was filled with errors and baseless claims. The NTSB has rejected that claim.
  • The Coast Starlight has significantly more planned station dwell time as it accepts Amtrak Express shipments at Tacoma, Centralia, and Vancouver. If it's a pallet load, it can take a few minutes to load with a forklift.
  • Once the Pt. Defiance Bypass is in service, it removes one of the curviest parts of the route, which is where the Talgo's speed difference comes into play. That bypass will also cut travel times down.
  • Add those two points up and non-tilting equipment will only add a little time to the Cascades (presumably less than the 15-30 minutes Chris cited).
  • Talgo is the ONLY manufacturer making passive tilt trains in North America.
  • Brand new trainsets from Siemens or whoever Amtrak chooses will feel just as premium, if not more premium, than the aging 22-year-old Talgo Series VI trainsets.
Fair points, but WSDOT actions are still ridiculous here. Let's review the facts:

-WSDOT and Sound Transit develop a new route
-WSDOT and Amtrak fail to properly train drivers and launch service before PTC is implemented
-The very first train crashes into a bridge at 60mph and 3 people die
-NTSB concludes that primary fault is in the development of the route and training issues
-NTSB states that survivability of Talgo VI is subpar

WSDOT actions after crash:
- Return trains to old route, finish PTC implementation
- Get ride of series VI cars
- ???

Problem solved, right? Should we trust WSDOT to develop any kind of passenger rail in the future?
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
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Aug 14, 2016
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MI
15 minutes matters when you have a competing service on the same route with similar travel times (Bolt Bus). In the last week, the delays on the route are 30+min from the Talgo times, and I have a hard time believing that mechanical issues are the cause every day. And say what you want about the Talgo food offerings, but the Horizons have nothing. Might as well take the bus.

How many years until new Siemens cars are plying this route? How much ridership will be lost in the interim? For a fair comparison, we need to compare Talgo and Siemens current offerings. We can't compare 20 year-old Talgo VI trains to the new Brigtline trains, for example.

My main argument here is that WSDOT is being shortsighted in retiring the Series VI trains before new equipment is available. I think future ridership numbers will show this (again, once Covid is over).
DA1A8AA3-E150-436C-9F1A-1673AB378913.jpeg

That is a Horizon-type Café Car frequently used on the Chicago Hub services. I’m sure Amtrak will make a few available for the Cascades once the Siemens cars come online out here. So, yes, the Horizon cars do have something. As for the delays, those are entered by the Conductors. Talk to the Seattle and Portland crew bases if you want details.

As for the Siemens cars, it will be a while before the come online if WSDOT waits for Amtrak to issue the order. If they were to use available options from the CALIDOT order, then they’d probably be online sooner. But they’d need to move fast.

Fair points, but WSDOT actions are still ridiculous here. Let's review the facts:

-WSDOT and Sound Transit develop a new route
-WSDOT and Amtrak fail to properly train drivers and launch service before PTC is implemented
-The very first train crashes into a bridge at 60mph and 3 people die
-NTSB concludes that primary fault is in the development of the route and training issues
-NTSB states that survivability of Talgo VI is subpar

WSDOT actions after crash:
- Return trains to old route, finish PTC implementation
- Get ride of series VI cars
- ???

Problem solved, right? Should we trust WSDOT to develop any kind of passenger rail in the future?
WSDOT has no say in how Amtrak trains their personnel. There is no denying that Amtrak project management seriously screwed up, and the RFE himself had reservations about sending one of his Engineers out alone over a new territory in a brand new and unfamiliar locomotive. You can say the buck stops with WSDOT, and I do believe they hold a significant portion of the blame here, but Amtrak employee training failures are solely Amtrak’s fault.
 

John Bredin

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PS. Did any of you dissing the NTSB's findings actually READ the report? The Talgo VIs were not found to be the primary cause. They were found to have contributed to injuries and fatalities due to wheel sets breaking loose. They were operating under FRA waivers because they did not meet crash standards for wheelset retention. The waiver was approved with provision for additional strapping. But that strapping was found to be at only 50% strength at the time of the crash because it was NEVER inspected, tested or replaced after initial installation. And it is well known that nylon strapping degrades over time.
I looked at the report now and my opinion of it regarding the Talgo trainsets hasn't changed.

The thing I heard was unprecedented was the NTSB recommending that an entire class or model of transport be taken out of service absolutely and permanently, not just until a specified problem is fixed. The report recommends in relevant part:
NTSB said:
To the Washington State Department of Transportation:
Discontinue the use of the Talgo Series VI trainsets as soon as possible and replace them with passenger railroad equipment that meet all current United States safety requirements. (R-19-017)
If compliance with the waiver was a problem, then it would make sense to recommend "grounding" the Talgos until they are in compliance and/or recommend that FRA robustly enforce the conditions on the Talgo waiver/grandfathering. As the report states:
NTSB said:
In the case of the Talgo Series VI, the analysis and risk assessments were completed, mitigating strategies were implemented, and the grandfather application was approved but no consideration was undertaken for continued monitoring of the existing risk or risks that might develop with aging of the mitigation measures.

There are no regulatory factors in the grandfathering provision that allow the FRA to continuously monitor the grandfathered system that was required to contain several mitigating modifications. However, nothing prohibited the FRA from monitoring under its existing authority.
But that's not what the NTSB ended up recommending, because they've taken the position that anything other than the FRA strength requirement is unsafe.
NTSB said:
Contributing to the severity of the accident was the Federal Railroad Administration’s decision to permit railcars that did not meet regulatory strength requirements to be used in revenue passenger service, resulting in (1) the loss of survivable space and (2) the failed articulated railcar-to-railcar connections that enabled secondary collisions with the surrounding environment causing severe damage to railcar-body structures which then failed to provide occupant protection resulting in passenger ejections, injuries, and fatalities.
Another excerpt:
NTSB said:
Since 1999 in the United States, crashworthiness requirements that include the end-strength of 800,000 pounds, corner and collision posts, and other structural minimums have been mandatory. The benefit of having these required structural features on all railcars has improved safety for passengers, specifically when there has been an accident and the railcars depart the tracks into adjacent track or other environmental features that can lead to catastrophic failure. Based on the failed articulated connections, the lack of United States-compliant structural protections of the Talgo Series VI railcar-body, and the demonstrated behavior of the trainset in a derailment, the NTSB concludes that the Talgo Series VI trainset is structurally vulnerable if it is involved in a high-energy derailment or collision due to its lack of crashworthiness protections and is at risk to severe and catastrophic loss of survivable space.
Thus, one of the recommendations in the report, directed to the FRA, is:
NTSB said:
Remove the grandfathering provision within Title 49 Code of Federal Regulations 238.203(d) and require all railcars comply with the applicable current safety standards. (R-19-012)
49 CFR §238.203 is the static end strength rule generally requiring 800,000 lbs. buff strength.

So the controversial part of the NTSB report and recommendations are the conclusions that (1) only good old American 800,000 pound buff strength will do, and (2) thus, the Talgos gotta go.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
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I looked at the report now and my opinion of it regarding the Talgo trainsets hasn't changed.

The thing I heard was unprecedented was the NTSB recommending that an entire class or model of transport be taken out of service absolutely and permanently, not just until a specified problem is fixed. The report recommends in relevant part:


If compliance with the waiver was a problem, then it would make sense to recommend "grounding" the Talgos until they are in compliance and/or recommend that FRA robustly enforce the conditions on the Talgo waiver/grandfathering. As the report states:


But that's not what the NTSB ended up recommending, because they've taken the position that anything other than the FRA strength requirement is unsafe.
Another excerpt:
Thus, one of the recommendations in the report, directed to the FRA, is:
49 CFR §238.203 is the static end strength rule generally requiring 800,000 lbs. buff strength.

So the controversial part of the NTSB report and recommendations are the conclusions that (1) only good old American 800,000 pound buff strength will do, and (2) thus, the Talgos gotta go.
I’d hardly call it controversial. The NTSB found that the Talgo VIs didn’t comply with the 800,000lbs buff strength and grandfathering it in led to three people being killed that may not have if the cars had the strength required by law. They did their job, simple as that.
 

Chris I

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I’d hardly call it controversial. The NTSB found that the Talgo VIs didn’t comply with the 800,000lbs buff strength and grandfathering it in led to three people being killed that may not have if the cars had the strength required by law. They did their job, simple as that.
It is, and has been controversial for many years. The US approach to rail safety has basically been: trains are going to crash, so let's build them like tanks. In the developed world, the approach is to install safety systems that ensure the trains don't crash in the first place. We are finally getting there with PTC. Allowing lighter trains to travel on tracks with a system like PTC is much safer. FRA/NTSB conclusions in this case come from an outdated perspective on railroad safety.


For me, the 2013 Spuyten Duyville crash is evidence enough that the NTSB applied a different safety standard when evaluating the Talgo crash:

The trains left the rails at a similar speed, and 4 people died. Nearly all of the cars tipped over, while the Talgo train mostly stayed upright and coupled. Why did the NTSB not call for all of those cars to be removed from service?
 

Chris I

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Messages
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Portland, OR
View attachment 18150

That is a Horizon-type Café Car frequently used on the Chicago Hub services. I’m sure Amtrak will make a few available for the Cascades once the Siemens cars come online out here. So, yes, the Horizon cars do have something. As for the delays, those are entered by the Conductors. Talk to the Seattle and Portland crew bases if you want details.

As for the Siemens cars, it will be a while before the come online if WSDOT waits for Amtrak to issue the order. If they were to use available options from the CALIDOT order, then they’d probably be online sooner. But they’d need to move fast.



WSDOT has no say in how Amtrak trains their personnel. There is no denying that Amtrak project management seriously screwed up, and the RFE himself had reservations about sending one of his Engineers out alone over a new territory in a brand new and unfamiliar locomotive. You can say the buck stops with WSDOT, and I do believe they hold a significant portion of the blame here, but Amtrak employee training failures are solely Amtrak’s fault.
WSDOT made the decision to upgrade a stretch of track to 80mph, but keep the 30mph bridge. That's placing a lot on Amtrak and their engineers for the southbound runs. It was one of the holes in the swiss cheese that lined up on that day.
 

NSC1109

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Messages
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It is, and has been controversial for many years. The US approach to rail safety has basically been: trains are going to crash, so let's build them like tanks. In the developed world, the approach is to install safety systems that ensure the trains don't crash in the first place. We are finally getting there with PTC. Allowing lighter trains to travel on tracks with a system like PTC is much safer. FRA/NTSB conclusions in this case come from an outdated perspective on railroad safety.


For me, the 2013 Spuyten Duyville crash is evidence enough that the NTSB applied a different safety standard when evaluating the Talgo crash:

The trains left the rails at a similar speed, and 4 people died. Nearly all of the cars tipped over, while the Talgo train mostly stayed upright and coupled. Why did the NTSB not call for all of those cars to be removed from service?
“Many years”? It’s been three. Chill.


The NTSB has been the ones pushing for a PTC system for years, but it isn’t the catch-all a lot of folks think it is. Incidents still happen. We’re not just talking about train vs train, we’re talking about train vs concrete mixer. Train vs propane tanker. Grade crossings are still a thing. Some derailments happen so fast that you can’t get the train to stop in time. It’s these particular issues where we’re still wanting to have rail cars that don’t destroy themselves in a collision or a derailment. The NTSB folks are pretty smart people. They know what they’re doing. If you disagree, that’s your right. But I for one don’t want to be in some lightweight D/EMU from Europe when I still have millions of pounds of freight trains on the same tracks. I’d rather have a regulatory agency who’s proactive about keeping me, my family, my friends, and my coworkers safe in an incident.


WSDOT made the decision to upgrade a stretch of track to 80mph, but keep the 30mph bridge. That's placing a lot on Amtrak and their engineers for the southbound runs. It was one of the holes in the swiss cheese that lined up on that day.
It costs $1 million per mile to lay track. Probably a good $10-20 mil for a new bridge. Add another 5-6 hundred thousand for the signaling. And that’s IF replacing the bridge and realigning the ROW was feasible, which it may not have been, based on what I’m seeing on the satellite view. I doubt WSDOT would’ve had the money for it. Certainly Amtrak didn’t.

The engineer lost awareness due to his unfamiliarity with a new locomotive and inadequate training on a new route. Did Amtrak and WSDOT/Sounder rush? Yes. But this isn’t because they decided to just not replace a bridge.
 

crescent-zephyr

Conductor
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Oct 21, 2015
Messages
2,839
Regarding different types of equipment. There is something special in marketing a unique type of train set. Amtrak does this with Acela.

I always enjoyed my rides on the Talgo equipment. Another end of an era. :(
 

Chris I

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Messages
40
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Portland, OR
“Many years”? It’s been three. Chill.


The NTSB has been the ones pushing for a PTC system for years, but it isn’t the catch-all a lot of folks think it is. Incidents still happen. We’re not just talking about train vs train, we’re talking about train vs concrete mixer. Train vs propane tanker. Grade crossings are still a thing. Some derailments happen so fast that you can’t get the train to stop in time. It’s these particular issues where we’re still wanting to have rail cars that don’t destroy themselves in a collision or a derailment. The NTSB folks are pretty smart people. They know what they’re doing. If you disagree, that’s your right. But I for one don’t want to be in some lightweight D/EMU from Europe when I still have millions of pounds of freight trains on the same tracks. I’d rather have a regulatory agency who’s proactive about keeping me, my family, my friends, and my coworkers safe in an incident.




It costs $1 million per mile to lay track. Probably a good $10-20 mil for a new bridge. Add another 5-6 hundred thousand for the signaling. And that’s IF replacing the bridge and realigning the ROW was feasible, which it may not have been, based on what I’m seeing on the satellite view. I doubt WSDOT would’ve had the money for it. Certainly Amtrak didn’t.

The engineer lost awareness due to his unfamiliarity with a new locomotive and inadequate training on a new route. Did Amtrak and WSDOT/Sounder rush? Yes. But this isn’t because they decided to just not replace a bridge.
It goes back much longer than 3 years, and keep in mind that the Talgos still have a big, heavy engine up front, and a FRA-compliant cabbage car on the back. Cascades trains have had encounters with vehicles at grade crossings, and have never had a death because of it.

More info on the NTSB report problems here:

The Talgo data supports the conclusion that the train would not have derailed at all, had it not been for the cant deficiency problems with the lead engine. The safest train is a train that doesn't derail in the first place, and trains are safer than driving because they don't crash as often. Thinking your heavy car is going to protect you is a false sense of security.

Do you agree with the NTSB conclusion in previous crashes that all train riders should wear seatbelts?
 
Last edited:

zephyr17

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Washington State
Just to be clear:

Talgo's contention that the train derailed because of engine cant deficiencies, not just hitting a 30 mph curve at 80, due to the engineer losing situational awareness, is somewhat absurd. Newtonian physics has something to say about that, called inertia.

That strikes me as hand waving by a party with financial interest to distract from the wheelset retention issue, which is what the NTSB called them on. Note the NTSB was completely silent on any contribution the Talgo car design had in the physics of the derailment itself, because the Talgo design did not contribute to that.

The FRA safety regs are specifically about performance in a "high energy event" to minimize casualties in such an event. The Nisqually wreck was such "high energy event" anticipated by those regs. The wheelsets came loose, becoming missiles, they didn't conform to FRA regs and the mitigation required by the waiver were 50% understrength. So they were likely out of compliance with both the reg AND the waiver. And the wheelsets came loose, becoming missles, the very thing the reg was intended to prevent.

So, to summarize:
1. The Talgo VI's were not in compliance with FRA regulations and required a waiver.
2. The mitigation required under the waiver was understrength and likely out of compliance with the waiver due to inadequate (non existent) inspection and maintenance.
3. The occurrence the reg was intended to prevent, wheelset separation in event of a high energy event (bad, high speed crash), happened.
4. The NTSB's investigation called that out.
5. The parties that the NTSB seriously called out, ripping them a new one in bureaucrat-ese, were Sound Transit, Amtrak, and WasDOT for their collectively abysmal safety culture.

You may argue that FRA regs may be too stringent. However, there is no question that the reg concerned wheelset retention, the Talgos were out of compliance with it, and some of the wheelsets in the crash, were, in fact, not retained.

Finally, the NTSB has no regulatory authority. It is up to others to act on its recommendations. WashDOT decided to.

I will put my trust in the NTSB's highly professional investigations over a party with direct financial and reputational interests. I have read many NTSB reports, on both air and rail crashes. I like them because of their manifest methodical professionalism.

If Talgo actually succeeds in the NTSB reconsidering and changing its findings, I will look at it at that time.

I am sure you will let us know if that actually happens, Chris.
 
Last edited:

NSC1109

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It goes back much longer than 3 years, and keep in mind that the Talgos still have a big, heavy engine up front, and a FRA-compliant cabbage car on the back. Cascades trains have had encounters with vehicles at grade crossings, and have never had a death because of it.

More info on the NTSB report problems here:

The Talgo data supports the conclusion that the train would not have derailed at all, had it not been for the cant deficiency problems with the lead engine. The safest train is a train that doesn't derail in the first place, and trains are safer than driving because they don't crash as often. Thinking your heavy car is going to protect you is a false sense of security.

Do you agree with the NTSB conclusion in previous crashes that all train riders should wear seatbelts?
The train was doing 80 in a 30. Saying it wouldn’t have derailed under such conditions is absurd. Talgo has a financial stake in the investigation and they don’t like the fact that their design was out of compliance with FRA regs.

And no. I don’t agree with seatbelts on trains for the same reason I don’t agree with it on school buses: if something happens and you have to evacuate, you have to do so quickly. Your seatbelt jams, good luck to you.
 

Mailliw

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NSC1109 said:
...I would bet that Siemens is going to get the Amfleet/Superliner replacement order, and I truly hope they go back to single level. I've seen the interior of the new cars and I am extremely impressed with what they're producing, and I personally think they're a shoo-in for the job.
I also think Siemens is well placed and I'd love to see what their sleeping cars would look like. The ones they made for the Russians look fantastic.
 

Chris I

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Just to be clear:

Talgo's contention that the train derailed because of engine cant deficiencies, not just hitting a 30 mph curve at 80, due to the engineer losing situational awareness, is somewhat absurd. Newtonian physics has something to say about that, called inertia.

That strikes me as hand waving by a party with financial interest to distract from the wheelset retention issue, which is what the NTSB called them on. Note the NTSB was completely silent on any contribution the Talgo car design had in the physics of the derailment itself, because the Talgo design did not contribute to that.

The FRA safety regs are specifically about performance in a "high energy event" to minimize casualties in such an event. The Nisqually wreck was such "high energy event" anticipated by those regs. The wheelsets came loose, becoming missiles, they didn't conform to FRA regs and the mitigation required by the waiver were 50% understrength. So they were likely out of compliance with both the reg AND the waiver. And the wheelsets came loose, becoming missles, the very thing the reg was intended to prevent.

So, to summarize:
1. The Talgo VI's were not in compliance with FRA regulations and required a waiver.
2. The mitigation required under the waiver was understrength and likely out of compliance with the waiver due to inadequate (non existent) inspection and maintenance.
3. The occurrence the reg was intended to prevent, wheelset separation in event of a high energy event (bad, high speed crash), happened.
4. The NTSB's investigation called that out.
5. The parties that the NTSB seriously called out, ripping them a new one in bureaucrat-ese, were Sound Transit, Amtrak, and WasDOT for their collectively abysmal safety culture.

You may argue that FRA regs may be too stringent. However, there is no question that the reg concerned wheelset retention, the Talgos were out of compliance with it, and some of the wheelsets in the crash, were, in fact, not retained.

Finally, the NTSB has no regulatory authority. It is up to others to act on its recommendations. WashDOT decided to.

I will put my trust in the NTSB's highly professional investigations over a party with direct financial and reputational interests. I have read many NTSB reports, on both air and rail crashes. I like them because of their manifest methodical professionalism.

If Talgo actually succeeds in the NTSB reconsidering and changing its findings, I will look at it at that time.

I am sure you will let us know if that actually happens, Chris.
The operator applied the brakes just before the curve, and they estimate that it was going 60mph when it hit the curve. See my other link above where it talks about cant deficiency. 60mph on that curve is absolutely possible for a light train with low center of gravity.

I read the NTSB report, and it is very light on data. The Talgo report is full of it, including dynamic crash models. Maybe it's my bias as an engineer in the aerospace industry, but I found the Talgo report to be more technically accurate and believable, given the photo evidence of the crash site. The NTSB does not have to respond to Talgo's report, and I don't think they ever will. For WSDOT, who is primarily interested in saving face, retiring the equipment is a no-brainer.

Since the NTSB is infallible in your eyes, are you going to follow their recommendations to wear seatbelts at all times on trains?


“Current safety standards for locomotive cabs and rail passenger cars are inadequate,” the N.T.S.B. said in February when it unveiled its “most wanted” list of safety improvements for trains. “Protecting passengers and crews from injury requires keeping rail car windows intact and maintaining their structural integrity during an accident, and includes occupant restraint systems, such as seatbelts, to mitigate the severity of passenger injuries.”
 

zephyr17

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That the wheelsets came loose and became missles is irrefutable, because it happened, one of them smashing into a car on I 5. That the FRA regs were intended to prevent or reduce such an occurrence is also irrefutable, as is the fact that the Talgo VI's were out of compliance with that reg.

The NTSB found no fault with Talgo in the derailment itself. Where they found issues were in crashworthiness of the Talgos, which they found deficient. Crashes happen. Period. If crashworthiness of a vehicle were not a consideration, we'd still have wooden bodied cars without anticlimbers telescoping into each other.

So arguing factors leading up to the derailment itself strike me as distracting handwaving with regard to Talgo. Since the issues raised with Talgo are exclusively regarding performance once a crash occurred.

What I primarily respect about the NTSB is their analysis of all accident factors and the mechanics of an given accident. I don't always agree with their recommendations as some strike me as overly conservative, although never without some foundation. I don't agree with the seatbelt one. Even PTC struck me as overly conservative. But I will take their accident analyses every time.
 

rickycourtney

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For WSDOT, retiring the equipment does allow them to save face. It also probably comes highly recommended by the state's legal counsel. (If there was a future accident, these NTSB findings would almost certainly be part of any legal action.)

But there's another reason why this may be a good move for WSDOT... it allows them to get out of their maintenance contract with Talgo.

WSDOT is likely now paying next to nothing for the equipment as Amtrak is probably providing the Horizon trainsets for free (as part of their commitment to WSDOT after the crash).
 

Seaboard92

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I'm currently in ACS myself but operations is where my heart is at. Most aircraft variants have part and type rating commonality in order to ensure the greatest amount of efficiency possible from both a cost and labor standpoint.

If Amtrak were to proceed with this approach, they would save boatloads of cash in the long run. They would be able to:
-Retire most, if not all, of the old equipment
-Simplify car shops
-Simplify parts stores and training
-Simplify crew training

From a customer service/experience standpoint:
-Provide an updated, modern, and uniform service nationwide
-Use saved funds to help pare down other expenses or to take on large capital projects such as ROW acquisition from Porter to Chicago, overhaul food and beverage service, or even start new services in underserved areas like the Front Range.

I would bet that Siemens is going to get the Amfleet/Superliner replacement order, and I truly hope they go back to single level. I've seen the interior of the new cars and I am extremely impressed with what they're producing, and I personally think they're a shoo-in for the job.
I agree with you completely a standard fleet makes the most sense. While a sleeping car, diner, lounge, and a coach are all different types of cars and in a way are a subfleet. They can be built to a standard design that shares parts just like the jets you mentioned. For the most part railroad passenger cars do follow a standard design of 85 ft long by 10 ft wide. And I would argue that despite Budd building 1,000s of cars to different specifications that there is a large amount of common parts between the various cars.

Personally I've ridden the Siemens RailJets in Austria and I was beyond impressed. That would be a good design for Amtrak to copy which is basically what the new cars Amtrak is getting are based on. I believe Siemens is working on a sleeping car variant for the ÖBB NightJet service as well that I look forward to trying. Like you said it would simplify the parts stores and training, the equipment needed in the car shops which could reduce the demand on Beech Grove as a facility.

My idea for new service is more of a novel concept but entering into codeshare arrangements with the airlines to handle the regional feeder airports that are within a two hour train journey of a hub. I'm currently writing an academic level study on that using CLT as my case study. Extending the Piedmont to Greenville, SC and running north to Raleigh as it already does. Doing that you could reduce the need for regional jets on the CLT-GSP, and CLT-GSO markets. As an airline person I would be interested in your opinion on that actually.

For me, the 2013 Spuyten Duyville crash is evidence enough that the NTSB applied a different safety standard when evaluating the Talgo crash:

The trains left the rails at a similar speed, and 4 people died. Nearly all of the cars tipped over, while the Talgo train mostly stayed upright and coupled. Why did the NTSB not call for all of those cars to be removed from service?
First off Wikipedia is really not a great source to base any actual findings off of. I could go edit that page right now and change every detail on it to fit whatever agenda I wanted to. Now something more scholarly like the actual NTSB report, or a peer reviewed journal I would give in and say that has a better chance of being true. Wikipedia is a great tool to find out quick information but it should never be cited in an academic argument.

Secondly you need to know more about railroad mechanical to truly grasp the reason the cars on the Metro North Accident failed as they did. The cars in that wreck were and still are equipped with AAR Type H Tightlock couplers. That design while it is designed to limit telescoping in an accident isn't an absolute. And you must remember that each car is it's own unit it rides on it's own trucks, with it's own 26C brake system on each individual car. Whereas the Talgo is a fully articulated trainset that has a drawbar between the cars, and two cars ride on one truck in the case of the Talgos one single wheel.

A drawbar can and will snap under extreme pressure which in this accident it did. But at the speed the train hit the curve the natural mode for the train is to stay linear hence once the train came off the track it stayed linear and stayed straight until it hit an obstruction like a tree, or landed on the ground after the sixteen to twenty foot drop, which can change the trajectory of the flying projectile that is the railcar. At that point the force is strong enough it can and did break the drawbars between the cars. The talgo unlike the Metro North Shoreliner is a single unit whereas Metro North was built of individual cars and counting the locomotive was eight units long.

So it isn't really a fair comparison to compare the two accidents while they share some similarities in the human element, and they both involved speed restricted curves. A better accident would be to look at another articulated trainset.

And no. I don’t agree with seatbelts on trains for the same reason I don’t agree with it on school buses: if something happens and you have to evacuate, you have to do so quickly. Your seatbelt jams, good luck to you.
That is the same reason I fully support sliding compartment doors over the older style bedrooms with the traditional door. Recently on the Conway Scenic Railroad in Conway, NH they have outfitted a COVID social distancing car which looks similar to an European compartment car. The only issue is the doors aren't sliding that in the case of an emergency and people evacuate the doors would all open and prevent a speedy evacuation. Seat belts while common in planes and cars have a distinct safety rational that isn't present on board a train. In any form of public transit a speedy evacuation is one of the most important components.
 

west point

Conductor
Joined
Jun 9, 2015
Messages
2,243
Some of the delays occurr due to segments south of Tacoma that are not 2 MT. As well north of Tacoma there are not enough segments that are now 3 main tracks. Sounder trains can cause some delays north of Tacoma.
 

Seaboard92

Conductor
Joined
Dec 31, 2014
Messages
3,768
Location
South Carolina
I also think Siemens is well placed and I'd love to see what their sleeping cars would look like. The ones they made for the Russians look fantastic.
The ones they built for the Russians are fantastic looking. But then again I think Russian interior design on a lot of their trains is nothing short of amazing for public transit.

For those who don't know much about Russian trains here are some links for you to take a look at.


The equipment on the Trans-European-Express is found on many other RZD services as well, the Red Arrow uses the VIP cars, and sleepers from the TEE for the Mockba-Санкт-Петербург route. I also believe the Россия has just been upgraded with them as well. I saw a Russian Railways post announcing that that train is now running daily between Mockba-Владивосток where it used to run every other day. Now it runs on a 24 hour slower card but has newer equipment. The trains former equipment has been handed down to a new unnamed Firmney train that runs on the old schedule, on the old days.

Then you have the private owned "Grand Express" on the Mockba-Санкт-Петербург which is all but on the same level as the VSOE. The pictures on their site are incredible.


Take a look at that train. I read the dining car menu for that train and its comparable to VIA Rail.

Fun fact the Mockba-Санкт-Петербург is the most competitive sleeper market in the world. With 12 different sleeping car trains running per day and three operators.
 

tgstubbs1

Service Attendant
Joined
Mar 3, 2020
Messages
222
WSDOT has no say in how Amtrak trains their personnel. There is no denying that Amtrak project management seriously screwed up, and the RFE himself had reservations about sending one of his Engineers out alone over a new territory in a brand new and unfamiliar locomotive. You can say the buck stops with WSDOT, and I do believe they hold a significant portion of the blame here, but Amtrak employee training failures are solely Amtrak’s fault.
I'm curious about what kind of navigation instrumentation is present in the cab? Is there a map with points marked?

I would think speed warnings could be incorporated into GPS systems, like the school crossing warnings I get on my Garmin GPS.
 

Barb Stout

OBS Chief
Joined
Mar 13, 2019
Messages
564
What I primarily respect about the NTSB is their analysis of all accident factors and the mechanics of an given accident. I don't always agree with their recommendations as some strike me as overly conservative, although never without some foundation. I don't agree with the seatbelt one. Even PTC struck me as overly conservative. But I will take their accident analyses every time.
I am curious why you don't agree with the seatbelt mandate. I have physical problems with the shoulder harness aspect of it; that is why I ask. (And also a big reason why I take the train instead of driving when traveling long distances.) If you want, you can answer via "conversation" or private message or whatever it's called on here.
 

Trogdor

Conductor
Joined
Aug 3, 2004
Messages
5,536
Location
Here
I'm curious about what kind of navigation instrumentation is present in the cab? Is there a map with points marked?

I would think speed warnings could be incorporated into GPS systems, like the school crossing warnings I get on my Garmin GPS.
There is no “navigation” system inside a locomotive. There is a GPS component to PTC, but you can’t strictly rely on GPS because it may not be accurate enough to identify which track you are on, and speed restrictions in many cases are track-specific (track 1 may be 70 mph, track 2 may be 60 mph, and the siding may be 20 mph in the same area).

Positive train control combines that with other information to know where you are, including which track you’re on, and that gives the engineer a heads-up about speed restrictions, including warnings if they are approaching a penalty brake application, which will apply if they go past the programmed braking curve for that particular consist type (which is designed to ensure they are at or below a given speed by the time they reach the point where the restriction applies).

Of course, that’s part of the controversy over this incident, leading to Amtrak’s decision not to return to the new routing until PTC was enabled on that segment. Had PTC been active on that stretch, the train would have gone into a penalty brake application and slowed way down (possibly to a stop) before reaching the curve.
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
368
Location
MI
I'm curious about what kind of navigation instrumentation is present in the cab? Is there a map with points marked?

I would think speed warnings could be incorporated into GPS systems, like the school crossing warnings I get on my Garmin GPS.
As stated by Trogdor, there isn’t really a true “navigation” system. After all, you can only go where the tracks go. However, the locomotive, in theory, should know roughly where it is along the line so it can comply with the correct signal aspect and not one 60 miles away.

I do believe there is something similar to what you are describing available in the Siemens cab if I’m remembering correctly. However, we must also remember that this particular engineer was new to the SC-44. I believe the official report states he had about 60 seconds to familiarize himself with the engine before departure from SEA. That really isn’t enough time to learn how to pull up a screen on one of the displays if it isn’t there already.
 

siberianmo

Service Attendant
AU Supporter
Joined
Oct 24, 2012
Messages
167
Location
25 miles west of downtown St. Louis, MO
For my 2-cents worth on the subject of Talgo to Horizon, it saddens me.

My trips aboard Cascades have been from Seattle to Vancouver, BC with returns to Portland, OR for connection with the Empire Builder.
Always in business class and always glued to the window on the seaside of the car, I was never disappointed nor critical of this or that when it came to the equipment. For me, it was a joy to experience something new and different.

Horizon equipment has been in use for a long time in Missouri - between St. Louis and Kansas City. My preference has always been business class - especially when they put the car at the end of the consist (another story for another time!) Anyway, it would be interesting to envision Talgo along that route.

The curves along the route are not anything I would think to be prohibitive for Talgo to handle; having traveled it for years - sometimes over a dozen round trips a year. Anyway . . .

I recall the FlexLiner demonstration trips back in 1997 - I was fortunate to ride it in Jefferson City (event for politicians) and then again with my daughter for a round trip to Kansas City from Kirkwood, MO.

Missouri's Department of Transportation (MODoT) did not "go" for those train sets then and I doubt they will even offer a glance in the direction of Talgo now. If Amtrak is to continue within this state - Horizon most probably will continue for the Missouri River Runner, if that is our treasury can continue supporting nearly empty trains!

Very interesting thread . . .
 

NSC1109

Lead Service Attendant
Joined
Aug 14, 2016
Messages
368
Location
MI
Missouri's Department of Transportation (MODoT) did not "go" for those train sets then and I doubt they will even offer a glance in the direction of Talgo now. If Amtrak is to continue within this state - Horizon most probably will continue for the Missouri River Runner, if that is our treasury can continue supporting nearly empty trains!

Very interesting thread . . .
The Missouri River Runner will be receiving the Siemens coaches once they are delivered.
 
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