The big windows debacle

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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby gokeefe » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:14 pm

tomj wrote:Even junking the Amfleets doesn't make complete sense.


It must be done. The windows on those cars are too small and they have reached the end of their service life. Amtrak pays dearly to operate this fleet using custom made parts and refurbished shells.

Siemens has a global presence and will likely be around for decades to come.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:01 pm

The large windows issue is starting to bug me. How many times have we seen this be a real issue?

The answer is very few times. The big windows are for evacuating wounded in case of train-on-train accident, which is very rare compared to grade crossing accidents.

Large window regulations remind me of the recent PTC mandate. PTC is supposed to prevent train-on-train accidents, large windows are supposed to allow personnel to evacuate injured if there are such incidents. First, if PTC is so good, why are large windows necessary? According to the PTC braintrust, we're not going to have accidents anymore, so we won't have injured to evacuate. Second, neither large windows nor PTC do anything to address the majority of fatalities on a railroad, which are grade crossing incidents and trespasser strikes. Where are the safety guys on this one? Literally hundreds of people die every year and you dont' see the FRA lifting a finger.

Finally, if stretcher evacuation is that big of an issue, why aren't there escape hatches at ground level similar to the food hatch in a cafe car? It removes about five feet in reach height to get that stretcher out of the train car compared to a window and would alleviate the need for 20 giant windows that are susceptible to rocks and need to be cleaned. It just makes a lot more sense compared to reaching all the way up to a window.

Also, think about sleepers and superliners. How the heck are they going to get a stretcher out of an upper deck window or make a right turn into a roomette? Those hallways are super narrow. Bottom line, very few of this makes any sense. I get the feeling the FRA Little Old Lady committee is sitting around making up some over time.

I'm guessing the Siemens order will be straight from a blueprint with little bodyshell customization, and I'm all for that. Off-the-shelf has always been a winner. But let's not scrap other cars for a bogus reason.
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The big windows debacle

Postby gokeefe » Tue Feb 12, 2019 7:53 pm

Tadman wrote:The large windows issue is starting to bug me. How many times have we seen this be a real issue?

The answer is very few times. The big windows are for evacuating wounded in case of train-on-train accident, which is very rare compared to grade crossing accidents.


I disagree. Large windows are extremely helpful in the event of a rollover. Those happen regardless of the presence of another train. Obviously PTC is designed to deal with overspeed situations but there are many other reasons why trains can derail and rollover.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 10:56 am

gokeefe wrote:
Tadman wrote:The large windows issue is starting to bug me. How many times have we seen this be a real issue?

The answer is very few times. The big windows are for evacuating wounded in case of train-on-train accident, which is very rare compared to grade crossing accidents.


I disagree. Large windows are extremely helpful in the event of a rollover. Those happen regardless of the presence of another train. Obviously PTC is designed to deal with overspeed situations but there are many other reasons why trains can derail and rollover.


Right but do we have any numbers that show how many accidents would be mitigated by having had bigger windows, how many lives saved? According to USA Today, in a set period, there were 12 total deaths aboard train regardless of cause, 103 trespasser deaths, and 60 grade crossing deaths. These numbers come at an all time high for on-train fatalities, many years there are none. Assuming that not all of the on-board deaths can be mitigated by big windows, we still don't have a rational reason for significantly modifying or scrapping good train cars. This is especially important in light of the fact that it appears little to nothing is being done about grade crossing or trespassing fatalities other than PR.

As it stands, the record shows the regulatory bodies are not addressing safety, they are addressing regulatory agency job security, and they're costing the taxpayers and passengers big money.

https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/201 ... 307948002/
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:43 am

Two thoughts:

1) bigger windows are required in new designs, but have not been required in existing cars even if rebuilt. (Am I correct in such, or are there examples where such modifications have been required by law or government regulation?)

2) small windows come from a time where rock-throwing was the pastime and one didn’t want to look out the windows in the northeast. Both have largely changed, and the trend back to picture windows is more aesthetics than access. If it suited the end users, they could ask Siemens to design a car with airline-style load-bearing egress plug doors and little windows.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 13, 2019 4:31 pm

mtuandrew wrote:Two thoughts:

1) bigger windows are required in new designs, but have not been required in existing cars even if rebuilt. (Am I correct in such, or are there examples where such modifications have been required by law or government regulation?)


I am not aware of regulations requiring removal from service, but Gokeefe is advocating for such.

gokeefe wrote:
tomj wrote:Even junking the Amfleets doesn't make complete sense.


It must be done. The windows on those cars are too small and they have reached the end of their service life.


End of economic life is one thing, window size is another. Amtrak sees less than three deaths aboard per year. Putting aside the question of if a big window is necessary, the cafes have a floor-level hatch just to the right of the road number (see pic: http://www.trainweb.org/amtrakpix/locos ... 58006A.jpg). Assuming some sort of non-door access is necessary, why not an appropriate sized hatch or two at floor level? You can also see in this pic it's a lot easier to hand a stretcher out at floor level, which is basically head-high on a person, versus window-level, which is about the height of two people. This all assumes first responders are standing at track height. Usually given the ballast and roadbed, there is an additional five feet height difference. On a main line, a passenger looks out their window into the second floor of a nearby house after accounting for ballast and roadbed height.

Also for what it's worth, Metra gallery cars have a pseudo-hatch in the roof, required a first responder to use a grinder to cut the car skin, but with no structural members in the way. It's clearly labeled as such if one stands on an overpass to observe.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby daybeers » Wed Feb 13, 2019 11:01 pm

What's the big deal with requiring larger windows, isn't that a great thing?!? How large are we talking?
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby Tadman » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:02 pm

The window discussion is in regard to federal regulations requiring windows big enough to fit a man on a stretcher through the window in case of emergency.

Gokeefe has posited that any cars not meeting that regulation should be retired, despite the ability to grandfather older rolling stock into compliance.

I have posited that this is one of those "dumbest things ever" because physically it doesn't make sense (we're not going to drop an accident victim out of a train to the roadbed below are we?), PTC is supposedly going to prevent the type of accident this regulation regards, and overall Amtrak's safety/collision record does not demonstrate that many fatalities on-train, even in bad years. Most fatalities are trespassers and motorists.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby gokeefe » Thu Feb 14, 2019 7:23 pm

Tadman wrote:Assuming that not all of the on-board deaths can be mitigated by big windows, we still don't have a rational reason for significantly modifying or scrapping good train cars.


The need to ensure that rescuers can readily get in and passengers can readily get out in an emergency.

As noted this is especially true in a rollover where sliding vestibule doors become highly problematic.

To answer your question about fatalities and also to acknowledge your points about frequency and grade crossings I would simply say that means of egress can be the difference between 80 fatalities and none. If the means of egress fails the fatality rate is 100% every single time.

It could be from any cause (smoke, water flooding in, electrocution or death from trauma injuries). Window size requirements are designed to address the possibility of an absolute worst case scenario. That's why they matter.
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Re: The big windows debacle

Postby ryanov » Fri Feb 15, 2019 1:15 am

Theoretically, big windows are nice. However, on my first entirely during the daytime Acela trip recently in sunny weather showed me that there are very few seats to sit in at some points where the sun isn't in your eyes.
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Re: The big windows debacle

Postby DutchRailnut » Fri Feb 15, 2019 9:54 am

same argument , Ships need to carry sufficient lifeboats (by law) so would you take a cruise on a ship that only had half or non.
same with window issue on trains and buses, rules change and the carriers will have too comply the argument about past accidents is moot, and no one can guarantee that no other accidents will happen.
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Re: Siemens Single Level Cars for CA/IL/Midwest

Postby mdvle » Fri Feb 15, 2019 11:01 am

Tadman wrote:The large windows issue is starting to bug me. How many times have we seen this be a real issue?

The answer is very few times. The big windows are for evacuating wounded in case of train-on-train accident,


No, big windows (like marked safe cutting areas on a roof) are there for any case where the normal means of access are unavailable.

While this could well be train-on-train, it can also be any other incident where the normal structure (and hence access points) of the train have been compromised whether because of a change in orientation or because of structural deformation.

An example of this can be seen in the February 2012 VIA Rail derailment at Aldershot where emergency responders were forced to access and partially evacuate the first coach of the train through the windows, and is documented in the TSB report http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/rail/2012/r12t0038/r12t0038.asp
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Re: The big windows debacle

Postby Ridgefielder » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:12 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:same argument , Ships need to carry sufficient lifeboats (by law) so would you take a cruise on a ship that only had half or non.
same with window issue on trains and buses, rules change and the carriers will have too comply the argument about past accidents is moot, and no one can guarantee that no other accidents will happen.

Just to drive this point home: RMS Titanic was equipped with exactly the number and type of lifeboats that were required by existing regulations at the time of her launch. Loss of the vessel in mid-ocean caused the regulations to be re-written.

Same thing here. In various accidents over the years, the 1960's-era small windows have proved problematic. The regulations were changed to address those problems. I think the non-compliant windows should certainly be one consideration when you're deciding whether to remove equipment from service.
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Re: The big windows debacle

Postby Greg Moore » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:55 pm

BTW too, as someone who has actual litter handling experience under my belt, and in spaces far tighter than any Amtrak windows, larger windows can be a huge help anytime you have a patient in a litter.
Even without collision, the larger windows can be helpful.

For example, ideally a patient generally wants to be kept level. Yes, we will, if necessary put them in an upright position, which may be necessary to get them around a corner (i.e. into a vestibule and out a door) but it's not ideal. Heck, thinking about it now, I suspect getting a patient, especially a heavy one in a Ferno Model 71 out of an Amfleet via the vestibule would be a far less than ideal situation. Going through a window may be far easier.

As for dropping a patient to the ground from that height, if that occurs, you've got bigger issues.
As for the argument for escape hatches closer to the ground, great idea... other than the fact that you've got seats in the way.
And on sleepers, getting a stretcher through is going to be even more complex, all the more argument for larger windows.

Finally, yes, larger windows mean more sunlight. That can be a problem for the A/C and passenger comfort, but there's this invention created 1000s of years ago called a "shade".
That and/or electrochromatic glass which is far more common tends to solve those issues.

As a passenger, I can tell you I LOVE the larger windows.
As a person who has some rescue experience (admittedly not in this particular field) I would also greatly favor the larger windows.

I'll point out one of the selling points of the 787 is it can have larger windows... and honestly, 1/2 the time, there's not much to see from that altitude!
So I'll definitely take them on the train.
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Re: The big windows debacle

Postby Backshophoss » Sat Feb 16, 2019 2:08 am

The window size on the Amfleet I's were the result of the "Getto Grates" installed on on the GG-1's and E-60's and other motive power
that roamed on the NEC being targets for the various "urban debris" thrown at trains at the time,and the use of Lexan/Plexiglas plastic glass
on Commuter equipment,as the "large" glass widows were destroyed.
From rocks-small auto parts-scrap wood-shopping carts was the ammo used back then!
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