• Derailment= East Palestine Ohio

  • Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
Discussion relating to the NS operations. Official web site can be found here: NSCORP.COM.
  by neman2
 
The NTSB stated in this presentation that these thresholds are set by the RR and vary on each railroad. I expect NTSB will recommend a standard after a technical study. Also video monitoring which seems to be everywhere these days will probably be strongly recommended.
  by R Paul Carey
 
Woodeen is correct; there were three measured readings, with only the third at East Palestine indicating a "critical" above-ambient temperature on the defective car.

Yesterday's NTSB release describes the temperature thresholds that, according to NS policy, describe the critical threshold at which the train must be stopped and the defective car must be set out.

The criteria for the maintenance and use of "hotbox detectors" have not been addressed as a matter for regulation, but rather it has been left to the individual railroads to establish the policies and practices for their operation. Yesterday's NTSB report appears to confirm that NS handled the three readings in accordance with its policy.

My belief is that speculation regarding electro-pneumatic braking and its benefit is based upon imperfect or mistaken assumptions as it applies to the facts of the EP incident.

Is it an unanswerable question, however, that the blazing bearing, on the 23rd car from the head end, could have been seen in the evening darkness on the inside of a curve, between Salem and East Palestine?

Since the criteria for operation of these detectors likely vary among the railroads, it would appear that the industry should promptly step up and prescribe "best practices" for HBDs, to include their maintenance and testing, thresholds and actions for readings that show a progressive increase of temperature between HBD locations and/or variation between the two bearings on a single axle.

It's not acceptable to maintain a policy that requires no action short of a "critical" reading, nor is it acceptable to assume that a "fast burn-off" is an acceptable risk of doing business as usual.

If the industry should fail to take action promptly, then the FRA should do it for them.
  by BR&P
 
Paul brings out a point that has been nagging me as well. I believe one of the (non-railroad) security cameras was several miles before the POD. In that video the defective bearing appears quite bright. The car in question was reportedly the 23rd car, which should be quite visible from the head end if the crew had looked back on a curve. Looking your train over on curves used to be Railroading 101. Maybe today it's different.

Much has been said about the first two detectors. There are different types of detectors, which function in different ways. It's possible that they are only programmed to radio to a crew IF a bearing temp exceeds their threshold. So since the bearing was not above 200* above ambient at those locations, it's possible they radioed "No defects". Again, I don't know if this is the case.
  by farecard
 
Roscoe P. Coaltrain wrote: Thu Feb 23, 2023 5:54 pm Train was 2x1 with DPU at position 109
So the DPU was behind the derailment. So it's not just the combined inertia of the rolling stock feeding the jackknifing but also the DPU, correct?

Since there's been no mention of same, I assume the DPU was uncrewed. Does the DPU's compressor also pressurize the brake line? How does the DPU respond to the "dump" of brake air by the derailment?

What controls the DPU? Is there an RF link from the head end? There was a fatal collision in https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Acc ... AR2005.pdf
where the loss of the RF link to the FRED prevented the train from stopping, resulting in fatalities. Does the DPU stop without the link?
  by QB 52.32
 
I, too, have had that nagging thought of the potential of seeing the kind of fire evidenced by lineside video either by looking back or in the engineer's rearview mirror, ~2500' to the rear at 8:54 pm, no precipitation and while I didn't consider this among the curves, note there are at least a few places preceding the derailment of tangent appearing to exceed that length and that the NTSB is not considering this line of investigation.

From Railway Age:

NS issued the following statement on the preliminary report:

https://www.railwayage.com/freight/clas ... erailment/

Fair Use:
“The company’s wayside detectors on its network trigger an alarm at a temperature threshold that is among the lowest in the rail industry.
In terms of ECP braking, important to note that a 2016 GAO report identified the cost v. benefit returns over a 20-year period earning about a quarter of today's savings accounts. Even US DOT acknowledged that "the expected costs of ECP brakes are significantly higher than the expected benefits". To a capital-intense industry with a 2021 10.37% cost of capital, even within the range of variability, that return falls far short and especially if on the one hand it becomes required but on the other, pursuit of benefits are stymied or not providing a meaningful addition to marketplace competitive advantage. In this regard, how would even-longer/heavier trains be viewed by labor and regulators and of competitive value in the marketplace?

Based upon the GAO, DOT and AAR numbers, projected out to the entire equipment fleet, order of magnitude might be ~$20 billion, up against PTC which cost ~$15 billion with the industry picking up $11.5 billion and consequently pursuing benefit from its imposition with reduced on-board crew members and to/toward automation.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone - NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy's report shows us all here that the NTSB is the BEST at what they do... The finding about covered hopper car #23 defective axle and bearings being probable cause assists investigators.

RW - This freight train was operating eastward originating in Madison, IL (St. Louis area) to terminate at Conway Yard which is around 20 miles from the derailment site at Mile 49 - just 1/2 mile from the OH-PA State Line 48.5 The train was slowing being behind another eastbound train running 48 mph-track speed limit in area 50 mph.

The 50 cars involved in the derailment and fire would be #23 to #73 with the DPU at position #109 behind the wrecked and burned cars all staying on the rails and stopping when the brakes were dumped in emergency...

The ambient temperature at the time of the derailment was 10 degrees F - 22 degrees below freezing with the arctic cold affecting that region-there was no other weather mention. Even with the cold the defective axle and bearing on covered hopper #23 heated up rapidly enough between detectors to become a serious problem so quickly that the crew had little if any time to react before the wreck occurred...

Will a transcript of the press conference be available for further study? That read will make this topic even MORE interesting for all of us here taking part in this discussion instead of from a third-party media source...

One reporter tried to inject politics into the NTSB conference - I was impressed just how fast that thought was set aside with the mention that the EP derailment and aftermath has NOTHING to do with politics "That STOPS at the door" along with the comments on misinformation being spread through various sources being nothing but a detriment to the EP community trying to recover in the aftermath of the derailment...

I will end with the thought that February 2023 will be a month that will live in infamy for NS and EP...MACTRAXX
  by farecard
 
BR&P wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 10:30 am

Much has been said about the first two detectors. There are different types of detectors, which function in different ways.
You can see the Salem detectors at https://youtu.be/sjuKIV7odSA

re: NS statement:
“The company’s wayside detectors on its network trigger an alarm at a temperature threshold that is among the lowest in the rail industry."
Rate-of-change can be as important as absolute temperature. In commercial fire alarms, the sensors often respond to rate-of-change as well as absolute temperature.
Last edited by farecard on Fri Feb 24, 2023 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by taracer
 
I don't know if the crew would have been able to see 23 cars back, it really depends on the territory. On mine there are very few places you can see that far back.

We do look back at our train in curves and I have caught stuck brakes and other things but no more than 10 cars back, usually after making a head end pickup.

We also give passing trains a good look, even when we are both moving.
  by taracer
 
farecard wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 11:06 am
Roscoe P. Coaltrain wrote: Thu Feb 23, 2023 5:54 pm Train was 2x1 with DPU at position 109
So the DPU was behind the derailment. So it's not just the combined inertia of the rolling stock feeding the jackknifing but also the DPU, correct?

Since there's been no mention of same, I assume the DPU was uncrewed. Does the DPU's compressor also pressurize the brake line? How does the DPU respond to the "dump" of brake air by the derailment?

What controls the DPU? Is there an RF link from the head end? There was a fatal collision in https://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/Acc ... AR2005.pdf
where the loss of the RF link to the FRED prevented the train from stopping, resulting in fatalities. Does the DPU stop without the link?
The DP is controlled via RF link to the lead locomotive. It does not stop when com is lost. It will maintain whatever power or dynamic brake setting, called "load", it was in when comm was lost for a certain amount of time. The only way get around this is to make a reduction of the brake pipe pressure. It will then respond to that air pressure signal through the brake pipe. That will set the DP to idle, dropping the load.

The problem is that the air pressure signal can also be blocked by a kinked air hose, ice in the brake pipe and other things.

The reason why it is like this is so it doesn't drop the load immediately for a com loss which happens all the time but is usually brief. If it dropped the load every time for this, it would make the train nearly impossible to run with DP.

The increased use of DP has to do with PSR cost cutting and is part what has enable the railroads to run these monster trains and cut labor.
  by farecard
 
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 2:31 pm
The DP is controlled via RF link to the lead locomotive. It does not stop when com is lost. It will maintain whatever power or dynamic brake setting, called "load", it was in when comm was lost for a certain amount of time. The only way get around this is to make a reduction of the brake pipe pressure. It will then respond to that air pressure signal through the brake pipe. That will set the DP to idle, dropping the load.

The problem is that the air pressure signal can also be blocked by a kinked air hose, ice in the brake pipe and other things.
So that means someone had to get to the DPU and shut it down. The crew had chocked the head-end cars and moved the headend power a mile east. Someone had to come in from the west/far end. I wonder if that crew broke the consist west of the derailment and then backed the ?100? cars west of the consist to safety.
The reason why it is like this is so it doesn't drop the load immediately for a com loss which happens all the time but is usually brief. If it dropped the load every time for this, it would make the train nearly impossible to run with DP.
The fatality I cited upthread was caused by a kinked air hose, and magnified by loss of signal to that FRED. It's well nigh impossible to guarantee an RF link when both TX and RX are moving, have crap antennas, and lots of steel inbetween.
The increased use of DP has to do with PSR cost cutting and is part what has enable the railroads to run these monster trains and cut labor.
I'm shocked, just shocked......
  by QB 52.32
 
Use of DPU's with increased train size would have occurred at some point without PSR, probably sooner than later.

Reality is that the consequence of a serious decline in the industry's coal business and challenges with ascendant intermodal, mandated capital investment like PTC, need to maintain healthy capital investments (that go to safety & with 3 of the 7 US Class 1's not earning their cost of capital), and demands of the investment marketplace required this kind of productivity improvement.

The good thing is that PSR also balances this out with growth potential in the laggard loose carload marketplace where railroads have lost share with long unmet needs.

It's Transportation 101 - all carriers seek to maximize load factor with the amount of freight that can be hauled in a "unit", in this case with trains.
  by taracer
 
QB 52.32 wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 3:28 pm Use of DPU's with increased train size would have occurred at some point without PSR, probably sooner than later.

Reality is that the consequence of a serious decline in the industry's coal business and challenges with ascendant intermodal, mandated capital investment like PTC, need to maintain healthy capital investments (that go to safety & with 3 of the 7 US Class 1's not earning their cost of capital), and demands of the investment marketplace required this kind of productivity improvement.

The good thing is that PSR also balances this out with growth potential in the laggard loose carload marketplace where railroads have lost share with long unmet needs.

Transportation 101 - all carriers seek to maximize load factor with the amount of freight that can be hauled in a "unit", in this case with trains.
I actually don't disagree with most of what you said here, but I see it as more like CSX and NS, which were both coal-based railroads, refused to adapt choosing to cut costs instead.

Under pressure from the investor marketplace as you put it. I call them vulture capitalists running hedge funds the same people that killed Sears and Toys R Us.
  by BR&P
 
farecard wrote:
So that means someone had to get to the DPU and shut it down. The crew had chocked the head-end cars and moved the headend power a mile east. Someone had to come in from the west/far end. I wonder if that crew broke the consist west of the derailment and then backed the ?100? cars west of the consist to safety.
I've never run DP but presume that when the train line dumps, the DP unit(s) would go to idle. So the DP might be running in idle, but would not be under load, working. Does the engineer have the ability to shut down the DP altogether?

We sometimes consider DP relatively new, but as noted above it's been around since the 1970's or 1980's I believe. SOU used it, CP had some and probably others. The mid-train units were known as "slaves", and often were attached to a de-powered B unit which housed the various controls for remote operation.
  by QB 52.32
 
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 4:16 pmI actually don't disagree with most of what you said here, but I see it as more like CSX and NS, which were both coal-based railroads, refused to adapt choosing to cut costs instead.

Under pressure from the investor marketplace as you put it. I call them vulture capitalists running hedge funds the same people that killed Sears and Toys R Us.
With all due respect to your point about CSX and NS, saying they "refused to adapt choosing to cut costs instead", that's just an incantation of "hocus pocus" with a magic wand. Loosing a business that accounted for 40% of your profit gives little choice about cost cutting. In what ways should they have "adapted"? Demanded of the regulators that the new line between east and west Class 1's be shifted westward to St Paul; Des Moines; Kansas City; and Dallas? Application of PSR principles by Hunter Harrison was probably the best adaptation.

In terms of railroad owners and the investment community, these are the folks that move capital, one of the 3 basic ingredients of economic activity, through free-market mechanisms. That's bigger than railroads. And, there's been no evidence of investors getting in for a quick take and leaving a carcass behind with the Class 1's continuing healthy investment.

Germane to this discussion and labor's criticism of NS during this crisis, interesting to note that NS stock buybacks increased 15% in value pre-PSR to 2022 while the S&P 500's value increased 22% during this same period. Further, NS' stock buyback value declined ~9% 2021 v. 22 while the S&P 500 increased 97%. And, NS' capex is up 33% for the same period.
  by farecard
 
BR&P wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 4:53 pm
I've never run DP but presume that when the train line dumps, the DP unit(s) would go to idle. So the DP might be running in idle, but would not be under load, working. Does the engineer have the ability to shut down the DP altogether?
The locomotives must have air brakes or they could never stop when not pulling a load. So with a dumped airline, the airbrakes would hold it in place. But I think the responding fire dept would prefer the ?500 gal? of Kerosene or #2 Diesel would get as far away from the fire as possible.

{When I was in the fuel business in Cleveland, CSX bought Kerosene not #2 for their prime movers, and lots of it. Don't know what the story is now....)
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