• 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 taracer
 
R Paul Carey wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 9:36 am 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.
Thats what I've been trying to say. The bearings just don't catastrophically fail, they are really no different from the wheel bearings in your car, and the signs of failures are similar. The wheel can break off your car as well if you let the bearings go too long.

One main difference is your car is frequently inspected and they can feel the wheel getting loose. Most times you can hear the bad bearing in the car while driving as well and it can affect steering.

On a railroad car, you look for leaking grease and bad seals. The detectors used to be used in combination with car department forces, not to replace car department as is now done under PSR.

The conductor out there checking the bearing with a templestik was the last line of defense.
  by taracer
 
QB 52.32 wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 5:04 pm
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.
I can think of many things they could have done differently, if we are talking about the long term, but we are not really talking about the same things here are we. For example, why are new distribution centers being built without railroad access. You side with the vulture capitalists, maximizing short term profit saying it's not profitable enough. The freight is out there, they just don't want it.

They saw a weakness in the coal railroads and exploited it, to huge, short-term benefit, but no thought of the future.
  by BR&P
 
farecard wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 5:07 pm

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.
Of course the locos have air brakes, that was never a question. I am not familiar with the nuances of DP, and the latest technology. In years past, a trailing unit would have the brake stand cut out, and would do what the controlling unit told the brakes to do. I'm not certain whether that's the case with a mid-train DPU, or whether that unit "relays" air brake commands and thus charges or reduces train line pressure faster than the head end alone would do. Hopefully someone here is qualified and can educate me.

As for the train going into emergency, again in the "old days" an emergency application would trip the PCS, or Power Cutoff Switch. This would reduce all units to idle even if the engineer never touched the throttle. I would expect something similar is in place with DP.

Fuel tanks are a lot larger than your estimate - they vary but a capacity of 5,000 gallons is a fair guess without specifying which loco we're talking about. But when there is a holy mess, burning out of control, the presence of a DP unit 35 cars farther back was probably of little worry. Also - after such a derailment, even absent the fire, nothing is going to be moved until the entire train has been inspected, the track structure has been examined for causal or resulting damage, probably the DP event recorder would be downloaded, and a whole lot of other factors have been addressed.
  by taracer
 
The DP will go into emergency, it still trips the PCS like the old days. If the engineer puts the lead locomotive in emergency, the DP will follow right away with the RF signal. But if there is a com loss it will do so from the loss of brake pipe pressure, not the RF signal. You could have a case, and I'm not saying this happened, that you could lose com with the DP, then go into emergency, then bottle the air with a kinked brake pipe.

In that case the DP would not respond it would not have received the signal to trip the PCS and would remain in whatever power/ dynamic brake setting it was in before the com loss.
  by farecard
 
You could have a case, and I'm not saying this happened, that you could lose com with the DP, then go into emergency, then bottle the air with a kinked brake pipe.
which is what happened in the NTSB link I cited above....

There was one other aspect brought up by NTSB. The tankers were placarded, but the placards were plastic, and by the time the local FD arrived, they had melted and the FD initially had no clue what the contents were.
  by MACTRAXX
 
FC: The tank car problem was not only with the placards - some of the cars had their reporting marks
and numbers burned off in the derailment fires making some car identification not possible until a train
manifest giving an idea of a consist can be obtained by first responders. Even with that information a
pile-up of many burnt freight cars such as the EP derailment had hampered car identification efforts.

As for the placards - a red background color with a flame graphic means flammable contents.
A four digit identification number for the liquid being carried is listed on the placard.
The most commonly spotted red placards are 1203 - Gasoline - used on tanker trucks...
Protecting placards from damage in some manner by making them flame resistant
or of a more durable metal will likely be looked into by the NTSB...MACTRAXX
  by QB 52.32
 
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 5:31 pmI can think of many things they could have done differently, if we are talking about the long term, but we are not really talking about the same things here are we. For example, why are new distribution centers being built without railroad access. You side with the vulture capitalists, maximizing short term profit saying it's not profitable enough. The freight is out there, they just don't want it.

They saw a weakness in the coal railroads and exploited it, to huge, short-term benefit, but no thought of the future.
BNSF and UP are challenged "coal railroads" as well! Just that they are in a better overall railroad marketplace beginning with the simplest characteristic of length-of-haul.

An industry continuing to invest ~$20 billion/year in 25-50- year assets is all about "thought of the future".

I would love to see with the wave of a magic wand the many things they could have done differently and as a business that derives demand from other economic activity, including domestic and foreign industrial production; consumption and trade patterns; and, logistics largely driven by inventory productivity (with PSR addressing this previously unmet demand).

Surprising that you've missed the simple fact that a siding is not necessary for rail servicing distribution centers, nor desired for freight below 25 lbs./cu ft (the majority of freight). The 53' domestic container is today's boxcar-equivalent of the previous generation.

Long-term, short-term, I side with my training & experience and reality, as cruel as it might be, and as the NTSB Chair appealed to anyone speculating:
taracer wrote:On a railroad car, you look for leaking grease and bad seals. The detectors used to be used in combination with car department forces, not to replace car department as is now done under PSR.
Just like DPU's, the 2020 Power Brake Law changes would have happened without PSR, likely sooner than later, having migrated within the interrelated Class 1 industry from Canada after its 2008 implementation there, 10 years after PSR implementation. Beyond that, as a subject of NTSB's ongoing investigation, let's just allow them to do their work.

From Trains Newswire:
Rail leaders defend industry’s commitment to safety as DOT proposes new regulations

https://www.trains.com/trn/news-reviews ... gulations/

Fair use:
Creel pushed back against criticism of the Precision Scheduled Railroading operating model in the wake of the East Palestine accident.

Unions have claimed that widespread job reductions at the U.S. Class I railroads have reduced the margin of safety over the past six years despite the industry’s increasing profitability. Critics have sought to blame the East Palestine wreck on the operation of longer trains and less rigorous train inspections.

CP has spent 50% more on its infrastructure in the decade since adopting PSR than in the previous decade, Creel says. “Only because of PSR could we do that,” he says
  by eolesen
 
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 4:16 pm 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.
You've mentioned that a few times lately, and I have to ask why you single those two out amongst all the other big box & mall cornerstone collapses that have happened in the last ten years.

It's pretty obvious that Sears and Toys R Us both died because of competition from Walmart, Target and Amazon... The LBO's didn't help matters, but they both were stuck to the "this is the way we've always done it" mentality.... The main reason that Walmart and Target remain successful is their forays into grocery. There are some things that online just can't replace, as Amazon found out with Whole Foods...

Coming back to railroads, it's convenient to hammer on PSR for job losses, but they would have come eventually with faced a similar cliff that retailers did when the huge drops in frack sand and coal hit. And yet they seem to have weathered that by changing the operating model vs. "doing it the way we've always done it"....

Nor do I really see a connection to the accident and PSR given the derailment happened within the first 73 cars.
  by Roscoe P. Coaltrain
 
If you read the reply by 'randgust' on this thread,

https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/ ... ?1,5633168

he mention another accident that was investigated by NTSB where part of the blame was laid at the feet of transmission gaps between head end and read end devices. An angle cock was closed in the trainline, front end put into emergency by the crew, but rear Fred did not dump the air on the rear half in quick enough time to avoid the runaway.

This 32N was 9300+ feet and 17,000+ tons. Was there transmission gaps that kept the DPU shoving? As randgust mentions, there were some software incompatibilities between DPU equipped units on NS (involving the DC traction gevos) that created a few spectacular derailments that were NOT investigated by NTSB where the DPU kept shoving. One of those DPU-aggravated derailments was on the Southern Tier line near Dalton, NY.

I still think 9300 feet and 17000 tons is too large for trains carrying some of these forever-damaging chemicals. You simply cannot build a tank car durable enough to counterbalance these train weights.
  by taracer
 
eolesen wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 11:39 pm
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 4:16 pm 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.
You've mentioned that a few times lately, and I have to ask why you single those two out amongst all the other big box & mall cornerstone collapses that have happened in the last ten years.

It's pretty obvious that Sears and Toys R Us both died because of competition from Walmart, Target and Amazon... The LBO's didn't help matters, but they both were stuck to the "this is the way we've always done it" mentality.... The main reason that Walmart and Target remain successful is their forays into grocery. There are some things that online just can't replace, as Amazon found out with Whole Foods...

Coming back to railroads, it's convenient to hammer on PSR for job losses, but they would have come eventually with faced a similar cliff that retailers did when the huge drops in frack sand and coal hit. And yet they seem to have weathered that by changing the operating model vs. "doing it the way we've always done it"....

Nor do I really see a connection to the accident and PSR given the derailment happened within the first 73 cars.
I'm sorry but you are totally wrong on this, especially regarding Sears, which was one of the first mail order businesses. Thats all Amazon is really. You could buy a house mail order from Sears at one point.

There was no real reason why Sears could not have transitioned from catalogue based with brick and mortar to internet-based mail orders. They already had experience in that and still did mail order. And of course, people still shop in actual stores.

You can thank one man for the downfall of Sears, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eddie_Lampert. He was looting the company, selling off the popular brands names such as Craftsman and Kenmore. No real vision for the future of the company, just getting the short-term profit. He let the stores fall into disrepair, so people didn't want to shop there. This is all well researched now, and the guy should be in prison.

Kind of like PSR and the Hunter Harrison disciples selling off assets.

Toys R Us got taken over by a hedge fund that saddled it with debt in the transaction, quickly leading to its downfall.
  by QB 52.32
 
You mean the $600 million in additional PAR/PAS assets and at least another $100 million invested into these assets by Hunter Harrison's disciples? [yawn]
  by taracer
 
QB 52.32 wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 9:41 pm
taracer wrote: Fri Feb 24, 2023 5:31 pmI can think of many things they could have done differently, if we are talking about the long term, but we are not really talking about the same things here are we. For example, why are new distribution centers being built without railroad access. You side with the vulture capitalists, maximizing short term profit saying it's not profitable enough. The freight is out there, they just don't want it.

They saw a weakness in the coal railroads and exploited it, to huge, short-term benefit, but no thought of the future.
Surprising that you've missed the simple fact that a siding is not necessary for rail servicing distribution centers, nor desired for freight below 25 lbs./cu ft (the majority of freight). The 53' domestic container is today's boxcar-equivalent of the previous generation.
I haven't missed this, I'm saying the whole US rail system needs to be changed from this way of doing business. New distribution centers in Europe are being built on rail lines. And please don't start telling me the US is too big for the European model. It would of course be corridor based in the US.

Of course you're not going to run in the wastelands the same way you run where the people are.
  by taracer
 
QB 52.32 wrote: Sun Feb 26, 2023 11:52 am You mean the $600 million in additional PAR/PAS assets and at least another $100 million invested into these assets by Hunter Harrison's disciples? [yawn]
I don't know, we'll see what happens. How much land they sell and how many lines they spin off. They had to spend to upgrade, but 700-800 million all in is not really that much for a company worth billions.
  by QB 52.32
 
taracer wrote:
QB 52.32 wrote: Sun Feb 26, 2023 11:52 am You mean the $600 million in additional PAR/PAS assets and at least another $100 million invested into these assets by Hunter Harrison's disciples? [yawn]
It's not exactly like Sears in CSX's case, CSX kind of found out that the PSR cuts don't really work long term, but PSR is the reason why NS didn't buy Pan Am.
Sorry, brother, but a couple of more swings-and-misses.

In each case of Hunter Harrison's application of PSR principles, including at CSX, the first step was transforming the operation so it earned its cost-of-capital, important to any capital-intense operation over the long-term and, germane to this thread, that goes to railroad safety, then once that was done pivoted to growth, as is the case for CSX.

Railroads are a network business, so with NS having the (much) weaker principled and practiced network against the Water Level/West Shore network, there's no way they could have successfully invested in the purchase and the necessary upgrades all the way from Keag down across PAS and out to Harrisburg and Buffalo to squeeze out the kind of benefit financially-justifying such a move, even if CSX did not receive the benefit of PSR and exited the New England market. It would be like trying to squeeze out a gallon of orange juice with a half dozen oranges. And, to Mr. Barlow's point with this subject, especially where there was a lot more bang-for-the-buck for NS elsewhere. It was a non-starter whether PSR was in the picture or not.
taracer wrote:I haven't missed this, I'm saying the whole US rail system needs to be changed from this way of doing business. New distribution centers in Europe are being built on rail lines. And please don't start telling me the US is too big for the European model. It would of course be corridor based in the US.
With all due respect, you may want to slow your roll a bit and take a look around. It's happening here as well both in the intermodal and carload markets, to some greater and lesser degrees across the cases, driven by energy and emissions. On the "we'll see with PAR/PAS" front, I wouldn't be surprised if we see rail-based industrial/distribution/consolidation park creation as part of CSX's commercial strategy.
  by GRSdave
 
NPR NATIONAL
EPA tells Norfolk Southern to temporarily stop shipping toxic train derailment waste
February 26, 20231:02 PM ET

JOE HERNANDEZ

The Environmental Protection Agency has ordered shipments of hazardous waste out of East Palestine, Ohio, to stop after complaints from residents and officials in other states where the toxic material was headed.

EPA regional administrator Debra Shore said in a press conference Saturday that the agency instructed the railroad Norfolk Southern to pause transporting any more waste products from the derailment site until federal officials could review the routes and disposal facilities.

The weekend announcement came just days after the EPA announced it was assuming control of the cleanup efforts in East Palestine following the train derailment earlier this month, which resulted in the release of hazardous chemicals into the soil and air and prompted health and safety concerns from residents in the town and nearby.

"We have instructed Norfolk Southern to pause but only temporarily," Shore said, adding that officials would resume transporting the contaminated waste to approved disposal sites "very soon."

"Moving forward, waste disposal plans, including disposal location and transportation routes for contaminated waste, will be subject to federal EPA review and approval," she noted.

Last week, officials in Michigan and Texas expressed surprise and concern that Norfolk Southern had shipped some of the contaminated waste from the derailment site to disposal facilities in their states.

"We were not given a heads up on this reported action," Michigan Rep. Debbie Dingell said in a statement. "Our priority is to always keep the people we represent safe."

Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Texas, said on Wednesday that she was "very sensitive" to concerns from residents who learned that firefighting water from East Palestine was headed to her state. On Saturday, Hidalgo said she was "heartened" by the EPA's decision to pause the transports.

According to Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine's office, 15 truckloads of contaminated soil have already been disposed of at a licensed facility in Michigan. Liquid waste from East Palestine has also been sent to a licensed facility in Texas, but no additional liquid waste will be accepted there.

About 102,000 gallons of liquid waste and 4,500 cubic yards of solid waste are currently being stored in East Palestine, and another five truckloads of contaminated soil that had been sent to Michigan were returned to the town, the office said.

Connor Spielmaker, a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern, said the company's disposal of waste from the derailment site has met state and federal regulations.

"These locations regularly accept this type of material and were chosen due to their specific ability and necessary permitting to dispose of these types of waste," Spielmaker said Saturday in an emailed statement to NPR. "We are working with the US EPA to resume removing waste from East Palestine as soon as possible."

Shore said she believed all the disposal facilities that Norfolk Southern had used were "up to the standards," but that the EPA was reviewing the transportation routes and facilities in response to residents' concerns.

She said it was important to the residents of East Palestine as well as those in the communities where the waste might go to ensure the process was done right.

"We know it's far better to have it safely stored in a properly constructed and monitored disposal facility than to have it remain here any longer than necessary when there are licensed, regulated disposal facilities available that routinely dispose of similar waste," Shore said during the Saturday press conference in East Palestine. "At the same time I know there are folks in other states with concerns – legitimate concerns – about how this waste is being transported and how it is being disposed of."

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