• Empire Builder on the Ground in MT

  • Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.
Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, mtuandrew, Tadman

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  by STrRedWolf
2nd trick op wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:11 am If earlier reports are correct, the train hit a farm tractor, possibly with a weed sprayer or other machinery mounted drectly on the tractor, rather than towed; that sitation might have affected the operator's visibility (I grew up on a dariy farm, FWIW)
Early reports are usually incorrect as more information comes in. The closer you can get, the better -- the closest news stations to the event. If you link to where you got the info from, it's better... otherwise, it's unproven or dis-proven rumor.

This is why when you're too far away and too far removed to do anything, the best thing you can do is wait and not get in the way.
  by wigwagfan
STrRedWolf wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:00 am Just looking at alternate service in the area. If they can get buses up to Chester (which I think folks have been evac'ed to, and local medical center is there), they can get them down to Great Falls. From there, it's airlines and Greyhound the rest of the way for major stations.
Greyhound hasn't served Montana in several years now. Jefferson Lines serves Montana but not the high-line or Great Falls. Any alternate service will be a charter. My guess is they used school buses to transport people away from the derailment site.
  by wigwagfan
2nd trick op wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 11:11 am If earlier reports are correct, the train hit a farm tractor
Absolutely no report of a collision with anything.
  by STrRedWolf
wigwagfan wrote: Sun Sep 26, 2021 1:17 pm Greyhound hasn't served Montana in several years now. Jefferson Lines serves Montana but not the high-line or Great Falls. Any alternate service will be a charter. My guess is they used school buses to transport people away from the derailment site.
I'm thinking that as well. Per NPR (Linked above) they were brought to a school in Chester for shelter and care before being bused to Shelby for hotels. From looking at the old 2018 national schedule and some googling, Northern Transit Interlocal can provide Shelby to Great Falls (and airport) service... as well as Cut Bank, Browning, and Whitefish.

Okay, maybe not school bus... From Great Falls, you can bus to Butte, then Spokane, and then Seattle or Portland.

Hmmm... I wonder... From Amtrak's alert on it:
Service Adjustments as a Result of the Derailment
  • Westbound Empire Builder train 7/27, which departed Chicago on Sept. 25, is canceled between Minot, ND (MOT) and Shelby, MT (SBY).
  • Eastbound Empire Builder train 8, which departed Seattle (SEA) on Sept. 25 and Empire Builder train 28 which departed Portland (PDX) on Sept. 25, are also canceled between Shelby, MT (SBY) and Minot, ND (MOT).
  • Westbound Empire Builder 7/27 trains scheduled to depart Chicago between Sept. 26 – 28 will terminate at St. Paul - Minneapolis, MN (MSP).
  • Eastbound Empire Builder train 8, scheduled to depart Seattle Sept. 26 – 28, will not operate between Seattle and St. Paul - Minneapolis, MN (MSP).
  • Empire Builder train 28 departing Portland (PDX) between Sept. 26 – 28 will not operate between Portland (PDX) and St. Paul - Minneapolis, MN (MSP).
  • No substitute transportation is currently available. Amtrak customers can contact us at 800-872-7245 to obtain additional information about the status of services.
Hmmm... 8/28 (25) will be at Shelby today at 11:28a Mountain time... and I would bet they'll turn into 7/27 (25) and leave at 5:22p Local. If folks haven't gotten "alternate transportation" yet, they'll probably go on this train. They can get the train wye'd around at Shelby.

Which means we let the NTSB do their thing.
  by David Benton
New ties on the trackside, spray paint on the existing track. Looks like maintenance in progress or planned. One trains mag photo shows a rail on its side, but it could be a replaced one from track work.
  by justalurker66
Gilbert B Norman wrote:From overlooking the abandoned (in place) D&RGW near Eagle CO--

I heard a radio report ABC News regarding this incident. ABC, known for loving Trump more than Joe was quick to notebthe three fatalities.

Oh, nothing by on the D&RGW; following it since Green River.
The fatalities are the most important part of the incident, regardless of which politicians one hates.
Read any story about any incident (not even rail related) and the number of dead and injured is usually in the headline or first paragraph. The first question the public has is "anyone hurt? anyone die?"

(Of course the first question for certain rail fans is what equipment was damaged and whether Amtrak can run without it. But the general public cares more about the people than the railroad operations.)
  by Trinnau
Found some good photo and video on NBC News - definitely looking like a split switch. Train looks like it was on the main and pinched toward the other track. Images at 1:18, 1:40 and 4:00 seem to confirm that.

Thoughts and prayers to all involved.
  by justalurker66
September 26, 2021 A message from Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn

We are in mourning today for the people who lost their lives due to the derailment of the Empire Builder train Saturday, near Joplin, Montana, on the BNSF Railway, as well as the many others who were injured. We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow for those who lost a loved one or who were hurt in this horrible event. They are in our thoughts and prayers.

We are fully cooperating with the investigation, working closely with National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Railroad Administration, local law enforcement and response agencies. We share the sense of urgency to understand why the accident happened; however, until the investigation is complete, we will not comment further on the accident itself. The NTSB will identify the cause or causes of this accident, and Amtrak commits to taking appropriate actions to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Amtrak’s immediate and sustained focus is on doing everything we can to help our passengers and crew, especially the families of those who were injured or died, at this painful and difficult time. Our Incident Response Team has been initiated. We have sent emergency personnel and Amtrak leadership to the scene to help support our passengers, our employees and their families with their needs. Individuals with questions about their family and friends aboard this train should call 800-523-9101. We have also established a Family Assistance Center in Great Falls, MT, and we will have family assistance liaisons at that site to reach out to those injured and their families to make sure they get what they need. We have dispatched nurse case managers to support those hospitalized. As soon as Amtrak has permission, we will access the accident site to retrieve the personal effects of our passengers and crew.

We want to extend our deep gratitude and sincere appreciation to the Joplin and greater Liberty County communities and other Montana counties and their selfless first responders, hospital staff and law enforcement for their immediate and ongoing help to support of all those aboard the Empire Builder for responding with such urgency, compassion and patience.

Bill Flynn
Amtrak Chief Executive Officer

https://media.amtrak.com/2021/09/a-mess ... ill-flynn/
  by Railjunkie
As soon as that train went into emergency there was an automatic download of the event recorders. So even if it had turned on its side there would have been something to work off of. I would be willing to bet the NTSB already had some data off those engines before they were on the ground.
  by J.D. Lang
I would think that the NTSB would be able to come up with a preliminary probable cause within 2 weeks. With the cab camera and other data recorders, location of the cars on the switch, Amtrak equipment, track and switch conditions they should be able to release a preliminary cause.

On the human side of this tragedy I was in a similar derailment way back in December 1976. I was on the San Francisco Zephyr returning to the East coast from Denver when we derailed in rural Nebraska near the small town of Ralston about 35 miles west of Omaha. The derailment happened about 2:30 AM and most of the cars overturned with some going down a 30ft. embankment. The response from a couple of the small town’s emergency responders, firefighters, and EMT’s was truly remarkable. They were onsite within 20 minutes after the accident. They had to drive through fields and down pathways to get to the site. I think that they removed and brought 43 people to the hospital. The rest of us got banged up pretty good being thrown around and hit be falling luggage. We were brought by neighbors and other volunteers to a library in the small town of Papillion where people from town and local Red Cross gave us blankets, food and water. Doctors came to check us over and Burlington Northern officials arrived on site by 6:00 AM. Amtrak officials and Federal investigators arrived in the late morning. By afternoon they chartered busses to take people to destinations between Omaha and Chicago and for the rest of us headed to the East coast put us on a plane to Chicago and brought us to CUS to make our East coast connections.

The only reason I’m talking about my experience is to highlight the generosity people can have when helping others in a traumatic experience. From the photos and news coverage of this event that I’ve seen the same generosity and caring for others was truly displayed by those in Joplin and the surrounding area. We are all lucky to have such dedicated people among us. My sympathy goes out to all of those affected.
  by eolesen
The reporting in that link is absolute rubbish...

Anyone with basic Google skills would know that both Amtrak and BNSF were 100% PTC compliant on BNSF's network.

Pure speculation from my simulator experience, but it looks pretty clear from the high overheads that the fourth car behind the engines picked the switch.

Sent from my SM-G981U using Tapatalk

  by STrRedWolf
Also, Link toBNSF statement on the accident

Back to the photo... I kinda want to see more east of the East Beulow interlock (up in the photo). My thinking is that there's two derailments, one of the back three sleepers (from what I can tell) rolling 270 degrees over, possibly hitting a sensor that false-signaled to the interlock and caused the remaining train to split the interlock. The cause of the first one is east of this photo.

Can't wait for the NTSB report, but that's 30 days away...
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