• Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

  • 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

  • 662 posts
  • 1
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45
  by lstone19
 
Tadman wrote: As to the “stop wrecking trains” position, it’s easy to say that. But now under PTC you have to worry that every engineer in the US has bad information, when prior to PTC, the worry was that a small percentage of bad apples were flaunting the rules. The probability of accidents statistically went up with PTC, because 100% of engineers now might have bad info without knowing it.
Again, I agree with Tadman. That you can have bad information and not know it can lead you down the primrose path - thinking everything is fine when it's not.

I was in a similar situation once where I made a wrong decision because I had bad information with no way to know it was bad. I referee soccer. One day, with thunderstorms in the forecast, I showed up for a game to find the previous game on t-storm hold with the thunderstorm predictor at the site activated. Shortly afterwards, it gave the all clear, they resumed and finished, and I got my game started.

These predictors (Thor-Gard by trade name) sound a horn when they alarm and while alarmed, a strobe light on the device flashes every few seconds. All clear is indicated by the horn sounding again in a different pattern. The problem leading to bad information is that there is no difference in what the person looking at the external horn and light can see between its "not alarmed" state and "off" (there is a control panel but that's almost always locked in a building). And many sites turn them off (usually by timed program) at night to avoid disturbing neighbors.

So, there I was, reffing the game. Weather looked threatening but because the Thor-Gard had not alarmed, I thought I was good. Until the lightning right over the field. As it turned out, we had gone past the programmed off time for the device but there I was, thinking I had a working thunderstorm predictor to back me up. As result, what should have been an orderly stop and clear the field became a panicked get off the field and to your cars right now - RUN!

So back to Tadman's point, if you think you've got PTC backing you up (and no doubt there will be operators, particularly those with no pre-PTC experience, who will think this way), you might not operate with the care you should because you're thinking PTC will stop me from doing something really stupid (complacent as Lurker put it - just like I thought that the storm detector that turned out to be off would stop me from making a mistake).
  by Tadman
 
Think of it this way: many cars now have a tire pressure monitoring system. Many cars also have an oil light. Most drivers depend on those lights to alert them to low tires or lack of engine oil. Thing is, if either of those lights or circuits fail, you have serious problems. If the tires get perilously low, an accident could occur and kill people. If oil gets too low, the engine can run dry and seize up, costing $5,000 for a new or rebuilt engine. It's good practice once a month to check your oil and your tires, and not let the lights come on for you. There's a reason they're called "idiot lights" by car guys. If I check my oil and tires, I know the car is good to go for a while.


Right now what happens on MIchigan lines is that if ITCS is turned off, MAS is lowered to 79 from the usual 110. That is always interesting to me as you're just as dead at 79 as at 110. Anywhere over 40 mph and a train is very hard to stop. I never understood the 79mph rule for non-ATS trackage.
  by Tadman
 
justalurker66 wrote:Are you demanding that I accept your opinion as fact? :-D
Ha I often do agree with your opinion. I just got off our favorite little railroad at Randolph Street.
  by rr503
 
I don’t subscribe to a good bit of what this blog says, but this post seems relevent here, and frankly raises some good points. Gist is that this fascination with the Talgos obfuscates many deeper issues with US rail safety, and is unhelpful insofar as equipment falling off a bridge at 80mph can only do so well.

https://pedestrianobservations.com/2019 ... less-safe/" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
  by ApproachMedium
 
Any PTC system cut out brings a 79mph top speed restriction. Many lines running PTC have not lifted their speeds beyond 80 for passenger trains yet anyways. When ACSES fails, we have cab signal still so we can do 125, 110 from New haven to boston. PTC is entirely a pain in the butt. If it doesnt get communication it can put a train in a penalty and wont let it move. They have had a lot of issues with trains leaving washington DC because of this. The lack of cell and GPS signal in the Virginia ave tunnel makes this a lot of fun. They have to download their route before they depart, if the system needs an update, well that could be another 45 minutes. PTC is more of a huge pain in the hind end than it seems to be helping. I have been saying for years adding cab signal would help everything a lot more than PTC would. Having cabs helps, and keeps engineers on their toes. They still have to know the territory and still have to know where everything is if the system is working or not. So when it does fail they can move the train safely. We have been dealing with cab signal failures in the northeast for many years and we have run plenty of trains with failed cabs enroute with little to no incident!

I can see somebody operating without acses or PTC system cut in making a wreck. It most certainly breeds complacency.
  by David Benton
 
Tadman wrote:
justalurker66 wrote:
Tadman wrote:Why did we develop a halfass $15b system to guard against texting and driving, a malicious and arrogant unforced error as bad as drunk driving? Why did we develop this system to guard against poor training regimen, another unforced error as bad as driving blindfolded?
I have been saying it for years. If the industry does not want PTC, stop wrecking trains.

As for blaming PTC when it is off - we can agree to disagree on that. I'm not going to complain that the room is dark when I refuse to turn on the light. I'm not going to complain that the house is cold when I refuse to set the thermostat above 50 degrees for heating. There are times for testing when a system has to be bypassed but still connected. There are procedures for those times.

We live in a world where there are no guarantees.
We can disagree on opinions if PTC is effective, but we can’t disagree in the fact that the system is not positive. That’s a fact. It was sold on being a positive system, and it’s not. It is a well-accepted legal concept under OSHA that if there was an accident, there is evidence of a hazard sufficient enough to write a citation for violation.

As to the “stop wrecking trains” position, it’s easy to say that. But now under PTC you have to worry that every engineer in the US has bad information, when prior to PTC, the worry was that a small percentage of bad apples were flaunting the rules. The probability of accidents statistically went up with PTC, because 100% of engineers now might have bad info without knowing it.
If you follow your logic, all the Engineers in these crashes must have been bad apples.,flaunting the rules. But of course, they weren't, they made mistakes,but none were intentional.I bet many engineer is thinking that could have happened to me. I doubt there are many calling for PTC to be turned off.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
I now own an '18 auto with "driver assistance", I think it is "scary, of sorts".

If I, the driver, "follows too close", on go the brakes to have a safe distance. If you are about to hit something, forward or reverse, jam go the brakes. Weave out of your lane, the wheel vibrates.

It doesn't have "PTC", or, if a light is Red, it will stop. That's probably next on the horizon.

This is all scary to me.

I must wonder what drivers of vehicles with "Auto Pilots" (Tesla?) must think. Do they have a license to "go to sleep at the wheel, thinking "all's OK"? Several fatalities have shown it's not.

The "observer" that Uber had "on the clock", but whose inattention resulted in a fatality, should be behind bars.

Back on the rails, should the UP crew at Goodwell (head on; UP/SP "Golden State" route) be given a pass had there been PTC in force? They would be alive, but they'd be out of work. Frankford Jct; well he's alive; hope he enjoys working at "Mickey D's" until he drops dead.

With my "driver assisted" buggy, I can't let that be me; and now that the Amtrak LD fares are pushing my obscenity button coupled with their service downgrsdes, My less than year old "Black Beauty" (11,200 miles) is my penultimate of travel comfort.
  by justalurker66
 
Gilbert B Norman wrote:I must wonder what drivers of vehicles with "Auto Pilots" (Tesla?) must think. Do they have a license to "go to sleep at the wheel, thinking "all's OK"? Several fatalities have shown it's not.
Humans are good at misusing technology. I try not to blame the technology. Tesla never intended for their drivers to stop driving, but they went too far in the level of control they gave their cars. They jumped from driver warning features to a feature that allowed the driver to put the car in control. And some owners made it obvious that they were not ready for that level of automation.

PTC is designed to be one step above a "driver warning system". The additional step is when the vehicle intervenes when a hazard is detected. At that level, automation does not make the vehicle move - it allows the vehicle to move with the ability to make the vehicle stop. (A warning only system just tells the operator that there is an issue they need to address, such as a GPS that announces when the car is over speed or proximity/lane detectors or tire pressure monitors or engine overheat indicators. The next level intervenes by preventing a vehicle from accelerating or stopping the vehicle to prevent mechanical failure or a collision or maintaining lane control by adjusting the steering. Tesla took it beyond the second level and programmed their cars to maintain speed, change lanes without driver instruction and effectively replace the driver -- until the software was modified.)

I agree with you, Mr Norman, in that I am not ready for my personal vehicle to take over control. As I age I can see the value in "warning only" systems that will act as another set of eyes. But I want to drive the car ... If the car drives me I am going to need to pass beyond Tesla's level of automation and move to flat out automated cars where the vehicle is 100% responsible. But that is an entirely different issue.

PTC is resented in the industry to the level where I do not expect to see "saved by PTC" stories. At this point all we have is a growing list of incidents where activated PTC could have prevented an incident. Lesser steps could also have prevented those "PTC preventable" incidents but brains don't function well when turned off. Management brains that decided that a couple of nearly blind runs and no experience in new equipment was a good idea in the Cascade wreck. Trained professional engineers can handle anything, but management turned off their brains and skipped the trained part.

Driver assisted cars are at the point where marketing (those trying to sell the systems) are willing to show examples and simulations of when the warnings and interventions would have helped. But there isn't a chorus of a million drivers who are willing to credit their vehicles with preventing an accident. To do so is to admit failure on the part of the driver. Most (myself included) do not want to admit failure at that level.

Penalty stops were in the railroad industry long before anyone could spell PTC. The attitude toward them has not changed. I read more stories about how a penalty stop interfered with the operation of a train than how a penalty stop prevented an incident. Those complaints continue into the PTC era. If one reacts based solely on the underreported successes and overreported failures one would be removing penalty stop equipment from the trains. The human factor continues to be a problem.

The actuaries that kept PTC (or alternative systems) from being implemented voluntarily also have to deal with "underreported successes and overreported failures". Thousands of trains run every day - the public focuses on the ones that have issues. The actuaries that looked at the numbers and decided that it was cheaper to pay damages when an incident occurs than to implement preventative systems lost to public pressure. Putting a price tag on lives isn't hard, but it is unpopular. Litigation caps make it easier for the actuaries to say no to expensive preventative measures.
  by Tadman
 
David Benton wrote: If you follow your logic, all the Engineers in these crashes must have been bad apples.,flaunting the rules. But of course, they weren't, they made mistakes,but none were intentional.I bet many engineer is thinking that could have happened to me. I doubt there are many calling for PTC to be turned off.
If the engineer wasn't a bad apple, then a supervisor or manager was.

Chatsworth: texting and driving

Spuyten Duyvil: Crew fatigue

Cascade: Lack of training

North Philly: Crew fatigue(?)

None of these are innocent mistakes, somewhere someone decided to cut a corner and knew they were doing it. It was a mistake of commission. Compare that to PTC where everybody thinks everything will be cool 100% of the time, and it won't be, we've already seen that happen once.
  by ApproachMedium
 
Chatsworth: They knew this guy had problems and the kids knew he was texting and what he was doing while texting

Spuyten Duyvil: This guy had sleep apnea, and they kept changing his schedule and he continued to work a job that was very early and not good for somebody who doesnt get a lot of rest. While i dont know peoples personal or family issues, its likely the company put him in this position thru annoying schedule changes and lack of job seniority.

Dupont(Cascade): Clearly lack of training, this guy was a veteran railroader and was no novice to the rail industry.

North Philly: Brandon was one of the top shelf engineers of the area, Extremely critical. Lots of things broke down, crew fatigue, fight or flight, distractions from nearby incidents etc. Another situation where earlier incidents caused fatigue and distress on the crew but due to newer operating situations put fourth by the company the crew still had to operate this train unfortunately, with little to no rest between trains. Another issue, among the lack of cab signal drops on the curve etc which are compounded to a root problem with the carriers failure to act. A similar, but non derailing non lethal overspeed incident happened at the exact location not long before this. The suggestion of cab drops was begged for, it never came. And then this happened.
  by dowlingm
 
I realize this is near T***oliner levels of speculative/provocative posting, but if a tilting train is required, then there is always dieselising the Acelas when the Avelias come :D :D :D
  by Vincent
 
The thought of re-purposing the Acelas crossed my mind, too. They are actually newer than the Talgo VI trainsets and they might also have lower mileage than the VIs. The biggest obstacle would be platform height--all Cascades stations are low-level platforms,
  by ApproachMedium
 
Those acelas are doomed. The value of conversion to diesel is null. The money you would have to pay bombardier and alstom to interface all of that propritary stuff into a diesel power plant on a train with 30 year old tech, is not worth it.

You literally need a windows 98 laptop to diagnose repair and maintain the tilting system. Please, just let the things die already.
  by Vincent
 
Acelas on the Cascades corridor isn't going to work. Let's move on to something else.

At WSDOT, project management is very process driven. Anyone who has formal training in the field of PROJECT MANAGEMENT or is familiar with the PMBOK would recognize the processes and systems that guided WSDOT's planning for the Bypass route. The Project Management philosophy is that proper planning leads to successful project completion. So, where did the process go wrong that led to the accident at milepost 19.8?

An important part of the Project Management process is Risk Assessment and Management. At some point the teams designing the bypass route would have evaluated the risks posed by having a 30 mph curve on the route. We know that the option of rebuilding the overpass and creating a straighter ROW was rejected as too expensive, but it looks like the WSDOT planners decided to accept the risks posed by a 30 mph curve but failed to create a successful risk mitigation plan. At some point the WSDOT planners calculated that the likelihood of an accident at MP 19.8 was low enough that the planners decided to accept the risk. What should have then happened was the creation of a mitigation plan that would prevent an accident with signage, signaling and training. The mitigation plan should have been marked as a critical safety element of the overall plan and given highest priority. The mitigation plan should have been created with input from all stakeholders, particularly the engineers who would be operating the trains through the curve and the supervisors who would be responsible for training the engineers. We know that the mitigation plan did not adequately address the risks of the curve.

PMBOK stands for Project Management Body of Knowledge and WSDOT closely follows its processes. Unfortunately, when projects involve heavy machinery moving people rapidly over terrain, it's important that mission critical safety features of the plan be given extraordinary consideration. To me, it looks like WSDOT planned the Bypass project like Microsoft would plan the upgrade of a existing product. Nobody will die if Microsoft's upgrade has a problem, but that isn't true for a train entering a 30 mph curve at 78 mph.
  • 1
  • 40
  • 41
  • 42
  • 43
  • 44
  • 45