Zeke wrote:Ricky Gates was and is a disgrace to our profession and he knows it. Smoking pot ,drinking alcohol and watching a battery operated Television while running on the 125 mph NEC defies explanation,and really there is none.
All due respect to Zeke, but....
Legends tend to become fact
when repeated often enough. The real facts
are that, although Mr. Gates talked openly afterward about how railroaders often used alcohol on the job, there was no alcohol in his blood that day
, and there was no televison of any kind
on board the locomotive that day. Facts.
Zeke wrote:That guy was a misfit that somehow occupied the right hand seat of a locomotive.
I have to beg to differ with Zeke on this as well. Having personally known Mr. Gates, and having observed him at work many times prior to this incident, I have to say he was a generally conscientious employee who made some tragic errors that, in coincidence with other factors that day, produced this enormously tragic result. This event caused many (or at least should have
caused many) to look in the mirror and ask themselves if their routines could have produced a similar result under the same circumstances.
Was he negligent that day? Absolutely
. Is he an idiot who had no business ever operating a locomotive? No
I can't think of a good reason why locomotive engineers shouldn't
be required to maintain certification. It's one regulatory program that, in my opinion, has worked very well in eliminating or cleaning up
the folks on the rosters who had problems keeping a driver's license, if you know what I mean. It was overdue, as I see it. Too bad it took what it did to get it.
Zeke wrote:This was the impetus that curtailed much of CR's remaining thru traffic on the NEC.
This is a false statement, as I have indicated in this forum in the past. Conrail had already removed what traffic could be removed from NEC at this point. Trackage rights on the B&O line and rerouting via Hagerstown gateway were already in place at this point. The "impetus" was the amount Amtrak was charging them to run trains on NEC.
Zeke wrote:I ran a lot of freight and passenger trains over that stretch of railroad and that wreck was easily avoidable.
No argument there. Simply test your cab signals properly
, pay attention to wayside signals and cab signals
, and comply with their indications
. I'm sure Zeke would have done it just that way. I ran the sister unit sight distance and stop distance tests a week later. We had no problem seeing the signals or stopping clear of Gunpow using only 50-60% application of independent brakes alone.
The truth is that people get complacent about proper procedures designed to ensure safety -- procedures such as cab signal departure tests
that will reveal muffled cab signal alert whistles, and burned out or missing bulbs.
Zeke wrote:The track Gates was operating on ( no. 1 ) was basically a long freight lead out of Bayview yard in Baltimore heading north to Gunpow. The PRR in it's well thought out wisdom had for probably 50 years placed a split rail interlocked derail at that location to prevent exactly what transpired..... a freight move running a stop signal and fouling ( no. 2 track ) the northbound high speed passenger main. Amtrak took that split rail derail out in a cost saving move citing the greatly decreased freight traffic. WRONG but you cant tell arrogant know it all managers anything. If that derail had still been in place Ricky Gates would have wound up out in the weeds where he belonged and The Colonial could have passed without incident.
The old split-rail derail idea that won't die
. The facts
are that the track they were operating North on was (is) a signalled, main track
between River and Gunpow. Maximum speed for this track was, at that time, 60 mph for lite locomotives in multiple. Imagine, if you will, what would have happened to these units had they gone through a split-rail derail at Gunpow that day. Not just "in the weeds," but all over the place fouling the other tracks anyway.
I'm sorry, but you don't purposely derail moving trains at track speed
, no matter what you're trying to prevent. Zeke may be thinking of the derail located at the North end of Bayview yard that prevented runaway cars from fouling the main.