• Chase, Maryland 1/4/87

  • Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.
Discussion related to the operations and equipment of Consolidated Rail Corp. (Conrail) from 1976 to its present operations as Conrail Shared Assets. Official web site can be found here: CONRAIL.COM.

Moderators: TAMR213, keeper1616

  by USRailFan
 
LCJ wrote:Yes -- allowances have always been made for local service on NEC.

Also note that freight locomotives on NEC must be equipped with LSL (locomotive speed limiter), a computerized device that regulates speed in accordance with cab and wayside signals.
Were all Conrail (and now Norfolk Southern/CSX) locos equipped with this, or only certain models? Which Conrail types had Cab Signals and LSL?

  by Zeke
 
A friend of mine Louie Rodgers ( 1955 PRR ) was the regular Engineer on the Colonial for 2 years and bid off the run in October's change of time rollover. The poor fellow that bought the farm was based out of Washington and held that run in November until the tragedy. I knew him in passing, a good guy and a top notch Engineer. I also knew the Wreckmaster who worked the cleanup and I wont go into detail but the word Horror does not begin to describe the aftermath. 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. That guy was a misfit that somehow occupied the right hand seat of a locomotive. Graham Claytor, Amtrak president at the time went wild when he was told of the wreck that Sunday afternoon and I have heard from a reliable source called up Philly( Conrail s HQ ) and read the FULL riot act to them. This was the impetus that curtailed much of CR's remaining thru traffic on the NEC. Senator Joe Biden D-Delaware a regular Amtrak rider told a conductor friend of mine that if the wreck occured in Montana the repercussions would have been less drastic. He opined that all the D.C. pols headed up to the wreck site monday morning and were shocked at the damage up close and personal. Once the causation of the Wreck was revealed Congressman and Senators jumped on the bandwagon, the stage set for the mandatory Federal Drug test / Operating certificate etc. I ran a lot of freight and passenger trains over that stretch of railroad and that wreck was easily avoidable. 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. I believe that wreck cost Conrail 55 million dollars when all claims were settled, but hey we saved a few bucks taking that derail out , right ?

  by LCJ
 
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.

  by Zeke
 
With all due respect to LCJ " Legends tend to become fact "when said legends.... ARE FACT. LCJ's judgement may be clouded due to personal feelings of sympathy for Mr. Gates ,a fellow co- worker, quite understandable. I have seen this " GENERALLY CONSCIENTOUS " employee's handiwork and could not disagree more with LCJ's observations. An AMTRAK Vice -President of Passenger Services, a personal friend of Mr. Claytor was present at Mr. Claytors home when he called up a top Conrail official that Sunday evening. Mr. Claytor expressed his displeasure in no uncertain terms, was highly agitated and told the Conrail official he could forget about running trains on HIS railroad. How am I privy to this conversation that Amtrak V.P. was a friend of mine, he is now retired. A wreck survivor observed a television set being hustled out of the cab of Mr. Gates lead locomotive by what was later determined to be the conductor. The television was thrown into the Gunpowder river it was later recoverd by a State Police diver. THE OLD SPLIT RAIL IDEA etc. How would LCJ KNOW that Ricky Gates locomotives would not have ran out into the weeds...... pure conjecture not supported by THE FACTS. I am sorry but the split rail derail that was removed prior to this incident was a safety appliance that would have prevented or in the worst case greatly minimized the wreck of The Colonial. Mr. Gates disgraced my profession, I stand by my post it is accurate.

  by LCJ
 
Zeke wrote:LCJ's judgement may be clouded due to personal feelings of sympathy.
Not personal feelings or sympathy of a coworker but objective observations of a manager actually on the scene.
Zeke wrote:A wreck survivor observed a television set being hustled out of the cab of Mr. Gates lead locomotive by what was later determined to be the conductor. The television was thrown into the Gunpowder river it was later recoverd by a State Police diver.
Zeke heard it from someone who heard it from someone who heard it from someone who survived the wreck that there definitely was a TV. "Later determined" to be the conductor? Determined by whom? I guess he hobbled up the steps on his badly broken leg and carried it over to throw in the river? I have to wonder why (and how) he would do that.

I don't recall any mention of a found TV in the official reports. Diver yes. But no TV. Never was one. Legend often repeated...

I guess if Zeke wants to believe it, he certainly has the right. Plenty of others have accepted it as fact as well. I won't say any more about it.
Zeke wrote:Mr. Gates disgraced my profession...
No -- I think he disgraced himself and he has to live with that. The "profession" was forced to become more "professional" by this terrible event. I guess if one chooses to feel disgraced, they are free to do so, though.

I'm not sure of the significance of the Claytor conversation. I'm sure he was very angry. Many people were. I received a few angry calls that day myself. Did traffic patterns on NEC change after that? Of course, but this was not the "impetus" for getting more freight trains off. NS still runs them down there, by the way. How else would they get to Baltimore from Harrisburg?

Why was the finding of the sorely lacking derail not included in the recommendations of the NTSB? I guess they were just arrogant and wouldn't listen to the smarter people either.

Reality is that -- to my knowledge anyway -- derails are not used on main tracks to prevent intrusion into interlockings. Equipment derailing at speed is too unpredictable. Find me one somewhere. I'd like to see it.

Zeke stands by his post. OK. Why am I not surprised?

Edited one time for spelling error. I'm compulsive that way.
Last edited by LCJ on Mon Feb 07, 2005 11:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

  by AmtrakFan
 
I was talking with Mr. Gates on another board one time. He clamined he never had a TV. He went to jail for 5 Years now he is a heavy equitment operator. I blame as him as much as I blame the Bean Counters who took out the 3rd track at Chase.

  by Zeke
 
LCJ has every right to his opinion I respect that and we agree to disagree. What prevented the wreck from being even more destructive was the FACT that two motors were on the head end that fateful day and the first car in the train was deadheaded. It was going to be opened up in Philly. By no stretch of rational thinking could anyone make the attempt to claim Mr. Gates is also a victim here. Mr. Gates chose to ingest a narcotic that day, was under the influence of a narcotic and operating his locomotives in that condition in 125 mph territory. I have run many miles at 125 mph over the NEC. You are covering a mile every 28.5 seconds. When you see an object up ahead, on or close to your track, by the time you reach for the Automatic Brake, make an application and it begins to take effect you 've gone a half mile at the minimum with very little reduction in speed. I can't begin to imagine what the engineer of The Colonial thought when he realized Mr. Gates was fouling his right of way. My animus towards Gates may come from the fact it could have been me or one of my close friends. At the risk of incurring the wrath of the moderator, What do we tell the 23 year old female music student in the second car whose legs were amputated mid thigh or the man sitting behind her who lost his right arm or the fellow in the third car who instantly went from a healthy 50 year old man to a quadraplegic let alone the relatives of the deceased ? I pity Mr. Gates for he has to live with this terrible offence against his sacred duty ...... the duty a locomotive engineer assumes whenever he takes over the throttle ... to protect all human life in his care even if it means the loss of his own.

  by LCJ
 
Zeke wrote:I can't begin to imagine what the engineer of The Colonial thought when he realized Mr. Gates was fouling his right of way.
I've thought of that myself many times.

  by AmtrakFan
 
kevikens wrote:This guy is operating heavy equipment today ????
Yes he is.
  by GN 599
 
Alright you CR guys I work out west for a Class 1 and these old heads still talk about this guy. I've seen pics of the wreck and heard "folklore'' but c'mon I know someone on here worked with him. I would like to hear the story from an actual CR guy. What ever happened to him anyway? Also I understand that a handful of BN RS-3's headed east during the early days of CR I was wondering if there were any pics on the web or if anyone had them in consists or anything. Alcos are great East coast or West. :-D

  by LIRRNOVA55
 
He most certanly still is around. He posts on trains.com
Theres an 11 page topic about the wreck.

  by Zeke
 
Drop down to the Chase, Maryland 1/4/87 thread on this forum and you can get a good idea what transpired .

  by GN 599
 
Ah thanks fellas. How about them RS-3's

  by WANF-11--->Chaser
 
Summary:

Greatful Dead said it:

"Driving that train....high on cocaine, Ricky Gates you better watch your speed!"

Ok, maybe thats not 100% accurate

:wink: