dt_rt40 wrote:We were told of a disabled train on 148 this morning. I say to myself "better not be a sick HHP-8 with a marc train". Turns out it was 517. We pull alongside it, sure enough it was a hideous MP-36...which remember MARC bought less than a decade ago to be 'more reliable' than previous locomotives. In many years of being a MARC rider, my only extreme delayed trains were due to Amtrak AEM-7s and HHP-8 when riding the cross honored regionals, and a MP-36. Never one of the MARC electrics. Yes I know that statistically, they were an improvement. But they still fail at too high a rate.
Anyhow now that I'm done griping...perhaps a question which would maybe be better posted to Amtrak...but it's not like they don't have their hands full with topics at the moment LOL. *After* the Amtrak 148 de-energized (HEP off) to connect the bridge to the MARC train, we had to wait almost 5 minutes before the engineer - I guess - said on the radio it was ok to connect the train bodies. I don't remember the exact wording but it was something like 'clear' or 'safe'. Why the wait? Do they literally use a voltmeter somewhere to check for potential differences between the train sets? I have actually been through this procedure before with two regionals, and I know both had to be de-powered because I walked from one to the other. In this case I was on the receiving train. Not sure if that is done by just opening the MCB, or actually lowering the pantograph? I'm sure the legal department insists that the procedure is extensively detailed in some operations manual. They told the people not to touch both cars.
Nevermind the question of whether this was actually the best way to handle the scenario! Delayed us over an hour. (and more importantly, Amtrak customers from NYC who were paying full price) This was right next to the NS yard...they have scads of locomotives seemingly just sitting around on idle. Is it completely out of the question for them to do an "I scratch your back, you scratch mine" FAVOR, and just pull the disabled MARC back to Baltimore Penn where the PAX could have transferred to 419 or 421? It can't be against rules to pull a passenger train with a loco that can't supply HEP, right? For a couple miles? Our car got a bit cold due to the almost hour long period w/o HEP. The trip back to Baltimore would have taken 10 minutes at most, and the NS locomotive could have been back to the yard in a half hour or so. The 'transfer the passengers' rodeo seemed a bit ridiculous in this case. I could accept it more if the train got disabled way out in Aberdeen, for example. (which actually did happened to me...I just realized I've actually been through this before, back in 2010 or 2011...the dark days before the ACS-64 LOL. In that case the gangplank was in a different car so I wasn't as aware of the goings-on. FWIW, the prior scenario I recalled in the above paragraph was not a breakdown, but a train-human frontal contact incident.)
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Just to get things clear: You were on Amtrak 148 and it turns out MARC 517 hit a trespasser, right?
Yeah, here's the deal. When a person goes squish by a train, the line in that section shuts down while the police investigate
. The police (Amtrak, MTA Maryland, and local county officers) are in control of the line in that section. It doesn't matter if it happened in Bayview and there's NS tracks with trains on one side and CSX on the other. Police have the say in an accident. I know this because I used to work for MTA Maryland and coded bits of MARC's Operations system.
For example: August 7th, 2017, about 7:20am. I was in the coffee shop at the Odenton MARC station at the time. A person waiting on the platform makes a decision, drops his backpack, goes out to the center track
and kisses a Regional going 125 MPH northbound... in front of a full load of people waiting for the 7:24am to DC (MARC 415).
Police were already called, but it was too late. There was not much of the guy left.
People at the station were traumatized, and some go home. Others are able to catch MARC 415 as the police wave it through the station... then lock the tracks down. No MARC, no Amtrak, no nothing. The Regional is terminated at BWI, trains are canceled until 11am, when they open up but close the MARC station until 12:30pm. They as in AA County, MTA Maryland, and Amtrak police. Oh, and maybe Homeland Security's TSA. They're known to be around the NEC.
Now, I've gone through the MARC Ops logs back in the day and it's always the same thing, no matter who owns the track: Some person goes squish, the line is shut down for at least four hours, and if something is already on the way up and can't stop, the police do dispatch in the local area.