JoeG wrote: ↑Wed Jul 03, 2019 9:33 pm
Maybe someone can enlighten me. How is it that one pole getting knocked down can disable 90-odd miles of multi-track traction power, and also knock out the signal system? I can't imagine that the Pennsy designed such a fragile system. Has Amtrak screwed it up?
I would suspect that the problem was "user error," so to speak, where Amtrak managers preemptively canceled service instead of trying to run as many trains as possible, kind of like when they preemptively canceled Keystone service days in advance of what turned out to be a minor storm.
It’s the day after, I got some sleep and now coffee, so I can be a bit clearer on something with an actual damn keyboard (read: iPad with keyboard cover).
I boarded at 12:14pm (stroke a luck, got the option to do the elevator down to the platform, then get on board while they were switching engines). Around 12:50pm they move the train up a bit and announced that they were being held for an indefinite amount of time.
Talking to the staff, I hear (from Amtrak conductors) that the storm on Monday knocked down a pole and dragged down 70 miles of catenary. And this is an area where the “poles” are actually an i-beam H structure that the catenary hangs down from. So my guess is that one structure between Lancaster and Paoli fell down onto the catenary and track, which then yanked all the catenary down in that 70 mile section (because physics).
In terms of signaling, the only reason why I can think the signals and switches would be affected is if they were tied to the same power as the catenary, and the transformer connected to everything was damaged as well — something very possible given the forces that were involved.
This does mean that ether the bolts on the poles were weak and snapped (rust does that) or someone didn’t tighten the bolts down all the way. Maybe Amtrak should invest in pallets of Fluid Film (lanolin based rust preventative).