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Amtrak crash south of Tacoma

 
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tfan



Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: 12/18/17 9:49 pm    ::: Amtrak crash south of Tacoma Reply Reply with quote

At least 6 people are dead from the Amtrak commuter train crash south of Tacoma Washingon. It looks like it is going to be the same cause as the May 12, 2015 Amtrak crash near Philadelphia - the engineer failed to slow the train when it went into a curve.

Congress had passed something in 2008 mandating that equipment that would prevent these human errors (and was not new and already used around the world) needed to be in place by 2015. But they extended it to 2018 and may postpone it till 2020.

Besides the deaths and the injuries, the crash could end up costing more in lawsuit payments than it would have cost to install the equipment. Congress somehow limits the damages that Amtrak has to pay from crashes, but they increased the limit to $285 million for the Philadelphia crash. That seems like it would buy a lot of equipment to auto-monitor speeds. In this case, the "positive train control" equipment is supposed to be installed and available on that section of track, but was not being used by Amtrak for some reason.


pilight



Joined: 23 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: 12/18/17 9:58 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

It's a typical government run program. They spend so much money on trains in places where nobody rides them that they can't afford to do maintenance and upgrades where people do.



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sambista



Joined: 25 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: 12/19/17 5:50 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

stupid, stupid, stupid. how do you run a high-speed train (in a place that's never had a high-speed train) and not have every available safety measure in place and on line?

https://www.citylab.com/transportation/2017/12/a-catastrophic-train-derailment-in-washington-state/548663/

Quote:
But the new route faced stiff resistance from communities along the rerouted corridor. Some local leaders had specifically expressed concern about the speed of the train, reports The News Tribune, and had called for grade separations to keep trains at a distance from cars and pedestrians. Chillingly, Lakewood Mayor Don Anderson predicted earlier this month that a deadly accident on the new route was only a matter of time. He also criticized the state for not using federal funds to pay for safety improvements. “Come back when there is that accident, and try to justify not putting in those safety enhancements, or you can go back now and advocate for the money to do it, because this project was never needed and endangers our citizens,” Anderson told KOMO News.


Quote:
The new Siemens Charger locomotives running on the new Cascades route were equipped for positive train control, the much-touted modern safety system that automatically brakes trains when dangerous situations are detected. But it appears that the sysyem was not yet activated, according to a WSDOT press release. The system was planned to go live corridor-wide in 2018.


and shame on trump (why do i bother anymore?) for beating his chest about infrastructure spending as his first tweet related to this tragedy.



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pilight



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PostPosted: 12/19/17 10:24 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Trump won't do any more for the infrastructure than his predecessors did. Bush and Obama both got massive spending bills that were supposed to be used primarily for that purpose but somehow failed to improve things. Of course if the politicians actually allocated the funds for their stated purpose there would be no justification for the next boondoggle. In short:

Taxpayers = Charlie Brown
Politicians = Lucy
The promise of improving infrastructure = football



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tfan



Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: 12/19/17 1:27 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Derailed Amtrak was going 80 mph in 30 mph zone

Quote:
The National Transportation Safety Board says a data recorder was recovered from the passenger train that derailed south of Seattle on Monday. The recorder shows the train was traveling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone. (Dec. 19) AP




Amtrak train derailed on track that had automatic-braking technology — but it wasn't switched on
Quote:

Train 501 was going 80 mph Monday in a curve posted for 30 mph when several cars derailed and dangled off a bridge above Interstate 5

The board will spend months determining what role speed and any other factors played in the accident before making recommendations about how to avoid future accidents.


calbearman76



Joined: 02 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: 12/19/17 11:56 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Already the finger pointing has begun. Amtrak, Sounder (the company that owns the track), local civic groups and politicians, all trying to get their story out first. I certainly can't evaluate the claims, I doubt any of us can. Let the experts do their jobs. I'm sure there are a confluence of issues that caused this tragedy.


bcdawg04



Joined: 12 Apr 2016
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PostPosted: 12/20/17 12:48 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

All signs currently indicate that this had nothing to do with maintenance or cheap infrastructure. This was the inaugural run on a brand new, poorly designed track. I'm sure there is a lot of blame to go around.

I really feel for the crew and the operator, who were all injured, as well as the three people who were killed, the other passengers, and the I-5 motorists who were also injured. The morning of the crash my co-worker said his friend was on the train and had fortunately escaped with only minor injuries. The fatalities could have been far worse...but it's still three too many.

I grew up in Olympia and I know the stretch of I-5 from Seattle to Olympia really well. I've never taken the Amtrak, but my mom often rides it from Olympia to Portland. The affected stretch of I-5 South remains closed as officials work to clear the trains safely, and then they have to inspect the road for damage. I-5 is the only major North-South route in and out of Seattle. With intermittent closures on eastbound I-90 due to weather, this area kind of feels a bit isolated at this time.


sambista



Joined: 25 Sep 2004
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PostPosted: 12/20/17 2:25 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

bcdawg04 wrote:
All signs currently indicate that this had nothing to do with maintenance or cheap infrastructure. This was the inaugural run on a brand new, poorly designed track. I'm sure there is a lot of blame to go around.


i've got a bunch of friends around there and watched with interest. cut my teeth at the tacoma news-tribune. (go, huskies! the real huskies!) i don't believe anyone on the freeway was injured, if reports are to be believed. but i also don't think it's true that this was a "new" track. i believe it was either retrofitted and/or connected to the part(s) of the track overseen by amtrak, for the purposes of this run. either way, i would definitely put the positive track control (turned on and functioning properly) under either heading of maintenance or infrastructure. everything available should have been employed for a scenario with obvious contingencies.



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tfan



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PostPosted: 12/20/17 4:21 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

That track is old, originally owned by the BNSF freight railroad and now owned by Sound Transit, but Sound Transit trains don't run as far south as where the crash was. Amtrak and/or Washington department of transportation made some upgrades to the track since the Amtrak trains were planning to run at 79 mph for much of the route, which is faster than freight trains had gone on it. I don't think there has been a definitive statement yet as to whether there is positive train control installed at the location of the crash. Sound Transit has said that PTC is installed for at least some part of their track.

They are talking now about a conductor-in-training that was sitting in the front engine cab with the train engineer to get a view of the route, as the conductor is supposed to have knowledge of the trip. And they are using the word "distracted" with regard to the engineer and a second person in the cab. "Distracted" seems to be a preferred term by the railroads and transit agencies with regard to train engineer caused crashes. I suspect that "distracted" sounds better in court when defending the lawsuits, versus other ways to characterize going 80 mph into a 30 mph curve.

There are cameras (and related data capture devices) that were focused both inside and outside the engine cab, but they are damaged and it is not known if anything can be recovered from them.




Last edited by tfan on 12/20/17 5:54 pm; edited 1 time in total
bcdawg04



Joined: 12 Apr 2016
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Location: Seattle


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PostPosted: 12/20/17 4:42 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

tfan wrote:
I don't think there has been a definitive statement yet as to whether there is positive train control installed at the location of the crash.


Locally, it is being reported that this location did not yet have positive train control--but the location is scheduled to within the next several months. The state, however, had financial motivation to open the line this year.


tfan



Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: 12/22/17 9:19 pm    ::: Reply Reply with quote

Looks like they were able to recover the engine cab video from the crash:

Engineer of Amtrak train was not on cellphone at time of crash


Quote:
“About six seconds prior to the derailment,” the board said, “the engineer made a comment regarding an over speed condition.” He apparently then tried to brake.


Quote:
The report concludes: “The recording ended as the locomotive was tilting and the crew was bracing for impact.”


tfan



Joined: 31 May 2010
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PostPosted: 01/01/18 1:23 am    ::: Reply Reply with quote

The more we learn about Amtrak derailment the stranger it gets

Quote:
Thus, it is alleged that none of the qualifying engineers were getting the undivided attention needed to memorize the route without distraction. In a nutshell, this is what is rumored.


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