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Right, Curt.  There's a lot of investigation to do before root and (possibly) contributing causes can be determined.

First, it must be known whether the work train was authorized to occupy the Main Track at that location and -- if so -- whether it was authorized to move in one direction only, or in either direction.  Usually, at locations where there is work to be done by a work train that will involve making any reverse movements (laying ballast, for example) a Track Bulletin Form B is issued, allowing the work train to occupy the track between specified locations and times, and requiring other trains to stop before entering the location, unless permission to proceed through the location is received by radio from the foreman in charge of work.  Note: a "Form B" is not required if a work train is just remotely dumping ballast and then moving or clearing into an auxiliary track, but if a gang of employees is going to be working on the track, then Form B protection is required.

So, there's that, which will be easy to investigate.  Voice recordings of radio conversations are maintained.  And (presuming there was a "Form B" in effect at the location of the collision) whether the work train was within its limits and times.

Then there is the Method of Operation, whether it is Track Warrant control without block signals; Automatic Block System with TWC; or CTC (movement by signal indication.  This will determine how the two trains would have been authorized to use the Main Track.  

And Positive Train Control is not completelyfoolproof.  If a train passes a signal displaying a proceed indication (i.e., other than a stop indication) and -- after that -- another movement enters* the block ahead, or a switch within that block is aligned for access to the main track, the train having passed the proceed indication would still be authorized, and PTC would not force either train to stop.  This is an event for which it is functionally impossible to provide PTC protection.

Those are just the high spots, but there's lots of investigating to do.

*  It could be equipment entering the Main Track from a siding or spur, or it could be an opposing train entering the block from the second block in advance.

Last edited by Number 90

It appears this is the "Folkston Funnel", two double track mainlines joining into one doubletrack main. So going north it splits into two separate double track lines with one leg going north and one leg going more to the west. The accident happened on the west leg. The train that was hit was facing south, the moving train was going north.

It appears from where the switches are, you wouldn't be able to see the train sitting around the curve of the west leg.

Last edited by wjstix

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