Deaths, injuries reported after Amtrak, CSX trains collide in South Carolina

Laidoffsick posted:

We've been running trains for more than a hundred years without PTC, Trip Optimizer and all that other stuff.

Nigh on two centuries now.

Yes, accidents happened prior to the implementation of the gee-whiz gear as the understanding of the needs matured.  But accidents will continue happening after the implementation, too.  No system is perfect.

It's a real shame, but it is the cost of mechanization, and nobody wants to go back to walking everywhere, so we accept the cost.  Consider the number of deaths each year in automobile accidents.  They vastly outnumber the deaths in rail accidents but rarely merit reporting and are largely ignored except by the people directly involved.

I know that people are working on self-driving cars, but I am not having any of it.  I have experienced too many computer, network, and mechanical failures to allow a vehicle to control itself if I am in it.  I will accept the (still fairly remote) chance of a fatal vehicle crash operated by someone who cares rather over the chances of such a crash operated by a machine that doesn't.

Frisco, MoPac, and T&P near Rolla, MO

 I will accept the (still fairly remote) chance of a fatal vehicle crash operated by someone who cares rather over the chances of such a crash operated by a machine that doesn't.

The problem is distracted driving. And it gets worse and worse all the time. Too many features controlled by too many multi-function buttons or touch screens. Too many people doing things like eating and driving while driving. Answering cell phones, reading and sending text messages. In my neighborhood it isn't the kids. It's the adults.
My wife's new car has a bunch of cool features to assist drivers. One problem: going back to driving a car that doesn't have those features once a person is accustomed to them.

One thing I'd like to have: a backup camera.

 

Sorry for the off-topic post.

From the Jacksonville Business Journal:

Incorrect information from CSX employee led to Sunday's fatal crash

Feb 6, 2018, 8:07am EST

Incorrect information from a CSX Corp. employee at the site of Sunday's deadly Amtrak train crash led to the accident, according to CSX records and a source.

A signal system that would have warned the Amtrak train that it was being sent onto the wrong track was shut off at the time of a crash Sunday that killed two people — including Orange Park resident Michael Cella — and injured 116.The system in the area was being upgraded and the signals were shut down as of 8 a.m. Saturday, according to CSX documents obtained by the Jacksonville Business Journal.

According to safety procedures during such a situation, an on-site employee is responsible for making sure the switch that directs a train to a particular track is in in the proper position. This switch was not, however.

Shortly before the 2:35 a.m. crash, Amtrak 91 stopped five miles before the site of the collision and waited for a go-ahead from a CSX dispatcher, per CSX protocol when a signaling system is being worked on, CSX documents show.

After the CSX conductor on site told a dispatcher that the switch was properly aligned, the dispatcher gave the go-ahead for the Amtrak train, which was carrying 139 passengers and eight crew members bound from New York to Miami, to proceed.

However, CSX had earlier backed a freight train from the main track onto the siding, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt said during a news conference.

"The switch was left in a position to line up for this siding," Sumwalt said. "We want to understand exactly why that's the case."

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From the train’s last stop, the maximum speed reached 57 mph. The track speed, under signal suspension rules, is 59 mph. About 7 seconds before the end of the recording, the train’s horn was activated for three seconds. Speed was 56 mph.

— NTSB_Newsroom (@NTSB_Newsroom) February 5, 2018

The misaligned switch sent Amtrak's train directly into the parked CSX freight train, train F77703. The switch was padlocked in place when investigators arrived, Sumwalt said.

The distance from the switch to the site of the crash was 659 feet.

Seven seconds before the crash, the Amtrak train sounded its horn for three seconds, according to the train's event data recorder.

Five seconds before the crash, the Amtrak train started braking.

Three seconds before the crash, the Amtrak engineer hit the mushroom-shaped emergency brake, slowing the train down to 50 mph.

The head-to-head impact pushed the parked CSX train back 15 feet.

NTSB investigators have interviewed the dispatcher as well as the CSX conductor, engineer and train master and plan to remain onsite this week. The organization will release a preliminary report a few weeks after investigators return to NTSB headquarters.

nycoolbreez posted:

The switch was padlocked in place when investigators arrived.

That procedure is by rule, i.e. the hand-throw switch mechanism MUST be locked, no mater what position it is in. Besides, the persons "switch key" can NOT even be removed from the lock, unless the lock is re-locked.

Is it someone’s job to focus their eyeballs onto the switch before they report the switch position?

You would think! But as mentioned above, sh*& happens! The sad thing is, the entire CTC signal system was not working in that area (it was in a Signal Suspension for work involved with installing PTC), thus the Amtrak train got no restrictive signal indication that the switch was miss-aligned. 

 

 

Hot Water posted:
nycoolbreez posted:

The switch was padlocked in place when investigators arrived.

That procedure is by rule, i.e. the hand-throw switch mechanism MUST be locked, no mater what position it is in. Besides, the persons "switch key" can NOT even be removed from the lock, unless the lock is re-locked.

You sure? Unfortunately I can't remember having to lock up a  lock to remove the key... I believe the locks I used on the main track  had a name of "Sargent Green leaf  " 25 years ago.

If that the case, (and I don't think it is) this  might lead to "bad railroad habits) Locking switches  in  other than the normal route.

How would you get any work done ,?

 

 

Not always true Jack. All 3 types of locks we have can have the key removed with the lock unlocked. In fact one of them remains in the unlocked position with the key removed, and you can not lock it back up without first inserting the key. 

Sounds to me that the conductor reported the switch "lined and locked" to the dispatcher, but it was lined the wrong way. The dispatcher had no way of knowing that with the signal system suspended. He was relying on the info provided by the conductor.....but once again he shoulda briefed with his entire crew before reporting that to the dispatcher. 

 

 

 

Laidoffsick posted:

Not always true Jack. All 3 types of locks we have can have the key removed with the lock unlocked. In fact one of them remains in the unlocked position with the key removed, and you can not lock it back up without first inserting the key. 

Sounds to me that the conductor reported the switch "lined and locked" to the dispatcher, but it was lined the wrong way. The dispatcher had no way of knowing that with the signal system suspended. He was relying on the info provided by the conductor.....but once again he shoulda briefed with his entire crew before reporting that to the dispatcher. 

 

It might be a good idea to tell the dispatchers if the signals are going to be out, so they have a track warrant backup?

This might be something Number 90 knows about.  Was there not a terrible head on on the ATSF between two passenger trains, none moving and one in the siding because somebody threw a switch into the siding right in front of the moving train?  I think this happened in New Mexico.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

I remember reading about that in Trains a number of years ago, in 1956 Springer NM the EB Fast Mail was holding in the siding and the WB Super Chief had the main, the EB fireman was at the switch one of the few manually operated to reset it for the EB FM to get back on the mainline  once the WB SC had passed the switch which had been set for the main line WB SC train, this occurred at night and for reasons he could not explain at the inquest as the WB SC got close he threw the switch prematurely sending the WB SC directly into the stopped EB Fast Mail, I believe 22 died including the engineers of both trains and the fireman on the Super Chief. You can google this wreck for more info, I did and updated this post.

I found this article today as related to this Amtrak event in South Carolina

Even when not at fault, Amtrak can bear cost of accident.

Updated February 11, 2018 02:54 AM

WASHINGTON 

Federal investigators are still looking at how CSX railway crews routed an Amtrak train into a parked freight train in Cayce, South Carolina, last weekend. But even if CSX should bear sole responsibility for the accident, Amtrak will likely end up paying crash victims' legal claims with public money.

Amtrak pays for accidents it didn't cause because of secretive agreements negotiated between the passenger rail company, which receives more than $1 billion annually in federal subsidies, and the private railroads, which own 97 percent of the tracks on which Amtrak travels.

Both Amtrak and freight railroads that own the tracks fight to keep those contracts secret in legal proceedings. But whatever the precise legal language, plaintiffs' lawyers and former Amtrak officials say Amtrak generally bears the full cost of damages to its trains, passengers, employees and other crash victims — even in instances where crashes occurred as the result of a freight rail company's negligence or misconduct.

Railroad industry advocates say that freight railways have ample incentive to keep their tracks safe for their employees, customers and investors. But the Surface Transportation Board and even some federal courts have long concluded that allowing railroads to escape liability for gross negligence is bad public policy.

Source: JEFF HORWITZ: Associated Press

---------------------------

Looks like to me, Amtrak has the deep pockets and is easy money. My viewpoint.....

Gary

As I recall, and it has been a long time, when Amtrak was created the railroads said that they would not let anyone else run passenger service on their railroads unless they were free of all liability.   If that had not been agreed to there would be no long distance passenger trains today in the US.   When Amtrak was started most, if not all, long distance passenger trains were loosing money. This was impacting other railroad operations and the ICC had been approving passenger train discontinuance at a rapid rate. This was a result of the USPS adopting a hub and spoke distribution system that put and end to mail by rail, which was supported passenger train operation. 

It was not a secret.  The railroads did not want to face large liabilities for operations they had little control over. In trade for Amtrak assuming this liability, they did not have to pay the railroads for assuming it and insuring against it.   

Dominic Mazoch posted:
Laidoffsick posted:

Not always true Jack. All 3 types of locks we have can have the key removed with the lock unlocked. In fact one of them remains in the unlocked position with the key removed, and you can not lock it back up without first inserting the key. 

Sounds to me that the conductor reported the switch "lined and locked" to the dispatcher, but it was lined the wrong way. The dispatcher had no way of knowing that with the signal system suspended. He was relying on the info provided by the conductor.....but once again he shoulda briefed with his entire crew before reporting that to the dispatcher. 

 

It might be a good idea to tell the dispatchers if the signals are going to be out, so they have a track warrant backup?

This might be something Number 90 knows about.  Was there not a terrible head on on the ATSF between two passenger trains, none moving and one in the siding because somebody threw a switch into the siding right in front of the moving train?  I think this happened in New Mexico.

The dispatcher ALREADY KNOWS when the signals are out. We can't run trains without some form of AUTHORITY. The dispatcher gives that authority to the crews, not the other way around.

As I stated previously, there have been MANY incidents due to this same situation of having a switch lined the wrong way on the mainline in dark territory, hence the MANY rules that govern it now.

 

 

hibar posted:

I remember reading about that in Trains a number of years ago The WB was holding in the siding and the EB had the main, the WB conductor/head brakeman was at the switch [ to set it for the WB once the EB had passed] which had been set for the main line EB train, this occurred at night and for reasons he could not explain at the inquest as the WB got close he threw the switch prematurely sending the EB directly into the stopped WB. You can google this wreck for more info.

Trainman  are required to inspect other trains   In this case the West bound head end brakeman would be required to cross over to the other side to inspect the  east  bound. The crew in the caboose inspects their side and doesn't cross over  because  after the meet arrives  his train could start to pull leaving him trapped.

There is a rule that employees must keep at least twenty feet from the switch stand on single  track.

As you mentioned what happened?   Maybe something like a Major league Baseball player running off the field with only 2 outs...I don't know. 

 

Gregg posted:

As you mentioned what happened?   Maybe something like a Major league Baseball player running off the field with only 2 outs...I don't know. 

 

Maybe young conductor was having a "senior moment" thinking he did but didn't.  Doesn't excuse.  Just have to wait a year+ for final report

Pretty sad that freight railroads held Amtrak’s feet to the fire when it negotiated that deal.l to waive liability for collisions caused by the freight railroad.

i don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I think someone committed a crime in this case.

i think passing the word that the line was clear or the switch was in the proper position was like shooting a gun or driving drunk.

it was no accident. 

NYCOOLBREEZ.. I take it by your comments, you have never worked during a signal suspension, or for a Class 1 RR before. This was not an illegal activity, nor was it planned. The person making the mistake did not go out at the start of the of the day saying he was going to leave a switch lined in on his train for Amtrak to run into and create a horrific accident. A mistake, a terrible mistake, was made. The NTSB will come to the conclusion and then the lawyers will have a field day with this as well as all the media and so called experts on here. A rule was violated and no one feels any worse about it, than the person who did it. 

Gene

 

 

No I never worked on a railroad, but my wife and child routinely ride on them.

so I don’t want to cause a ruckus BUT Those of us not lucky enough to be accepted to work on a class 1 RR were always told those jobs are limited to only the most qualified individuals.

that being said, an accident is I spilled paint on the shop floor or the fuse shorted closed and we burnt the motor

Not I visibly observed a switch and reported that switch in the opposite position than I observed.

sorry for being a tool about this but IMO.

 

 

nycoolbreez posted:

No I never worked on a railroad, but my wife and child routinely ride on them.

So that makes you statements more accurate?

so I don’t want to cause a ruckus BUT Those of us not lucky enough to be accepted to work on a class 1 RR were always told those jobs are limited to only the most qualified individuals.

Maybe back in the "old days", but not so much any more.

that being said, an accident is I spilled paint on the shop floor or the fuse shorted closed and we burnt the motor

Not I visibly observed a switch and reported that switch in the opposite position than I observed.

sorry for being a tool about this but IMO.

OK, your words. But, in my opinion, you still don't know what you are talking about.

 

 

 

"How could this happen?" people ask.

Hey, these people are just people. They line the switch wrong every now and then. Most of the time, someone sees it or the switch is thrown to the right track again before it becomes a thing.

Nobody is infallible (though some think they are). Heck, I once saw a very experienced Special Forces solider do something horrendously stupid with a weapon, something you'd never expect even a new recruit at basic to do, but people are people. Sometimes, they zig when they always should have zagged and knew better.

Doesn't make it any easier for the people who were killed and their families, but railroad employees aren't gods. They do dumb things sometimes.

p51 posted:

"How could this happen?" people ask.

Hey, these people are just people.They line the switch wrong every now and then. Most of the time, someone sees it or the switch is thrown to the right track again before it becomes a thing.

Nobody is infallible (though some think they are). Heck, I once saw a very experienced Special Forces solider do something horrendously stupid with a weapon, something you'd never expect even a new recruit at basic to do, but people are people. Sometimes, they zig when they always should have zagged and knew better.

Doesn't make it any easier for the people who were killed and their families, but railroad employees aren't gods. They do dumb things sometimes.

Let's be clear here. The person that lined this switch DID NOT line it the wrong way. It was lined CORRECTLY for the CSX train to back into the siding. 

nycoolbreez posted:

i don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings but I think someone committed a crime in this case.

i think passing the word that the line was clear or the switch was in the proper position was like shooting a gun or driving drunk.

it was no accident. 

For ALL of you with the desire to be the "Hanging Judge", I say this: Let ye who is without sin cast the first stone!
You have absolutely no idea what the CSX crew had done nor what they had to deal with throughout their trip. You also have obviously forgotten how easy it is make an error.
I will add that I have seen that old adage "What goes around,comes around" bite many a person right in the groove!
Be careful out there!

[edited because I had left out "crew"]

I don't want to know the conductors name  in this case   but I'm curious  how many years  must a crew member work as a brakeman before being promoted to a conductor.../ or engineman? on CSX.

 How much experience did the CSX crew have?  

 

 

Gregg:

Its not done that way any longer.  Both NS and CSX run prospective T&E candidates through a vetting process then send them to their training schools here in the Atlanta area.  If a conductor candidate successfully completes the school he goes into train service for a probationary period. 

My youngest son was selected for the NS conductor program a little over a year ago; successfully went through all the testing, physical examinations and drug and background screening then decided to opt out right before entering the training school down in McDonough, GA.  Had he continued through the program and graduated; he would immediately have marked up as a conductor in pool service between Columbus, GA and Birmingham, AL.

Curt

palallin posted:
Laidoffsick posted:

We've been running trains for more than a hundred years without PTC, Trip Optimizer and all that other stuff.

Nigh on two centuries now.

Yes, accidents happened prior to the implementation of the gee-whiz gear as the understanding of the needs matured.  But accidents will continue happening after the implementation, too.  No system is perfect.

It's a real shame, but it is the cost of mechanization, and nobody wants to go back to walking everywhere, so we accept the cost.  Consider the number of deaths each year in automobile accidents.  They vastly outnumber the deaths in rail accidents but rarely merit reporting and are largely ignored except by the people directly involved.

I know that people are working on self-driving cars, but I am not having any of it.  I have experienced too many computer, network, and mechanical failures to allow a vehicle to control itself if I am in it.  I will accept the (still fairly remote) chance of a fatal vehicle crash operated by someone who cares rather over the chances of such a crash operated by a machine that doesn't.

I completely agree I don't want driverless cars I want to be able to drive by my self. 

juniata guy posted:

Gregg:

Its not done that way any longer.  Both NS and CSX run prospective T&E candidates through a vetting process then send them to their training schools here in the Atlanta area.  If a conductor candidate successfully completes the school he goes into train service for a probationary period. 

My youngest son was selected for the NS conductor program a little over a year ago; successfully went through all the testing, physical examinations and drug and background screening then decided to opt out right before entering the training school down in McDonough, GA.  Had he continued through the program and graduated; he would immediately have marked up as a conductor in pool service between Columbus, GA and Birmingham, AL.

Curt

Thank you Curt.

 

Sorry for the off topic comment, but I can't wait for driverless cars so I can get in the back seat, sleep or work, and get to my destination. Especially the sucky drives like from RI to south Jersey on I95.

I trust the computer more than the person next to me on the highway.

I agree no amount of automation will prevent all accidents. It will reduce them, but as long as humans are in the equation there will be human error that results in incidents on the rails.

Paul

...Don't say I never warned you, when your train gets lost...

 

From Railpace Hot News:

"the NTSB sent an urgent safety recommendation to the Federal Railroad Administration to enact an emergency order directing railroads with operating trains in areas with suspended signals and it's been reported a switch has been aligned to the main track,  the Next Train or locomotive can only proceed at restricted speed in the suspended track area until they pass the reported switch . The passing train will then then report back to the dispatcher verifying the switch is correctly aligned to the main before that train and other trains following can resume track speed." ( Sorry I am on my cell phone so I can't copy a link or copy the exact words for a quote)

member:Golden Spike Club Charter Member

But if the train was backing in, should the switch been placed back in Normal position once the locomotives cleared the fowling point.

And shoud there have been on the track warrent somthing to tell the train working around the switch to clear at a said time.  And to have the Amtrak involved to make acopy of the said order?

NTSB idea of reducing speed I think is a goog idea.

To bad the ink used to write these rules is blood.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

But if the train was backing in, should the switch been placed back in Normal position once the locomotives cleared the fowling point.

Absolutely.

 

And shoud there have been on the track warrent somthing to tell the train working around the switch to clear at a said time.  And to have the Amtrak involved to make acopy of the said order?

Not really. There are rules that will permit 2 trains to work in the same block but this one is a little different.  The Conductor  reported the crew was clear of the main track (block)  but forgot about the switch.  

NTSB idea of reducing speed I think is a goog idea. Yes but it's a little late,   There are rules that will permit the movement of trains in CTC territory if a block goes down or even a series of blocks (restricted speed is one of them).... Unfortunately  It's too slow and it seems to me   suspending the signals and running at high speed is just plain wrong.  (just my opinion)

 

 

Dominic Mazoch posted:

But if the train was backing in, should the switch been placed back in Normal position once the locomotives cleared the fowling point.

Not immediately.
You need to take into consideration that normally the Conductor should have been riding the end of the cars being shoved into the siding to make sure they don't run into anything. Then he has to walk back to the head end to throw the switch to clear up. What happened here is TBD.

Farmer_Bill posted:

The article Gregg linked to above says the "CSX conductor on the parked train saw the Amtrak approaching and dashed to the back of the locomotive."  

It's a miracle he survived.  

Which raises the BIG QUESTION,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,why wasn't that Conductor at the switch, realigning it BACK to the main line?

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