The NTSB released it's initial report on the 2017 AMTRAK Cascades accident.

The do find the engineer missed the speed limit sign, and was going way too fast.   They also said he was setup to fail, but a few factors. Among them, lack of training.

In addition, the FRA was faulted for allowing rail cars that don't meet current safety standards to be grandfathered and allowed.

 

here's one new article I found

https://www.foxnews.com/us/dea...t-training-ntsb-says

Music, trains, boneless chicken farming
David

Original Post

I hope that means the engineer will be able to get back to work.

I can't say he's a close friend, but I have been around him a few times since this happened, and I hope he can get this behind him and move forward. I do know a couple of the passengers hurt in this accident as well, too.

As for the report, I think it's pretty fair, given what I know about everything that led up to this. I drive under that bridge every day on my way home from work.

Article states operator should have been trained better.  What would that entail?  Also for discussion, if this had been an aircraft and the NTSB determined pilot failed to fill in the blank what would the FAA do as a result?  Would a commercial pilot involved in an incident that resulted in a fatality be able to be a pilot in command in a commercial setting again? 

necrails posted:

Article states operator should have been trained better.  What would that entail?  Also for discussion, if this had been an aircraft and the NTSB determined pilot failed to fill in the blank what would the FAA do as a result?  Would a commercial pilot involved in an incident that resulted in a fatality be able to be a pilot in command in a commercial setting again? 

Yes.  it depends on the totality of the causes.   In addition to the NTSB saying "pilot failed to maintain control" of aircraft, as an example, we have to know why.

One must be very careful how they read an NTSB report.    When a report states a pilot failed...., they are simply stating fact, not placing blame, until a more intensive investigation is finished.

The pilot's lack of control may be due to loss of elevator control.  Not his fault.

Or it could be because he failed to correctly identify which engine failed in his King Air, and stepped on the wrong rudder pedal.  His fault.

In all cases, the FAA will look at all of the pilot's records. Training, logbook total time, total time in type, medical records, and so forth.

I have been the subject of said inquiries once.    I was forced to make an off-field landing once that damaged the plane pretty well, and caused injuries to the other guy in the plane.  I did hold a commercial license at the time, although this flight was a non commercial pleasure flight (part 91) to go get that $100 hamburger (when 100LL gas was still $1.50/gal)

All of my stuff was in order, and the cause was determined to be a crankshaft issue in the Lycoming, that caused catastrophic failure.  What made it worse was this was not a constant-speed prop, so no feathering of the prop.

I can't speak to how the FRA/DOT looks at railroad personnel.

Music, trains, boneless chicken farming
David

It seems to me that a simple solution might be to put multiple speed limit signs at the approach to a curve where a significant speed decrease will be required.

Highways have multiple warning signs.  Some even have flashing lights.  Why not railroads?  All the railroad speed signs that I have seen are smaller than highway signs and could easily be missed.  

NH Joe

Yes, the PTC correctly programmed on board the locomotive would know its location, direction of travel and speed via the speed sensor on one of the axles and also the onboard GPS and the speed restrictions for every inch of that route.   Hence, no matter what the engineer did or didn't do, the train would never exceed the speed limit for any part of the route.  The failsafe built into PTC would cause a penalty brake application and also cause the engine to go to idle and stop loading.  This would cause the train to stop in virtually all instances while the engineer waited to recover from the penalty application, an operation that takes enough time that the train would almost certainly come to a complete stop.  

Incidentally, older train control systems would usually have a "suppression" function built in that would allow the engineer to avoid a penalty by applying the automatic train brake if he was pushing his train right to the speed limit and went a bit over.  An air whistle in the cab would tell him he was doing that (speeding)  and by applying the brakes he would have the ability to slow the train below the speed limit and thereby avoid a costly penalty application.  I am not sure if PTC allows an engineer to "suppress" an overspeed penalty but there is a warning beeper or whistle that warns the engineer and he might be able to slow the train quickly enough to avoid a penalty.  There's supposed to be no more than 8 seconds from the start of the warning beeper or whistle until the penalty takes place. (that's without the ability to suppress....there was no time limit on the ability to suppress because the train brake was applied and therefore it was assumed that the train must be slowing)

I am wondering if PTC will allow completely hands-off train control.  The train will speed up and slow down based on its position on the route.  Driverless train?

Therefore, the engineer won't have anything to do except watch for unexpected dangers on the track such as fallen tree that didn't break the track circuit.  

NH Joe

Big Jim posted:

I find it completely idiotic to place a curve speed board a full two miles away from the intended curve! No wonder anyone not intimately familiar with the territory forgot!

There's a freight speed limit sign right before the approach signal on the downgrade out of the yard at Dupont, and I don't think there's a passenger speed sign southbound past where the trains cross the entrance at North Fort at JBLM (Fort Lewis). You go up a hill from there, pass the Ft Lewis museum, head through Dupont and the odd dogleg through the yard, then a gentle downhill run until you hit what can best be described as a solid left hand turn.

No matter what you've seen on TV or online, that's an incredibly tight curve. Freight trains go over it very slowly.

As I understand, some of the crews (including the crew in this accident) only had one pass in a crowded cab at the line south of Lakewood. I'm not certain but I don't think he even got to the controls on this line before the run that led to this wreck. Amtrak and Sound Transit did a very poor job getting him ready for this run, which appears quite clear in light of all the info we now have.

As for what Amtrak will do for the engineer, I can imagine they'll have to do right by him in light of this report. Otherwise, the attorney(s) I'm sure he has standing by will make short order of Amtrak...

Also, there's a new story floating around that Amtrak has been ordered to replace several of these Cascades Talgo cars due to safety concerns: https://www.seattletimes.com/s...as-soon-as-possible/

Big Jim posted:

I find it completely idiotic to place a curve speed board a full two miles away from the intended curve! No wonder anyone not intimately familiar with the territory forgot!

Jim, BNSF practice is to place an advance speed board two miles in advance of the restriction and the actual speed board at the location where the restriction becomes effective.  Both are Scotchlite yellow rectangular signs with black numbers.  The advance sign is mounted at a 45 degree angle on its post, but the speed board is mounted horizontally.  The two signs display the same numbers.  Only the orientation is different.  Personally, I think it's a good way to do it.

The first sign reminds the Engineer of an upcoming permanent restriction, and the second sign pinpoints the beginning of the restriction.  Where speed limits increase, there is only the second board, no advance board.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

Number 90 posted:
Big Jim posted:

I find it completely idiotic to place a curve speed board a full two miles away from the intended curve! No wonder anyone not intimately familiar with the territory forgot!

Jim, BNSF practice is to place an advance speed board two miles in advance of the restriction and the actual speed board at the location where the restriction becomes effective.  

Tom,
"Different strokes" as the song goes. It all depends on how you are trained.
The MoW folks used to do that with some temporary restrictions. I personally didn't like the idea. There was just too much time to forget and get lost in the fog. Our curve speed boards were, I'm guessing, no more than a half mile at most from the start of the curve/s. But no matter, once you learned the territory you knew where the curve was. Depending on the where you were, at times you used the sign post as a fixed marker for when to slow down. 

Unlike what has happened here, Rookies didn't run our rails without a pilot engineer. Locomotive Trainees always had a qualified Engineer with them.

Another thing that I didn't like was an outsider in the cab yucking it up! Ruins the concentration and that leads to accidents!

 

Big Jim posted:

Our curve speed boards were, I'm guessing, no more than a half mile at most from the start of the curve/s. But no matter, once you learned the territory you knew where the curve was.

 

Given the speeds that the Cascades would be running prior to that curve (I think they could be going well past 60 as close as the DuPont yard before the curve in the incident), would half a mile be realistic for a curve speed sign?

I've ridden the Cascades a few times. Ironically, what I thought was my last chance to ride the Puget Sound portion between Seattle and Centralia on Jul 2, 2017, my wife and I wound up getting stuck in Tacoma due to the northbound train going through a derail at the Chambers Bay Bridge and nothing allowed to go past the site southbound (eventually, a friend of my wife's came and drove us home. the train was still stuck there after several hours).

I never did find out what happened to the engineer in this accident...

BIG JIM: YOUR explanation of the RIGHT way to do things is solid. That rookie engineer needed a fully qualified engineer beside him who was familiar with that territory for his first few runs. The railroad let him down, resulting in his inability to properly control his train at a critical juncture in his run.

vita sine litteris mors est  (Seneca)

Sadly, many safety practices we now take for granted are the result of a tragedy.

After the Titanic, ships were required to carry enough lifeboats for everyone aboard.

The Andrea Doria carried enough lifeboats for everybody, but it sank sideways, making half of them useless. As a result, ships now carry twice as many lifeboats as they need, divided evenly along both sides.

The point is, we can't always predict every case, but the valuable lessons save many more lives. 

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