Sad news from Canada

Concerning Dynamic Brakes and this incident. It is important to understand that, assuming these are 3 modern AC locomotives, each equipped with Extended Range Dynamic Brake, they should be capable of generating around 115,000 - 120,000 Lbs. of retarding effort apiece. Total of all 3, under the best of adhesion conditions, would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 340,000 to 360,000 lbs. Dynamic Brake retarding effort (in their most effective speed range of 6-23 mph).

A 112 car loaded grain train  would weigh somewhere around 14,500 -15,000 TONS (30 million lbs.). Bottom line is that this consist would not have been capable of maintaining any speed descending this type of grade using Dynamic Brakes alone. It would be necessary to supplement the Dynamic Brake with an air brake application in order to keep the retarding forces sufficient to control the train at the desired speed. Blending an air brake application along with the locomotive Dynamic Braking effort would be absolutely necessary to slow or stop the train on this heavy of a downhill grade. 

Severe sub-zero (F) temperatures can do strange things to the air brake train line. 

 Employee statements from all active participants, (crew, any local managers, and control station), any recordings from radio conversations, position of the controls on the controlling locomotive, event recorder downloads (from all 3 locomotives) and post accident mechanical inspection of the equipment, should provide all the information needed to understand what events occurred resulting in this accident. 

The $64 question is "What will be done to prevent it from re-occurring?"

Number 90 posted:
Gregg posted:

I think 3 minutes is a little on the long side, I'm now 75 and still could tie on a hand brake is about a minute or so .   Crews don't have to climb to the top of the car anymore.    Engine hand brakes may take a little longer.

I think I over-estimated the time for each car, Gregg, you're right.  I was thinking about a man in Arctic clothing that impaired movement somewhat.  Probably, if there were no intervening bridges and the footing was good, and the brake wheels could have been reached from the ground, it would have taken between an hour and an hour and a half.

That time seems to generous to me:  maybe the clothes weren't arctic, but they would have been thick.  You're not going to be able to move at a brisk pace that entire time, and there is the length of the cars to traverse.  I suspect two hours is nearer the mark, and maybe more, depending on the footing you mention.

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

I have to say all the input from our technical experts on this forum is impressive - thank you all.

Here's a CBC News article referencing a CP white paper on winter train operation. The thing that jumped out at me was the recommended reduction in speed during frigid temps.  If the reduction amount is close to a downgrade speed limit, the suggestion seems to be no running trains below -35C  (-31 F) in that area. I assume that wouldn't happen.

"The white paper also said train speeds must be reduced in frigid temperatures — by at least 16 km/h below –25 C and by at least 32 km/h at –35 C." https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada...ment-fatal-1.5011096

Firewood

 

"Nice try, Lao Che!"

palallin posted:
Number 90 posted:
Gregg posted:

I think 3 minutes is a little on the long side, I'm now 75 and still could tie on a hand brake is about a minute or so .   Crews don't have to climb to the top of the car anymore.    Engine hand brakes may take a little longer.

I think I over-estimated the time for each car, Gregg, you're right.  I was thinking about a man in Arctic clothing that impaired movement somewhat.  Probably, if there were no intervening bridges and the footing was good, and the brake wheels could have been reached from the ground, it would have taken between an hour and an hour and a half.

That time seems to generous to me:  maybe the clothes weren't arctic, but they would have been thick.  You're not going to be able to move at a brisk pace that entire time, and there is the length of the cars to traverse.  I suspect two hours is nearer the mark, and maybe more, depending on the footing you mention.

Hmmm!!!  A good pair of wool socks, insulated long johns . Work pants with a watch pocket, Over-alls optional  . Work boots , ( I never wore the ones with steel toes).  Warm cow hide mitts with another pair of wool mitts inside,     a decent parka with hood  and  lastly Touque .One might also to have to carry a pipe wrench , radio, hose bag & hand lamp. Definitely a young man.s  game. It's not so much the cold but the wind that makes things miserable.

 

Big Jim posted:

One thing that I taught my trainees was that if the train did go into emergency, never move the brake handle to the "Emergency" position until the train came to a complete stop. This was done so as not to lose the use of the Power/DB as the case may warrant.

It sounds as though that equipment is set up differently than equipment that I've had. Once the train goes into emergency, the PCS opens regardless of what position the automatic handle is in. At least with the "modern" GEs and EMDs, you would still have dynamic braking available. When running GP38s and GP40s, once the PCS opens, you lose everything...at least the ones I've had.

Number 90 posted:

 

However, you cannot do it with AC locomotives.  If the train moved forward at all, then the AC locomotives would unload.  Not sure if there were AC locomotives in use in this instance.

Tom, I know what you're talking about. I have held a train back with the engines in reverse while charging the brake pipe, and it was with AC power. The trick is just not to move forward.

Same thing happens when trying to start a train on an uphill...if you don't grab enough power, and she starts to roll backwards, it'll unload after 3-ish mph. One day, I had a particularly miserable freight train...both in terms of power, air, weight, weather, etc. I had to dig pretty deep before knocking off the air while pulling away from a stop on an uphill. One engine in the consist (exConrail Dash8) decided to kill itself while doing this, and the normal throttle position to get the train moving became not enough to hold it. Once we started moving backwards, everything unloaded and it felt like we were going 900 mph backwards. Luckily, the train was so long, we were still stretched through the last absolute signal, and we really only coasted back about an autorack-length...but it felt like a mile until the air I grabbed took hold. The conductor was yelling "dump it, dump it!"...I yelled back "YOU dump it, 'cuz you're walking it!".

Dominic Mazoch posted:

Lastly, this is for the Number 90, HW, and the other people in this group who ran trains.  In your honest opinion, are the people who are now running trains have that "innate" knowledge of railroading?  A railroad version of Scully.  Is the training good enough?  Did the railroad industry loose a training base by having fewer switch jobs and locals.  What about a Top Gun program where some of the best in the field teach, if they have the later skill.

Not to knock the newer railroaders, bit it might be good to hear from them.  In a way of course their employs would not know.

"Lack of proper training" has been going on a long time, long before I was a railroader. In your first question about people running trains now...I would say it depends on the engineer/employee. There are certainly people I've met and worked with out here who are clearly professional, are passionate about doing things correctly and safely, and then there are others who are simply here to collect a paycheck every two weeks and skate by.

The official rule books and railroad training I've gotten has only served a purpose that is keeping me employed, and within the guidelines the railroad expects. All the really handy "good stuff" is passed down between railroaders. This is a job where things can go bad pretty quickly, and those stories and experiences that older railroaders have can really help you out in certain situations. If only I had a dollar for every time I had to call someone up and thank them because some nugget of advice they gave me 10 years ago turned out to be the key in a problematic situation...

I think, as a whole, the employees who are very skilled in what they do are dwindling. The company really doesn't care how well you handle a train...they just don't want an accident. The next big push is taking people (engineers, conductors) out of the  equation entirely. If they didn't care about training you "outside the box" before, they really don't care now. Between Trip Optimizer, PTC, and other tech, you will lose highly skilled people in favor of base-line consistency which can be mass produced and manipulated.

Trip Optimizer for example...you currently have a group of engineers, some who never get knuckles, and a few who occasionally get them. TO gets fewer knuckles than the engineers who occasionally get them. So eventually you lose the "skill" the engineers have, and the railroad has fewer train separations...which is a higher priority than retaining "skill" because that has less of an impact on shareholder value. It's sad, but it's indisputable.

Things will change if some smart lawyer sues those who owned stock in the company at the time of the incident.  Proportioned to the type and number of shares.  When stock values go down, then peoplw will get the message.  Morals now are based on the pocketbook, not some gold standard.

Also we have now two generations of people removed from the time railroads and other transportation groups were highly regulated.  With particular feelings in this country and maybe Canada, there rumblings of a re-reg or worse movement.  What gets me is why those who run railroads and other businesses do not have that question in mind as they plan.  Yes, the stock might go up now if we do X, but, if it fails due to a safety shortcut, the stock value may drop, even to ZERO.  Are yellow jackets going to cross the pond?

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

Jeffrey Sessa posted:
Big Jim posted:

One thing that I taught my trainees was that if the train did go into emergency, never move the brake handle to the "Emergency" position until the train came to a complete stop. This was done so as not to lose the use of the Power/DB as the case may warrant.

It sounds as though that equipment is set up differently than equipment that I've had. Once the train goes into emergency, the PCS opens regardless of what position the automatic handle is in. At least with the "modern" GEs and EMDs, you would still have dynamic braking available. When running GP38s and GP40s, once the PCS opens, you lose everything...at least the ones I've had.

Jeffrey,
Yes, units can be different from road to road and usually more from what year they were made. If you remember what Tom noted earlier about the "interlock", even though the trainline is in emergency the units will continue to load in power or DB for a certain length of time before powering down. However, once the trainline goes down and you move the brake handle to the emergency position it will quit loading right then and there and you have lost control. Leave the brake handle alone and you can still pull or hold back as much as you feel the need to do until it completely drops out on its own.

NS wanted the handle immediately placed in emergency. Now a days this will send a signal to the EOT to dump the air on the rear. Despite what the NS fools wanted, I chose not to move the brake handle and keep control of my train. I would keep an eye on the air pressure on the rear and if it wasn't already at zero or soon went to zero, I would hit the button on the EOT. This I never had to do. Usually you would hear the beep from the EOT, look up and see the pressure at zero on the rear before the air ever went down on the head end!

Finding out that the PC could be recovered on 26L equipment without releasing the automatic brake was something that the railroad didn't tell anyone (they probably didn't know themselves). I found that out on my own and stored it into my book of experience.

 

palallin posted:
Jeffrey Sessa posted:

 The next big push is taking people (engineers, conductors) out of the  equation entirely.

Who's gonna walk the train and set the handbrakes if there is no crew?

Good point.

One idea I heard floated was a traveling “utility man” who would go to the train and change knuckles, replace hoses, see if anything was on the ground, etc.

How this is supposed to work in mountainous territory like British Columbia or the Rockies is beyond me.  Maybe they’ll have a chopper on standby... 🙄

-Mike

Utility man... Another name is the Conductor or head end  Brakeman,  

  Most Railroad already have road repair trucks manned by the car department  that  can handle serious repairs, Changing wheels, broken air pipes etc providing they can drive to location where the car has been set off. CN even had road repair railway cars that the car dept could live in and the cars also  would have all their equipment, wheels, trucks, whatever repairs  needed  to get the car on the move at least to the next large terminal.

It would be impossible for a utility  vehicle to reach some of these locations, (no roads) Now you also run into the qualification of the utility man. Is he a trained trainman(conductor/brakeman)   car dept employee or a little of both,

Has to be a better way. You could be sitting there for hours and hours waiting for a so called expert utility man, Dumb idea.

I have watched this post with interest. I have nothing to add that would help except maybe this video shows a train climbing the area and what the grade is like (at about 13+ min into the video).

If this is the correct area in the accident? It is amazing to me the actual climb with the train passing over itself.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

Thanks Al. I really can't even imagine the forces on a train coming down that long steep grade and getting out of control. It must have been horrific.

I play with toy trains outside and they can get away from me on my steep lead from the shed storage tracks if anything fails or goes wrong.

" on Sour mash and cheap wine " ??

Why go back to DCC when I have DCS!

 There is a campground located at the bottom of the valley which in the summer is a great place to be to railfan

   You can hike to various locations along the mainline including a site where an abandoned narrow gauge steam locomotive wreck is from the original construction of the tunnels back in 1908

   In visiting this area you can see the challenges of running the mainline through this pass and operation 

  Im afraid to say but this will certainly not be the last derailment/loss of life on this strech of track for it has a long history of Railway Fatalities.

  It must be respected with the utmost care in operations regardless of the technology and current safety protocols in place 

  Experience from Vetran hoggers is vital to equipping the next generations of Railroaders

Al

Interesting to note that in the video from 87 that NH Joe posted the train is a fraction of the length of the recent train footage posted by Engineer Joe.

And here I thought there was no prototype for the Polar Express mountain. That is one dangerous railroad.

" No matter how far we travel, the memories will follow in the baggage car."

GP 40 posted:

Concerning Dynamic Brakes and this incident. It is important to understand that, assuming these are 3 modern AC locomotives, each equipped with Extended Range Dynamic Brake, they should be capable of generating around 115,000 - 120,000 Lbs. of retarding effort apiece. Total of all 3, under the best of adhesion conditions, would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 340,000 to 360,000 lbs. Dynamic Brake retarding effort (in their most effective speed range of 6-23 mph).

A 112 car loaded grain train  would weigh somewhere around 14,500 -15,000 TONS (30 million lbs.). Bottom line is that this consist would not have been capable of maintaining any speed descending this type of grade using Dynamic Brakes alone. It would be necessary to supplement the Dynamic Brake with an air brake application in order to keep the retarding forces sufficient to control the train at the desired speed. Blending an air brake application along with the locomotive Dynamic Braking effort would be absolutely necessary to slow or stop the train on this heavy of a downhill grade. 

Severe sub-zero (F) temperatures can do strange things to the air brake train line. 

 Employee statements from all active participants, (crew, any local managers, and control station), any recordings from radio conversations, position of the controls on the controlling locomotive, event recorder downloads (from all 3 locomotives) and post accident mechanical inspection of the equipment, should provide all the information needed to understand what events occurred resulting in this accident. 

The $64 question is "What will be done to prevent it from re-occurring?"

GP40

Thanks for posting this.  About a decade ago the BNSF ran west bound loaded grain trains over both Stevens and Stampede Passes.  One of the reasons they did so because they had been sending Puget Sound grain trains on the lower grade NP/SP&S route via the Columbia River for so long they were running out of guys who had run heavy tonnage unit trains over the mountains. 

Three Dash-9s, I believe all or mostly DC locomotives, could handle a 15,000 ton train over the low grade route and get the empty train back over the mountains at bout 15 MPH.  Five units were assigned to get the loaded grain trains over Stevens and Stampede in a 3x2 head end and mid train DPU configuration.  AND a two unit manned helper set was added on the rear for the 2.2% portions of the trip.  While some early trips were made cutting the helpers off at the top of the grade most trips were made with the manned helpers staying on until the BOTTOM of the 2.2% grade at Skykomish or Lester.  This was done so the same dynamic breaking capability was available going down as there was tractive effort to go up.

I understand that the CP has been running loaded unit trains with 1x1x1 DPUs down Kicking Horse Pass for a number of years.  Based on what I have read here and heard from BN people that scares me.  With only three units worth of dynamic breaking coming down Kicking Horse Pass if you lose the air and accelerate to 5-10 MPH you ARE going to continue accelerating and derail before you make it to the bottom of the grade.

Ted Hikel posted:
With only three units worth of dynamic breaking coming down Kicking Horse Pass if you lose the air and accelerate to 5-10 MPH you ARE going to continue accelerating and derail before you make it to the bottom of the grade.

It's not the air that you are likely to lose.  If one dynamic brake quits, a third of the dynamic braking effort is gone.  The Engineer had better be watching everything and have a plan for such an event.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

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