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Why canít some train crashes be avoided?

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Why canít some train crashes be avoided?

Old 02-05-2018, 04:34 AM
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Default Why canít some train crashes be avoided?

Iím kind of baffled about why some of these train crashes happen.

Train to train more specifically. I would think it wouldnít be that hard to use something similar to AIS to show where all trains are and create an alert or even slow/stop the train automatically if another is detected on the same track at a speed or direction that would cause a collision.

Does something like that exist? I know nothing about trains. Just seems like something like this last crash might be avoidable with technology.
Old 02-05-2018, 04:47 AM
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It's a matter of $$$. Some of the rail lines generate little revenue but the government won't allow abandonment. Signal systems extremely expensive. There easily could be systems developed that would add a layer of safety, but if they're not deemed failsafe or safety critical, gov't won't allow installation. I worked with this for many years.

In the case of the latest Amtrak/CSX collision, the CSX train was parked on a siding. The CSX crew that parked the train, failed to re-align the switch back to the main track. They also failed to set the derail on the side track.

Result was the southbound Amtrak train was routed head-on into the CSX train on the siding.

Human error.
Old 02-05-2018, 04:51 AM
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Originally Posted by airbrush View Post
It's a matter of $$$. Some of the rail lines generate little revenue but the government won't allow abandonment.

In the case of the latest Amtrak/CSX collision, the CSX train was parked on a siding. The CSX crew that parked the train, failed to re-align the switch back to the main track. They also failed to set the derail on the side track.

Result was the southbound Amtrak train was routed head-on into the CSX train on the siding.

Human error.
Wow. That's one he'll of screw up
Old 02-05-2018, 04:51 AM
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Yeah i read about what happened. Nuts that you can’t do a couple things that if anything you do you do these.

Even that though. The switch would not be hard to be made smarter and networked. That would cost a lot sure to do all over but I would think it would cost less than a crash.
Old 02-05-2018, 04:58 AM
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Originally Posted by crazybeard View Post
Yeah i read about what happened. Nuts that you canít do a couple things that if anything you do you do these.

Even that though. The switch would not be hard to be made smarter and networked. That would cost a lot sure to do all over but I would think it would cost less than a crash.
Correct - but as I said, failsafe or nothing. That's why Positive Train Control is moving at a snails pace. Interoperability has also been a major stumbling block - but I could talk volumes on the subject. Actually was deposed over a week for a similar accident some years ago on a different railway.
Old 02-05-2018, 05:05 AM
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Originally Posted by airbrush View Post
Correct - but as I said, failsafe or nothing. That's why Positive Train Control is moving at a snails pace. Interoperability has also been a major stumbling block - but I could talk volumes on the subject. Actually was deposed over a week for a similar accident some years ago on a different railway.
Itís crazy that there would be a restriction on installing a simple position monitor. Better nothing I would think. Why would there be a restriction? To try and force full upgrades?
Old 02-05-2018, 05:07 AM
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Simple answer is because people are involved.
Old 02-05-2018, 05:18 AM
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$$$$$$ is the answer why they don't upgrade. On subway systems, rails are divided into negative rail and signal rail. Remember unlike railroads, subways run on electricity. That being said, the signal rail detects a rail car n the tracks and not only changes the signals on approach but also raises a trip arm adjacent to it. If a motorman runs past a red signal, the trip arm trips a corresponding arm that hangs just below the motorman's cab that throws the train into emergency stop. Since railroads don't run on electric, it's difficult to instal that in rural areas that the trains run. Most incidents I've seen are a result of human error.

Just to keep it on the lighter side, I worked the emergency crew for a major subway. Just image. One o'clock in the morning, I got called out to a derailment. Some idiot threw a switch in the middle of a "MONEY" train. Talk about hell to pay.
Old 02-05-2018, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by Mud Runner View Post
$$$$$$ is the answer why they don't upgrade. On subway systems, rails are divided into negative rail and signal rail. Remember unlike railroads, subways run on electricity. That being said, the signal rail detects a rail car n the tracks and not only changes the signals on approach but also raises a trip arm adjacent to it. If a motorman runs past a red signal, the trip arm trips a corresponding arm that hangs just below the motorman's cab that throws the train into emergency stop. Since railroads don't run on electric, it's difficult to instal that in rural areas that the trains run. Most incidents I've seen are a result of human error.

Just to keep it on the lighter side, I worked the emergency crew for a major subway. Just image. One o'clock in the morning, I got called out to a derailment. Some idiot threw a switch in the middle of a "MONEY" train. Talk about hell to pay.
I wasnít thinking that kind of system since as you mentioned there are differences. Why not a GPS transceiver system? Easy retrofit and programmable. Possibly even could be tied into a control system such as brake. But even if just a display and warning system.
Old 02-05-2018, 05:35 AM
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There are all kinds of AIS-like technology on trains, but for some reason most don't have automated control to be able to stop the train. The technology is there, and the interest is there in requiring it after every major tragedy, but the industry doesn't have an incentive to do it and has delayed implementation.
Old 02-05-2018, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by crazybeard View Post
I wasnít thinking that kind of system since as you mentioned there are differences. Why not a GPS transceiver system? Easy retrofit and programmable. Possibly even could be tied into a control system such as brake. But even if just a display and warning system.
I've never driven a train, but I understand they are REAL hard to turn......
Old 02-05-2018, 05:53 AM
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Originally Posted by billinstuart View Post
I've never driven a train, but I understand they are REAL hard to turn......
Man, they turn like theyíre on rails!
Old 02-05-2018, 07:56 AM
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All about money, CSX was too busy paying Hunter his 300 million bucks.
Old 02-05-2018, 09:18 AM
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Originally Posted by airbrush View Post
It's a matter of $$$. Some of the rail lines generate little revenue but the government won't allow abandonment. Signal systems extremely expensive. There easily could be systems developed that would add a layer of safety, but if they're not deemed failsafe or safety critical, gov't won't allow installation. I worked with this for many years.

In the case of the latest Amtrak/CSX collision, the CSX train was parked on a siding. The CSX crew that parked the train, failed to re-align the switch back to the main track. They also failed to set the derail on the side track.

Result was the southbound Amtrak train was routed head-on into the CSX train on the siding.

Human error.
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the track the Amtrak train was on had been manually switched and "lined and locked." It caused it to divert from the main line and onto a side track, where the freight train was parked.
I would think that switch coming off of the main would be an electric switch operated by someone who controls train movement. Not the crew. I know our's were.
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Last edited by Thalasso; 02-05-2018 at 09:41 AM.
Old 02-05-2018, 09:21 AM
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Old 02-05-2018, 11:01 AM
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Ain't seen nothin yet! They are going to run a high speed train right through towns on the SE side here in Florida. Amazingly stupid.
Old 02-05-2018, 11:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Afishinado View Post
Ain't seen nothin yet! They are going to run a high speed train right through towns on the SE side here in Florida. Amazingly stupid.
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Old 02-05-2018, 12:01 PM
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You have various type of accidents, you have human element and you have equipment failures. Every piece of track can't be inspected all the time, a rail can break and throw a train, a signal can freeze up or give a false positive as in (the bridge is down). Shit happens in life.
Old 02-05-2018, 12:14 PM
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I don't think that track was signalized. It's track warrant territory, so permission to occupy the track is relayed by radio to the train crew. The CSX crew that parked the train was supposed to return the switch to it's normal position which would have been to the main track. They also should have set the derail to the "derail position - that would have protected the main track from a parked train from entering the main track.

CSX train crew failure.

Crazy, FRA (federal Railway Administration) set the bar for Positive Train Control (PTC). They set the bar so high (and will accept nothing less) that the technology cost (I'm not talking dollars here, but failsafe proven technologies) and real costs were extraordinary. I worked with this technically and legislatively (representing a railroad) for many years and the stubbornness and refusal of bureaucrats to listen to reason has resulted in what you see before you.
Old 02-05-2018, 12:35 PM
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There was also signal suspension on that stretch of track. Same thing has happened in SC twice in about the last 10 years. Once in Graniteville and the second I think in Allendale (SP)

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