Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby D Alex » Sat Feb 17, 2018 9:51 am

KevinD wrote:The water was flowing pretty good, which makes me think the arch is still intact (which bodes well for faster restoration), but I would put my money on something happening down stream, like a fallen tree dam, a beaver dam, etc, causing water to back up to the point the embankment became super-saturated until it slipped down. WNY is known for soil that does not hold up well when super-saturated. Very reminiscent of the maintenance issues with the Erie's River Line. As long as the ditches were cleared annually and the water allowed to run off properly, the soil comprising the cuts and fills of the River Line remained relatively stable. When Conrail came along and the "high maintenance" ditching/water runoff control stopped, within 2 years gravity had pretty much destroyed the River Line's track structure.


I'd be that culvert is 150 years old. Looks like it was built by a crew of masons.

There is a stretch of the old LVRR mainline just east of Rt.65 that is practically a bog today. I imagine that the LVRR road crews needed to keep the ditches either side of the line clear when it was maintained. Water is indeed a destructive element when not properly managed..

BTW, in reports of old wrecks, you often read about the crew "bailing out" before a high-speed collision. Does that ever happen anymore? I assume that the main reason for jumping was to avoid being caught in a boiler explosion.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby tree68 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:09 am

KevinD wrote:The water was flowing pretty good, which makes me think the arch is still intact (which bodes well for faster restoration), but I would put my money on something happening down stream, like a fallen tree dam, a beaver dam, etc, causing water to back up to the point the embankment became super-saturated until it slipped down. WNY is known for soil that does not hold up well when super-saturated.

Or upstream, with the water slowly finding a way around the culvert through the fill.

Something like a beaver blockage should have been noticed, though, as lakes where they didn't used to be tend to attract attention. I've seen a few like that on the Adirondack.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby ctclark1 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:45 am

D Alex wrote:BTW, in reports of old wrecks, you often read about the crew "bailing out" before a high-speed collision. Does that ever happen anymore? I assume that the main reason for jumping was to avoid being caught in a boiler explosion.

It was a lot quicker and easier to jump off the side of a steamer than it is to find your way down the hatch of a diesel... By the time you've seen your impending obstacle nowadays it's probably better for you to brace in your seat or something than it would be to be trying to run down the stairs out the front door of the engine, you'd get thrown around a lot more dangerously if you were standing...

Maybe this was answered, but did the crew even see the apparent washout? Obviously there would still have been very little time to react, but is it possible it wasn't even visible until the weight of the engines caved it in (if it was a "cavernous" washout like BR&P suggested it might have been)? I'm not trying to speculate that.... but it is very likely that even if this had been a steam engine of old, jumping clear before the site of the wreck would've been very difficult because it probably wouldn't have been visible far enough in advance. If they had jumped out of the engines they probably would've been crushed by the 6 or so autoracks that followed....
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby thebigham » Sat Feb 17, 2018 11:51 am

Mike Stellpflug on Facebook just now:

NS 920 stone train just departed Binghamton for the wreck site in Attica.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby BR&P » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:50 pm

Joining the birds is a crapshoot in most cases. there have been times where jumping saved one guy's life while the one who stayed got killed (Casey Jones for one example). But there have also been times when the one who jumped was killed either by the jump itself or by derailed equipment on top of them while the one who stayed survived. A couple years back there was a nasty one somewhere east of Amarillo IIRC. Woman jumped from the westbound before a head-on. A week later they still had not recovered her, not sure they ever did. Image

Back to NS - FRA track regs require culverts to be kept clear. However, in some cases it's almost impossible to know a culvert is even there if it's at the bottom of a tall fill and there is vegetation and debris over it. Yes, it should show up on the track charts but how many track inspectors are going to get out of their truck and climb down a slope and back up again every half mile? (Answer - a whole lot more of them now that this has happened!)
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby Windseeker1 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 12:59 pm

Perhaps that’s why CSX has white paint on the rails at every culvert area?
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby BR&P » Sat Feb 17, 2018 1:23 pm

Windseeker1 wrote:Perhaps that’s why CSX has white paint on the rails at every culvert area?


Yes. I'm not sure where that started, I first saw it on the former L&N back in the mid 1990's. An excellent idea.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby RMB357 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 2:50 pm

I'm assuming NS is detouring traffic via CSX Chicago line or through Pittsburgh? Haven't seen anything so far on Buffalo line . Any information on this yet?
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby tree68 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:00 pm

BR&P wrote:Back to NS - FRA track regs require culverts to be kept clear. However, in some cases it's almost impossible to know a culvert is even there if it's at the bottom of a tall fill and there is vegetation and debris over it.

That, and it doesn't take much high water to fill the entrance to a culvert with branches, debris, or even ice. Throw in the occasional beaver (I've seen them repair our "damage" to their efforts overnight) and you have the potential for an overnight failure, if you will.

There are many reasons it may not be immediately obvious that there's a problem with the drainage. Each case is going to be different.

It will be interesting to hear what the determination is in this incident.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby BR&P » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:09 pm

tree68 wrote: Throw in the occasional beaver (I've seen them repair our "damage" to their efforts overnight) and you have the potential for an overnight failure, if you will.


Not trying to hijack the NS thread, but you are so right about the beavers. Once had a dam around a culvert on a single-track line, nice and handy. After a couple days of track guys sawing up branches and physically removing them (only to have it rebuilt), the railroad brought out the Jordan Spreader. The water was way over the top of the culvert, and when the spreader wing went along it just tore that dam apart, and the force of the water going through the culvert was incredible. Every last branch, limb and twig went through there like a peashooter, and was carried far downstream and far away. And there was so much of a lake backed up, it was going to flow like that for about a day before subsiding.





The next morning, the dam looked just like it had the previous morning! Image
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby tree68 » Sat Feb 17, 2018 3:48 pm

BR&P wrote:... and the force of the water going through the culvert was incredible.

Long story short - our folks developed a "kit" involving an ice auger, a long shaft, and an ATV winch for clearing such blockages. Screw the auger into the blockage from the backside, then pull it through with the winch.

Of course, you're downstream of this while you're boring into the dam, inside the culvert. And in one case, the water was several feet (like six or more) above the top of the rather large culvert (big enough to stand up in).

As you noted, the water and debris came out the downstream side of the culvert like a shotgun, completely filling the culvert while the rather large lake drained...

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby D Alex » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:19 pm

If the culvert was built when the Erie built the mainline back in 1850-ish, would there still be a record?
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby JoeS » Sat Feb 17, 2018 4:55 pm

The 1965 E-L track chart copy I have is barely legible but it does show something in the vicinity...

At MP 390.67 there is what I think reads " 5 x 5' 11 St Arch" which I take to be stone arch... or is it steel reinforced concrete arch?

The East Main crossing is MP 391.03 so per the track chart the arch is 1900 feet east of the crossing.

The more recent Conrail Lehigh Division 1982 track chart shows just "UG" at 390.67 but the East Main crossing at 391.01, which gets us to a culvert location 1,795 feet from the crossing.

Google maps measures about 1720 feet to where the stream is located. 1900 feet from the crossing on Google maps is just on the edge of the field where the damaged cars and locos were moved to.

County line is located at 390.32 for additional reference.

So the culvert seems well documented... I don't know what to make of it; seems a 5 foot by 6 foot culvert, arch etc. collapsing under that large embankment would go undetected and certainly not create a sinkhole large enough to swallow a train.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby BR&P » Sat Feb 17, 2018 5:17 pm

JoeS wrote:seems a 5 foot by 6 foot culvert, arch etc. collapsing under that large embankment would go undetected and certainly not create a sinkhole large enough to swallow a train.


Again, the scenarios I presented above were either such a buildup of water upstream that it cut through or pushed out the embankment, or a gradual void growing from a small roof collapse inside the tunnel, whereby the fill material was continually washed away by the flowing water. If it were the second case, the top might not collapse until a considerable amount of material had fallen through - it could have been going on off and on for a long time.
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Re: Attica NS derailment 2/15/18

Postby KevinD » Sun Feb 18, 2018 9:01 am

I simply noted that while crews were engaged in the recovery of railcars, other crews were going to town clearing the downstream treed-in area along the "brook". Other photos showed excavators in the water working to keep the channel clear. During reconstruction they never went down far enough to mess with the integrity of the arch, so that tells me all is still okay with it. Plus, with the slip-out on the west side (downstream) and not the east side (upstream) tells me the over saturation happened on the west side. That likely happened from a downstream obstruction in the wooded area that has been cleared post-derailment. But its all good if we all don't necessarily agree.

Now that the line is open does anyone know if they opened the siding first or the main?
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