Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby scoostraw » Tue Dec 26, 2017 4:55 pm

Conductors must be qualified on the territory just as engineers are.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby STrRedWolf » Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:19 pm

scoostraw wrote:Conductors must be qualified on the territory just as engineers are.


Also, I've seen instances (CSX track, MARC train sets) where an Engineer had an issue and a Conductor who also was a qualified Engineer operated the train.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby farecard » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:30 am

re: Trackage ownership


Thanks......
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby ApproachMedium » Wed Dec 27, 2017 1:54 am

Conductors need to know all of the details because if the train has to be backed up for any reason, the engineer cant just go on the hind end if there is no way to operate back there. Yes this train had an engine on the back but what if the MU trainline was broken, damaged or the engine itself was totally inoperable. A conductor would need to be able to be on the point and shove.

Also a conductor if a conductor is familiar with the speeds and restrictions across a route they can better understand if the engineer is making a mistake with speed. Its pretty obvious if an engineer is going too fast in an area to a conductor who is familiar with the route. You get a feel for how it goes, they could essentially check on the engineer if needed or if unable to, just dump the train. Without getting in to deep detail there is provisions for this in our rulebooks, to an extent.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby Tadman » Wed Dec 27, 2017 3:42 pm

dowlingm wrote:Railroading operates in two-ish dimensions. Aviation works in three, with air currents making significant differences to direction and handling, and yet to my mind has embraced automation to a more significant degree - e.g. cat 3b autoland.


Wouldn't railroads be in one dimension? You can't steer and you can't climb/dive, you can only go forward/backward.

dowlingm wrote:To my mind it is shocking that road automation has progressed further than rail when road is a significantly more chaotic environment. But posters here (and other rail interest venues of course) will reliably throw up dire warnings about trusting machines and the effect on crew awareness (which is not entirely unfounded - see "children of magenta" - but all too often throws out the baby with the bath water)


I think it's worth distinguishing automated versus semi-automated. Semi-automation relies on human interface with certain automated facets of the operation. It has been my experience that a better name for this is "a crutch". An automatic transmission is an example: given the overwhelming adoption of the automatic transmission over 40+ years, very few are proficient with the clutch/manual gearchange. Some of us know how to use it and are rusty, many of us have no idea how to use it.

The automatic transmission, however, is not a crutch that adjusts for a safety issue. A collision-avoidance semi-automation feature is a troubling example of a crutch that adjusts for a safety issue. We count on the computer to keep the train away from the other train so much that perhaps we get careless. The 2012 Niles, Michigan, incident I keep citing is a perfect example. ITCS is allowed as a form of PTC. P in PTC means positive, or if a malfunction happens, options are restricted so that nothing bad can happen. That has not been proven incorrect.

It is my experience with regard to industrial cases, semi-automation is a crutch that can lead to carelessness, and I feel the same about PTC. That is my fear - not relying on a machine, but relying on a human's reliance on a machine.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby JimBoylan » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:07 pm

One commentator complains that the engineers were mostly trained on the new route at night, but traffic cameras show that the accident happened in the dark before dawn.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby scoostraw » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:09 pm

Tadman wrote:It is my experience with regard to industrial cases, semi-automation is a crutch that can lead to carelessness, and I feel the same about PTC. That is my fear - not relying on a machine, but relying on a human's reliance on a machine.

That's where things are headed IMO. Planes too.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby frequentflyer » Wed Dec 27, 2017 4:15 pm

Just to add some balance to this conversation. Since the accident Amtrak has been operating on over 25,000 miles of curvy, straight, slow and high speed track without an incident. While its easy to key in on this one incident Amtrak crews are right now as you post operating over diverse tracks and rules and doing so safely and mostly on time.................Carry on.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby lstone19 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 6:06 pm

Tadman wrote:It is my experience with regard to industrial cases, semi-automation is a crutch that can lead to carelessness, and I feel the same about PTC. That is my fear - not relying on a machine, but relying on a human's reliance on a machine.


When people become overly reliant on it, that can be true. But when it's used as an aide and not allowed to become primary, it can help. I'd put things like calendar and task reminders on our computers and phones as a form of semi-automation that is an aide, not a crutch.

Imagine if an railroad engineer had a device that help him or her maintain situational awareness and could alert to upcoming speed restrictions even though it could do nothing to enforce it. Sounds like a current car GPS/nav system adapted for railroad use. Many modern nav systems can display the speed limit of the road you're on so doing the same for a railroad, even upcoming speeds (simpler given railroads have limited routing). Imagine you're moving a long at 79mph when your device alerts you: "Speed 30 mph in 2.0 miles; current speed 79mph" and then countdown to it. Or if there's an interlocking or control point ahead: "Interlocking 2.0 miles ahead; diverging route 25 mph; normal route 60 mph" and then the engineer, adding what signals are displayed, slows or not as needed. No enforcement but a reminder when situational awareness is lost. Fixing just loss of situational awareness incidents would, I believe, greatly improve safety.

The problem I see with where PTC is going is that it is designed to be a 100% solution. Yet as with just about everything else, the 80/20 rule probably applies where 80% of the mistakes PTC is designed to prevent can be done for the first 20% of the cost; it's just getting the last 20% that makes it so difficult. Yet rather than going the easier route and taking care of the low-hanging fruit, we go for the solution that will get the top fruit while leaving the low fruit unharvested for years and years.

Years ago, I was involved peripherally with a project for my non-railroad employer of that time that was designed to be all things to all of a major division of the company. It was extremely complicated and eventually, to use a phrase I like, collapsed under its own weight. A rather large investment went nowhere.

Unfortunately, railroads have traditionally been extremely slow to adopt new technology, even when it would be easy to adapt. I remember early in my short-lived railroad career back in 1979 sitting out by the pool at my apartment complex talking to a couple of young women. I noticed they had pagers and found out they were flight attendants on reserve (airline equivalent of extra board). But unlike railroads, which required extra board employees to be by a phone when legal to call, they could sit out by the pool provided they called immediately (for some definition of immediately) when paged. Meanwhile, railroads fought pagers and even got a labor board ruling that pagers did not meet the requirements of being reachable when on the extra board.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby JimBoylan » Wed Dec 27, 2017 7:52 pm

Are the speeds reported on the various train tracker maps actual transmissions from the locomotives' speedometers?
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby MCL1981 » Wed Dec 27, 2017 9:18 pm

JimBoylan wrote:Are the speeds reported on the various train tracker maps actual transmissions from the locomotives' speedometers?

No. They're GPS speeds, with lag time going from the locomotive --> 3G/4G network --> Amtrak --> Web server stuff --> internet --> You're screen. It is not, and cannot be considered a source of factual information.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 28, 2017 12:36 am

MCL1981 wrote:
JimBoylan wrote:Are the speeds reported on the various train tracker maps actual transmissions from the locomotives' speedometers?

No. They're GPS speeds, with lag time going from the locomotive --> 3G/4G network --> Amtrak --> Web server stuff --> internet --> You're screen. It is not, and cannot be considered a source of factual information.
Amtrak should have a central computer reading the speed tracking info, trying to anticipate a problem, if so have the dispatcher or the HQ call out to the train crew with an emergency inquiry. May not be 100% accurate, but might save lives.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby ApproachMedium » Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:09 am

BandA wrote:
MCL1981 wrote:
JimBoylan wrote:Are the speeds reported on the various train tracker maps actual transmissions from the locomotives' speedometers?

No. They're GPS speeds, with lag time going from the locomotive --> 3G/4G network --> Amtrak --> Web server stuff --> internet --> You're screen. It is not, and cannot be considered a source of factual information.
Amtrak should have a central computer reading the speed tracking info, trying to anticipate a problem, if so have the dispatcher or the HQ call out to the train crew with an emergency inquiry. May not be 100% accurate, but might save lives.


lmao thats how PTC works....
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 6:56 am

Tadman wrote:I suspect the investigation will reveal some combination of operator error, poor training, and company culture. Perhaps too many men in the cab, as that was noted as a contributing factor in the fatal overspeed derailment on Via's corridor a few years back.

Too many people ... too few people ... the real problem is no one paying attention to the train's location, speed and what speed the train should have been traveling.

Tadman wrote:Mark my words, one of these days there will be a mass casualty under PTC. We came darn close to one a few years back in Niles, Michigan. ITCS was "turned off" for repairs and a switch was lined for the MoW yard, and the Wolverine took it at track speed. If you can "turn off" the PTC and not see some sort of restrictions, it's not positive.

"OFF" should stop trains ... that will make the PTC haters happy. But I find it disingenuous to blame any safety system for an accident when said safety system is INTENTIONALLY DISABLED. And then use that human's negligent behavior to throw all of the babies out with the bath water.

I saw on the news where a driver was killed when not wearing their seat belt. The seat belt was totally ineffective when not used so lets repeal all seatbelt use and installation laws since the presence of a seatbelt didn't save that life. I also saw a story about a drunk driver ... apparently the laws against drunk/impaired driving are not working so lets repeal all of them as well. I saw someone speeding so we can take down all of those ineffective speed limit signs. 673 people have been murdered in Chicago in 2017 (at last report). Time to get rid of those ineffective murder laws. It all makes as much sense as throwing away PTC because an incident happened when the system was disabled.

PTC can be the one entity in the cab that IS paying attention, whether there is one human in the cab with PTC or seven or seventeen. Turned off or intentionally disabled isn't PTC's fault so it would take a lot of bias for a person to blame PTC for an incident where PTC was intentionally disabled.

And if a mass casualty happens where PTC is disabled the incident would not occur under PTC. Just like blaming an unused seatbelt, ignored impaired driving law, ignored speed limit sign or ignored murder laws when those incidents occur.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Thu Dec 28, 2017 7:19 am

lstone19 wrote:The problem I see with where PTC is going is that it is designed to be a 100% solution. Yet as with just about everything else, the 80/20 rule probably applies where 80% of the mistakes PTC is designed to prevent can be done for the first 20% of the cost; it's just getting the last 20% that makes it so difficult. Yet rather than going the easier route and taking care of the low-hanging fruit, we go for the solution that will get the top fruit while leaving the low fruit unharvested for years and years.
The industry had an opportunity to take lesser steps than PTC. The actuaries decided that the cost of damage and human lives was less than the cost of upgrading systems. Status quo was maintained.

I would fully support not having PTC if the industry would stop wrecking trains. At this point they have collectively proven that something more than the current safety systems is needed. And while some may be waiting for the first fatal incident they can accurately blame on PTC the number of incidents that could have been prevented by PTC (or lesser safety systems the railroads failed to install) continues to grow. When was the time that we went a year without at least one incident PTC could have avoided?

PTC is what the industry got for not taking the smaller steps on their own. For allowing the actuaries to decide that installing equipment that would slow a train before a curve was not worth the cost. For allowing signal/track engineers to decide that coding a slower speed wasn't needed because trains will "never" be going to fast into a curve. When "never" happens something must change.
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