Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 1:53 pm


It is interesting to read that 2010 thread about 188 being delayed 8 hours knowing that another Amtrak 188 had a much worse journey less than five years later.

As far as the rest of your post, there needs to be a middle ground between old school bullying and protecting snowflakes. One does not need to be a bully to train a person how to operate a route or train.

I would like to see more responsibility taken by the train crews. When I am in unfamiliar territory I try to be more focused. The engineer could have used that run to continue to familiarize himself with the route. He had seen it before in sparse training runs but now he was at the controls he could have read every sign out loud and commented on other landmarks that would help him on future runs. Perhaps he was making such comments silently to himself but I believe he missed an opportunity to avoid the accident by not operating with heightened awareness. I would much rather see him reading wayside signs in the cab video transcript than "Oh, <bleep> we're dead".
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby ThirdRail7 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 3:30 pm

justalurker66 wrote: The engineer could have used that run to continue to familiarize himself with the route. He had seen it before in sparse training runs but now he was at the controls he could have read every sign out loud and commented on other landmarks that would help him on future runs. Perhaps he was making such comments silently to himself but I believe he missed an opportunity to avoid the accident by not operating with heightened awareness.


Heightened awareness is great..when it is concentrated an a task. in this case, he may have been attempting to concentrate on the territory which is still relatively new. However, you are ALSO attempting to split your awareness on the sights and sounds of a new piece of equipment that is VERY capable of achieving speeds at locations that the previous equipment you operated were unlikely to meet.

An unfamiliar piece of equipment is a task itself. Attempting to operate at track speed (the qualifying runs were at lower speeds) on an inaugural run, with a qualifying employee is pure distraction,. I never understood why the Road Foreman wasn't assigned to the train. I guess they were busy qualifying people at night.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:01 pm

Other than not slowing for the curve where the accident occurred, is there any evidence of poor train handling? Did the engineer overshoot any stops? Did he go over speed prior to approaching the accident curve?

Based on the transcript, it seems that the engineer operated the train within expected standards until he failed to slow for the curve where the wreck occurred (a result of forgetting where he was, not being ignorant of how to operate that specific engine).

(The engineer interview also states that his training runs were in the new Charger locomotives.)
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby Backshophoss » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:52 pm

Does anybody have a link to the dockets on this accident?
The search function on the NTSB site keeps sending me to pior 2009 page! :(
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby Amtrak706 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 5:57 pm

justalurker66 wrote:Other than not slowing for the curve where the accident occurred, is there any evidence of poor train handling? Did the engineer overshoot any stops? Did he go over speed prior to approaching the accident curve?

Based on the transcript, it seems that the engineer operated the train within expected standards until he failed to slow for the curve where the wreck occurred (a result of forgetting where he was, not being ignorant of how to operate that specific engine).

(The engineer interview also states that his training runs were in the new Charger locomotives.)


This exchange from the event recorder transcript is a bit worrisome to me:

6:17:22 ENG they’ve been changing so much, I still get lost sometimes down here if they send me down, like, main three down in, like, kelso or something [laughing]
6:17:34 QC what am I doing over here? [laughs]
6:17:37 ENG what do I do? what's the speed? I don’t know! [laughing]
6:17:51 ENG we stay on main one, and if that’s the case we don’t gotta worry about #
6:20:46 ENG this is all a learning experience I've never run this engine before
6:20:50 QC oh I thought you've run this
6:20:52 ENG I, yeah up and back over uh, the top there
6:20:56 QC oh ok
6:20:57 END you know I don't know what notch is going to maintain speed, you know its all a learning experience here
6:27:46 QC is that approach medium at orillia?
6:27:51 ENG uh, is this orillia? I think its orillia, I think its an intermediate
6:27:54 QC oh intermediate
6:27:55 ENG its an intermediate for us and its something over there. I think, uhh, its orillia over there? I get a little confused with the control points. what does your sheet say?
6:28:07 QC says its going to be orillia
6:28:11 ENG I think its orillia on those two tracks and then over here its intermediate
6:29:10 ENG this is orillia

Also, there was a brief overspeed condition a few miles before the curve, as read in the transcript of the interview with the engineer:

Q: Was there anything else going on with the engine while you were looking for that white sign, that landmark?
A: At some point -- and to be honest with you, I can't remember at which point this was. But at some point, either before 15.5 or right after 15.5, I noticed that the speedometer had crept up quickly and I had an overspeed alarm. And I had never seen an overspeed alarm on this locomotive before, obviously, and so I wasn't sure if I was in an alarm situation or a penalty situation. So I went -- I'm pretty sure I put the brake in suppression, which would -- what you need to do to get out of a penalty. And then I think I ascertained that I actually wasn't in a penalty and I believe I kicked the brakes back off. But that motion of going to suppression and back, it brought the train down to below 79.
Q: Do you remember -- you said you saw an alarm. Did you hear anything?
A: Yeah. Yeah, there was an audible alarm.
Q: There was an audible alarm. What did that audible alarm mean to you?
A: I didn't know.
Q: Okay.
A: There was a red light flashing on the speedometer that triggered to me that it was an overspeed alarm or a penalty.
Q: You didn't know --
A: Some of our locomotives will go to penalty without an alarm and other locomotives will give an alarm before going into a penalty, and I wasn't sure what it was.
Q: Okay. Do you remember what action you took to stop the audible alarm, if any, or did it just stop?
A: Generally the alarm will stop when the conditions of the overspeed are satisfied.
Q: Okay.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:22 pm

Here are links to several documents concerning the Cascade wreck and the Cayce SC incident.
https://www.trainorders.com/discussion/ ... ?4,4593746

And here is a picture of the cab taken last April while the engine was enroute for testing.
http://railpictures.net/photo/612035/

After finishing the engineer transcript it seems apparent that the engineer had a plan for the curve but his plan failed when he failed to notice the (one) specific sign that he was looking for at CP 188 as the point he planned on starting to slow the train. He saw the mileposts for 16 and 17 but missed the milepost sign for 18 and missed CP 188. He thought that he was approaching CP 188 when he saw the final speed reduction sign and realized he was not where he thought he was. (He was not looking for the advance speed reduction sign 2 miles out because that was too far away from the curve to begin slowing down.)

He also noted that normal training was 30-40 runs over several hundred miles of territory (new hire training) where he was expected to learn the territory and the equipment. He successfully completed three training runs behind the throttle on the new subdivision (two northbound, one southbound). The curve was well known and hated (general consensus) by all the engineers in training. But he had a plan ... based on slowing down at CP 188 one mile out and using a road crossing four miles out as a reminder that he was four miles away.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby David Benton » Sun Jul 15, 2018 6:25 pm

How many crashes have had extra people in the cab as a possible distraction? I can think of quite a few and to me, that conversation makes distraction a possible cause in this one too.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby ApproachMedium » Mon Jul 16, 2018 12:38 am

Thridrail, Interesting about the night qualifying. You know even in 2007 when i was hired at NJ Transit, we were NOT allowed to night qualify. it was STRICTLY VERBOTEN.

Same situation came to be at amtrak about night qualifying, though not sure why.

At NJT it was very clear it was all about surveillance by our instructors and management. We were getting phone calls on our cell phones (before all the rules came to be) asking why we werent wearing safety glasses while walking a yard, or on the head end of a train (they would call between runs). It was obvious what was going on and that some of the people running the show at the time at NJT really didnt know what they were doing yet either because they either didnt have enough time running or they had been up high for so long, they had forgotten what it was like to be at the bottom.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby andrewjw » Mon Jul 16, 2018 9:24 am

ThirdRail7 wrote:Qualifying at night was a no brainer and let me tell you about instructors. Prior to marking, some of them used to actually restrict you visibility (cover your eyes, pull the shade down and turn on all of the interior lights so inhibit visibility) and you'd better be RIGHT ON THE MONEY.....or you were OUT. PERIOD. If you weren't OUT, you were knocked out, because this was before the iron clad "training agreement." Before the agreement, you'd have to hope someone had mercy and bother to let you operate their training and guess what? You rode at night and put up with whatever they said and if that meant they rolled up a newspaper and hit you, threw water or water bottles at you, wrapped their hands around the back of your neck and grabbed you (among other things) and told you to get it together,you did it. PERIOD...otherwise no one would train you.

For the record, I could see Approach Medium being one of the people that would throw something at you because while I disagree with his stance, I KNOW he's not into the entitlement that had permeated the industry these days. I also know he's into knowledge and training....which is a problem at the upper levels. As Approach Medium stated, there is a reason why you're supposed to be professionals. However, that comes from training and or experience. Both of them are lacking and that is because the people at the top are people with no experience. They think this is a game.


This is definitely not a hostile workplace environment, nor would any employer in the country be liable for suit if these practices had been allowed to consider to the present day. As much as you might fantasize about the 'good ole days', please stop acting like harassment and hazing of safety critical employees is safe or produces good results.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby ThirdRail7 » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:44 pm

andrewjw wrote:
This is definitely not a hostile workplace environment, nor would any employer in the country be liable for suit if these practices had been allowed to consider to the present day. As much as you might fantasize about the 'good ole days', please stop acting like harassment and hazing of safety critical employees is safe or produces good results.


Actually, no where in my post did you see me condone, endorse or pine for what happened. Additionally, I never mentioned "good old days," I merely stated what happened. I know reality is hard on people these days, but there are the facts that exists. You trained where you could. If the instructor utilized methods you didn't like, you really didn't have a lot of options. If it was at night, you went out at night. If the job worked weekends, you worked weekends. As indicated, that is because a training agreement didn't exist.

If you couldn't handle it, you couldn't handle it and you didn't make it since....a training agreement didn't exist.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby Tadman » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:29 am

David Benton wrote:How many crashes have had extra people in the cab as a possible distraction? I can think of quite a few and to me, that conversation makes distraction a possible cause in this one too.


This is a good question. I think the carriers already get the picture. I seem to recall CSX has asked crews not to banter in certain situations, Via knows the three-man cab crew contributed to the crash on their corridor a few years ago, and airlines do not allow crew banter on takeoff/landing.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby east point » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:02 pm

Tadman wrote:[, and airlines do not allow crew banter on takeoff/landing.



Actuallyit is at 10,000 feet and below or 3000 feet higher than airport for higher airports or in certain international jurisdictions it is flight level 100 and below.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby Ken W2KB » Tue Jul 17, 2018 4:27 pm

east point wrote:
Tadman wrote:[, and airlines do not allow crew banter on takeoff/landing.


Actuallyit is at 10,000 feet and below or 3000 feet higher than airport for higher airports or in certain international jurisdictions it is flight level 100 and below.


Plus, it is not an airline rule, it is a Federal Aviation Administration regulation adopted decades ago with which all airline flight crews must comply. The equivalent for railroads would be a FRA regulation.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby justalurker66 » Tue Jul 17, 2018 6:01 pm

Tadman wrote:
David Benton wrote:How many crashes have had extra people in the cab as a possible distraction? I can think of quite a few and to me, that conversation makes distraction a possible cause in this one too.

This is a good question. I think the carriers already get the picture. I seem to recall CSX has asked crews not to banter in certain situations, Via knows the three-man cab crew contributed to the crash on their corridor a few years ago, and airlines do not allow crew banter on takeoff/landing.


The transcript shows what I would consider "banter" in the critical minutes before the accident. The engineer and qualifying conductor were discussing the QC's return trip. This conversation occurred at a time when the engineer was watching for CP 188 ... but instead of discussing the operation of the current train they had an irrelevant conversation.
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Re: Cascade Wreck 18 December 17

Postby mmi16 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 8:09 am

While the engineer 'passed' the qualifications Amtrak set - he was totally unqualified on this territory at the time the incident happened. Operating a single Southbound trip during training does not qualify anyone.
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