Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby David Benton » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:12 am

I would say you would have a regular visual to check the disc / bolt etc is in place. Perhaps an annual inspection for wear etc on the pin , which would mean removing the drawbar. But I doubt pulling the drawbar out monthly for inspection would be necessary. The fact that the rest of the Acela fleet is still running probably means this is not viewed as a major failure.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Backshophoss » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:00 am

This could be the"one of a Million" chance that the Drawbar pin would fail under load. Sometimes no matter how you test and inspect parts and
try to find fault or signs of wear,the unexpected happens.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby BlendedBreak » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:08 am

BandA wrote:So if they rarely make/split Acelas, I bet they rarely look at the couplers.


It is not a coupler that you can inspect from the exterior. The vestibule between coaches must be removed.

David Benton wrote:I would say you would have a regular visual to check the disc / bolt etc is in place. Perhaps an annual inspection for wear etc on the pin , which would mean removing the drawbar. But I doubt pulling the drawbar out monthly for inspection would be necessary. The fact that the rest of the Acela fleet is still running probably means this is not viewed as a major failure.


Please remember that this is the railroad. An industry with no safety culture. If you think for a second that cash-strapped Amtrak is going to yard their most profitable trains over a single accident you are sorely mistaken.

HST’s are getting old. The spare sets are either broken or being inspected as part of usual maintenance in Bear. The current lineup makes quick turns from the end points of the corridor. Whatever time spent in the facilities is devoted to sand,brake pads, cab signals, some propulsion, and if time permits-tilt and cleaning. Amtrak runs these trains into the ground. It may look sleek from the outside at a distance -but it is indeed junk.

So to summarize,
Not enough train sets,not enough employees to maintain them, not enough time to inspect them.

David Benton wrote:From that report, the pin is pressed (and welded?, the temporary one was) into place, so this is does not seem to be a case of someone not putting the pin in , or securing it properly. Less clear is the role the securing disk plays, but it seems to me , the pin would remain in place if the securing disk is not installed correctly, in normal circumstances. I.e the drawbar has to be lifted up to separate the cars.
So I would not be so certain this is the fault of Amtrak Maintenance, though it certainly could be.


So we all understand. Dragging a HST from other than a power car is something that has not been done since they were created. There is some work that is done when adding the geometry coach to an HST in Washington DC, but that is a move that is supervised by HST specific mechanical forces. If mechanical had to weld a compromise coupler to the train set to pull it-that means this was more than a simple pin falling out of place. As an aside, an HST can not operate under its own power without its cafe car. Moving this train set probably required lots of truck cutouts, as the HST is a pain in the butt to tow.

BandA wrote:Happened on the MBTA. Never heard which part was ultimately responsible.


I’m sure you can attest to the fact; no manager wants be caught without a seat when the music stops-and train separations are music stoppers. Blame can always be placed on mechanical because it is easy, and problems are very rarely traced to a specific individual.


Backshophoss wrote:This could be the"one of a Million" chance that the Drawbar pin would fail under load. Sometimes no matter how you test and inspect parts and
try to find fault or signs of wear,the unexpected happens.


Again, there is no traditional “draw-bar” between HST coaches.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby DutchRailnut » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:28 am

Ok BlendedBrake (broke-break) the part to be moved is a diaphragm , not a vestibule.

here is FRA report, (nothing about welding a compromise coupler):
Acela pull-apart preliminary findings: FRA

Written by William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
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Acela pull-apart preliminary findings: FRA
The Federal Railroad Administration has issued preliminary findings on the Feb. 6 incident in which an Acela Express trainset experienced a separation between two cars at a speed of approximately 125 mph.

“On Tuesday, February 6, 2018 at approximately 05:58 am EST, Amtrak Acela Train No. 2150 with power car 2031 in the lead was traveling North on Main Track No. 2 when it separated between the 1st and 2nd cars (3215 and 3554) approaching Grace Interlocking at MP 61.8. The separation caused an undesired emergency brake application. The train was traveling 123 MPH when the emergency brake application was initiated. Timetable speed on Main Track No.2 is 125 MPH.

“There were 52 passengers onboard the train at the time. No injuries to passengers or crew have been reported. The 52 passengers were transferred to northbound Regional Train No. 180 at approximately 07:01 am EST, while the OBS crew was picked up by northbound Acela train 2100. The Conductor, Engineer, and Assistant Conductor all remained with the train.

“The [separation] between the 1st and 2nd cars (3215 and 3554) was approximately 4 to 5 feet in length. The Amtrak Track Supervisor walked on Main Track No. 2 from Grace interlocking to Aberdeen, MD (Approximately 4 miles). Some rail holding clips were knocked off between MP 61.4 and 61.5 from dragging equipment.

“Rescue locomotives arrived from Odenton, MD and Wilmington, DE at 10:10am EST to couple to each end of the train to assist the mechanical department in manually connecting the cars. Acela cars are semi-permanently coupled (non-conventional couplers) and require trained mechanical persons to recouple the cars.

“The train departed Haver de Grace at 13:11 pm EST for the Bear, DE shops. It will be pulled to Newark, DE with an ACS-64 (electric locomotive) and then a diesel locomotive will be put on in Newark and the train will then be brought to Bear, DE. The restricted speed for this move will be 25 mph.

“Initial cause of separation is that the drawbar pin on coach 3554 had fallen downward and put pressure onto the retaining disk, and the bolt holding the retaining disk broke. The pin is approximately 3 inches in diameter and is pressed into the drawbar. A retaining disk is bolted under the pin. A bolt and washer are the secondary part this connection system. The bolt was found to be sheared off. The pin was found on top of a truck frame, along with the retaining disk. A new pin was pressed into the drawbar with a “porta power” and was welded in place.

“Further inspections will be conducted at Amtrak’s Bear, DE shops. FRA will be present, and Region 2 FRA MP&E inspector requested the [most recent] year of [documentation on maintenance inspections for Amtrak coach cars .
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Tadman » Fri Feb 09, 2018 12:24 pm

Blended brake, you gotta slow your roll. You make some good points about safety culture, but when there is a clear picture of a drawbar, with a pin missing, and the FRA cites a failed drawbar, WTF with telling us there is no drawbar? There clearly is a drawbar.

Also just because it is hard to get to the drawbar does not excuse not looking at it.

I'm very interested to see what the procedure for inspecting said drawbar is and what the inspection records tell us after the FRA looks at them. Clearly the FRA expects to see a record of inspecting this "not a drawbar" that is inaccessible.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby BlendedBreak » Fri Feb 09, 2018 2:58 pm

Apologies, lots of alcohol last night and as Dutch pointed out-my words were kind of 'off'.
*opinion alert*
Gunn should have let the board sell off Amtrak. Cant wait for my sentence to end, so that i can collect my retirement and never have to traverse the corridor or its yards again.
Last edited by GirlOnTheTrain on Fri Feb 09, 2018 3:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: no need to quote the post right before yours.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby justalurker66 » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:02 pm

BlendedBreak wrote:Apologies, lots of alcohol last night and as Dutch pointed out-my words were kind of 'off'.
*opinion alert*
Gunn should have let the board sell off Amtrak. Cant wait for my sentence to end, so that i can collect my retirement and never have to traverse the corridor or its yards again.

Perhaps the feeling is mutual. Good luck reaching and enjoying retirement.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby NYCRRson » Fri Feb 09, 2018 8:45 pm

Sounds like "broken brake" imbibed too much "blended something"...

Lots of folks hate their jobs, but your constant harping about "They done me wrong" is an old and weary tune....

We've heard it all before, from all kinds of industries, the worker is always smarter than everybody else in the organization, and if only they'd listen to me we'd straighten this here railroad out in no time.

Sad to say it there "busted brake shoe", but nobody pays much attention to any useful suggestions from you about how to do it better because they get drowned out in the "It's an incredible mess and nobody will take my advice about how to fix it"...

I sure hope you are not an active Amtrak Employee because when I hear the kind of "we're all doomed, DOOMED I SAY" attitude It sure makes me want to spend my travel dollars with your competitors, and if enough folks do that you can retire WAY early, like before your pension is "Full Up".
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby justalurker66 » Sat Feb 10, 2018 4:40 am

OT reminds me of a plaque my father had:
"It's not my place to run the train the whistle I can't blow.
"It's not my place to say how far the train is allowed to go.
"It's not my place to blow off steam or even ring the bell.
"But let the damn thing jump the tracks and see who catches hell."

Management in any industry CAN make a job difficult. Such treatment is not a requirement but some managers seem to follow the policy of "the beatings will continue until morale improves". We are discussing "safety culture" in another thread and that discussion shifts the blame from the individual who did not do their job to the company who (possibly) got in the way of the individual. When there is an incident the blame usually rests with a person.

So in this case - was there a person who was tasked with inspecting the coupling? Did that person fail to spot the problem or fail to look? Was that failure due to pressure to do other work or to release the train without sufficient time to perform the inspection correctly? Can the blame be shifted up one level to a supervisor who told the person who would normally inspect that coupling to do something else?
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby GirlOnTheTrain » Sun Feb 11, 2018 5:45 pm

Mod note: While in an offhand sorta way planes and their safety records are relevant here, since Acela is supposed to be air travel competitive on the corridor, can we kindly bring the discussion back around to busted coupler mechanisms and away from planes? Thanks! :)
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Jeff Smith » Fri Feb 16, 2018 12:34 pm

Ditto; that's why I created a safety topic.
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