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 Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:18 am

Roscoe P. Coaltrain wrote:The media is on it because you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.

The media is on it because the media quite likely was on it- as in literally on board train 2150. Who do you think is on the 5 AM Acela from Washington DC to New York on a Tuesday? Probably more than half the passengers boarding at WAS are lawyers, lobbyists and media types heading from DC to the "home office" in NY for meetings.

David Benton wrote:Surprising there were only 52 passengers on-board. I guess it shows the difficulty in getting pricing right for a corridor service.

2150 departs Philadelphia at 6:32 a.m., arrives NYP at 7:45, leaves again for BOS at 8:00 for an 11:40 a.m. arrival, with stops at Stamford at 8:46, New Haven at 9:36, and Providence at 10:53. Guarantee this train is almost full from 30th Street on north/east.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:23 am

Plate C wrote:Not sure why this became a top story across the forums. Technically the train did 'break apart', but no accident, injury, etc.
As such, this was a pretty normal Amtrak operating day IMO.


The fact that there was no accident or injury is not germaine to the bigger picture that there is a serious problem at the railroad. If an airplane went off a runway but nobody was hurt, would that still warrant investigation and coverage? Heck yes.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Jeff Smith » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:30 am

Roscoe P. Coaltrain wrote:The media is on it because you don't sell the steak, you sell the sizzle.


Well said, but that doesn't explain why I prefer Smith & Wollensky to Ruth's Chris LOL!

I'm with Tad; everything seems to be coming to a head with NPRC, whether or not it's their fault.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Tadman » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:53 am

I think it's worth making a distinction: it appears the South Carolina wreck was on CSX, and the grade crossing incident with the congressman train was not on Amtrak, either. But the Cascade and Acela wrecks absolutely were, and from all appearances, reek of poor training and crummy preventative maintenance standards. I don't think it's fair to castrate Amtrak for a grade crossing incident like the press is doing, but I really hope there are some loud wake up calls otherwise. There are a lot of hardworking staff and passengers on those trains that do not deserve to get hurt because the railroad couldn't be bothered to run enough training trips or inspect the drawbars correctly.

Here's another facet of this problem: when does some powerful politician say "you know what, they clearly can't run a railroad, let's zero-out funding for safety reasons". Now it's a safety argument rather than an economic or political argument, and what politician is anti-safety? I don't want to see this happen.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:59 am

That's not going to happen so long as there are Congressional delegations from MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD and VA. Remember Amtrak has pretty solid bi-partisan support in the Northeast and the Middle Atlantic. This part of the world simply can't function without it.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Wed Feb 07, 2018 11:48 am

Ridgefielder wrote:Remember Amtrak has pretty solid bi-partisan support in the Northeast and the Middle Atlantic. This part of the world simply can't function without it.


In the past month, I've booked TWO round trips between the DC area and Boston on JetBlue for $100 a piece, with a 50 minute transit time that makes Acela look like a snail in comparison. I think Amtrak overestimates its utility here, and I say that as a dyed-in-the-wool closet foamer.

But when a private company operating a $75 million dollar pressurized aircraft so expensive/complex that it makes an Acela trainset look like a Doodlebug, that flies at over 500mph at 6 miles' altitude, requires a flight crew that costs you $400k in salary alone, with a cabin crew costing damn close to that as well, while burning $3.50/gallon by the thousands of gallons per hour in a pair of engines that cost $5 million apiece and have to be meticulously maintained by the most expensive kind of mechanics known to man with parts so exotic/expensive that they make a Ferrari's look like off-brand Honda parts STILL manages to provide a cheaper product than you do while eviscerating your safety record AND while turning a profit in the process, then it's time for you, as an industry, to do a little soul-searching.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby electricron » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:06 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:In the past month, I've booked TWO round trips between the DC area and Boston on JetBlue for $100 a piece, with a 50 minute transit time that makes Acela look like a snail in comparison. I think Amtrak overestimates its utility here, and I say that as a dyed-in-the-wool closet foamer.

But when a private company operating a $75 million dollar pressurized aircraft so expensive/complex that it makes an Acela trainset look like a Doodlebug, that flies at over 500mph at 6 miles' altitude, requires a flight crew that costs you $400k in salary alone, with a cabin crew costing damn close to that as well, while burning $3.50/gallon by the thousands of gallons per hour in a pair of engines that cost $5 million apiece and have to be meticulously maintained by the most expensive kind of mechanics known to man with parts so exotic/expensive that they make a Ferrari's look like off-brand Honda parts STILL manages to provide a cheaper product than you do while eviscerating your safety record AND while turning a profit in the process, then it's time for you, as an industry, to do a little soul-searching.

You have made an excellent point, riding Acela between Boston and D.C. isn't really competitive with flying. Acela trains rarely go faster than 135 mph. To be really competitive with flying at that distance, high speed trains needs to reach higher speeds than 135 mph over much more of the corridor, and get there in less than 3 hours. Acela takes twice as long. The entire 457-mile (735 km) route from Boston to Washington takes between 6 hours, 38 minutes and 6 hours, 50 minutes, at an average of around 70.3 mph (113 km/h).

But to be fair, if you're traveling the shorter distances Boston to New York City, or New York City to D.C., Acela trains are competitive at their existing speeds.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Bramdeisroberts » Wed Feb 07, 2018 12:47 pm

Yeah, Acela ought to be hitting TGV/Shinkansen speeds on long stretches between NYC and DC, as well as from Kingston to MA. I don't know how you make Connecticut or a new Boston->NYC ROW happen, but airlines would be an utter non-issue if Amtrak could manage 90 minutes to 2 hours from DC to NYC and 2 hours NYC to Boston. Doubly-so if they could manage TGV/Shinkansen service frequencies while doing it.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby leviramsey » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:29 pm

Ridgefielder wrote:
Here's another facet of this problem: when does some powerful politician say "you know what, they clearly can't run a railroad, let's zero-out funding for safety reasons". Now it's a safety argument rather than an economic or political argument, and what politician is anti-safety? I don't want to see this happen.

That's not going to happen so long as there are Congressional delegations from MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD and VA. Remember Amtrak has pretty solid bi-partisan support in the Northeast and the Middle Atlantic. This part of the world simply can't function without it.


Would it happen if it's zero out funding for the LDs and conditioning continued funding of NEC infrastructure on an operator improving safety?
Last edited by leviramsey on Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:06 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby gokeefe » Wed Feb 07, 2018 3:34 pm

Tadman wrote:
Plate C wrote:Not sure why this became a top story across the forums. Technically the train did 'break apart', but no accident, injury, etc.
As such, this was a pretty normal Amtrak operating day IMO.


The fact that there was no accident or injury is not germaine to the bigger picture that there is a serious problem at the railroad. If an airplane went off a runway but nobody was hurt, would that still warrant investigation and coverage? Heck yes.


I agree this is very serious. Even more significant is the unique nature of the equipment failure. It's never happened in the history of the Acela and is a particularly dangerous type of failure.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby BlendedBreak » Wed Feb 07, 2018 4:45 pm

I think that this can be summed up in two words.

"catastrophic failure"

Richard Anderson and his friends back at Delta should be aware of these type incidents already.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby DutchRailnut » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:39 pm

a coupler pin falling out because keeper was not fastened is not a catastrophic failure, a maintenance fault at best.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby STrRedWolf » Wed Feb 07, 2018 5:55 pm

Bramdeisroberts wrote:In the past month, I've booked TWO round trips between the DC area and Boston on JetBlue for $100 a piece, with a 50 minute transit time that makes Acela look like a snail in comparison. I think Amtrak overestimates its utility here, and I say that as a dyed-in-the-wool closet foamer.


You're missing some time here. (Please note, sarcasm is active)

DC to Boston may be 50 minutes from take-off to landing, but boarding is 30 minutes ahead of that, and you got to go through a security screening which can eat up another 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on how busy it is... and you gotta unpack your bags at the worst case, which eats into that time. You also have to check in, which eats up time there too (maybe a half hour max depending on what you're flying?) and if you got bags to check in, getting them back out of the plane is another 10-20 minutes at your destination... assuming it doesn't take more than 10 minutes just to get out of the airport (I've had it go 30).

Assuming the best case and TSA's recommended arrival-to-airport time for the DC/Baltimore area, DC to Boston isn't 50 minutes total. It's more like 3 hours, and maybe you get sniffed by a dog or two.

Of course, that all assumes nothing has gone wrong, like the weather from Atlanta all the way up to Halifax turned into feet of snow, the plane ahead of you skidding off the runway (BWI today), the terror alert going so high that you get the mandatory grope, the plane dying half way in flight and swan-dives into the ground, or the rare broken toilet plumbing that 85 plumbers on board can't fix while in flight!

Meanwhile, with Amtrak, you get to DC's Union Station up to 15 minutes before departure, go straight into the train, no issues, 8 hours later you're done and you walk off the train and out the station... or in other words you can overnight the trip, snooze on the train, wake up the next day in Boston. At worst case they rebook you or refund your cash.

It's about timing and quality of service. :)
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Feb 07, 2018 10:22 pm

STrRedWolf wrote:Of course, that all assumes nothing has gone wrong, like the weather from Atlanta all the way up to Halifax turned into feet of snow, the plane ahead of you skidding off the runway (BWI today), the terror alert going so high that you get the mandatory grope, the plane dying half way in flight and swan-dives into the ground,

Mr. Wolf, I believe the captioned air safety comments are something your immediate posting could have done nicely without.

The air transport industry's safety record is, simply put, exemplary. Reiterating the points I made at another safety related topic, there has not been a passenger fatality on a US flagged carrier since '09. There has not been a passenger fatality on US soil since '13, and last year there was not a single fatality WORLDWIDE.

While some very troubling points being raised from the investigation of Kayce adressing other parties than Amtrak, Amtrak "owns" this instant matter to the same extent as they own Frankford Jct and Chester, in that there are no outside parties with which the blame can be shared.

Amtrak safety has deteriorated probably starting when Gunn was (whatever happened to him). Last month, for what it be worth, I flew to Miami and back. I didn't give flight safety a thought. Later this month, I'll be on both Brightline and on Auto-Train. Neither will give me "white knuckles" but will give me concern - considered concern when the former barrels through that entertainment district at Delray Beach and at track speed.
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Re: Amtrak Acela 2150 "Breaks Apart" on NEC in MD 2/6/2018

Postby STrRedWolf » Thu Feb 08, 2018 6:30 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Wolf, I believe the captioned air safety comments are something your immediate posting could have done nicely without.


Eh, it wasn't my intent, which was to highlight delays.

Safety-wise (and back on topic), the airlines have adopted (or the FAA forced on them) a rule of "If anything breaks in flight, GET BACK ON THE GROUND NOW!!!" This has served the industry well, considering the higher risk for mass casualties.

Passenger trains in general has the loser risk of mass casualties now given current FRA regulations. It's rare that anything mechanical would cause a mass casualty in the double/triple digits. Most accidents now are because someone did something wrong, or didn't do something that needed to be done -- I.E. it was preventable.

Yes, PTC would solve/prevent 188, 501, and 91. It still wouldn't solve the GOP special (truck on the track) and 2150 (maintenance screwed up and didn't screw it back down again).
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