Metroliner cab safety

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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby bratkinson » Mon Aug 20, 2018 4:13 pm

It should be noted that the Metroliners were designed to run WAS-NYP only. Back in the late '60s when they were designed, I think there was maybe 3-4 grade crossings on the NEC. Today, that's zero, I believe. Unfortunately, using them as cab cars on various lines subjects them to numerous grade crossings. I'm a bit surprised I haven't heard or read of one being involved in a highway crossing accident all these years. They must have their own 'good luck'. But initially, they were problem prone. I managed to wangle a cab ride, being in uniform at the time, in 1971 and they had an onboard electrician for every Metroliner. His job was to repair anything he could while 'out on the road'. Perhaps it's the fault of all those brand new, state of the art (at the time) solid state electronics. In the 46 years since, nothing seems to have changed.

Of interest is all the other cab cars now built for commuter train service. Also harken back to the countless electric interurban railroads whose heyday was in the late 'teens....1910s, that is. There was virtually no engineer/motorman protection other than a steel beam frame and maybe 1/4" thick sheet metal. The interurbans had numerous highway crossing collisions with everything from farmers wagons to 18 wheelers. I recall riding up front on the South Shore (CSS&SB) 35-40 years ago as we zoomed through the Burns Harbor area with its numerous steel works factories and trucks loaded with steel stopping as the gates went down. On one trip, however, the engineer left the seat and told me to run! I think we missed that load of steel by 1/4" or so. I'd have to dig it out, but I have a picture of a CSS&SB car that clobbered a dump truck in that area after it was towed back to the shops. I don't know if the 'hit rate' along Burns Harbor has decreased, but short of building an expensive 'crush zone' in the front of every car (there aren't any trailers on the CSS&SB since the days of the big orange & maroon cars), I wouldn't expect any improvements in motorman protection anytime soon.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby Tadman » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:05 am

They shut down most of the Burns Harbor crossings after a train hit a steel coil truck in 1998 and killed a few people. It was bad. The problem was not just busy crossings, but the tracks were immediately parallel to US-12, so it was hard for truckers to see they might foul the tracks waiting in a big line of trucks to access the steel mills. Now there is an access road from I-94 that goes straight from interstate over US-12, and traffic has dropped significantly.

Regarding the Metroliner EMU cab, this was really the first FUBAR government-backed passenger train order, it's no surprise the cab is a funky configuration. 70 years of running electric MU's with an integrated cab/vestibule layout, and they mess with a good idea. Surprise, it turns out wrong.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby Nasadowsk » Tue Aug 21, 2018 11:37 am

bratkinson wrote:I wouldn't expect any improvements in motorman protection anytime soon.


Europe seems to have figured it out. Those 'aerodynamic' cabs are really more for impact protection than anything else. I mean, really, aerodynamics aren't a big consideration when your line speed is 100 - 140 km/h.

It's the US and Japan (which is a special case for pretty much everything rail anyway), that still run so much blunt face equipment. Which is kinda funny given how supposedly safety conscious the US is, that such a bad design is still accepted...

[quote = "tadman"]Regarding the Metroliner EMU cab, this was really the first FUBAR government-backed passenger train order, it's no surprise the cab is a funky configuration. 70 years of running electric MU's with an integrated cab/vestibule layout, and they mess with a good idea. Surprise, it turns out wrong.[/quote]

Which is weird because the M-1s and Patco cars got it right, and were Budd products. But I strongly suspect that what Budd wanted for the Metroliner and were forced to build, were totally different products. I'm also not convinced it was just the Fed's brainless meddling in the design* - the PRR had a strong incentive for it to flop, too.

* You could write a book on the failed experiments of the feds in the late 60's and into the 70's: Clinch River, the SST, the Space Shuttle (never even remotely lived up to the hype), Turbotrain, the Metroliner, the LRV, SOAC (which at least worked, just nobody wanted it), all those silly air cushion hypertrains, the 'extremely safe vehicle' experiments...
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby Matt Johnson » Tue Aug 21, 2018 12:21 pm

bratkinson wrote:I wouldn't expect any improvements in motorman protection anytime soon.


I have a feeling that this will be a drastic improvement over the Metroliner cabs!
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby DutchRailnut » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:21 pm

may as well link to real thing , the Cars proposed are nothing more than the OBB Railjet cars.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby ExCon90 » Tue Aug 21, 2018 2:58 pm

The main problem with the Metroliners was that Stuart Saunders wanted them in revenue service while Lyndon Johnson was still in office -- Nixon was due to be inaugurated in January 1969. That meant rush them into service, and when they found a system defect in a unit, correct it 49 times in the other units which were in service, and as noted above, there was also an "EMS" technician on board every trip to troubleshoot. Putting sensitive electronic equipment under the floor where it could be warmed by the frequent brake applications didn't help, and it was later repositioned on the roof.

(Trivia question: does anyone know the significance of the announcement "Metro Blue" over the PA system before every departure?)
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Tue Aug 21, 2018 9:51 pm

bratkinson wrote:It should be noted that the Metroliners were designed to run WAS-NYP only. Back in the late '60s when they were designed, I think there was maybe 3-4 grade crossings on the NEC. Today, that's zero, I believe.
When the Metroliners were in service, there were still a few crossings south of New Haven - all in Maryland. The NEC south of New Haven was fully grade separated by the early 80s. However the true high speed zone was not where the crossings were, but the 25 miles between Trenton and New Brunswick - originally tested at 160-175 mph, reduced to 125 (now 135).

ExCon90 wrote:The main problem with the Metroliners was that Stuart Saunders wanted them in revenue service while Lyndon Johnson was still in office -- Nixon was due to be inaugurated in January 1969.
Indeed the Metroliner was a flagship program of the "Great Society", as much as the lofty goals set in 1965 were to be complete by 1967 or 1968. Even so, incoming Transportation Secretary Volpe, representing the Nixon administration was present on the inaugural Metroliner special on 1/16/69. Compared to other Great Society programs (civil rights/affirmative action, food stamps, poverty block grants, Medicare/Medicaid, Public Broadcasting, National Council on Arts & Humanities), Metroliner/high speed rail has been seldom mentioned in importance among the others. But in a way, it has still impacted society to this day, as it led to NEC improvements and system modernization, and ultimately paving the way for today's Acela Express and continuing a now 50+ year trend of public investment in the NEC. Much of today's NEC owes to the thinking and idealism of the late 1960s.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby ApproachMedium » Wed Aug 22, 2018 1:56 am

Regardless of where these things were designed to operate, things still happen. Stuff still gets on the tracks. The one on the springfield line was not a public crossing, it was a contractor vehicle. And the one that just happened on the harrisburg line was a farm tractor at a private crossing. The tractor was hit just under 110mph. Its amazing the car did not derail. Walking thru it, the seats were all over the place, plastic and parts came off everywhere and the cab pretty much crushed in. If the engineer had not bailed out, and was lucky he was able to in time, he would not have lived thru that one.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby Matt Johnson » Fri Aug 24, 2018 6:15 pm

I've gotta say, the Metroliner cabs at least look a little more substantial than this!

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bm4Lq0AHW9v
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby ApproachMedium » Sat Aug 25, 2018 1:47 am

That is the ONLY good thing about the Metroliner cabs. They do not have traps under them. One thing they were smart about and then many many years later the commuter railroads figured this out as well, and eliminated the traps from the cab ends.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby JamesRR » Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:01 am

The Metroliner cars, when compared to the Amfleets which were born out of them - appear to have a fiberglass "cab" attached to the front.

Are the Metroliner cars 85' long with the cab - and are Amfleets thus less than 85' - or were Amfleets' bodies built a tad longer to be 85', since they essentially are Metroliners sans cab.
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Re: Metroliner cab safety

Postby ApproachMedium » Sat Aug 25, 2018 11:38 pm

Amfleets are 85 feet. The metros are maybe a foot or few longer over the cab part. the cab end vestibule is pushed back a little into the body if you look at how the truck alignments are.
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