Thinking about the Metrolink accident. Could it happen here?

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Thinking about the Metrolink accident. Could it happen here?

Postby ST214 » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:27 pm

I know that we don't really have any triple track outside of the NEC, but could it happen here???

For anyone who has not seen this, a man parked his jeep on the tracks, not on a crossing. He drove down the tracks from the crossing and stopped. He then parked on the tracks, and waited to die. At the last minute, he changed his mind and jumped out of the jeep. The inbopund train(in push mode) then struck the jeep, derailed, and slammed into a parked UP freight(in a siding on the engineer's side of inbould train), also blocking the opposing main. At this time, an outbound train slammed into the inbound that fouled the main. 11 are dead, unfortunately 2 are the UP freight crew, 1 is the Metrolink engineer on the inbound train, and another is a sherriff's deputy. The conductor on the inbound Metrolink train is also missing.

I am in shock and awe and hope for the families to be able to handle this tragedy all caused by one stupid, stupid man.
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Postby Ron Newman » Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:48 pm

Part of the Lowell Line in Somerville has triple track, though I'm not sure that the freight track is used these days. (However, there are no grade crossings in this section.)
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Postby lstrong » Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:03 am

Has there ever been a derailment on the T commuter rail that was caused by a vehicle (other than a train) on the tracks? Do you think the CA derailment would have happened if the train was in pull mode when it hit the SUV? I'm surprised a little SUV across the tracks would be able to derail a train car, even if it was a control coach.
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Postby astrosa » Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:43 am

Actually, it all depends on how the train strikes the vehicle. A month ago I got to go on a brief tour of an Amtrak maintenance facility, and inside was a locomotive that had been the victim of a grade crossing accident. The truck it hit had just been a small Ryder box van, but because of the way the truck got crumpled against the locomotive and dragged along with it, there was some pretty heavy damage to the pilot/snowplow area and also some huge gouges along the sides of the unit. I don't know if it actually derailed, but it would have easily been possible.

However, while the probability of derailment may have been similar, it's almost guaranteed that the passengers and crew of the train would have been safer if it had been in pull mode. The cab car offers very little protection to the engineer, and obviously a passenger car is more easily damaged than a locomotive. At least in pull mode, there would have been 200 tons of prime mover and other heavy equipment separating the passengers from the impact.

It's really an unfortunate and terrible tragedy that no real amount of safety precautions could have prevented. Yes, it could happen here, and it could happen just about anywhere else - we'd just better hope it doesn't.
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Postby AEM7AC920 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 8:15 am

I most certainly think the derailment wouldn't have been as worse if the train was running in pull mode because I'm sure we have all herd of some stories of trains hitting cars and still not derailing. What is most ironic about this is the idiot was trying to commit suicide and after all of this he backed out and left 11 people to die. I wonder how he feels now after getting 11 people killed; he must really want to commit suicide now.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Jan 27, 2005 9:20 am

Leaving aside the issue of triple-track and the parked freight train, the MBTA system certainly has plenty of double-track grade crossings near which opposing trains pass each other. It also has push-mode operation.

So unfortunately, the answer to the topic question is YES - it could indeed happen here.
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Postby RailBus63 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:01 am

The MBTA has been operating push-pull trains for 26 years without such a calamity occurring. I'm sure there have been dozens, if not hundreds, of grade crossing collisions involving cab cars during that time.

In retrospect, the Metrolink disaster appears to be a freak accident where all the conditions and circumstances were right to cause such a horrific derailment - the presence of the crossovers which probably were fouled by the wrecked SUV, the second train passing, the UP locomotive parked on an adjacent track. Had one or more of those circumstances been absent, it would have been a typical grade crossing collision and we'd have never heard of it.

If you're looking for a 'Could it happen here?' situation to worry about on the MBTA, I'd be far more concerned with the blaze in New York City that crippled two subway lines because a homeless person was able to gain access to a sensitive control room and accidentally start a fire. It's not too difficult to imagine someone gaining access to such an area on the MBTA subway and wreaking similar havoc.

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Postby FatNoah » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:15 am

It certainly could happen here, especially since there are locations near crossings where scheduled trains in opposite directions pass each other. However, could and likely are two different things. Every day, one of us could get hit by a meteorite, but it's not likely.

Regarding the fire in New York, I don't think the homeless people actually accessed the control room, but the fire they started did spread to that room. I remember reading an article where the firemen had to break into that control room to fight the fire...i.e. it was still locked up tight.
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:35 am

Push-pull on the MBTA is only 26 years old? How did the trains operate before that? I don't see how a locomotive could be run around to the other side at stub-end terminals like North Station and South Station.
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Postby ST214 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:47 am

Yes, i'm sure the crossovers played a very large part in this accident. If the crossovers were not there, i don't think that it would have been this bad. Also, it would have ben MUCH worse if he would have done this at say 7AM instead of 6, as more people would have been on the trains.

BTW, news of the 11th death(An add'tl body being found) came in just as i was typing it last night. I heard this morning that the 11th death was confirmed as the conductor who was missing from the inbound train(train #100).

This is sickening that one person caused all of this. Have you read his record??? My new question is why the hell was this guy still out on the streets????
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Postby Ron Newman » Thu Jan 27, 2005 10:57 am

I haven't so far seen any reference to crossovers as a factor in this accident. The train on track 2 derailed and hit a parked locomotive on track 1, then jacknifed and fouled track 3 where the other train hit it.
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Postby RailBus63 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:25 pm

Ron Newman wrote:Push-pull on the MBTA is only 26 years old? How did the trains operate before that? I don't see how a locomotive could be run around to the other side at stub-end terminals like North Station and South Station.


Multiple-unit RDC's on the north side, locomotive-hauled trains on the South Side (along with a few RDC's). Not sure how they turned the loco trains at the terminals.

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Postby astrosa » Thu Jan 27, 2005 12:35 pm

For those not aware, South Station formerly had a reversing loop under the terminal building. I don't know if it was used often, but that's why they put it there. I also remember reading a magazine article from the 1950s on the Boston & Albany railroad that described an operation similar to what Amtrak trains do - backing out of the station and turning on a wye somewhere around where the Southampton yards are now.
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Postby CRail » Thu Jan 27, 2005 1:46 pm

north station also ran F-units on the head end of trains, not to mention steam. Back then the BET was a roundhouse with a turntable which was later turned into a yard similar to now, but that building has (obviously) ben destroyed and the current BET is in place, ther is no way to turn trains around NOW, but there was before.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:20 pm

lstrong wrote:Has there ever been a derailment on the T commuter rail that was caused by a vehicle (other than a train) on the tracks? .


Yes, the first one that comes to mind is the one in Lincoln on the Fitchburg Line where a low-boy tractor trailer truck got hung up on a grade crossing nd an in-bound commuter train hit it and derailed. I believe the engineer was killed, but could be mistaken.

I have to agree with FatNoah.......anything could happen here at anytime, but all we can do is work safely and hope that we will never be any of the 'statistics' that we read about far too frequently. :wink:

BTW, as usual we are starting to drit off topic with the talk about turning engines back in the day and what type of consists used etc.
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