Thinking about the Metrolink accident. Could it happen here?

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Postby typesix » Thu Jan 27, 2005 2:57 pm

Trains mag reported many years ago on a mini Fed study on different locomotive front ends. To no one's surprise, cab type diesels like F and E units were better at grade crossings because the rounded ends and rounded pilots allowed the obstruction to roll off to the side. Unfortunately as reported, the train was in push mode. North side of the T started using push-pulls extensively after Blizzard of 1978, when a lot of the RDCs, already in bad condition, failed during the snow trying to push through. GPs were commonly used to push-pull RDCs, many of which had only one working engine, which was now just used for heat, AC, and electricity.
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Postby TomNelligan » Thu Jan 27, 2005 4:51 pm

To add to previous comments about pre-push-pull commuter trains, South Station did have an underground loop when built, but it was never used in regular service. In the 1960s and 1970s, non-RDC commuter trains covering New Haven RR routes backed to Southampton Street, turned on the loop there, and backed into the station for departure. There were a *lot* of equipment moves across the Fort Point Channel bridge at rush hour. Prior to the 1969 PC-NH merger, Boston & Albany/New York Central trains had to do an equipment runaround but I don't remember exactly where that was accomplished -- they didn't use the NH yard.
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MBTA Accident in 1980 or 1981?

Postby mdamico23 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 4:55 pm

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


Didn't in 1980 or 1981 an MBTA Train operating in the "push" mode collide head-on with a B&M GP7 on a freight train in Salem, MA. If memory serves me right, the cab car rode on top of the Geep, and either the engineer of the commuter train or the engineer of the freight was killed.
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Postby ST214 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 4:58 pm

Actually the geep rode up into the coachcab. The freight crew was killed as was a railfan riding in the cab. The engineer on the inbould was killed also.
Hoping for a rebirth of the Screamer fleet.
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Postby TPR37777 » Thu Jan 27, 2005 6:06 pm

I would imagine two factors that contributed to the severity of the wreck were that first the vehicle was parallel to the consist whereas grade crossing accidents are almost always perpendicular strikes and second the vehicle was (I assume) on the railbed instead of on a level grade crossing dramatically increasing the drag of the vehicle as it was shoved down the rails. I dread to think that terrorists would learn from such an event and utilize such tactics against us in the future but I fear that may just be the case.
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Postby lstrong » Thu Jan 27, 2005 6:16 pm

Didn't in 1980 or 1981 an MBTA Train operating in the "push" mode collide head-on with a B&M GP7 on a freight train in Salem, MA. If memory serves me right, the cab car rode on top of the Geep, and either the engineer of the commuter train or the engineer of the freight was killed.


That was CTC #1301 and the accident happened at Prides Crossing. I've seen a picture of it online but I haven't been able to find it lately. I did find some pictures of 1301 before the accident: http://home1.stofanet.dk/nadgrr/Boston.html
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Postby 7 Train » Thu Jan 27, 2005 7:06 pm

If you look at the interior of 1301, you'll see it's basically a the same as a NJT Comet I.
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etc

Postby Noel Weaver » Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:03 am

An accident similar to the one in California could happen on any double
track passenger line where push/pull trains are operated.
Some of you will probably not agree with my opinion but we have here in
Fort Lauderdale a commuter operation with push/pull trains, the engine is
on the Miami or south end of the trains, and when riding north, I NEVER
ride in the head car. We have a lot of double track and in the not too
distant future, the whole line will be double track and there are very
frequent grade crossings of which many in fact most of them are on very
busy highways.
Riding in the head car is NOT worth the chance to me.
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Fri Jan 28, 2005 6:23 am

Riding in the head car is NOT worth the chance to me.

You're SO right........

Especially after this fatal accident which an idiot driver parked his automobile on the trackway and caused that collision which 11 people perished, probably most of them in the lead car. Metro-North, for most trains, have no engines in either end, so if there were something there like the California accident, then things could be worse.
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Postby Ron Newman » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:03 am

What caused the Pride's Crossing accident referred to earlier?
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Postby Robert Paniagua » Fri Jan 28, 2005 8:38 am

A dispatcher error based in Attleboro who directed the trains to go on the same track. That dispatcher was then removed from his job.
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Postby TomNelligan » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:08 am

Mr. Paniagua is correct that the Pride's Crossing collision was caused by a dispatching error, but in those days it would have been the B&M Boston East dispatcher, who was based in Billerica.
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Postby lstrong » Fri Jan 28, 2005 9:21 am

The trains were using a single track in that area because of track work. Somehow they were both directed to use the track at the same time.
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Postby CSX Conductor » Fri Jan 28, 2005 10:02 am

TPR37777 wrote:I would imagine two factors that contributed to the severity of the wreck were that first the vehicle was parallel to the consist whereas grade crossing accidents are almost always perpendicular strikes and second the vehicle was (I assume) on the railbed instead of on a level grade crossing dramatically increasing the drag of the vehicle as it was shoved down the rails. I dread to think that terrorists would learn from such an event and utilize such tactics against us in the future but I fear that may just be the case.


I disagree with the direction of the vehicle having a big role in the severity of the crash.

And why must everybody keep talking about the dam terrorists. Who knows how many things they never even thought of doing but then a news station reports a possible attack scenario, and there you go, they have a new idea.
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Postby walt » Fri Jan 28, 2005 1:26 pm

I suspect that an "accident" like the MetroLink accident could happen anywhere there is a multiple track ROW. The fact that push-pull equipment was involved may have been a factor in the severity of the death toll, but an incident like that is unavoidable if you have someone who intends to park, or leave a vehicle where it will be hit by a train.

This one seems to have involved an unfortunate confluence of factors--- like the approach of a train from the opposite direction at exactly the time that the first train derailed, and where there was a standing train on a third track,------ etc. Unfortunately, some tragedies are unavoidable.
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