MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby typesix » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:52 pm

Adams_Umass_Boston wrote:I was amazed the train never caught up to the one in front of it and slammed into it.


If the signal system was working properly, it would not happen.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Diverging Route » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:55 pm

Adams_Umass_Boston wrote:I was amazed the train never caught up to the one in front of it and slammed into it.


That should not be a concern. The Red Line's ATO sends a code to the cab about occupied blocks ahead, and if the operator does not slow nor stop, the train will go brakes-in-emergency.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby litz » Thu Dec 10, 2015 4:56 pm

What's concerning to me is the speculation about the controller left in a forward mode, allowing the bypassed "deadman's switch" to cause the train to move.

This is a serious failure in systems design ...

If I'm operating the equipment from end A, and I shut down my console, the train should not move -- period -- until I arrive and end B and activate my console.

If I'm reading this correct, you can either select to control from end A, or control from end B. There is no option for "no control end selected"

This seems to me, a design deficiency that needs to be addressed.

On "normal" rail equipment, a locomotive cannot produce motive power unless three things happen :

1) gen field switch is on
2) reverser is installed (and selected to forward or reverse)
3) throttle is advanced past idle.

If you have a double ended train (either locomotive at both ends, or a push-pull setup w/a control stand at the opposite end), you pull the reverser handle and take it with you. The train cannot move until you get to the other end and insert the reverser handle.

This is why you have the "in between" red zone rule, where a crewmember that needs to work under or between equipment waits until the engineer calls "centered and set" ... means the locomotive has been safed against movement (brakes fully applied/set), and the reverser handle is centered. Most railroads also require its removal. I've even heard of railroads requiring the engineer to stick his arm out the window showing the removed handle to the crewmember.

Railroads have a key rule here : the reverser handle is removed whenever the engineer leaves the control stand, period. The train cannot then move under power, period.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Thu Dec 10, 2015 5:39 pm

5:15 PM. Radio reports are hinting at operator error.

A very important fact, which was found out very early in the game, was the location of the reverser key.
(To the theater stage manager) Quit twiddling the knob and flickering the lights while the audience is entering and being seated. (To the subway motorman) Quit twiddling the knob and dinging the doors while passengers are getting off and others are waiting to board.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:39 pm

How did the train make it as far as it did as far as it did with ATC in place? Did it just have clear signals the entire line?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby dieciduej » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:43 pm

As I see it and understand some of the issues:

1 - The train was at Braintree Station when it dumped, aka when into emergency, when it loss the ATO signal. Not that usual of occurrence.

2 - The operator requested permission from Operations to put the train on to Bypass Mode, aka ignore ATO signal code or lack of code, to get through the dead spot. SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)

3 - The operator dismounted from the train to place it into Bypass Mode. SOP

4 - Upon placing it into Bypass Mode the train proceeded to move forward, thus injuring the operator.

5 - The train proceeded until the Third Rail was de-energize and the train coasted until North Quincy.

OK steps 1 thru 3 are standard.

At step 4, when the train was put into Bypass mode, it shouldn't have moved. So either there was a failure of the Cineston controller, aka the Dead Man Switch (Mechanical Fault). Did the operator, when exiting the train, leave the controller in a power notch and not full service brake relying on the Dead Man Switch to keep the train from moving (Operator and Mechanical Faults). Or did the operator for some reason bypass the Dead Man Switch, aka put a brick on it as someone said earlier (Operator Fault). Which ever it is a board of inquiry will find out.

At step 5, since the train was in Bypass Mode as far as I know, and someone please correct me if I am wrong, no matter what the ATO speed code is to and including STOP, the train control system would not act upon it. And this is where I have my problem! RANT ALERT! We in general have become to entrusting to electronic gizmos to save our a..... If anything the MBTA should reinstall good old fashion trip arms to prevent runaways or general stupidity that can occur out there.

Luckily no passengers were hurt. But I do believe the operator, shop crews and or management may feel more pain before this is over!

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby R36 Combine Coach » Thu Dec 10, 2015 6:43 pm

About two years ago, a similar runaway incident occurred with a CTA 2600 series set on the Blue Line, this time with an empty consist that crashed into another parked set. The commonality in both cases is the single handle controller (possibility of deadman or interlock failure as state above).
Since my friend continues to chain smoke nonstop, she is probably an Alco.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby StefanW » Thu Dec 10, 2015 7:54 pm

danib62 wrote:It's becoming increasingly clear that just one train buff aboard the lead the car would have noticed what had occurred and prevented a potential disaster by pulling the passenger's emergency brake. Until such time that we can be assured of our safety and the safety of the general public by the MBTA and Boston Carmen's Union Local 589 I suggest we organize a volunteer foamer patrol that places one experienced foamer in the lead car of every MBTA train in order to ensure the safe operation of all MBTA rail vehicles.


The MBTA Rider Oversight Committee http://mbtaroc.com/ has been working on a sort of "user guide" for the MBTA that would include things similar to this idea. Perhaps they will also add things like this... the "how do I know if my train is operating properly and safely" and "what should I do if I think there's a problem" - and not just the See-Something-Say-Something mantra. Educated / well informed riders might have caught this before it even got to Quincy Center.

If a bus went flying by people waiting and/or didn't stop to let someone off there would be an uproar onboard, or at least some calls of "umm hello??" and someone would go up front. (Yes I know it's much easier to see what a bus operator is doing.)

I would love to know if anyone on the platforms of the missed stations observed that there was nobody in the cab!
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby NH2060 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 8:06 pm

StefanW wrote:Educated / well informed riders might have caught this before it even got to Quincy Center.

Indeed. Such action could have also prevented the Spuyten Duyvil (Metro-North) derailment and (though it was dark) perhaps even the Franklin Jct. (Amtrak 188) wreck. Passengers onboard the Metro-North train did say that they thought it was going way too fast on the section of track leading up to the derailment.

The problem I think is two things:

1) Passengers who might "feel" something is wrong either don't want to admit that something doesn't seem right or might even think that it's not necessary to pull the emergency brake.

2) Those red and white signs near said emergency brakes, door openers, etc. clearly state that misuse of them is illegal and could result in prosecution. That could be enough to deter people from using them even when they should due to fear that they could be "overreacting", "jumping the gun", etc. In the case of the MNR incident had someone pulled the emergency brake I have little doubt that the person why literally "did the right thing" could have been arrested and possibly prosecuted and the engineer would have gotten nothing more than a "rude awakening" and no one would have died. Re-wording those warning signs would be a good first step. Encouraging passengers to DO something when absolutely necessary (not for when they miss their stop, obviously) would go a long way.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BostonUrbEx » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:41 pm

Any Joe Schmoe Operator (or anyone with the know-how, really) can disable the ATO system? And it will not turn back on after a set time/mileage? If this is true, combined with how often the system gives false brake penalties, the system just really seems laughably bad.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Head-end View » Thu Dec 10, 2015 9:45 pm

Maybe nobody activated the emergency brake 'cause they weren't sure if something was wrong or there was a reason why the train wasn't making normal station stops.

Some railroads discourage passenger use of these devices because there have been cases where people activated them, stopping the train between stations which caused a delay in getting help to a person with an on-board medical emergency.

Also, I agree with the poster above who mentioned the old-fashioned mechanical trippers at red signals. NYC Subway still uses them throughout their system. They may be a hundred-year-old technology but they are a time-proven, dependable safety device.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 10, 2015 10:23 pm

RailBus63 wrote:This makes no sense. Are Red Line cars set up for fully automated operation?
They were this morning!
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:08 pm

ABC news reported this as a "commuter rail train".

WCVB (or possibly ABC) interviewed a passenger who said "the train was flying", and in the same report said the maximum speed for red line trains was 25MPH. They also implied that 911 was called for the injury to the carman & later called about the runaway train.

I frequently bypass the safety cutoff switch on my lawn mower with a bungy cord.

I was stung by a bee. I jumped out of the car, forgetting it was in drive. Fortunately the curb prevented forward movement.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:10 pm

WBZ-TV quoted the head of the Carmen's Union that a second operator could have prevented this runaway train, and called for that change. Reporter & anchordude coordinated to make that point
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