MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:28 pm

BandA wrote: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

You know what also would have prevented this? The operator actually following procedure.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Thu Dec 10, 2015 11:47 pm

danib62 wrote:
BandA wrote: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

You know what also would have prevented this? The operator actually following procedure.
Yeah, second operator is not going to happen.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby sery2831 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:39 am

A few points here from the discussions on here. The subway operates nothing like the railroad. The controllers are a single handle, there is no separate brake and throttle. ATO bypass limits the train to 25 MPH, so if the train is placed into bypass it is for a short distance to overcome a section that has a known signal defect. If there is a defect with the ATO on the train itself, the train is removed from service. On bypass nothing can stop the train if it enters a block that's occupied.

We know the train controls were manipulated and the train was placed in bypass. We know this was all done by the operator of the train. Why the series of events occurred as they did will come out in the investigation.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BostonUrbEx » Fri Dec 11, 2015 4:56 am

So are we to infer that something either had just become defective or was tampered with in order to allow the train to travel without ATO as far as it did? How far should the system have allowed the train to roll without ATO?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:41 am

(news) The operator manipulated the controls which was the cause of the runaway train.
(IMHO) Any manipulation was a day in and day out activity, such as (long ago with Boeing LRVs) using rubber bands or tape to hold the controller handle down, reducing the constant effort needed by the operator, but also preventing the deadman control from working.
(news) Momentum carried the train past several stops.
(IMHO) It took several minutes, starting with the operator coming to and getting up after being hit by his train, to contact Operations and then to get the third rail de-energized and by this time the train was past North Quincy and coasted a short distance to a stop.
(news) How do you stop a runaway train from outside (philosophical question)
(IMHO) Systems and equipment must already be in place. A common system is the trip arm system used with block signals. Mechanical devices called derails are put on the rails at rail yards to prevent runaway cars from getting out onto the main line by forcing them off the track.
(news) A second employee on board the train would have helped.
(IMHO) Yes in this case, but, normally when automatic systems (automatic train control) are bypassed there is supposed to be manual control, which in this case was not being used correctly or was malfunctioning.
Last edited by Disney Guy on Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:36 am, edited 6 times in total.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby StefanW » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:48 am

According to Jeff Gonneville (MBTA COO) in a news interview I heard, the MBTA was aware of the unmanned train under way within approximately 50 seconds plus or minus 10 seconds of when it left Braintree. I believe that quote was on WBZ AM 1030 but I'm not 100% sure because I've been watching / hearing so many different stations since yesterday.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:44 am

How far should the system have allowed the train to roll without ATO?

A few years ago, weren't there problems with ATO in the Davis Square area (also Red Line) slowing the trains down? If the train could go only a few hundred yards at a time without ATO then the operator would have had to get out again and flip the bypass switch again after each distance increment.

Trackside trip arms could be reinstalled, but a trackside indicator light aka re-installed wayside block signal at each one would be needed to reduce operator errors given that the cab signal unit is at a different viewing angle from the trip arm.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 10:47 am

sery2831 wrote:A few points here from the discussions on here. The subway operates nothing like the railroad. The controllers are a single handle, there is no separate brake and throttle. ATO bypass limits the train to 25 MPH, so if the train is placed into bypass it is for a short distance to overcome a section that has a known signal defect. If there is a defect with the ATO on the train itself, the train is removed from service. On bypass nothing can stop the train if it enters a block that's occupied.

We know the train controls were manipulated and the train was placed in bypass. We know this was all done by the operator of the train. Why the series of events occurred as they did will come out in the investigation.


One interesting thing I just figured out based on my rough calculations is that based off the data we currently have the train had to have averaged a speed of greater than 25 MPH. What we know currently is that the train traveled from Braintree to slightly beyond N. Quincy in roughly 9 minutes. The distance from Braintree to N. Quincy is slightly more than 5 miles. In order to travel 5 miles in 9 minutes you have to average a speed of 33.3 MPH. Unless the data we have currently is off the train had to have traveled faster than 25 MPH at some point in order to travel the distance it did in the time frame given by the T.

One possibility is that the 9 minute figure is the time from when the train left to when power was cut but even then the train would have had to coast unpowered for at least 3 minutes once was power was cut to have an average speed of 25 MPH and that has to account for periods of slowing down gradually which still means the train would've exceeded 25 MPH at some point in it's journey.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby The EGE » Fri Dec 11, 2015 11:43 am

Remind me tomorrow, and I should be able to check when the train was where.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby RailBus63 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:19 pm

Diverging Route wrote:
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.


What about if the ATO Bypass has been used, as was the case here? MBTA management had to deactivate the third rail to stop the train - that does not seem to indicate that a simple cab signal command could be issued to force the train to a stop. Or was there a system failure or something else unusual in this instance?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Fri Dec 11, 2015 12:24 pm

"We are running with normal train service on the Red Line. We apologize for the inconvenience."
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby litz » Fri Dec 11, 2015 3:02 pm

RailBus63 wrote:What about if the ATO Bypass has been used, as was the case here? MBTA management had to deactivate the third rail to stop the train - that does not seem to indicate that a simple cab signal command could be issued to force the train to a stop. Or was there a system failure or something else unusual in this instance?


No, there was no system failure ... with the train in bypass, and the controller (apparently) engaged and tied down with a piece of rope, the second that bypass switch engaged, the ATO restrictions go away and off the train goes.

Think like the CSX 8888 runaway (which spawned the film Unstoppable) ... until you remove motive power, it's not stopping.

What dispatcher did was get everything else out of the way, then shut down the power once they knew the line ahead was clear. That's the only way to prevent an accident in a case like this, with the conditions present.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Palmer5RR » Fri Dec 11, 2015 7:38 pm

Boston.com: To prevent similar safety violations, the T will now require that a second, senior employee be present before a train can enter bypass mode, Pollack said. She said the MBTA is also reminding operators not to engage in prohibited acts.

Does that mean for the 12 times a month there is a signal problem (per MBTA) the train will sit and wait for a second senior employee to show-up?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Disney Guy » Fri Dec 11, 2015 8:42 pm

Palmer5RR wrote:[te]
Does that mean for the 12 times a month there is a signal problem (per MBTA) the train will sit and wait for a second senior employee to show-up?

I'm afraid so. Just like on the Green line where for certain signal problems (stuck in double red) an authorized person has to come and flag trains by.

Maybe some day there will be a two way radio, er, two way television, er, videoconferencing module where the operator and, at some other locations, a dispatcher can see that the operator is doing the safety steps.

Oops, just realized that that some day is today. Videoconferencing modules do exist. One version is called an iPhone.

Another approach would be to modify the bypass switch so a reverser key is needed to flip that switch with.

Today's notable news quotation: "... not yet able to say whether tampering with the Cineston (ed. note: controller) was done with sinister intent ..."
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