MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:35 pm

By that, I presume there are no trip stops along the main line at regular intervals or signals? Or at least none in the area where this was going down?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby dbperry » Mon Dec 14, 2015 2:43 pm

jboutiet wrote:Out of curiosity... what would have happened here if the trainsets involved were DMUs rather than 3rd rail? How would they have stopped a DMU?


I think we're getting way out into impossible speculation. The impossible speculation is the idea of a DMU equipped with a ATO bypass switch. There really isn't any scenario where that setup could currently exist. Also, would a DMU have a Cineston integrated controller? Why wouldn't a DMU have a more traditional heavy rail 'alerter' push button style deadman switch (that is inherently much harder to bypass with a jury-rig setup)?

Finally, I would assume that implementing new single operator DMU operations would require (or be accompanied by) some kind of more advanced positive train control system, which would reduce the likelihood of the 'red line runaway' scenario.

If this were a DMU running on the existing commuter rail network, then there are a number of scenarios:

1) Using ACSES on the Corridor: The 'need to flip the ATO bypass switch' would therefore be some sort of failure of the ACSES equipment on the DMU. I'm not sure what the procedure is, but I don't think there would be some kind of 'bypass switch' on the DMU that would allow the DMU to just run through the signals on and on.

2) Operating on cab signalled territory: The 'need to flip the ATO bypass switch' would therefore be some sort of failure of the cab signal equipment. The cabs wouldn't necessarily need to be bypassed, because cab signals are not a form of positive train control. So yes, a DMU on cab signal territory without some form of PTC and with a Cineston controller that could get tied up with a cord could go runaway. But I find the idea of creating a DMU which has cab signal capabilities but no PTC hard to believe given today's move towards PTC.

3) Operating on non-cab signalled or just warrant controlled territory: There would never be a need to 'flip the ATO bypass' switch because there would be no PTC (ATO) system to bypass. So this scenario can't even get off the drawing board. But yes, a DMU without any form of PTC and with a Cineston controller that could get tied up with a cord could go runaway.

The root cause of the red line runaway was lack of adherence to procedures, exacerbated by a design which made the procedures relatively easy to bypass (namely a throttle controller which could be tied up, and maybe even an ATO bypass switch that could be operated without the brakes being engaged or some other preventative interlock in place).

Having two operators present for the flip of the bypass switch probably is the quickest fix, but an engineered solution would be better.

On the newer red line fleet, is the throttle controller / deadman setup less prone to tampering? Is the ATO bypass switch better interlocked to the throttle or brake controls?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:14 pm

MCL1981 wrote:By that, I presume there are no trip stops along the main line at regular intervals or signals? Or at least none in the area where this was going down?

There aren't any left on the line as they got rid of them when they dumped wayside signals in favor of ATO. They have manual trip arms that can be installed that they use to protect work crews.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BigUglyCat » Mon Dec 14, 2015 4:54 pm

dbperry wrote:I think we're getting way out into impossible speculation.

Agreed.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Head-end View » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:31 pm

Why is the ATO by-pass switch on the outside of the train requiring the operator to leave the cab? If the switch was inside the train, this incident probably would not have happened even with the operator not following correct procedures, 'cause he would have stopped the train when it started to move.

On the Long Island Railroad's EMU trains, failures of the trains' automatic-speed-control (ASC) system happen once in a while and the engineer is instructed by the dispatcher to "break the seal and cut-out the ASC" which is done inside the train with a switch or circuit-breaker. Admittedly, commuter cars are a little different than subway cars, but they are similar enough for this comparison.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby BandA » Mon Dec 14, 2015 7:40 pm

What is the advantage to the operator of tying the "cineston" controller with a cord? I get that he wasn't supposed to, but what was his motivation?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Head-end View » Mon Dec 14, 2015 8:38 pm

The controller is the deadman control. The operator must keep the controller pressed down for the train to move. If pressure is let off the controller with the train in motion, it will spring up and the train will go into emergency braking. My guess is that it's probably tiring to keep your hand pressing that thing down continuously so some rogue operators may find a way to keep it down while freeing up their hands.

Interestingly LIRR's M-7's did away with this type of controller that the earlier MU trains had, and now use an alerter instead and a T-handle controller.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Arborwayfan » Mon Dec 14, 2015 11:22 pm

It seems like it would be possible to partly prevent this situation with software changes: program the ATO to allow either the dispatcher or the operator or both together to do the electronic equivalent of putting the train on bypass, but have it last only a minute, or two minutes, or some such. That way they wouldn't have to cut out the ATO altogether, which I guess is what flipping the bypass switch means (?), unless it actually broke.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby Robert Paniagua » Tue Dec 15, 2015 7:29 am

Im glad I wasn't on that train or on the Braintree Red Line for that matter that day. I was on the Commuter rail out of Mansfield/Attleboro Line and heard about this at my work. I couldn't believe it, but like mentioned, the motorperson had tied down the Cineston gearbar to max power which enabled it to run to 25-38 mph.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby johnpbarlow » Tue Dec 15, 2015 8:32 am

Motorman's lawyer says he didn't tie controller down in this AM's Boston Herald.

"He ran as fast as he could to the Braintree station to say, 'I have a runaway train, get that thing.' He didn't even realize his leg was bleeding," said Boston lawyer Philip Gordon, who is representing T driver David Vazquez. "He denies wrapping a cord around the throttle."
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 12:18 pm

Obviously the cord fell down off the ceiling, looped around the panel, and pulled itself tight to hold the controller down. Just like guns kill people and pencils cause bad spelling.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby danib62 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:16 pm

This is an easy cross-examination:

When you first board a train before you attempt to operate it you complete a mandatory safety inspection correct?

during that safety check you inspect the controller to ensure that it is in good working order, correct?

would it have been readily apparent during your inspection if there were a cord wrapped around the controller in such away that would defeat the dead man's feature of that controller?
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby theseaandalifesaver » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:21 pm

[quote="MCL1981"]Obviously the cord fell down off the ceiling, looped around the panel, and pulled itself tight to hold the controller down. Just like guns kill people and pencils cause bad spelling.[/quote]

Guns literally do kill people.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby MCL1981 » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:26 pm

theseaandalifesaver wrote:Guns literally do kill people.


No. The person pulling the trigger or mishandling it kills people. A gun is an inanimate object. It does not have the ability to kill or make any other decision. Just like that cable didn't tie itself down on the deadman.
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Re: MBTA Red Line runaway train from Braintree Station

Postby jboutiet » Tue Dec 15, 2015 3:38 pm

Assuming the presence of the cord is accepted as fact, the only possible defense he could give is that he was framed, possibly to hide something even more damaging to the T (such as a defect that can cause the train to move without the controller engaged). Doesn't pass the Occam's Razor test.

Or maybe he's just putting that out there in the court of public opinion to try to mitigate the damage to his reputation.
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