The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

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Clean Cab
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:28 am

RearOfSignal wrote:The thing about industry inaction is that if not for the derailment on Sunday, we wouldn't be talking about this and politicians, passengers and we ourselves would not be talking about this today. Nobody did anything about the number of lifeboats on ships until the Titanic sank, so let's not get all high and righteous now because none of us brought this up before last Sunday morning.

Actually, the Titanic had more than enough lifeboats based upon the regulations. The Board of Trade called for Titanic to have 16 lifeboats, as a precaution it was equipped with 4 more collapsible boats bringing the total to 20. It turns out the BOT regulations had last been revised in 1894 and were way out of date.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by deathtopumpkins » Mon Dec 09, 2013 7:36 am

Tommy Meehan wrote:
Nasadowsk wrote:...Talk to the public _outside_ the rail world some time. The one thing I keep hearing and seeing, again and again, is "why isn't there some system in place to prevent this?". There's been a turning point in public opinion. The occasional accident is no longer being tolerated by the public. The actions by the feds and congress reflect this.
The public is asking, "Why isn't there a system in place to prevent railroad accidents?" Seriously? :-)

And I am serious. I'm not trying to flame you in any manner, shape or form. Only, are you asking people their thoughts on railroad safety? No one in my family or around the neighborhood or at work has any connection and/or interest in the railroad industry. All of them were horrified and saddened by the derailment at Spuyten Duyvil. None of them said it made them question rail safety. It just didn't come up.

The local TV news stations have been interviewing Metro-North riders at stations, asking them if they still feel safe riding Metro-North. All of them say they do. If there are any riders who don't feel safe either the newscasts can't find them or aren't showing them.

It's like when there's an airline crash. People forget. When you fly you're most at risk on the drive to or from the airport. I'd bet the same thing is true for Metro-North riders. We're most at risk on the drive to or from the station.

I'm talking about keeping things in perspective.

I'm up in Boston rather than down in New York, but that's the reaction I've heard from most random people too. Most I talk to can't even believe trains aren't all automated yet. And my mother is now terrified at the idea that I still commute on the MBTA commuter rail.

There's not a noticeable drop in people riding the CR, and most will probably still tell you that they feel safe doing so, but there is a significant number of people who fear trains crashe on the same level as they fear plane crashes. Admittedly none of these people know a damn thing about rail operations, but people are definitely not happy.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by StevieC48 » Mon Dec 09, 2013 8:20 am

Hi haven been sick too much, not here to Monday morning quarterback but I assume the radius of the curve of the track is embanked towards the turn. Does anyone know if there was any guardrail in that curve ? Cause I was wondering how the front of the train ended up almost into the drink? Just my questions. Oh the MBTA (MBCR) Have had cameras on much of the locomotives and the New Rotem Cars has one track view the second is have a camera on the camera. I would assume the rebuild cars that are out now would have the cameras retrofitted before they return.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Trainer » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:13 am

dcmike wrote:
Tadman wrote: This is exactly the type of knee-jerk reactions I hoped we could avoid. A second crewman or signal system change won't actually fix anything. What happens when someone falls asleep over at VRE or LIRR? Can we address crew fatigue??? Further, will Amtrak trains need a second head end crewman anywhere on MN trackage rights where a significant speed change exists? And will NJT crews operating WOH service have to do this?
I agree. The narrow scope and puzzling inconsistencies specified in this order really reek of a knee-jerk reaction. And no mention of crew fatigue.

On a positive note, it's encouraging to see FRA order Metro-North to join the Confidential Close Call Reporting System. It has taken way too long to get this program rolled out across the industry given the FAA has had a similar (successful) program going for over 25 years. Currently only NJT, portions of Amtrak and UP, and WMATA are participating. It should be mandatory.
There is no evidence that crew fatigue played any role in this incident, let alone that anyone fell asleep. That is only media speculation - the same media that is demanding that changes be made to improve safety on MNCR.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Patrick Boylan » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:28 am

I think quotes, so far as I can tell, undisputed, from the engineer that he "zoned out" hint that he MIGHT have looked at the inside of his eyelids. It depends on what he might have meant if he said "zoned out".

I have read articles that he changed shifts about 2 weeks before, so I think that indicates that his job shouldn't have caused fatigue, but that doesn't say there's some other reason he might have been fatigued.

At the very least, based on what I know at this time, I don't think the engineer was as alert as he should have been, regardless of if he was asleep or fatigued.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by RearOfSignal » Mon Dec 09, 2013 9:38 am

johnpbarlow wrote:At what location does the cab signal indication for 30mph become apparent to engineer for the Spuyten Duyvil curve when heading south?
The locations were cabs drop and pick up again were posted in crew bases this morning giving engineers the heads up.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Mon Dec 09, 2013 10:06 am

Jersey_Mike wrote:I would think New Rochelle (30-45mph) is more of a critical curve than Port Chester (50mph). Also easier to install a CSS drop there with all the interlockings in that section. BTW did the FRA order apply to locations with >=20mph speed restrictions or just >20mph? Any reason they can't raise the speeds f some of these curves instead of lowering them?

The curve at New Rochelle is 30 MPH on track 4&2 and 50 MPH in tracks 3&1. Port Chester curve is 45 MPH on all four tracks. The FRA order specifies speed changes of more than 20 MPH.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Jersey_Mike » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:55 pm

RearOfSignal wrote:
johnpbarlow wrote:At what location does the cab signal indication for 30mph become apparent to engineer for the Spuyten Duyvil curve when heading south?
The locations were cabs drop and pick up again were posted in crew bases this morning giving engineers the heads up.
I suspect that one possible reason that MNRR was reluctant to implement this sort of system on their own is that they might not have wanted engineers to mistake a CSS drop for actual congestion which could lead to inefficient train handling.

Solution? WAYSIDE SIGNALS.

Regarding PTC here is an interesting blurb from the NY Times article on the B777 crash in San Francisco.
But people involved in the investigation say the board intends to show that the core issues are widespread, notably the pilots’ evidently limited ability to manage the ubiquitous automated systems in a modern cockpit.

In the Asiana crash, none of the three pilots in the cockpit noticed that the airspeed was far too low and that the plane was descending too fast as a result. They flew the plane as if they expected its speed to be controlled by the auto-throttle, a device that can control an aircraft’s engines to maintain safe airspeed. But the auto-throttle was off.

The National Transportation Safety Board raised the possibility a few days after the crash that the Asiana crew could have taken action that shut off the autopilot without realizing it.

The Boeing 777 hit the sea wall near the end of the runway, breaking off the tail.

“Humans are bad automation monitors,” said one person involved in the investigation, who asked not to be identified because the safety board imposes a code of silence on the participants until the hearing.
In all likelihood PTC won't save lives, just create different types of accidents.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by ryanov » Mon Dec 09, 2013 1:59 pm

Tommy Meehan wrote:
Nasadowsk wrote:...Talk to the public _outside_ the rail world some time. The one thing I keep hearing and seeing, again and again, is "why isn't there some system in place to prevent this?". There's been a turning point in public opinion. The occasional accident is no longer being tolerated by the public. The actions by the feds and congress reflect this.
The public is asking, "Why isn't there a system in place to prevent railroad accidents?" Seriously? :-)

And I am serious. I'm not trying to flame you in any manner, shape or form. Only, are you asking people their thoughts on railroad safety? No one in my family or around the neighborhood or at work has any connection and/or interest in the railroad industry. All of them were horrified and saddened by the derailment at Spuyten Duyvil. None of them said it made them question rail safety. It just didn't come up.
Read the comments on almost any article about the accident. "How come there isn't something in place to stop a train that is going too fast?" will eventually appear in every one of them. And it's a good question.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Jersey_Mike » Mon Dec 09, 2013 2:34 pm

ryanov wrote: Read the comments on almost any article about the accident. "How come there isn't something in place to stop a train that is going too fast?" will eventually appear in every one of them. And it's a good question.
Anecdotes are not evidence. Of course when you interview people about a train crash they will be more salient about train safety.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by freightguy » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:11 pm

Look at all the somewhat recent incidents on the Washington Metro. A somewhat automated system with a form of Automatic train/speed control right in the heart of beltway. No system is going to be failsafe.

I do side with some of the older experienced operating people on Metro North saying to bring back some form of wayside signals. LIRR has these in place in conjunction with the automatic speed control mostly in interlockings. Having worked on both systems I feel these go/ no go signals don't cut it in the field.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:17 pm

ryanov wrote:Read the comments on almost any article about the accident. "How come there isn't something in place to stop a train that is going too fast?" will eventually appear in every one of them. And it's a good question.
That question, "How come there isn't something in place to stop a train that is going too fast?" doesn't appear in every comment. And these comments are coming via the Internet, correct?
Tommy Meehan wrote:I'm talking about keeping things in perspective.
Nasadowsk wrote:But humans are horrid at that.
Tommy Meehan wrote:I think that depends. On the Internet, yes. In real life, not so much. Just sayin'. :-)
I'm disagreeing with the idea the general public is up in arms about railroad travel since the Spuyten Duyvil derailment. I'm very skeptical that is true. And the comments referred to are from people who have just read an article about a train derailment and are coming from people who feel strongly enough to respond with a comment.

The other issue -- and this is well known to pollsters -- is the way the issue is framed. Two examples:
  • 1. People are surveyed about local transportation.
  • When you use your car, say you're going food shopping, when you get in the car do you feel safe? Safe about the trip to the supermarket?
  • Say you take a transit bus to the mall, when you board the bus do you feel safe? As a rider?
  • When you board a suburban train to go to Manhattan, do you feel safe?
  • 2. People are surveyed about train travel.
  • Are you familiar with the derailment at Spuyten Duyvil? Four riders were killed? The engineer "zoned out" and took a 30 mph curve at 80 mph?
  • Has that changed your feelings about train travel? Do you still feel safe when you board a train?
  • Do you think the railroads should install overspeed protection, so the risk of that kind of accident -- ignoring a speed limit at a sharp curve -- would be automated out of existence?
In example two I would wager you will get a lot more people saying they have safety concerns about train travel than would the people being surveyed in example one. Because of the way the questions are framed you're going to get a lot more negative responses than you will in example one. You can influence the answers by the way you ask the questions.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:22 pm

You've got better odds of winning a lottery twice than of being killed or even injured on a MN train. I wish all the panicking a scare tactics would cease!!
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:29 pm

Clean Cab wrote:You've got better odds of winning a lottery twice than of being killed or even injured on a MN train.
You've probably got better odds of winning PowerBall and then being struck by lightning when you go to collect. :-D

(Which is probably what would happen to me if I ever did win PowerBall.)

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Head-end View » Mon Dec 09, 2013 3:56 pm

The mid-day news today announced that Metro-North has reduced the cab-signal code on the approach to the Spuyten Duyvil curve. My question is: if it was so simple to do, that they did it in just a few days, why wasn't it set up this way originally to enforce the radical speed reduction at this location?

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