Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

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Tommy Meehan
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Tommy Meehan » Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:48 am

Or she lacked situational awareness. Almost anything she could have done would've been better than what she did.

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by keyboardkat » Wed Feb 04, 2015 11:52 am

EuroStar wrote:
dnelson wrote:Two immediate questions come to mind: if this train was led by a typical locomotive or some sort of passenger-less spacer instead of MU cars with passengers sitting beginning directly behind the cab, would any passengers have died? If this train wasn't powered via third rail which ignited the fire, would any passengers have died? I'm not actively criticizing third rail powered MUs, but this is a horrifying number of deaths for what appears to be an otherwise typical grade crossing accident.
There are multiple reasons why the leading cars have passengers: (1) you will need extra track length at Grand Central for that car (not necessarily platform, but track), (2) maintaining yet another type of car costs money (more than you think) and every timethey break and you do not have such a car as a spare you will need to cancel the train, (3) operating a non-revenue car (actually 2 of them on each end) costs money to move the dead weight back and forth (again a lot more than you think), (4) when people are crowding in the rest of the cars you will get political pressure to let them in these "spacer" cars to alleviate the crowding. The reality is that it is much cheaper and effective to grade-separate (but it is still tons of $$$ which nobody is willing to pay to get done) and then there is the NIMBY.

As for the third rail, we will need to wait for the results of the investigation. Catenary wire cannot pierce a car shell, but the standard 25kV can cause sparks and fires too if the right conditions occur. The reasons why catenary is practically exclusive in new construction are cost (most important) and height (it is out of reach of pedestrians).
Also, remember that in an accident, the pantograph can tear off, or tear down energized wires. At 12,000 to 25,000 volts, that's no picnic, either. Apparently the car was pushed almost an entire train length up the line. Since there is no third rail in the crossing roadway, that means the SUV, being pushed sideways, would have encountered third rail end-on, which may explain why the rail was dislocated and pierced the car and the first MU.
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by keyboardkat » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:05 pm

If she tried to wave at the train to stop, then this is just ignorance. There needs to be some education of the public, perhaps in the media, definitely in driver education classes, about trains, stressing one simple fact: A train, consisting of a number of cars each weighing perhaps 60 or 70 tons, and possibly a locomotive which may weigh as much as 140-150 tons, simply CANNOT be stopped on a dime! By the time the engineer sees you and realizes you're not going to get out of the way, it's already too late. It takes considerable distance to stop a train, or even to slow it down. You NEVER, EVER try to beat a train across a road crossing. That's always going to be a losing game.
I wonder about the psychological condition of this engineer. It may be hard for him to get back behind the controls of another train for a while, after his physical injuries heal.
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Jeff Smith » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:18 pm

I'm sure the driver's death was horrific. The engineer suffered burns according to what I posted earlier; I'm not sure how serious but any burn has to be considered serious.

I think I feel bad for the driver who was waving her back too. He saw the whole thing.

As for education, how much more can we do? Without placing any blame here on the driver or ascribing any motives for her actions, people should know how to act at a crossing. But people aren't perfect and situations are misjudged. How many near misses have we all been in? Think: There but for the grace of God go I.

Anyway, I do understand the reactions. And I agree that crossing should be closed permanently. There's a bridge over the RR just a bit north of the station. Put another ped bridge over the whole parkway too, and close parkway access there, too.
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:25 pm

keyboardkat wrote:If she tried to wave at the train to stop, then this is just ignorance. There needs to be some education of the public, perhaps in the media, definitely in driver education classes, about trains, stressing one simple fact: A train, consisting of a number of cars each weighing perhaps 60 or 70 tons, and possibly a locomotive which may weigh as much as 140-150 tons, simply CANNOT be stopped on a dime! By the time the engineer sees you and realizes you're not going to get out of the way, it's already too late. It takes considerable distance to stop a train, or even to slow it down. You NEVER, EVER try to beat a train across a road crossing. That's always going to be a losing game.
When I was in 5th grade, we had a series of safety lectures at my elementary school. The CL&P folks showed us a rather terrifying series of slides of what happens when you touch wires; the man from the railroad (have no clue if it was Conrail or MNRR) showed us a film of a car running over an empty coke can and told us that the weight difference between a can and a car was the same as the difference between a car and a train. Both stick with me still, 30+ years later. If they don't still do this in schools, they should.

On a different note- how much space is there, on average, between a crossing gate and the actual rails? If a car was stopped with the gate hitting the trunk, would there be enough room to clear the oncoming train?

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by MACTRAXX » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:29 pm

nomis wrote:There is an NTSB briefing set to start any minute now - live feed @ http://7online.com/live/
Nomis and Everyone:
See: http://www.ntsb.gov/news/press-releases ... 0103b.aspx" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

As of noontime today 2/4 the trainset is still at the scene and during the NTSB news conference they mention
that the train will be moved to a secure location - probably at NWP - to continue this investigation and allow
work crews to fix track damage to restore Harlem Line train service through this area...

MACTRAXX
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Rockingham Racer » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:52 pm

Can anyone here tell us whether or not the traffic signals are interlocked with the railroad?

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by nomis » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:53 pm

MN has released a special timetable for the bus-bridge bypassing Valhalla & Hawthorne ...

http://web.mta.info/mnr/html/planning/s ... 042015.pdf

Metro-North Service Update
http://web.mta.info/supplemental/mnr/mn ... _info.html
UPDATE: Service Plan for the Harlem Line for the Remainder of Wed., Feb. 4th

Metro-North Harlem Line train service on Wednesday, February 4 will remain suspended between Pleasantville and North White Plains until further notice due to the train/car collision near Valhalla. There will be limited bus/train service for Upper Harlem Line customers until further notice.

See the Train/Bus Schedule.

Please Note:
-Customers are strongly encouraged to work from home if possible or should seek alternate service
-Harlem Line tickets will be cross honored on the Hudson and New Haven Lines
-Free parking will be available at Cortlandt Station on the Hudson Line
-Westchester County parking available on a first-come, first-served basis:
Up to 300 spaces at the County Center near White Plains Station
Up to 50 spaces at the North White Plains Station
-Customers should expect crowded conditions and delays
-Listen for announcements at your station

Off Peak & PM Peak Southbound Service
Train service is available from Southeast and Wassaic to Pleasantville.
A shuttle bus service will operate between Pleasantville and North White Plains.
From North White Plains, there will be train service to all points south.
There will not be service at Hawthorne and Valhalla Stations. Customers should go to an alternate station.

Northbound Service
There will be train service to North White Plains Station with bus service to Pleasantville; train service will continue northbound to Southeast with connections to Wassaic.
The train cars cannot be removed until the on-scene investigation is complete, and they will need to be removed before service can be restored. Regular service through this area is not expected to resume until a full investigation is complete, the infrastructure is fully assessed, and repairs are made.

As more information becomes available we will notify you as soon as possible. Please continue to visit this website for updates and listen for announcements at your station.
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RearOfSignal
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by RearOfSignal » Wed Feb 04, 2015 12:58 pm

Rockingham Racer wrote:Can anyone here tell us whether or not the traffic signals are interlocked with the railroad?
Yes it is.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by F-line to Dudley via Park » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:27 pm

Well...I would say LIRR's unfunded Main Line grade crossing eliminations from Floral Park to Hicksville are going to get some Albany largesse real soon. Cuomo's got 2016 ambitions, and it's going to be a pigpile in the Legislature for "Man of Action" bragging rights on rail safety and the sweet fed fun bucks that are likely going to be available to NYS to symbolically kill some crossings for their own self-satisfaction.


I'm not really sure what 'symbolic' thing anyone could do for the Harlem Line, however. Short of springing for some quadrant gates and whatever the latest in early-warning sensor technology is available today. This particular crossing seems to be more problematic because of the severely outdated parkway entrance than presence of the train tracks. And the grade crossings between White Plains and Southeast are too motley, scattered, and individualized an assortment for there to really be any sort of systemic elimination strategy worth pursuing. All but a few of them are situated at station approaches where the train's doing quite a bit less than full speed and has best stopping distance you could possibly hope for in a no-win situation. And there isn't a railcar design on the planet that's going to be bulletproof in this exact one-in-a-billion bad luck sequence of events.

This is going to be a real test for the instant-gratification crowd from Daily News readers right up to Sen. Schumer to come to grips with the likelihood that sometimes the fates line up, freak @#$% happens, and there's no simply reason and no one to blame.

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by nomis » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:40 pm

Last year there was a Car vs. Third Rail incident by Valhalla station, didn't get much attention on a thread here. Third rail public grade crossings happen, off the top of my head, only on a couple systems here: MN, LIRR, Chicago CTA.
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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Ken S. » Wed Feb 04, 2015 1:45 pm

JimBoylan wrote:TAN Chatsworth, Calif. reaction
The Metrolink train at Chatsworth in 2008 had a Diesel locomotive leading. After the crash, it was found telescoped inside the 1st passenger car that it had been pulling.
There have been fires after Diesel train accidents that were not at grade crossings, or in 3rd rail territory.
The incident on Metrolink being referred to was the 2005 Glendale Crash where a train with the cab car leading struck a Jeep on the tracks and caused a chain reaction crash with two other trains.

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by SwingMan » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:28 pm

Schumer and all the other political pigs are going to have a field day with this; In fact, they're probably busy right now making some BS speech about how grade crossings are dangerous and need to be outlawed.


And people wonder why the taxes and fares go up. While I think more safety in the right context is welcomed, things like this have and forever will happen, it is just going to happen. Sadly, in this case, the worst possible chain of events occurred leading to a very, in hindsight, avoidable accident. Even if the crossing was fully protected, the driver did not go around the gates, they were under them.

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by Ridgefielder » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:33 pm

nomis wrote:hird rail public grade crossings happen, off the top of my head, only on a couple systems here: MN, LIRR, Chicago CTA.
No grade crossings on the ex-Philadelphia & Western trackage operated by SEPTA?

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Re: Major grade-crossing accident in Valhalla 2/3/15

Post by jackintosh11 » Wed Feb 04, 2015 2:35 pm

What about installing a device like a dragging equipment detector to shut off the third rail if it detects something like this?
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCXu4mb ... 8cuxblPB9g Videos, including SEPTA time lapses.

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