MNRR PTC Status and Plans (ACSES)

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

Moderators: GirlOnTheTrain, nomis, Jeff Smith, FL9AC

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:48 pm

Lets not forget ACSES was put into place because of accidents in Boston and Maryland along with the introduction of the Acela's. So it wasn't always CA. Also keep in mind cab signals were in effect when Chase and Boston Back Bay incidents happend.

roee
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:32 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by roee » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:02 pm

Sarge wrote:Why should NY pay for CA's idiocy?
Well it isn't CA idiocy, it was one engineer who wasn't doing his job. Could the same thing happen on MN? Sure if safety rules were not followed.

The question is PTC nessacary? If so, then it should be installed where the FRA requires it. My two questions are why do Class II's and III's not need to have it when running on Class I's for less that 20 miles, and secondly how are they going to meet the second screen requirement for the conductor on passenger trains?
Eric
KE5BAX

Obligatory Simpson’s reference:
I'm Double Bacon Genius Burger

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Wed Mar 03, 2010 5:21 pm

Lets not forget ACSES was put into place because of accidents in Boston and Maryland along with the introduction of the Acela's. So it wasn't always CA. Also keep in mind cab signals were in effect when Chase and Boston Back Bay incidents happend.
The cab signals on the Conrail freight train that overran the stop signal were not equipped with speed control, the alertor whistle had been disabled and the crew was high. Also, which accidents are you referring to which ostensibly lead to ACSES? Although hardly pushing the bounds of railway signaling technology, ACSES is basically a pilot programme that has only been installed on the least complicated parts of the NEC. The fact that it was no adopted more widely in the decade since probably speaks to its costs and benefits.
I can see both sides of this argument. MNRR already has a superior safety record related to its signal system. As I understand it, ACSES is an overlay on top of ATC. Does it make sense to add it to the NH line? Probably, since that would give Amtrak a single system Boston - NYP (and the M8's will have it). Of course, then maybe the feds/Amtrak should pay for it. It may even marginally improve Amtrak's speeds on that stretch (marginally being the key word here).
It's not going to improve the speeds much as right now the speeds are A) determined by the line geometry and B) deterlined by MNRR's willingness to maintain the track to various standards. At 75mph MNRR can keep most of the NH Line at Class 4 instead of the more expensive Class 5 or 6. If there were real benefits to PTC I would be all over it, but in all likleyhood it will not raise speeds and it will not increase capacity.

I don't know what sort of games the MTA is playing with its ACSES cost estimates. They do seem a bit high for me for what should be, in theory, a simple overlay system, but if they are really looking at dropping something like 700 mil that's just not worth it.

I had one more example for the ever so safety consious Dutch. Every year more than a few people fall or jump off of station platforms and into the paths of MTA trains. As the number of fatailites caused by this greatly exceeds the numbers killed in train accidents clearly the MTA should prioritize the installation of automated full length platform "screen doors" to increase safety. I also assume that you drive a Volvo because despite its premium price its marginally better safety in highway accidents is worth it. Hey, why don't we just limit all trains to restricted speed and put a second engineer in the cab. that will REALLY make things safe!!

I'm not trying to be a dick, just showing that there is no such thing as 100% safety. We must somehow make choices about how much we are willing to sacrifice in the name of safety/security. Blindly telling people to "please think of the children" is neither rational nor productive.

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Wed Mar 03, 2010 6:39 pm

Lets not forget ACSES was put into place because of accidents in Boston and Maryland along with the introduction of the Acela's. So it wasn't always CA. Also keep in mind cab signals were in effect when Chase and Boston Back Bay incidents happend.
Which accidents do you keep referring to? The Chase accident lead to the engineer certification, increased drug testing and the requirement by Amtrak of speed control to be fitted to freight locomotives operating on the NEC.

Let me remind everyone how basic CSS would have prevented the Metrolink wreck. Not only would the Metrolink train have had a big old Approach signal displayed in the cab it would have also had a 30mph enforced speed. This would have dropped to Restricting and 20mph 1500 feet before the Stop signal. If the engineer STILL didn't stop upon entering the interlocking the UP freight train would have immediately had its cab drop to Restricting prompting the engineer of that train to apply the brakes. This is pretty strong safety enforcement even if its not perfect. It's well within the bounds where the crash worthyness requirements can kick in.

The main drivers behind PTC seem to be the signal vendors. They stand to make a ton of money both installing PTC and then "tweaking" it for years to come. They have presented PTC as a wonderous little magic box that goes in the cab and prevents all accidents without any costly wayside components. The reality is something closer to a highly fickle and tempremental box that will end up requiring large wayside investments and will result in reduced operational capacity.

Jeff Smith
Site Admin
Posts: 8549
Joined: Tue Nov 07, 2006 9:28 am
Location: If it's Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jeff Smith » Wed Mar 03, 2010 7:34 pm

I call out CA's idiocy because of their lack of internal controls and safety requirements. CA is one of the most important rail corridors and as I understand it they outsourced some operations and positions, right? They're running on heavily trafficked freight corridors. Why an even basic system was in place is also beyond me. Yes, some of the incidents mentioned, including CA, were due to crew inattention, malfeasance, etc. But who hired them? And let's not forget the 99.9% who carry out their duties faithfully. It's real easy in an incident to immediately blame the crew (didn't that happen at Woodlawn Junction back in the 80's?), which leads to job stress that is probably similar to that experienced in combat; the realization that one mistake, whether human error or not, can lead to consequences ranging from job sanctions or loss to death.
Next stop, Willoughby
~el Jefe ("Jeff Smith Rules") :: RAILROAD.NET Site Administrator/Co-Owner

RearOfSignal
Posts: 2553
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:31 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by RearOfSignal » Wed Mar 03, 2010 8:03 pm

Well even on MNR with it's ATC system accidents can happen. Human error is going to happen when humans are involved. Sometimes the more safegaurds there are the more complacent you can become thinking that the technology will always save you.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

DutchRailnut
Posts: 22270
Joined: Thu Mar 11, 2004 8:02 pm
Location: released from Stalag 13

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by DutchRailnut » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:06 pm

Correct and several incidents on MNCR do warrant the use of ACSES.
we did not have any accidents but some very very close calls.
And without ellaborating I would say there should be no way a compromise on safety should be made.
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

Retired Triebfahrzeugführer. I am not a moderator.

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:08 pm

I only referd to the Chase incident once, so why is everybody up in arms. The documents that I have access to regarding the installation of ACSES refers to these incidents as to the reason ACSES was installed. It appears from everyones perspective that PTC only refers to train operations, but what about the MOW crews. Are there any benefits to the RWIC along the ROW? How many incidents have happend along the ROW which caused an accident or even worse.

If MN and LIRR want to install ACSES as is, then it may not cost too much, but from conversations I have been involved with, they want to change how the system is installed and operated. I know they would have to install the system on every car which raises the price tag.

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:29 pm

Jersey_Mike wrote:Lets not forget ACSES was put into place because of accidents in Boston and Maryland along with the introduction of the Acela's. So it wasn't always CA. Also keep in mind cab signals were in effect when Chase and Boston Back Bay incidents happend.
Mike,

As I stated before Amtrak already had plans to layout ACSES through out the corridor before the PTC mandate. While it is an overlay system trust me I have seen and worked with the sytem long enough to see how safe it is and prevented some unforseen problems. It just amaze's me the discussion about not having PTC. Which is typical of railroads to frown on anything new until its pushed upon them and then they still object.

I think I have said enough on this subject.

Roy FoyLoy
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:11 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Roy FoyLoy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 2:34 pm

DutchRailnut wrote: And without ellaborating I would say there should be no way a compromise on safety should be made.
I'm sorry, Dutch, but without elaborating, you fail to advance your argument any more than you already have.

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:56 pm

I'm sorry, Dutch, but without elaborating, you fail to advance your argument any more than you already have.
The biggest near miss I know about on Metro North is where an Amtrak train with its ATC cut out always broadsided an MNRR local crossing in front of it on the New Haven Line. The MU was able to get stopped in time as the Amtrak shot past it into the interlocking. ACSES would not have helped because the accident resulted from a failure of the safety system's fallback prodecures.
And without ellaborating I would say there should be no way a compromise on safety should be made.
Then you agree that the MTA should prioritize the installation of full legnth automated platform screen doors because more people die falling from the platform than in train to train collisions on an annual basis. Failure to install such a system is compromising safety so therefore it must be installed.

I would also like to see your PTC risk assessment study and numbers that show it will have a positive cost benefit ratio. The FRA's draft regulations explicitly stated that PTC did not make economic sence so it would be interesting to see how your study on Metro-North differs.
As I stated before Amtrak already had plans to layout ACSES through out the corridor before the PTC mandate.
Yes and NJT has concrete plans to electrify its entire system right down to the placement of catenary poles and substations. Plans don't mean it is ever going to happen or happen in in the way the plans outline.

I have no doubt that ACSES works and is actually one of the more feasable PTC implementations, but the extreme cost simply outweighs the benefits. At 700 million ACSES would have to save the lives of 350 MoW workers just to defray the CAPITOL COSTS. How many MoW workers are dying on MNRR and the LIRR each year??? Even if ACSES would save that many workers perhaps there are more cost effective ways to save their lives such as, I don't know, better sinage or use of pilotmen in trains passing through work zones.

The MTA does not have the money to waste on something that does not have a sound economic justification. We are at the point where we have to choose between PTC and new services or even existing services. What happens when the Waterbury or Greenport services are cancled due to the costs of PTC??? Are you going to go up to those commuters who use the service and tell them "Aww shucks I'm sorry, at least I have a .0001% less chance of dying on the job".

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 9:14 am

Mike,

With the cabs cut out and ACSES cut in, the Amtrak train would have been forced to stop at the interlocking. To go through the interlocking, the engineer would have to call the dispatcher and get permission and a radio release from the wayside to allow the train to move.

It sounds from your post you are dead set against PTC. God forbid if another accident takes place regardless of where, and there is public outrage, what will your position be? I agree the LIRR and MN need to solve the gap issue and increase service.

I think we have discussed this subject long enough and will have to wait and see what the ruling from the FRA towards both the LIRR and MN if they do apply for a waiver.

RearOfSignal
Posts: 2553
Joined: Tue Aug 09, 2005 2:31 pm

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by RearOfSignal » Fri Mar 05, 2010 12:01 pm

Most accidents happen at restricted speed acses can't really force someone to operate at a speed able to stop within half the range of vision. PTC can not fail-proof everything.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

Jersey_Mike
Posts: 4689
Joined: Wed Mar 17, 2004 1:39 am
Location: CHARLES aka B&P JCT MP 95.9

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by Jersey_Mike » Fri Mar 05, 2010 2:00 pm

With the cabs cut out and ACSES cut in, the Amtrak train would have been forced to stop at the interlocking. To go through the interlocking, the engineer would have to call the dispatcher and get permission and a radio release from the wayside to allow the train to move.
The problem was a failure in the speed control system (the ACSES box) and cutting it out also cut out the cab signals (previously the cabs and speed control could be cut out seperately). Ironic that that ACSES almost contributed to the sort of disaster it was meant to prevent.

Re: public outrage, the public should learn to just deal. As security expert Bruce Schneier says, if something is on the news, you shouldn't worry about it killing you because by definition common events are not news. Fortunately the public has a very short attention span as evidenced by how last August's Metro crash has dropped off the radar. The PTC mandate is the Patriot Act of the rail transportation world. Rushed legislation that was passed on emotion with the urging of a group of self-interested lobbiests.

As a passenger all I stand to gain from PTC is slower train service. Train crews face an erosion of the skill level needed to do their job which will result in decreased bargaining power (with PTC in place why not run trains with managers or replacements during a strike). If the costs were reasonable the argument to err on the side of safety would be a strong one, but 700 million is just not worth it for the marginal safety improvements PTC delivers over traditional cab signals with speed conrol.

LIRR272
Posts: 494
Joined: Fri Mar 12, 2004 11:41 pm
Location: Elmont NY

Re: MTA trying to weasel out of PTC

Post by LIRR272 » Fri Mar 05, 2010 5:45 pm

Mike,

Cutting out the cabs doesn't automatically cut out ACSES. While they are in the same box, they have their own cut out switches. The engineers cut out the ACSES so they will not have to stop at every interlocking, talk to the dispatcher, wait for the wayside to give them a radio release and move the train. On the other hand cutting out ACSES doesn't automatically cut out the cabs either.

Return to “MTA Metro-North Railroad and CtDOT Passenger Rail”