The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

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ACeInTheHole
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by ACeInTheHole »

ThirdRail7 wrote:
Pensey GG1 wrote:
RearOfSignal wrote:The more safety components are added the more complacency becomes a problem.
That's why we need full PTC. Then we don't really have to care.
Until something happens to the system and the people are no longer sharp. I liken it to the GPS systems that cause people to turn down one way streets and into the path of oncoming trains all because they no longer "think" about what they are doing. They are just doing what they are instructed by the computer. When it is off, people aren't as adept and aware of their surroundings. This is one of the main reasons why the Washington Metro makes sure their members run the trains manually every so often (monthly?). A conditioned response will only carry you so far.
Stability control would be a better example, people think they can drive like morons and that the car will save them if they screw up.

Pensey GG1
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Pensey GG1 »

Clean Cab wrote:I prefer the ground based ACSES system used by Amtrak on their tracks from New Haven to Boston. It relays information into the rails via transponders mounted on the tracks and does not use GPS as it's primary source. Granted it is not as flexible as PTC (guarding work areas, adding/removing temporary speed restrictions) but it's work fine for 14 years now without any incidents.
Regardless of GPS vs. track based, ACSES is PTC. So is ITCS. Two different approaches. Both PTC.

RearOfSignal
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by RearOfSignal »

From FRA: PTC technology is capable of automatically controlling train speeds and movements should a train operator fail to take appropriate action for the conditions at hand. For example, PTC can enforce a train to a stop before it passes a signal displaying a stop indication, or before diverging on a switch improperly lined, thereby averting a potential collision. PTC systems required to comply with the requirements of Subpart I must reliably and functionally prevent:

Train-to-train collisions;
Overspeed derailments;
Incursion into an established work zone; and
Movement through a main line switch in the improper position.
Other functions are applicable within the requirements as specific conditions warrant.

---------------------------------

That being the case it would seem to me to be possible to simply update the current MNR system by having a system that would dump the train before passing a stop signal, similar to the magnets used by Amtrak over the Cos Cob Bridge. The magnets would activate a mechanism that would dump the air before a stop signal is passed. A similar system could be used in working limit areas, with a mobile device that would do the same thing, only it could be controlled by the mobile unit remotely to allow trains through.

Overspeed derailments could be easily prevented by implementing a more extensive use of a LIRR style ASC using multiple frequency pulse codes, and adjusted signal blocks.

One problem I see would be train to train collisions and main line switches not properly lined. First improperly lined switches: MNR's current system forces trains to approach open switches at restricted speed. Furthermore HTEL switches cannot be opened without several requirements. MNR cannot actually stop a train from going through a misaligned switch, hopefully being on a restricted cab would indicate to the engineer that something is amiss. Of course, I'm talking about main line non-interlocked switches; interlocked switches and devices would be protected by the system that would dump trains upon passing a stop signal. Really, it's the same thing for train to train collisions, MNR's current system forces trains to drop to restricted speed a full block before a shunted circuit. It cannot prevent a train from actually rear-ending another train only force a train to restricted speed.

According to FRA requirements that's not good enough. The PTC mandate requires a system that prevents train to train collisions. I see this as being very difficult to enforce. Effectively this would be the same as having a rolling absolute stop. MNR's system is good at preventing head on and conflicting route collisions, but I see many difficulties programming a system that would stop a train from rear-ending another that is not an Absolute Block system. If a permissive block system were to be used and rear end collisions were to be prevented, it means that live data would have to be sent to all trains with knowledge of the length of the train in front. In a GPS based PTC system the system would have to calculate the length of trains based on where the head end is a prevent a following train from encroaching too close on the train in front. While that seems easy, PTC using GPS has not been tested in dense urban settings in multi-track territory. Seeing the problems that MNR has with consistency with GPS based ASI, I wouldn't trust such a system protecting train movements.

Oddly enough the train to train collisions would be difficult to solve without some kind of continuos wireless communication system.

Being a computer programming major in college I could even program such a system. It's not that difficult. The thing that concerns me is the use of GPS in controlling train movements. The code only works if the proper coordinates are inputed and commercial GPS is just not accurate enough in my estimation to provide that reliable and consistent input into the system. Of course, the old-timers felt the same way when they took out the waysides and put cab signals in.

What concerns have you guys found with implementation of PTC on MNR? (mods can split if deemed appropriate)
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

Nasadowsk
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Nasadowsk »

RearOfSignal wrote: That being the case it would seem to me to be possible to simply update the current MNR system by having a system that would dump the train before passing a stop signal, similar to the magnets used by Amtrak over the Cos Cob Bridge. The magnets would activate a mechanism that would dump the air before a stop signal is passed. A similar system could be used in working limit areas, with a mobile device that would do the same thing, only it could be controlled by the mobile unit remotely to allow trains through.

Overspeed derailments could be easily prevented by implementing a more extensive use of a LIRR style ASC using multiple frequency pulse codes, and adjusted signal blocks.
In an ideal world, this would be my choice. It's combining two well proven technologies. Passive beacons could eventually be backfitted in high traffic areas to provide 'hinting' to the on-board computer to create a protection 'envelope' for the train. None of this is exotic.

And, maybe, if the industry proposed and moved in this direction 20 years ago, we wouldn't be here talking about it, today. IMHO, industry inaction, combined with a wish list from the NTSB, etc, that started growing, lead to today's PTC mandate.
One problem I see would be train to train collisions and main line switches not properly lined. First improperly lined switches: MNR's current system forces trains to approach open switches at restricted speed. Furthermore HTEL switches cannot be opened without several requirements. MNR cannot actually stop a train from going through a misaligned switch, hopefully being on a restricted cab would indicate to the engineer that something is amiss.
Again, in an ideal world, I don't see this being a huge issue - that's what restricted speed is for in the first place (!).
According to FRA requirements that's not good enough.
See above commentary as to how it got that way. IMHO, the industry painted itself into the corner its in. Whoops.
Being a computer programming major in college I could even program such a system. It's not that difficult. The thing that concerns me is the use of GPS in controlling train movements. The code only works if the proper coordinates are inputed and commercial GPS is just not accurate enough in my estimation to provide that reliable and consistent input into the system.
I generally don't trust GPS systems any farther than I can throw them...
Of course, the old-timers felt the same way when they took out the waysides and put cab signals in.
The TGV goes a step further than Metro-North - there are no wayside signals on LGVs, period. Only signs to mark where blocks end. I don't know if TVM enforces stops (though it can tell you there's one ahead)

RearOfSignal
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by RearOfSignal »

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.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

RearOfSignal
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by RearOfSignal »

A TGV style system would work since it's all coded through the rail, but the thing is that only high speed trains travel on the non-wayside portions of the TGV; not the slower and heavier freight trains. We don't have that luxury here in the states.
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

Nasadowsk
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Nasadowsk »

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.
We'd be talking about it after yet another accident somewhere else, then.

There's been a steady trickle of preventable accidents for the last few decades. Then one happened in the wrong congressional district. This one probably wasn't in the right district either.

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.

RearOfSignal
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by RearOfSignal »

Nasadowsk wrote:
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.
We'd be talking about it after yet another accident somewhere else, then.

There's been a steady trickle of preventable accidents for the last few decades. Then one happened in the wrong congressional district. This one probably wasn't in the right district either.

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.
My point is not that action should not be taken; rather the point I am making is that rarely are things corrected before a fatal incident occurs. What about Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, Apollo 1 fire, sinking of the Titanic or even 9/11? Each of these incidents resulted in major changes to safety protocols. But the public at large was not concerned with what was considered unlikely scenarios the day before each incident. Now we can add Spuyten Duyvil, December 1st 2013 to that list. I frankly don't see why DUI's still happen in this country and those who do get caught with DUI's get a slap on the wrist, when will their Spuyten Duyvil occur I ask?
Hurry up and wait at the signal!

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Tommy Meehan
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan »

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.

Nasadowsk
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Nasadowsk »

Tommy Meehan wrote: 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.
*shrug*. For whatever reason, when the subject's popped up at work the last few days, a few people have asked me "how could this happen - isn't there something that prevents this?".
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.
Yet oddly, people fear flying far more than driving. It's irrational - but they do. Plane crashes get publicity, they look nasty, and then some TV channel makes a show about them...
The steady stream of car accidents? Nobody cares. We still hand licenses out to anyone with a pulse, design roads with bad features, show people driving like idiots in TV ads...

It's like nuclear power - statistically, it's exceptionally safe. But folks fear it. Meanwhile, there's that long, growing, list of folks who entered a coal mine and didn't come out...
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.
No doubt. I'd take MN tomorrow. Or the LIRR. Without thought.
I'm talking about keeping things in perspective.
But humans are horrid at that.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by lirr42 »

According to the MTA, they have now installed a cab signal drop at Spuyten Duvyil and have reduced MAS at 26 different locations to eliminate locations where the speed limit drops at more than 20mph.

In summary:
  • A cab signal drop has been installed at the Spuyten Duvyil curve. Cab signal drops will be installed at the other four "critical curves" (Yonkers, White Plains, Port Chester, Bridgeport) by March and the five moveable bridges in September.
  • MAS has been reduced at 26 locations so there is no place where speeds would drop by more than 20mph.
  • In these locations, Metro-North will still abide by the FRA's requests. Where practical, Conductors will ride up front with the engineers, and at locations where it's not practical (engine leading, etc.) they will communicate by radio.
  • Of the equipment that still has deadman's controls, that equipment will either be retrofitted with alerters or replaced within the next year.
  • Trains will randomly have their speeds checked by radar or by inspecting their event recorders.
  • A close call reporting system will be implemented.
From the MTA:
MTA wrote:MTA Metro-North Railroad is making immediate improvements to reinforce safety at critical curves and movable bridges along the railroad's right-of-way. These improvements were directed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in a letter to the MTA and by an emergency order from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).

These improvements were made as part of an agreement reached between Metro-North and the Connecticut Department of Transportation (ConnDOT)...

Signal crews have installed new protections at the Spuyten Duyvil curve, the site of last week's fatal derailment, which will warn train engineers of the approaching speed reduction and will automatically apply the train's emergency brakes if speed is not lowered to the 30 mph maximum in the curve... The signal improvement at Spuyten Duyvil was done simultaneously and in coordination with work to restore track, power and signal systems there after the derailment. Those protections will be operating on all trains by Monday morning.

By Tuesday morning, all Metro-North trains will enhance communication between train engineers and conductors to ensure trains are operated at safe speeds at four other critical curves as well as at five movable bridges. Conductors will stand with engineers at each train's control cab through the critical curves to verbally confirm that speed limits are adhered to. Where the train layout prohibits the conductor from reaching the engineer in a locomotive, they will communicate by radio. They will also communicate by radio at the five movable bridges.

Metro-North engineers are developing new signal protections to automatically enforce speed restrictions at the other four critical curves by March, and at the five movable bridges by September. The four critical curves are at Yonkers on the Hudson Line, White Plains on the Harlem Line, and Port Chester and Bridgeport on the New Haven Line. All five movable bridges are on the New Haven Line.

Metro-North has also surveyed its tracks and will reduce the maximum authorized speed at 26 locations in order to eliminate all locations where the speed limit drops by more than 20 mph. Signs will be posted along the right-of-way to alert engineers of reductions in maximum authorized speed at the four curves by December 16.

In addition, Metro-North has committed to enhance its monitoring of compliance with speed restrictions. This monitoring is accomplished by reviewing the event data recorders from randomly selected trains, by sending supervisors to ride trains and observe speeds, and by operating radar gun enforcement at locations throughout the Metro-North network...

Two-thirds of Metro-North's operating fleet is equipped with alerter devices in the engineer's position to ensure engineers remain attentive, and the remaining one-third is equipped with dead man's controls. Within the next year, all equipment without alerters will be either retrofitted to include them or replaced with new equipment that includes alerters.

At the FRA's direction, Metro-North has also committed to implementing a confidential close call reporting system, a measure which will allow employees to anonymously report safety concerns without fear of reprisal in order to identify potential problems before they can cause an accident or injury.

Additionally, Metro-North has conducted safety stand-downs for 4,500 employees in over 200 sessions at more than 80 locations. These sessions emphasized to all employees that safety is the most important factor in railroad operations and that all employees must operate and communicate effectively with safety as the ultimate goal. These safety stand-downs will be conducted every quarter in the future.

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Tommy Meehan
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan »

Tommy Meehan wrote:I'm talking about keeping things in perspective.
Nasadowsk wrote:But humans are horrid at that.
I think that depends. On the Internet, yes. In real life, not so much. Just sayin'. :-)

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Tommy Meehan
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan »

lirr42 wrote:According to the MTA, they have now installed a cab signal drop at Spuyten Duvyil and have reduced MAS at 26 different locations to eliminate locations where the speed limit drops at more than 20mph.

In summary:
  • A cab signal drop has been installed at the Spuyten Duvyil curve. Cab signal drops will be installed at the other four "critical curves" (Yonkers, White Plains, Port Chester, Bridgeport) by March and the five moveable bridges in September.
  • MAS has been reduced at 26 locations so there is no place where speeds would drop by more than 20mph.
<snipped>
That sounds pretty good.

Jersey_Mike
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Jersey_Mike »

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?

johnpbarlow
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by johnpbarlow »

At what location does the cab signal indication for 30mph become apparent to engineer for the Spuyten Duyvil curve when heading south?

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