• Derailment in Paulsboro

  • Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey
Pertaining to all railroading subjects, past and present, in New Jersey

Moderator: David

  by ExCon90
There's a lot to investigate, and different people with expertise in different fields are needed. (It isn't every accident investigation that requires bridge engineers familiar with 19th-century structures.) An investigation won't discover much if it isn't done by people who understand the details. Wait till you read the final report and see how many different things they looked into.
  by Freddy
tahawus84 wrote:They are sending 17 people to investigate? A little much no?
You gotta have somebody to row the boat.
  by charlie6017
tahawus84 wrote:They are sending 17 people to investigate? A little much no?
Somebody has to run for the pizza and soda pop.......
  by pdtrains
Tommy Meehan wrote:Below is a link to the National Transportation Safety Board's page about the incident.
But NTSB is saying a preliminary report, which should contain a lot of definitive information, should be released within a week or two.
The NTSB prelim report is just a statement of facts of the accident occurrence. It will not get into "why the accident occurred" at all.

Any activity around in regards to CSAO building a shoefly around the bridge.
  by Tommy Meehan
I think the report will very likely have some preliminary conclusions as to why the bridge failed. If -- and this is an important if -- it is possible for them to determine or at least get a strong indication, as to what caused the failure. The exact cause may take a while to pin down. We'll see.
  by Tommy Meehan
Below is a quote from an AP report carried in the Washington Post last Sunday ( http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/ ... story.html ) that reports that Conrail had recently been inspecting the bridge because of problems reported by train crews. This report, based on comments by NTSB officials, says the crew last Friday received a yellow signal at the bridge, not red as reported earlier. I'm not sure whether that's a typo or not. Or if it has any relevance.
the Associated Press wrote:Conrail crews in recent days and weeks had been reporting problems with the signal, and the rail company had been looking into the problem only the day before, [NTSB Chairperson Deborah Hersman] said.

The veteran two-person crew was familiar with the route and had run it on the three previous nights. They had started their shift at 3 a.m. Friday and were surprised to get a yellow signal when they approached the bridge at about 7 a.m. They used a keypad device, similar to a garage door opener, to try to get a green light, but were unsuccessful. The pair stopped the train for several minutes, examined the tracks, and then got permission from a dispatcher to proceed, Hersman said..
[i]Philadelphia Inquirer[/i] staff writers wrote:The engineer on the train that derailed had been working the South Jersey route for 14 months, and the conductor was on his first week on the route. Both had made uneventful trips over the bridge the previous three nights.

Conrail officials knew there were problems with the Paulsboro bridge mechanism and signal.

Conrail had received 23 "trouble tickets" from crews or others about the bridge in the past year, including nine such reports since Oct. 27, officials of the National Transportation Safety Board said Monday.
The above quote is from a report Wednesday carried on Philly.com

http://articles.philly.com/2012-12-05/n ... -mechanism

  by Tommy Meehan
Thursday a 150-ton Weeks Marine crane was floated into place to begin the job of removing the rail cars. (This is the same company that recovered the US Air jet in the Hudson River a few years ago.)

This link http://www.paulsbororesponse.com/conten ... -crane-1-3 takes you to a clear photo of the bridge site and the crane. You can find two more photos of the bridge/crane by clicking on NEWS & UPDATES at the top left of the page and then go to page 2.

From http://articles.philly.com/2012-12-07/n ... -train-car
The Coast Guard said [on Friday] cleanup crews have removed all traces of vinyl chloride from a freight-train tanker that fell off a bridge and breached last Friday, and that the hazardous chemical has not been detected in the atmosphere in Paulsboro since Tuesday afternoon.
Sounds like it won't be much longer before they can clear the site allowing investigators better access. That vinyl chloride is really nasty stuff and I take my hat off to the crews that went in there and removed it. Not a job I'd want!
  by charlie6017
TAMR213 wrote:And let the superfluous lawsuits begin: "Paulsboro mother files $10 Million suit against Conrail following toxic train derailment"
Yep.......we all knew these suits would start flying in. The first of a bazillion, I'm sure. My only question is why isn't she filing suit against the
authorities as well considering she wasn't living within the evacuated area?

  by Flat-Wheeler
Freddy wrote: On top are 'lift rails', 2 on each end of course, that lift up. Down below are what's called 'wedges' , 2 on each end, that have to withdraw in order for the span to basically unlock and then
turn. To lock back in place it's basically like this; Span turns back from open position to closed. Down below the 'wedges' are motor driven into their 'seats'. After that, up top, the 'lift rails'
are motor driven down into their 'seats'. After all that the signal circuit controller is closed which should then give a Green signal if everything has worked correctly. The wedges keep the span
from shifting and in place. The only inspection a conductor can do is to look at the 'lift rails' up top and make sure their down and in place. There's no way anybody can see what position the
wedges are in unless their under the span to physically see the wedges.

I wonder also,since there was no tender,who was taking a grease gun and an oil can and crawling the length of the drive shaft in order to grease all the fittings and applying grease to the
wedges and also changing the burnt out light bulbs that the Coast Guard would require for navigation. Our wedges and fittings were looked at every few weeks and we only ran 3 trains per
As per above quotes. Plus, being that Mantua creek is a direct tidal surge feeder and the bridge locking mechanism has been affecting the signals regularly over the past 6 years as someone pointed out earlier, I'd have to ask... what are the chances the tidal surge and 9k-11,000 crashing waves from Super storm Sandy washed the abutments loose and the remaining grease off the mechanisms ? Two important items that no conductor can determine without climbing down underneath the bridge to inspect.
I'd be willing to put money on it, the storm was probably the ultimate precipitator of the bridge failure, but is definitely not to be fully blamed. This was a complex combination of factors. This will be a VERY good report once the NTSB finalizes their findings. I'm surprised a major news network isn't following up on this story yet, since it does highlight the fact important railroad infrastructure in this country is in desperate need of repair and upgrade.
  by Tommy Meehan
Flat-Wheeler wrote:I'd be willing to put money on it, the storm was probably the ultimate precipitator of the bridge failure, but is definitely not to be fully blamed.

If you look at the USCG photo of the bridge it seems to indicate there was no structural failure of the bridge deck, just a derailment. I had gotten the impression from written accounts that the bridge collapsed. In the photo the bridge deck seems to be intact and supporting the weight of two of the derailed cars and a third tanker on the right hand side. The damage to the bridge seems to be mostly to the super-structure above the deck.

Quite possibly the derailment was caused by the deck pivoting slightly under the train, causing the rails to spread. I guess it's also possible the derailment was caused by an equipment failure involving one of the tank cars.

Precisely because of the implications of this accident, people saying it shows the railroad infrastructure in this country is badly under-maintained to the extent it is becoming hazardous, is why I expect the NTSB to address that immediately, in their preliminary report. I sure hope they do anyway.

  by pumpers
Tommy Meehan wrote:If you look at the USCG photo of the bridge it seems to indicate there was no structural failure of the bridge deck, just a derailment.
I wouldn't be so sure. Take a look between 2:20 and 2:40 of the news video at http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/ ... ew-jersey/. (I posted this link here shortly after the accident). It looks to me like the swing span is lower on the left end that it should be, and clearly it is rotated a good deal from being aligned straight. In the UCSG photo the cars are partially blocking a direct view of the rails in the rotating part of the bridge, so maybe in that photo we just can't see the problems you see in the video (which is shot from other side near the 2:30 mark). JS
  by Tommy Meehan
Yes I see what you're saying. That looks like there could've been a structural failure of the moveable span, though not a failure of the entire bridge, what engineers call a catastrophic failure. That was the impression I had been getting.

From some of the written accounts I expected to see most of the bridge in the water. I didn't expect to see it still standing the way it is.

No I'm not sure it was a derailment followed by a structural failure. But I'm equally unsure it was a structural failure followed by a derailment. I want to know! :)

  by Tommy Meehan
Here's a USCG photo from what I think is looking west or northwest.


This seems to show one end of the moveable span (the end closest to the camera) is out of vertical alignment (which I think is what pumpers is talking about). The tank car on the end of the draw looks like one end is lower than the other.

Btw, check that Paulsboro site I linked earlier (http://www.paulsbororesponse.com/news-updates ) because they keep updating it.

Yesterday crews from Weeks Marine were removing bridge pilings in order to be able to more easily maneuver that 150-ton crane into position to start removing derailed cars. There are a several new photos posted on the Paulsboro response page.
  by Freddy
I've got a question. Do some of ya'll think that the infrastructure on the railroad is really that bad, or just certain roads? Reason I ask is that when I was a maintainer there was ALWAYS a
gang working somewhere. If it wasn't a CAT Gang(Continueous Action Tamper), then it would be a regular surfacing gang and if it wasn't that it'd be a tie or rail gang.
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