The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

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Rockingham Racer
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The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Rockingham Racer » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:09 pm

I just received an email from the FRA about preventive actions MNRR needs to take in light of last week's accident: In part, it reads:
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EO 29 requires Metro-North to provide the FRA with a list of main track locations where there is a reduction of more than 20 mph in the maximum authorized passenger train speed by December 10, 2013. Further, Metro-North is ordered to identify appropriate modifications to its existing automatic train control system or other signal systems to enable adequate advance warning of and adherence to such speed restrictions. These modifications will help prevent another over-the-speed-limit event if a locomotive engineer fails to take actions to appropriately slow or stop a passenger train.

In the meantime, Metro-North is ordered to operate trains with two qualified train crew members in the controlling locomotive cab or passenger car control compartment at the locations where speed limits change by 20 mph or more until the signal work at these locations is complete. Additionally, the railroad must submit to the FRA for approval an Action Plan that ensures the safety of its operations for passengers and employees by December 31. The plan must contain target dates and milestones for implementing necessary signal system modifications.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:20 pm

I think this come as no surprise. This will drastically change how trains operate on MN.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by lirr42 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:25 pm

This is the whole FRA order here: http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/details/L04879

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Patrick Boylan » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:43 pm

Other than the fact that this accident happened on Metro North, why does the emergency order apply only to Metro North? Is there something that other operations are doing that makes their spots with speed limits more than 20 mph lower than the maximum safer than Metro North's?

What constitutes a qualified 2nd crew member? Does that mean a 2nd engineer? Do they even have enough engineers to have 2 on every train, even if it were possible to have that 2nd person only on board to pilot ride the front end through the low speed limit spot, then hop off and take another train back the other way?

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Fri Dec 06, 2013 2:56 pm

Patrick Boylan wrote:Other than the fact that this accident happened on Metro North, why does the emergency order apply only to Metro North? Is there something that other operations are doing that makes their spots with speed limits more than 20 mph lower than the maximum safer than Metro North's?

What constitutes a qualified 2nd crew member? Does that mean a 2nd engineer? Do they even have enough engineers to have 2 on every train, even if it were possible to have that 2nd person only on board to pilot ride the front end through the low speed limit spot, then hop off and take another train back the other way?


A qualified member could be either a conductor or engineer. An assistant conductor is not qualified on the physical characteristics.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tommy Meehan » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:15 pm

This will undoubtedly change how MNR operates. How does Metro-North accomplish this? On a train out of GCT where the locomotive is leading into Spuyten Duyvil. A bomb train that maybe makes Yonkers first? Stop at Spike so the conductor can go up to the cab? Or will they walk from the head car through the unit?

Does this mean MUs too?

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Steamboat Willie » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:27 pm

Clean Cab, I disagree with what you said about AC's. Plenty of qualified guys working as either AC's or brakeman.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Jersey_Mike » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:38 pm

Well anywhere MNRR doesn't want to make signal system changes they can simply step down the timetable speed in 19mph increments.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by ExCon90 » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:43 pm

The order states "Metro-North is ordered to operate trains ..." Does this mean Amtrak and SLE are exempt? Metro-North hosts those trains but doesn't operate them.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:54 pm

Steamboat Willie wrote:Clean Cab, I disagree with what you said about AC's. Plenty of qualified guys working as either AC's or brakeman.



That is true. I was referring to assistant conductors who have not been qualified as conductors.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:55 pm

ExCon90 wrote:The order states "Metro-North is ordered to operate trains ..." Does this mean Amtrak and SLE are exempt? Metro-North hosts those trains but doesn't operate them.


I thin it means any train operating on MN territory.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Tadman » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:56 pm

Patrick Boylan wrote:Other than the fact that this accident happened on Metro North, why does the emergency order apply only to Metro North? Is there something that other operations are doing that makes their spots with speed limits more than 20 mph lower than the maximum safer than Metro North's?

What constitutes a qualified 2nd crew member? Does that mean a 2nd engineer? Do they even have enough engineers to have 2 on every train, even if it were possible to have that 2nd person only on board to pilot ride the front end through the low speed limit spot, then hop off and take another train back the other way?


What he said. 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 don't like this, it's government grandstanding. Meanwhile, we're going to have another tragic accident in a few years because we didn't address the root cause. Reminds me of the PTC mandate. Crash caused by texting? Mandate a billion dollar technology that doesn't exist! God forbid we address the root cause and ban texting/cell usage and enforce the rules like we enforce rules about operating under the influence.

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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by Clean Cab » Fri Dec 06, 2013 3:59 pm

Tommy Meehan wrote:This will undoubtedly change how MNR operates. How does Metro-North accomplish this? On a train out of GCT where the locomotive is leading into Spuyten Duyvil. A bomb train that maybe makes Yonkers first? Stop at Spike so the conductor can go up to the cab? Or will they walk from the head car through the unit?

Does this mean MUs too?


The restriction is for trains that encounter a 20 MPH change in speed. A northbound Hudson Line train would not encounter that.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by ryanov » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:10 pm

Tadman wrote:I don't like this, it's government grandstanding. Meanwhile, we're going to have another tragic accident in a few years because we didn't address the root cause. Reminds me of the PTC mandate. Crash caused by texting? Mandate a billion dollar technology that doesn't exist! God forbid we address the root cause and ban texting/cell usage and enforce the rules like we enforce rules about operating under the influence.

The root cause for MetroLink was "trains are not prevented from crashing into one another." Cell phones are not the root cause, they are just one means of distraction. As proven by this incident, there are many different ways to be distracted, and PTC would have prevented all of them if it works as demanded. In fact, they even address the root cause here by saying "fix your signaling system to prevent this, and use a second set of eyes in the meantime at these locations." So government grandstanding? You haven't provided any evidence of that whatsoever. Maybe it's overkill for the amount of risk, but there's no question that it will save lives if properly implemented.
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Re: The FRA takes action after Spuyten Duvyil accident

Post by dcmike » Fri Dec 06, 2013 4:24 pm

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.

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