Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

Moderator: lensovet

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  by MBTA F40PH-2C 1050
 
Here is a picture that was sent to me. It is taken on the NEC from the headend of a Regional train and it goes to show that signals can show crazy aspects, but are very very very rare, like a fellow poster has said
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  by jb9152
 
DutchRailnut wrote:Your correct Mr Sanchez was engineer for over 10 years, and not a newbee, As for Metrolink not enforcing the rules, including phones and electronic devises I stand by my statement.
And you have how many years working at Metrolink again? How many times, as a Metrolink engineer, were you efficiency tested to be able to make that statement? And please don't tell me "Oh, I know a guy who works there." We all do.
DutchRailnut wrote:Safety is a joke on railroads, and I stand by my statement .
Is it a joke where you work, Dutch? It's not where I work. Anyway, that's a pretty broad statement to make.
DutchRailnut wrote:These days its a norm to be ordered out of town or to continou without restrictions with locomotives not fit for service, by operations manager with less than a year on railroad.
3 inch flatspot , no restrictions.
Cab signal fault, not in his eyes.
The stories about dispatchers telling crews to call or even engineers to call continou even after Metrolink's crash.
It's the "norm", huh? And which operations manager with less than a year on the railroad do you suppose told Mr. Sanchez that it was OK to be sending text messages while running his train, in direct and willfull violation of GCOR?

Look, I know this hits close to home, but trying to blame this on some one year wonder manager doesn't fly, in my book. And I think it's pretty irresponsible for you to try to link the two somehow, and tell everyone how "unsafe" the railroad is. Is your train unsafe, Dutch? Are the trains run by any of your co-workers unsafe?

Please.
  by Jtgshu
 
Getting back to the whole signal thing.............

The following is a pic someone sent to me from Railpictures.net

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 489&nseq=3

The locos are heading AWAY from the Photographer, and would have already passed under the signal.

While the locos are light, there are 2, with at least 1 being a 6 axle loco - there SHOULDN'T be any problem shunting the signal system. Yes, it could have been a slow relay dropping the signal after the train passed, but even so, thats is a LONG time beofre this signal dropped. (if it did at all, the photog never stated)

Now, what my point is, is that signals aren't fool proof - and It doens't matter what the "download" of the signal shows, it might show that it was working as intended, but "false proceeds" can and do happen. A down load of this signal in this pic would probably show it was working "as intended". But what would happen if it was a home/absolute signal? It would be "working as intended," but is it really? Id be very curious as to what the download of that signal on the top of this page would show.

Another thing I wonder is that signal at CP Topanga, did it have regular bulbs or LED lights in the signal? I have seen LEDs that are out/off but with residual energy in them, allowing them to be on, some more than others (espeicially if they have capacitors so they can blink and not be instant on/off, but rather fade -they don't always fade all the way). Ive seen it with traffic lights in my cars and lots of other things......
  by jb9152
 
Jtgshu wrote:Getting back to the whole signal thing.............

The following is a pic someone sent to me from Railpictures.net

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.p ... 489&nseq=3

The locos are heading AWAY from the Photographer, and would have already passed under the signal.

While the locos are light, there are 2, with at least 1 being a 6 axle loco - there SHOULDN'T be any problem shunting the signal system. Yes, it could have been a slow relay dropping the signal after the train passed, but even so, thats is a LONG time beofre this signal dropped. (if it did at all, the photog never stated)

Now, what my point is, is that signals aren't fool proof - and It doens't matter what the "download" of the signal shows, it might show that it was working as intended, but "false proceeds" can and do happen. A down load of this signal in this pic would probably show it was working "as intended". But what would happen if it was a home/absolute signal? It would be "working as intended," but is it really? Id be very curious as to what the download of that signal on the top of this page would show.

Another thing I wonder is that signal at CP Topanga, did it have regular bulbs or LED lights in the signal? I have seen LEDs that are out/off but with residual energy in them, allowing them to be on, some more than others (espeicially if they have capacitors so they can blink and not be instant on/off, but rather fade -they don't always fade all the way). Ive seen it with traffic lights in my cars and lots of other things......
It's an interesting possibility, and would certainly be a logical way to explain the Metrolink engineer's failure to apply brakes (although that one still baffles me - he had to see the freight coming, even at a 60-odd mph closing speed...unless he had his head down, looking at a cell phone - that is actually the one explanation that seems to fit the circumstances). But it also might be a stretch, too. The number of things that would have to go wrong, including a virtual re-wiring (or software re-write) of the interlocking control circuitry, is staggering. This would not simply be a case of "failure to shunt". If the switch points were lined against the Metrolink train (which, to all appearances, they were), then there are a whole lot of things that would have had to go wrong to display a Clear at the home signal. Sadly, I think the most logical conclusion is that the engineer was distracted/inattentive (which explains the lack of brake application, even with a freight train bearing down), and the recollection of the witnesses is simply wrong.
  by Jtgshu
 
Sure, that is the obvious explaination, that he was texting and distracted and just failed to heed the signals.

As well as Im sure texting played a role, probably a signficant role, in the incident.

However, there are other possibilities, and you raise good questions jb, and a good point, he must have had his head down texting.

But he would have had to really have had his head down and texting at the same time while coming up to and then passing the approach signal, and kept his head down or ONLY focused with "tunnel vision" on his station stop, and while doing that, not looking up or down the railroad at the stop signal right ahead of him. Making station stops does become "second nature" after a while, and it is a possibility that he never looked "past" the station stop to see the stop signal. however, how could he have not looked up and seen the stop signal at any point in his approach to the station, during the station stop, accelorating out of the station and then blowing by it? Thats the part I have a question about........

he had been running this line for years, and its not like he didn't know the interlocking was up there (got lost) - even the most complacent engineer pays attention every once in a while.......

again, im not trying to argue with those here or the NTSB or the downloads and recording of equipment and signals, etc. But there are a few major things that simply don't make any sense in my head with regard to this incident. As has been proven time and time again, the "obvious" factor (easy answer) is not always the major factor.

Like I have said before, "things that shouldn't happen happen all the time"
  by rwallace2fan1
 
Don't know if this has been covered yet or not, but I would be very surprised if the METROLINK engine did not have a camera in it. That would rule out any signal malfuntions, wouldn't it?
  by DutchRailnut
 
The Metrolink engine did not have a camera, only the UP engine did.
  by concordgirl
 
I thought Dutch already said signal malfunction was very rarely found to be the cause of accidents.... Not to say it's not possible, even preferable, as it would make me feel better knowing it was something beyond the engineer's control, and I personally am learning cool stuff in this discussion :-) But are we potentially in the realm of the guy on a grassy knoll shooting JFK at this point?
  by DutchRailnut
 
Signal anomalies do happen, but they hardly result to accidents, and most of time are recorded by black box, or can be recreated, most of the time.
They hardly ever happen without proof, sometimes they can not be re-created , but its not claimed they do not exist.

In my opinion the theory of the false proceed, would have to be accompanied by a false proceed on the signal that should have shown the approach.
So now we need to investigate two signals at fault, which would mean the signal logic.
The logic is recorded and a fault would have shown.
The NTSB investigation did not show any signal or electrical problems in either signal, or the logic circuitry in the signal box.
  by 3rdrail
 
I'll be willing to bet that somewhere there is a camera that shot the signals at the critical times. If the UP locomotive had a forward facing camera and the signal was in view, albeit turned around from the camera, spectrum analysis can bring out the color of refractive light into the atmosphere, even in the daytime. Also, satellite and security cameras are a possibility, but it sounds from these posts as if the device's event recorders should be sufficient.
  by DutchRailnut
 
The accident happened 1800 feet past signal in a curve, so no camera caught the signals,
plus signals are designed to only shine in direction from where they are to be seen , (lens and hood).
  by Jtgshu
 
concordgirl wrote:I thought Dutch already said signal malfunction was very rarely found to be the cause of accidents.... Not to say it's not possible, even preferable, as it would make me feel better knowing it was something beyond the engineer's control, and I personally am learning cool stuff in this discussion :-) But are we potentially in the realm of the guy on a grassy knoll shooting JFK at this point?
Close, but I think we are actually in the realm of, for lack of a better phrase, the "railroad equivalent" which would be the still unsolved Central RR of NJ crash in 1958 where the train went off the open drawbridge with no brake application. As I said in a post way back in this discussion, there are LOTS of similarities, including the timeframe, which was almost 50 years to the day.......

Not necessarily Dutch, with regard to the second signal - he might have seen the Approach, and then figured the signal came up when he saw the home signal (if it was indeed displaying a false proceed). That could be why he didn't call the signal out, because he thought he saw the home signal come up. That happens all the time, with the dispatcher bringing the signal up when you pass the distant signal (the appraoch) - the distant signal is the automatic before the home/absolute signal for anyone who doesn't know.

And IF the signal lights were LEDs, "stray voltage" for lack of a better word could have kept the LEDs lit without showing on the download of the signal. Remember, LEDs require a very small amount of energy to light up.

Im not being an apologist here or trying to make up excuses for the now deceased Metrolink Engineer, just for the record. Im just bringing up a few things that aren't out of the realm of possibility of things that COULD happen, which I see could be "poohpooh'ed away" because of the "easy" answer of "he was text messaging and thats what caused the crash."
  by 3rdrail
 
No avenue of investigation should be ignored. It would be interesting based upon the time elements of the text messaging that Sanchez sent and received to conduct an experiment to indicate the minimum time that his focus would have to be away from what he was supposed to have been doing. You could use multiple persons to get an average, and that, by itself, might possibly indicate minimal time to watch for signals.
  by concordgirl
 
Jtgshu wrote: Im not being an apologist here or trying to make up excuses for the now deceased Metrolink Engineer, just for the record. Im just bringing up a few things that aren't out of the realm of possibility of things that COULD happen, which I see could be "poohpooh'ed away" because of the "easy" answer of "he was text messaging and thats what caused the crash."

That 1958 crash sounds really interesting, I'm going to look that up now ;-) As for the rest of it, I actually don't think texting is the easy answer-- I never did. I was pretty surprised when the NTSB issued that preliminary report, because I really thought they'd find multiple causes. Texting just seemed like too dumb of a reason for such a big crash. I do think at this point that it's the most likely cause, though, and I think maybe the NTSB would have been more cautious about saying what they've said, if they had found a shred of contradictory evidence.

Here's a question idk if anyone on here can answer. Do we know exactly what types of experiments or reconstructions they run when they are investigating a major crash? In other words, what protocols do they follow with regard to exploring issues like this signal debate?
  by 3rdrail
 
It's a process of elimination whereby you attempt to prove a positive. When you find a negative, you follow it to see where it leads. No two investigations are the same.
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