ExCon90 wrote:I saw a report (I think on Trains newswire) that the investigators have now established that the westward home signal at TOPANGA (the west end of the siding at Chatsworth) has a defective red aspect in that the yellow and green are clearly visible whereas the red is very dim. The story points out that this does not exonerate the engineer since there is a well established rule that a signal indication imperfectly displayed is to be treated as the most restrictive indication that can be displayed by that signal; i.e., in this case, Stop. The report supposedly came from an "informal" source and may not have been officially released.
Thats very interesting.
There is a link on the Trainorders post to a website that discusses false proceeds
http://www.ironwoodtech.com/researchcen ... oceeds.htm
Now, someone might say "that can't happen" - well this website is full of real life examples of "it" really happening and goes very detailed into the description of the incident. Things that shouldn't or can't happen, happen all the time.
Now, Im not saying the signal was an instance of a false proceed or a failure of the signal system or anything like that. However, it is not uncommon to not be able to make out what a signal is showing because of the sun most times, but also glare, obstructions, closeness to signal, etc.
On a bright sunny day, mostly during the middle of the day, it can be hard to see the signals, and also especially when the sun is setting or rising and sunrays are hitting the front of the signal. We call it a "wash-out" - "the signal is washed out, I can't clearly see it"
If a signal is unable to be made out, the engineer is supposed to stop and get verbal permission by the signal, just as if there was signal failure or whatever (Rule 241 in NORAC - verbal permission past a signal) However, is was non-cabsignaled territory and that level of rundancy is lacking.
He could have been able to make out the approach signal clearly, and then made his station stop. However, maybe he thought he saw a different signal at the home signal at Topanga. If he thought he had a better than stop signal (Im not sure the kind if signals used at that location), and thought he saw a different, proceed signal, he could have proceeded and accelorated out of the station. If this is the case, it could have happpened if he was texting or not ....*GASP!*
Think of when you are driving your car and you pull up to a traffic light and its damn near impossible to see what light is on, the green, yellow or red. Its the same thing with RR signals, except you don't have 3 or 4 or more other traffic lights that you could use to see if you could see any of the ohter ones better.....you got one, that is probably poorly focused, meaning that you can see it from far back, but as you get closer, you no longer can make out which light is on. Not to mention, your mind and eyes can play tricks on you and make it look like the light bulb just came on or has been on. The newer LED signals are much better with this, but they bring other, different problems.
I have said from the very beginning, there is MUCH more to this than just text messaging. While I personally don't think that the engineer did it on purpose....aka suicide, sure, its a possibilty, but as a locomotive engineer myself, there are so many different things that would have to happen (which did unfortunately in the Metrolink Crash) for him to actually be certain that he would have been successful (meaning killing himself) that it would have been VERY difficult, and I think that it is not an issue, and wasn't a cause for the crash.
The answer may never be fully known as to what happened, but I don't think that text messaging was a sole factor. It maybe have been a contributing factor, but not the main reason for the crash. And while PTC can (if installed correctly) be a good thing, I hope its not a useless (and very expensive) knee jerk reaction, and if anyone thinks that with PTC all accidents and deaths are gonna stop after PTC is fully installed, they are unfortunately sorely mistaken.