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 lensovet
 
Nasadowsk wrote:
RR Safety wrote:The NTSB has been pushing for automatic stop technology for 10 years, and even more so these last 5 years, but have come up against train industry executives and their lobbyists. The big question is whether they will use this event as a platform to make a big push for such technology or whether they will push is some other 'lower cost' safety direction.
Congress already made their push - the new legislation that passed, and I believe was even signed, requires PTC on lines meeting certain requirements (passenger rail, being one of them), by 2015 or so.

Now we get to see if a standard technology gets adopted, or if every RR does their own, thus duplicating the mess that lead Europe to ETMS...

Bold prediction: After a few years of kicking and screaming, the industry will move forward, then suddenly realize the safety advantages far outweigh the initial costs, and adopt whatever standard everywhere. Especially given how the cost will certainly drop fast - electronics just don't stay expensive very long these days.
good for congress.

i was just thinking about how few industries we have that actually innovate anything. consider the auto industry's resistance to mandated seat belts, catalytic converters, etc. consider the "progress" of railroad equipment in the US over the last 50 years – apart from new emissions requirements (mandated by the gvmt) and crash test standards (also mandated by the gvmt), how has rail equipment improved? and the attempt at making the PL42AC into a less-mechanical beast, with computers throughout, proved to be a total failure.

compare the computer industry on the other hand, especially companies like apple. constant innovation with pretty much no government intervention.

the US railroad industry needs to wake up, stop whining, crying, and complaining, and get the ball rolling on modern, convenient, and useful mass transportation for this country. we certainly deserve it.
  by icgsteve
 
lensovet wrote: the US railroad industry needs to wake up, stop whining, crying, and complaining, and get the ball rolling on modern, convenient, and useful mass transportation for this country. we certainly deserve it.
The RR industry has been whining since the mid sixties, it has worked very well for them, why would they change now?
  by Erie-Lackawanna
 
lensovet wrote:[T]he US railroad industry needs to wake up, stop whining, crying, and complaining, and get the ball rolling on modern, convenient, and useful mass transportation for this country. [W]e certainly deserve it.
US railroads are not in business to provide modern, convenient and useful mass transportation in the sense most people understand the term "modern transportation" (i.e., passenger train service). They're in business to efficiently and safely move freight, and return a profit to their shareholders. They do this very well, in a modern, efficient and generally safe manner. Is there room for improvement on the safety level? Sure. I'll go along with that.

If your belief is that the US deserves passenger rail service on a par with that found in Europe, then you are tilting at the wrong windmill. Please direct your tilting at the windmill in Washington, DC. Such passenger service is something that the government must provide - and pay for. It is not for the private, for-profit freight railroads to provide at their own expense. The US railroad industry is not responsible for fulfilling that function, and any effort to force that upon them should rightly be met by whining, crying and complaining - and a lawsuit.

Jim
  by concordgirl
 
I agree there's a big opportunity here for rr's to grow, due to the economy and gas prices. The demand for commuter and freight services has gone way up compared to what it was 5 or 10 year ago. But safety features are just one part of making that happen. Maybe out west it is different, but in New England, where I am, there are a lot of issues abt expansion of existing lines vs. neighborhoods that do not want the rr in their backyard. It's a battle even when people WANT more commuter service, the Greenbush line on our commuter rail is a good example. I personally would love to see more trains (duh ;-) ) I think for nationwide expansion in service to happen, the fed would have to get involved in some way, even if only to solve ROW issues.

Can I ask a dumb question? Would PTC definitely, for sure, have prevented this crash? I'm not familiar enough w what it is to know....
  by ExCon90
 
Regarding Concordgirl's question about Positive Train Control, I have never seen anything that spells out exactly how it would work in the Chatsworth situation, in which the collision occurred something like (I believe) 20 seconds after the Metrolink train overran the stop signal at around 40 mph. What would have greatly mitigated the impact would have been a system of cab signals and automatic speed control like that in effect on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor. Developed in the 1930s by the Pennsylvania Railroad, it uses coded track circuits which, in approach to a stop signal, require a reduction to 30 mph upon passing the previous signal (displaying Approach). At a point (called the Code Change Point), I think about 500 yards, but I'm not certain) prior to reaching the home signal at stop, the code is removed from the track, resulting in a "restricting" indication on the cab signal, which requires an immediate reduction to 15 mph. Most likely, if such a system had been in place at Chatsworth, the cab signal would have dropped to 45 mph at the flashing yellow distant to BERNSON, enforcing a reduction to that speed, and then to 30 mph at BERNSON, the east end of the siding (or two main tracks, whichever it is), enforcing a reduction to 30. At the code change point (between the station and the westward home signal at TOPANGA, the cab signal would have dropped to 15 mph, and failure of the engineer to apply the brakes within six seconds would have resulted in a penalty brake application which might have stopped the train before it even reached the home signal. Of course, the UP train was properly proceeding under a valid signal indication, so the impact would still have occurred, but (if the UP train, as I recall, was proceeding at 27 mph) at a combined speed of 27 plus 15 or less instead of what actually took place. If anyone knows exactly whether any of the proposed PTC systems would be able to stop, in less than 20 seconds, a train passing a stop signal at 15 mph, I would certainly like to know the details. Of course, nothing would have stopped the freight train in any case since it had every right to be where it was and was proceeding at a permissible speed (I'm assuming here that the turnout at TOPANGA is good for 30 mph). I believe New Jersey Transit has an automatic-train-stop feature which actually stops the train, but I don't know whether it does so before the train passes the signal. fwiw

ExCon90
  by Erie-Lackawanna
 
In the example cited by ExCon90, if, after making the appropriate speed reductions in accordance with the cab signal aspects, the engineer of the passenger train still passed the stop signal, the track circuit to the advance of the stop signal would have dropped, which would have caused the cab signal in the freight train's locomotive to drop to restricting. While the freight train probably would not have been able to completely stop in the short time available, the speed would have been reduced significantly by the time the two trains came together.

Jim
  by DutchRailnut
 
With Cab signal speed control the train would have stopped before the signal, because either the engineer had complied or if no compliance the speed control would have stopped the train.
so the accident would not have happened, could the train have passed the red signal ??? yes if the speed were below 15 mph and engineer is not alert , but how many engineers are not alert at restricted speed.
yes ACES would have stopped the train, even if the engineer did nothing and before the signal.
The only system that would not have stopped the train in safe area would have been ATSF type ATS.

just to clarify the alphabet soup ;

ATS = automatic train stop, two systems one is ATSF type trainstop with the skate, other ATS is stop function of cabsignal/speed control, the penalty magnetvalve.

ATC = automatic train control is a system that forces speed control in a cab signal system.

ATO = automatic train operation, a system as used by BART but not on any FRA approved lines or systems.
  by concordgirl
 
DutchRailnut wrote:
just to clarify the alphabet soup ;

ATS = automatic train stop, two systems one is ATSF type trainstop with the skate, other ATS is stop function of cabsignal/speed control, the penalty magnetvalve.

ATC = automatic train control is a system that forces speed control in a cab signal system.

ATO = automatic train operation, a system as used by BART but not on any FRA approved lines or systems.
thanks Dutch :-) It can be a little overwhelming trying to keep all of those straight. The easy part is the T, I always know what THAT stands for.... lol! Sorry, bad joke, couldn't resist ;-)

I have more questions but I don't wanna go further ot.... I will find a forum where they talk abt this stuff more :)
  by DutchRailnut
 
nope
  by WSH
 
Hey for us on the East Coast has there been any news regarding the Metrolink/UP head on crash?

The admin's locked the thread on it and I haven't heard anything since then.

Thanks,
  by ExCon90
 
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.

ExCon90
  by Jtgshu
 
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.

ExCon90
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.
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