• Passengers stranded on MARC train for hours

  • Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.
Discussion related to DC area passenger rail services from Northern Virginia to Baltimore, MD. Includes Light Rail and Baltimore Subway.

Moderators: mtuandrew, therock, Robert Paniagua

  by davinp
 
Yesterday, a MARC train broke down after leaving Union Station.

An MTA spokesperson told ABC 7 earlier Monday these trains can have problems in the heat and temperatures were around 90 degrees. I guess it what using an locomotive.

What I don't understand is why the train can't operate without electricty. VRE has sometimes let trains run "dark" - that is without lights and AC, if they are unable to get the HEP working, to prevent a major delay. Last week Train #307 had diffculties with the HEP, but they were able to fix it at Crystal City. And of course, VRE conductors made announcements, whereas last night MARC conductors did not when the power failed.

http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0610/748135.html
  by electricron
 
I can't believe MARC trains can't work properly in 90 degrees heat. DART and the TRE don't have problems when outside temperatures exceed 100 degrees.
  by dt_rt40
 
More to the "mark" (LOL) the 186mph AVE trains in Spain don't break down in temperatures than regularly reach 40C/104F.
As I said in another post, this really shouldn't be 'rocket science'. 90F is really not that hot compared to 80F. Clearly the HHP-8s weren't design with adequate cooling for our climate. Surprise, surprise, after all Bombardier/Alstom screwed up several things on Acela on the first try, too. (can anybody say yaw dampers?) Or perhaps MARC/Amtrak hasn't maintained some aspect of their thermal systems. Whatever the case, MARC has a public relations disaster on their hands.
  by DutchRailnut
 
Lets put things in perspective, HHP's or any other locomotive do fail, as does your car. when ?? in extreem situations like heat or cold.
Why because Air does not like cold and any thing that needs cooling does not like heat.
A simply critical part overheating for example transformer cooling fans will shut down a locomotive, including HEP as it comes of same tansformer.
Its not Amtrak, or MARC or Bombardiers faults, its just a case of s**t happens.
  by octr202
 
There's a statement from MARC up on their website:

http://www.mta.maryland.gov/services/ma ... 1_2010.cfm
Our understanding of the sequence of events is that the locomotive lost power near New
Carrollton which triggered an automatic braking procedure. A rescue locomotive was
dispatched and attempted to connect to Train 538 to pull it back to Union Station. Although
the connection was successful, crews were still not able to release the brakes on the disabled
train. All but 100 passengers were able to transfer to another MARC Train, and the remaining
passengers transferred to a southbound train.
This answered one of my questions from the news reports - wondering why the train couldn't be moved one way or the other. My initial thought was how could their not be at least a switcher or yard crew at Ivy City that could either shove the dead train into New Carrollton, or two it back to DC, so folks could at least exit the train safely and quickly. I've been on my share of disabled trains on the MBTA/MBCR, but fortunately I've never encountered this brake issue on one of them (perhaps our equipment is just too old). For us, it's just usually a matter of the following train shoving the whole mess some or all of the way in.

Unfortunately for MARC and Amtrak, this even made the news up here in Mass. It's not just a black eye locally.
  by x-press
 
DutchRailnut wrote:Lets put things in perspective, HHP's or any other locomotive do fail, as does your car. when ?? in extreem situations like heat or cold.
Why because Air does not like cold and any thing that needs cooling does not like heat.
A simply critical part overheating for example transformer cooling fans will shut down a locomotive, including HEP as it comes of same tansformer.
Its not Amtrak, or MARC or Bombardiers faults, its just a case of s**t happens.
Bull.

I could almost set my watch to some apologist coming in and vouching for the railroad, even though MARC's mechanical problems have been widely reported throughout the Baltimore-DC region.

According to this morning's Sun, passengers eventually started removing emergency windows as the train's temperature climbed after about two hours without power, after conductors insisted on closing doors. Of course, I expect you'll say that the conductors were right all along, and that the passengers should have been arrested on sight for trying to survive; we'll see if Amtrak, MARC and the FRA's investigation into this (also reported this morning) agree.

PS: Next time my 8 year old car breaks down, it will be the first. If your's breaks down a lot, get a new one.
  by HokieNav
 
DutchRailnut wrote:Lets put things in perspective, HHP's or any other locomotive do fail, as does your car. when ?? in extreem situations like heat or cold.
Why because Air does not like cold and any thing that needs cooling does not like heat.
A simply critical part overheating for example transformer cooling fans will shut down a locomotive, including HEP as it comes of same tansformer.
Its not Amtrak, or MARC or Bombardiers faults, its just a case of s**t happens.
Sorry, but you're wrong again. The high temperature was only 92 degrees - it was slightly warmer than average, but nowhere near unusual or extreme. Also, there weren't any reports of massive numbers of cars breaking down (and my own worked just fine).

Nice try.
  by DutchRailnut
 
Your car is not having half the mileage the MARC HHP-8's have on them.
And your car does not have to haul bi levels in 4th gear.
The HHP-8 is not a commuter locomotive, its a long distance hauler with way to high a gearing.
  by HokieNav
 
You're the one that said that it was extreme heat and cars do the same thing, Dutch. I'd be inclined to agree with you that commuter service was not what these guys are best suited to do. That's the exact opposite of "s**t happens" and the blame falls squarely on MARC and Amtrak for not using the right tools for the job.
  by electricron
 
O'Malley plans MARC train ride
http://voices.washingtonpost.com/local- ... ide-1.html
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley (D) will ride a MARC train from the Baltimore area to New Carrollton on Thursday morning to talk with passengers about improving the commuter rail line after a breakdown Monday evening that stranded 900 people in a train without air conditioning in the sweltering late afternoon heat, a spokesman said Wednesday.
O'Malley has called Amtrak's handling of the breakdown "unacceptable." Amtrak operates MARC for the Maryland Transit Administration.
The electric locomotive on the Penn Line's train 538 broke down Monday at 6:23 p.m., shortly after it pulled out of Union Station, MARC officials said. The locomotive's jammed brakes prevented the train from being pulled by another locomotive, they said. Some passengers spent more than three hours on the train when outside temperatures hovered at 90 degrees, requiring passengers to remove windows via emergency latches when the heat inside became unbearable, passengers said.
Ten passengers were treated for heat-related symptoms, including dizziness, nausea and breathing problems. Three of them were taken to a nearby hospital.

My opinion:
If Amtrak has any ideas they could win the "operating" contracts for the Brunswick and Camden lines, they should forget it after this self-inflicted fiasco.
  by twropr
 
Anyone know the engine number? Wonder if it might be the same one that broke down pulling train #538 on June 4?

Andy
  by BuddSilverliner269
 
Ron, you never cease to amaze me. Almost everyone who has chimed in here has no railroading experience whatsoever. The HHP locomotive was disabled and its pantagraph dropped. No power ,no ac. The train was disabled about 2 miles south of Landover interlocking which is about another mile from New Carrolton station. I was acela 2165 and heard what was going on. I had to stop next to a sb Marc local, pick up a technician, and drop him off alongside the train. While this was going on, a Marc diesel was coupling up from behind to try to get the train moving. I heard the train dispatcher tell the train crew to open all side doors to allow some circulation of the air. Although this whole situation could've been handled worst, I think amtrak did the best that it could. Was amtrak suppose to tie up the railroad anymore then it was? It WAS rush hour afterall and there is only 2 tracks in that stretch. Marc has bosses at Union station that I do see, and they couldn't rectify the problem? Why was a train not brought alongside to pick up the passengers? Probably it was due to the fact it was rush hour and I have been involved with quite a few train to train transfers and they could take up to an hour. So the train crews didn't suffer since they were stuck on this same train? I'm no apoligist, but I am a realist and a rail employee so I understand the kind of effort that it takes to fix these problems. I find it odd that you think or assume that amtrak doesn't know how to handle what happened and some other companies can do better? Many railroads fail in this category and if you say otherwise, you're a liar. During the winter, every railroad had problems and many shut down, but the NEC kept running whereas NS and csx were basically shut down. This is just more buff banter on let's blame amtrak for everything.
  by x-press
 
BuddSilverliner269 wrote:Ron, you never cease to amaze me. Almost everyone who has chimed in here has no railroading experience whatsoever. The HHP locomotive was disabled and its pantagraph dropped. No power ,no ac. The train was disabled about 2 miles south of Landover interlocking which is about another mile from New Carrolton station. I was acela 2165 and heard what was going on. I had to stop next to a sb Marc local, pick up a technician, and drop him off alongside the train. While this was going on, a Marc diesel was coupling up from behind to try to get the train moving. I heard the train dispatcher tell the train crew to open all side doors to allow some circulation of the air. Although this whole situation could've been handled worst, I think amtrak did the best that it could. Was amtrak suppose to tie up the railroad anymore then it was? It WAS rush hour afterall and there is only 2 tracks in that stretch. Marc has bosses at Union station that I do see, and they couldn't rectify the problem? Why was a train not brought alongside to pick up the passengers? Probably it was due to the fact it was rush hour and I have been involved with quite a few train to train transfers and they could take up to an hour. So the train crews didn't suffer since they were stuck on this same train? I'm no apoligist, but I am a realist and a rail employee so I understand the kind of effort that it takes to fix these problems. I find it odd that you think or assume that amtrak doesn't know how to handle what happened and some other companies can do better? Many railroads fail in this category and if you say otherwise, you're a liar. During the winter, every railroad had problems and many shut down, but the NEC kept running whereas NS and csx were basically shut down. This is just more buff banter on let's blame amtrak for everything.
Budd,

I have seen your posts for some time, and you have always struck me as a straight shooter, and a good person. It is dismaying to see you take this position. People cannot be trapped on a sealed transportation device in 90+ degree heat for 2+ hours, PERIOD. I do have a bit of railroad experience through my job as a civil engineer, but "railroad experience" has NOTHING to do with it! It is unacceptable when airlines do it, and it's unacceptable when railroads (Amtrak or otherwise) do it. The order you heard to "open all doors" was a good one, but every report I've heard from reputable news sources suggest that it was either too little, too late, or not obeyed! If Amtrak delayed a rescue train because of "rush hour," (I'm not saying they did, I'm just responding to your suggestion), then that was a BIG mistake. It is absolutely better to tie up the main line for an hour (or more) than to take the health risk of people in suffocating heat! The other delayed trains will at least have climate-control.

And what about all these breakdowns? It is WAY out of line, and has been reported so both by the media and the railroad (MARC) itself! Shame on WHOEVER'S responsible! Shame on MARC for the motive power situation, or the companies that built them, or the Amtrak crews who maintain them, or all of the above!

I don't have a horse in the race as far as who's responsible, but someone has to be held accountable, and something has to change so it doesn't happen again. The whole $*it happens, don't complain unless you're a professional railroader HAS to go!

Jon
  by Jersey_Mike
 
The proper solution to this mess would have been to tow the trainset back to WAS using whatever power was at hand. You don't do a train-to-train transfer when the stalled trainset is only a few miles from its initial terminal. Amtrak CTEC management is notoriously bad at handling these sorts of situations. There was a similar event a few months ago where an Amtrak train leaving DC died in the same location and the dispatcher's suggestion to use a southbound Regional to push the stalled train back to DC was overruled in favor of 1) a time consuming train-to-train transfer and 2) summoning a rescue engine from Wilmington to deal with the dead trainset.

The problem stems from the fact that once one train is seriously delayed it's basically written off as statistically an hour late is the same as two hours late. This causes management to try to limit the damage to a single train, even if the damage becomes increasingly severe. The other problem is general risk aversion in the face of unorthodox solutions. If one is thinking outside the box and a second or third problem occurs the manager will get in trouble for their creativity, while if they adopt more standard solutions they will not get in trouble even if those solutions screw over passengers.
  by HokieNav
 
Jersey_Mike wrote:The proper solution to this mess would have been to tow the trainset back to WAS using whatever power was at hand.
They tried, the locked brakes made it impossible.
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