• Tropical Storm Ida damage, floods, etc

  • Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.
Discussion related to New Jersey Transit rail and light rail operations.

Moderators: lensovet, nick11a, Kaback9

  by twropr
 
In connection with the Bridgewater incident, RVL train 5451 was involved. The engineer saw that Middle Brook was overflowing and stopped, but too late.
A worse incident took place with NJT NY-Trenton train 3881 went into emergency about 1/2 mile east of Newark Airport Station, on TK 5. According to press reports, it stopped at about 8:30 pm on Sept. 1. MM14, NJT ENG 4303, pulled the train to EWR station about 5 the next morning. 200 passengers aboard.
What we don't know is why it took so long to rescue the train. About an hour after 3881's unscheduled stop, NJT train 3883 overtook it on TK 4. About that time I heard Amtrak's CETC-9 dispatcher talking with NJT rescue crew MM92, which may have come over from the Meadows Maintenance Facility. When he learned that it had an electric motor, he said there was too much water on the tracks west of Hunter for an electric - the crew returned to MMC. Next CETC-9 talked with Amtrak KN 704, which had GP-15 575 for power. Not known why this crew did not perform the rescue; it's possible that by this time (about 10:30 pm) there was too much water covering TK 5, the northernmost of the six tracks. Later I heard KN 704 proceeding west on TK 2 to Adams, where the M./W base is. I also heard that some point during the night there was 4-5 ft of water above the rails where 3881 was sitting.
Andy
  by Dcell
 
I guess the MMC did not sustain any damage, I did not read anything about the MMC connected to Ida. That's great news because the regional mail facility in Kearny was heavily damaged.
  by OportRailfan
 
They might wanna move those home signals/i-joints and interlock the floodgates. That way if he's sitting at the signal, the train would not obstruct the floodgates in the future...
  by pateljones
 
I do not understand why NJ Transit should be blamed because NJ Transit says it was contacted to stop train service in Bound Brook after the train became stuck. Too late.
  by lensovet
 
twropr wrote: Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:09 pm In connection with the Bridgewater incident, RVL train 5451 was involved. The engineer saw that Middle Brook was overflowing and stopped, but too late.
A worse incident took place with NJT NY-Trenton train 3881 went into emergency about 1/2 mile east of Newark Airport Station, on TK 5. According to press reports, it stopped at about 8:30 pm on Sept. 1. MM14, NJT ENG 4303, pulled the train to EWR station about 5 the next morning. 200 passengers aboard.
What we don't know is why it took so long to rescue the train. About an hour after 3881's unscheduled stop, NJT train 3883 overtook it on TK 4. About that time I heard Amtrak's CETC-9 dispatcher talking with NJT rescue crew MM92, which may have come over from the Meadows Maintenance Facility. When he learned that it had an electric motor, he said there was too much water on the tracks west of Hunter for an electric - the crew returned to MMC. Next CETC-9 talked with Amtrak KN 704, which had GP-15 575 for power. Not known why this crew did not perform the rescue; it's possible that by this time (about 10:30 pm) there was too much water covering TK 5, the northernmost of the six tracks. Later I heard KN 704 proceeding west on TK 2 to Adams, where the M./W base is. I also heard that some point during the night there was 4-5 ft of water above the rails where 3881 was sitting.
Andy
The answer to why the train wasn't rescued is answered literally just a few posts above yours. The floodwaters were too high.
  by west point
 
There is a lesson to learn here but will NJ Transit learn it? There needs to be a high water detector located on both sides of the flood gate that will warn and stop NJT trains before the trains can foul the gate closing area. Further does NJT have any other locations that could possibly be a problem ? As well that lesson should be transmitted to any other agency that has that potential problem.
  by Ken W2KB
 
pateljones wrote: Tue Sep 07, 2021 4:20 pm I do not understand why NJ Transit should be blamed because NJ Transit says it was contacted to stop train service in Bound Brook after the train became stuck. Too late.
Among other rationale, a legal test for negligence would be applied, reading similar to this "If a reasonably prudent railroad management knew or should have known that there was a high probability of significant flooding, a reasonably prudent railroad management would have ensured that trains could safely pass through that the area without risk of preventing the flood gates from closing before allowing a train to run." The evidence to demonstrate the negligence upon the part of management would include prior history of flooding in this area and the several days of severe rain and flooding watches and warnings by NOAA's National Weather Service and other agencies. There was more than adequate advance notice that this was not an ordinary storm.
  by pateljones
 
As a state agency, NJ Transit can not be sued for this type of situation. And was not this flooding an "act of god" that limits liability.
  by nomis
 
Do we know if NJT believes it was somebody else was responsible to contact them with any real-time conditions that would necessitate the closing of the levee gates. If the operating policy was that NJT did not need have any railroad personnel positioned at that location, or any automated electronic means of communication to relay to the the signal system [shunt within the block]. Would that fall back to Bound Brook having to communicate the closure, even after they closed other gates around town.
  by Ken W2KB
 
pateljones wrote: Wed Sep 08, 2021 1:19 pm As a state agency, NJ Transit can not be sued for this type of situation. And was not this flooding an "act of god" that limits liability.
NJT can indeed be sued. Pursuant to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act N.J.S.A 59:1-1 et seq., a notice of claim can be filed with the State within 90 days of the event, and if the claim is not paid in full, the claimant can then file a complaint in civil court. The Tort Claims Act provides that, other than in certain specific circumstances of which this incident is not one, the State and all its subdivisions are liable and can be sued for negligence in performance of ministerial acts. The operation of trains such as in this instance is a ministerial act. An act of God defense is applicable only in very limited circumstances where the damage was caused by means completely out of control of the alleged liable party. In this instance the NOAA and other agency watches and warnings of the substantial likelihood major flooding were present and hence the circumstance was not out of control of NJT which could have suspended operations or instructed it crews to proceed very slowly in the area prepared to stop short of blocking the flood gates.
  by pumpers
 
There was a summary article on NJ.com Tuesday I think, but behind a paywall. I just now found what seems the same article (by comparing it to the paper copy of the Star Ledge I get) on a free site: https://www.masstransitmag.com/safety-s ... k-flooding

The timeline and key facts seems to be:

5:30 PM Wednesday (after several hours of rain): Somerset County Public Works, who controls the flood gates, posts an announcement that that the gates on 2 roads into Bound Brook (East St, and Queens Bridge over the Raritan River) would close Thursday morning. The article indirectly says that they actually closed sooner (by daybreak on Thursday the river was already less than 2 feet below the all time high of Floyd in 1999). My guess is they closed the road gates later Wednesday night.

Somerset County public works is supposed to notify NJ Transit at least two hours before they intend to close the gate across the train tracks.

9:30 PM Wednesday: After departing Bound Brook station and travelling westbound almost a mile, train 5451 got stuck when going through the levee on the west side of Bound Brook. About half of of the last car failed to clear the gates (from the photos posted online. “The train was unable to move due to the extreme flooding and debris,” the NJT spokesperson said. Presumably a diesel was leading - perhaps at the head end they didn't even realize they were blocking the flood gates with the last car. And if the engineer just decided to stop when he/she saw a lot of water, and the diesel was not out of action due to water in the traction motors, it's not clear that with "standard operating procedure, they would have tried to back up anyway.

The article says "After the train got stuck, a request was made by local officials (presumably Somerset County) to allow the flood gates to close." But by then I suppose the the train could not move. The article says the county spokesperson "did not have the time when the county notified NJ Transit on Wednesday."

I think this whole incident was just one train (5451). There were several other westbounds scheduled that night, but conditions went downhill so fast I doubt anything kept moving after 5451 was stuck.

[To me it sure sounds like Somerset county was late to the game , if all the statements in the article are correct: - For the train got stuck at 9:30, almost certainly the water was already well above the tracks near the western levee wall, meaning it was already high enough to pour into B.B. via the tracks going through the levee, and the country hadn't sent out any notice yet about wanting to close the gates over the RR tracks.]

Whenever Somerset Country did try to close the gates ( which I assume was later Wednesday night), “The County closed the gate as far as it would go (to the edge of the train car).” You can see that in one of the pictures referred to earlier in the thread.

By 11:15 AM Thursday, the river in Manville (just upstream) hit a level higher than during Hurricane Floyd in 1999, probably an all time record. NJT spokesperson SMith said “We had to wait for the flood waters to sufficiently recede in order to clear debris and perform the necessary safety inspections on the track infrastructure before sending equipment to the location of the disabled train to tow it from the scene,”
My guess is that this would have been impossible on Thursday - perhaps only possible Friday or more likely the weekend. Once the water was low enough to be able to do this, probably the gates didn't matter any more anyway.

I don't know how many people were trapped on the train, and when and how they were able to get out.

The Bound Brook mayor Robert Fazen said “The western end of Bound Brook would probably not have flooded without this happening,”

If the above is all correct, to me the real question is, what does NJT do to make sure its trains don't run into floods. By 9:30 PM Wednesday, probably the Raritan River was already in some sort of flood state at Bound Brook. The river level is available live on-line at https://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydrogr ... gage=bdkn4 (note the "record level" on that page has not been updated yet from Floyd in 1999). And certainly by 9:30 PM there were flash flood warnings (not watches) issued by the National Weather Surface for ta large part of NJ including Somerset County.. From a legal point of view, I would assume NJT would be required to be pro-active about it - meaning NJT should have some standard procedure to find out about flash floods, not just learn bout them because it was on the news or someone happened to call (or a train got stuck!!!!).

That's enough from me.
JS
EDIT: I deleted some random quotes I had accidentally posted below.
Last edited by pumpers on Thu Sep 09, 2021 8:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by lensovet
 
Thanks for the summary! Looks like a mess all around as usual with multiple points of failure.
  by lensovet
 
Noticed on NJT's website that Bridgewater is apparently still closed due to flood impacts. Is that the real reason, or are they intentionally choosing to skip this station to avoid a repeat of what happened earlier while we're in the rainy season?
  by pumpers
 
Behind a paywall https://www.nj.com/politics/2021/09/ind ... s-say.html
But I can somehow read one line at a time if I scroll slowly. No new information other than the above, from what I can tell.

Regarding Bridgewater being closed, the station is over 1000 feet past the floodgate, according to mapping programs. I don't think any Raritan Valley trains are longer than that, so NJT can't be worried about a train stopping at Bridgewater and blocking the gates. The rest of the line is open according to NJT website, so trains are must be going through, just not stopping. I presume there is a just lot of flood debris or the platform ripped was ripped up by the flood at Bridgewater, or the parking lot or access road is out of commission, ...
JS
Sort of related - looking at aerials maps it seems that the paved Bridgewater platform is only ~100 feet long (one or two cars?). Are Raritan Valley trains that short - or must detraining passengers walk forward or back to the right car(s).