All Things Portal Bridge: Amtrak and NJT Status and Replacement Discussion

Discussion related to Amtrak also known as the National Railroad Passenger Corp.

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Jtgshu
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Post by Jtgshu » Sat Jun 04, 2005 10:52 am

Hahahah, yea, you're right dutch - ironic, isn't it?
On the RR, "believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see"
John, aka "JTGSHU" passed away on August 26, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

nick11a
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Post by nick11a » Sat Jun 04, 2005 11:13 am

DutchRailnut wrote:NJT and safety concerns ?? why they never incorrectly install or ommit parts ??
do axle ground carbon brushes ring a bell ???
Shhhh Dutch, we don't mention that. :wink:

Also, that incident also happened in that same general area IIRC.
~Nick O.: Moderator: NJT Rail

Moderator of the "widely popular" NJT Rail Forum! What once was first is now seventh!

Notch 8
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Post by Notch 8 » Sat Jun 04, 2005 11:48 am

Now here's something new... a NJ Transit delection.

How 'bout the annual theft of $288,915.00 from the payroll department -ey George?
You people are beautiful. Don't forget to tip your engineer. Good night.

NJTRailfan
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Post by NJTRailfan » Sat Jun 04, 2005 1:23 pm

I see that Boy George is up to his tricks yet again. I'll bet the employees at Amtrak are just too happy to see him out of their hair if only NJT and the state of NJ and their infinate wisdom were able to find a David Gunn or a Gordon Betune (He turned Continental Airlines from the worst airline durign the Frank Lorenzo/Frank Borman era in the US to the first)

We need people like that rather then the political appointees that Trenton keeps sending. It's about time the commuters and employees ousted the yes men.

I wonder if George is a former employee of the Iraqi Ministry of Information.

railtrailbiker
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Circuit Breaker Blamed In Portal Bridge Blaze

Post by railtrailbiker » Sat Jun 04, 2005 5:09 pm

A circuit breaker designed to prevent fires like the one last month on a heavily traveled railroad bridge was improperly installed, Amtrak officials said.

Overhead power lines came down May 12, sending more than 12,000 volts of electricity into the wooden bridge for more than 12 seconds, starting a fire. Although the bridge was not structurally damaged, signals telling trains if it was safe to go forward were damaged.
http://1010wins.com/topstories/local_st ... 45350.html

David Benton
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Post by David Benton » Sat Jun 04, 2005 6:27 pm

The unions attitude astounds me . Someone installs a Circuit breaker incorrectly , and they imply that Amtrak doesnt check it often enough . Dont the workers take any responsibilty for their work ?
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.

Nasadowsk
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Post by Nasadowsk » Sat Jun 04, 2005 6:50 pm

The whole 'Oh well, we blew something up and now we're pointing fingers' attitude scares me more. High voltage transmission lines are NOT something you take so casually. It's a situation where little mistakes like this can, and DO kill people.

Piss poor testing and 'forgetting' to hook up connections, plus non maintenance is a great way to kill people. Imagine if this was at a crowded station platform, and imagine a 11kv line dancing around on a platform for 12 seconds. Especially on a rainy day, it could easily be nasty.

You can't afford to screw around with this stuff - you first mistake is generally your last.

David Benton
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Post by David Benton » Sat Jun 04, 2005 7:26 pm

i dont know what the situation is in the USA , but here , both the workers and the Electrical inspector involved , would be investigated by the electrical workers registration board , and face heavy fines and possible suspension of thier practising license .
In this type of situation , an independant body like that takes the dispute away from the workers versus the company enviroment .
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.

Ken W2KB
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Post by Ken W2KB » Sat Jun 04, 2005 7:32 pm

I've seen a fallen 28kV distribution line arcing on the ground. Burned several 3 or 4 inch diameter several inch deep holes in the concrete sidewalk, since it was dancing around the breakers didn't open, eventually the line failed at the upper end, after a few minutes.

My guess that Amtrak's breaker set points are rather high, since the catenary has to be able to withstand ocasional multiple train simultaneus startup surges.

No excuse for incorrect installation. Period.
~Ken :: Fairmont ex-UP/MP C436 MT-14M1 ::
Black River Railroad Historical Trust :: [/url]

David Benton
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Post by David Benton » Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:03 pm

I would say that is correct .
Circuit breakers on high voltage lines are there to protect the lines , they cannot be sensitive enough to protect a person unlucky enough , or stupid enough , to come in contact with them . A high voltage line probably needs to come in good contact with a metallic structure bonded to earth to trip the circuit breaker . All metallic items anywhere near the overhead would have such bonding to try to short out any loose wire and trip the cicuit breaker . Even then the Circuit breaker may be set to try and reset the circuit 3 or 4 times , before finally permantely tripping out .
( this is done to try and "release" any animal or tree etc , that may be resting across the lines ) .
In Short , if you see downed lines , or any situation where there may be leakage from high voltage lines , stay well clear . There is nothing to Save you from its full effect .
Moderator worldwide railfan , Rail travel & trip reports
The only train trips I regret are the ones I didn't take.

Nasadowsk
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Post by Nasadowsk » Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:22 pm

Trip points are probbably around 1,000 amps or so. There's actually a few criteria for tripping, and I suspect at least some systems do in fact have downed wire checking, etc. I don't know what trips them exactly, but I do know that once commanded to, the breaker is supposed to be open in 2 or 3 cycles. DC breakers are a lot faster, I've heard. I've not witnessed an AC breaker opening, but I've been told that they move so fast you never really see them moving.

NJT has been pulling their automatic reclosers out for a while now - they feel they're an unneeded danger, particularly in this day and age of radios/cellphones on every train. Auto reclosing was a useful thing 80 years ago when you needed to have the power come back after, say, a pantograph drop due to a failed main transformer (groud the pan, wait for the sub breakers to open, drop the pan + lock it, the sub's breakers reclose and power's back). Today, it's better to have the crew just walk the train and call in when it's ok to reset.

It is possible to trip the catenary from a body contacting it (such events have been documented in the past). I won't go into the gory details as to how this happens....

The big questions I'd like to see answered here are:

a) Should the breakers have opened faster?

b) If they should have, why didn't they?

c) Who should be fired?

And seriously, c) isn't being cruel or anything - if someone (or group of, and I suspect it's the latter) screwed up, they SHOULD be fired. This isn't a place where 2nd class workmanship and management should be tolerated.

PRRTechFan
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Post by PRRTechFan » Sat Jun 04, 2005 8:40 pm

Does anyone have more detailed information than the breaker was "incorrectly" installed? What, exactly; was done or left incorrectly?

In most high voltage switchgear, there is a current transformer to sense the current in the circuit to be protected, an overcurrent relay that measures that current and then closes a contact when the current becomes too high for too long; a trip coil in the breaker that actuates a spring charged mechanism to throw open the high voltage "switch" contacts and a source of power; usually 125 volt batteries, to operate the trip coil when the overcurrent relay contact closes. It is not rocket science, it is simple and usually reliable.

Mr. Nadowski and Ken W2KB, correct me if I am wrong; but unless that fallen catenary grounded out to the rails or bridge steel, I do not know of any relaying that would have been able to properly sense and react to such a low-level fault without tripping out every time there was an arc at a pantograph...

To Mr. Benton and anyone from outside the US (...and probably to a lot of people IN the US...) it may come as a suprise to learn that electrical installations on electric railroads or electric utilities are neither regulated nor inspected in the same manner as every other commerical or residential installation in the US. The "authorities" in this country must legally "adopt" a code in order to give them something that they can enforce as law. In the US, that document is usually the National Electrical Code, and the "authorities" are usually the local cities or towns (New Jersey) or the State. (such as in the case of Pennsylvania, I think; with the exception of Philadelphia)

But the National Electrical Code specifically exempts electric railroads and electric utilities, so the legally adopted code does not apply to them. From an older edition of the National Electrical Code: "This code does not cover... ...Installations of railways for the generation, transformation, transmission or distribution of power used exclusively for operation of rolling stock or installations used exclusively for signaling and communication purposes."

This is not to say that the railroads and utilities do not follow codes and standards; if they did not, I doubt they would be insurable! They might have their own inspectors or their electrical installations may be subject to inspection or regulation by other agencies. (the FRA, etc)

But while the electrical inspector in Kearny would inspect the new GFI outlet you just installed for your pool, he has no authority to inspect a new Amtrak 11kV circuit breaker located next door...

Jtgshu
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Post by Jtgshu » Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:32 am

Rudy Guiliani for NJT Exec Director!!!!!

Hahaha, just kidding NJTRailfan.....

....how you making out? good to see you online
On the RR, "believe nothing you hear and only half of what you see"
John, aka "JTGSHU" passed away on August 26, 2013. We honor his memory and his devotion to railroading at railroad.net.

prr60
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Post by prr60 » Sun Jun 05, 2005 11:50 am

Electric utility installations are goverened by the National Electrical Safety Code (NESC): a seperate code from the NEC. The NEC is published by the National Fire Protection Association. The NESC is published by the Intitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) through ANSI.

Most instances of installation errors of power CB's involve mis-wiring the connections. One consequence could be the breaker not opening when required. It is likely that a downed 12kV cat feeder on a bridge would have landed on something steel and would have faulted to ground. If the breaker failed to open and fault did not clear for the reported 12 seconds (an eternity in power terms), wires would have melted and things would have gotten really hot.

thebigc
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Post by thebigc » Sun Jun 05, 2005 12:14 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:NJT and safety concerns?? Why they never incorrectly install or omit parts?? Do axle ground carbon brushes ring a bell???
Are you referring to NJT's past practice of reusing old bearings in new wheelsets? Well, they've still got lots of carmen checking these bearings at the end of the day. I guess transit doesn't mind paying out lots of overtime for their shortsightedness. Or when the feds catch them cutting corners.

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