Amtrak crash in Philly

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Amtrak crash in Philly

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Maggio 14, 2015, 3:40pm

Since this is a railway group, I figured I'd ask for people's thought processes on the crash that happend with Amtrak train # 188 - Northeast Corridor run there in Philly.

Maggio 14, 2015, 3:47pm

I've been following it on (nearly 400 posts so far) and I've posted a few interesting links on the Friends of the Rail Forum.

NTSB has stated that the train was travelling at twice the speed limit for the curve where it derailed, but why it was doing so seems to be speculation at this stage.

Maggio 14, 2015, 5:26pm

Lawyers? . . . .

Modificato: Maggio 15, 2015, 12:42am

>3 ulmannc: Quite possibly.

I've posted another NTSB briefing to the Friends of the Rail Forum thread.

There have also been a couple of mainstream media articles describing "How America lags behind rest of developed world on train safety" and describing the system as "antiquated", which I have posted here.

One of the facts that has come out is that this stretch of track had no automatic speed control ("positive train control") on it, and the NTSB bloke was confident that it could have prevented this particular accident. Amtrak is in the process of installing it at key points on the network but legally has until the end of this year to complete it, and apparently this was one of the stretches of track where it hadn't yet been installed.

Modificato: Maggio 15, 2015, 1:52am

I wonder whether there is anything like sophisticated electronics controlling the speed. The train was not so much at a high speed as it was having just accelerated to that speed. There was a brake application. So I wonder whether something could have gone seriously wrong with the equipment with the engineer at a loss as to what was happening and what to do.


Maggio 15, 2015, 8:52am

I've also posted links to a couple of mainstream media articles suggesting that US rail safety systems are "antiquated" compared to Europe and Asia - here.

Maggio 15, 2015, 9:03am

One thing I'm reading this morning is that the train had been traveling around 70, then gathered speed to 106, but the emergency brakes were applied to drop it to 102, but it was too late to stop the derail...

One thing no one has speculated is sabatoge or terrorist attack, which surprises me.

Maggio 15, 2015, 9:08am

>7 gilroy: I think I saw one report right at the beginning that the authorities did not suspect terrorism, but on what basis I don't know.

On the surface it looks quite similar to the Spanish derailment at Compostela a year or two back where a train derailed when it took a curve at double the permitted speed. If I recall correctly in that instance a phone conversation between driver and guard distracted the driver, he lost track of where he was ("spatial awareness") and by the time he realised and applied the brake it was too late.

Maggio 15, 2015, 9:42am

>8 John5918:

In every version so far, the engineer says he needed to pull out his phone to call EMS. Unless he was on some internal phone.

Being American, wonder if he found someone that found the engine room... arousing. ;)

Maggio 16, 2015, 12:22am

Seems to be a lot of focus now on whether the locomotive windscreen might have been hit by a rock or shot.

Maggio 16, 2015, 3:20pm

>9 gilroy: Someone else may want to jump in here but I believe that carrying a cell phone on your person for most major freight lines and Amtrak is grounds for dismissal. I think I read that or heard it so I will stand corrrected if I'm wrong.

Maggio 16, 2015, 5:45pm

Speed restricting train control already exists for SB trains in this area, and a call by the Federal Railroad Administration has been made to put it in NB quickly. Before the 50 mph limit on the curve, the speed limit nb is 70, whereas before the curve sb the speed limit is more like 110 mph, so the need was considered greater SB. Putting positive train control into operation is an unfunded mandate, so there is a lot of stalling going on in the U.S.

A little earlier than this accident another train was hit by a projectile, with a side window on a coach broken. I read about this on Facebook within 7 hours of the bad accident, but it did not make the regular press until much later.

Maggio 19, 2015, 1:41am

The Guardian is now reporting that NTSB has ruled out the windscreen being hit by a bullet and said it can't confirm even that it was hit by anything.

I am not surprised that there is so much public interest in this investigation, but I am surprised at it being conducted with so many statements from NTSB at a time when really they know very little. If I recall correctly the British RAIB issues a written statement a couple of weeks after an incident, which just includes all the known facts, and then the final report comes out a year or two later. I don't think "investigation by media sound bites" is a very useful process.

Maggio 19, 2015, 9:26am

I think part of the problem is that the US media is RIGHT there, since Fox News and CNN and a few others have offices in both New York and Philly. So with very little distance to travel, they can have fifty reporters (obvious exaggeration) constantly harrassing the investigators. If one says something, the reporters are going to run with it as fact, even if it's just a comment said in passing.