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Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 11:49 AM

We have been hearing on the news channel we watch (guess who) about train safety, whether industrial cargo train, passenger, or commuter.

Apparently, the subversives (terrorists) have been chattering about using various means of derailing trains. In light of this morning's event in Pennsylvania (love Pennsylvania), that really apparently had nothing to do with terrorism, the wife and I were discussing options:

(1) embedded IoT sensors to tell the next incoming train that a railway failure has taken place up ahead (i.e. - with enough warning to come to a safe halt).

(2) rail drones (autonomous) to go on at least one mile ahead (or safe stopping distance), to detect devices, track out conditions, or otherwise warn the train operator.

Some of you can think of natural conditions that would make the use of these drones or IoT sensors very useful, such as rock slide warning, etc.

I would like to hear from the community here, with experiences, ideas, etc. for safer rail transportation. If this thread appears duplicate (I did not search), I apologize in advance.

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#1

Re: Wife and I discussing train safety issue

08/22/2017 11:56 AM

You have some good workable ideas. I like to address the problem closer to the root.

Which can easily turning into a political issue quickly.

But I'll add, tightening up the open borders policies.

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#2

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 12:23 PM
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#3

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 12:34 PM

The worst train wreck of the 21 century only resulted in 25 fatalities.

But, that's OK, we're throwing away 20 BILLION tax dollars on a useless border fence.

Let's squander a few more billion on needless train "safety" systems.

While we're at, let's put cameras in every vehicle manufactured and guns pointed to the driver's heads to stop terrorists from driving into crowds.

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#7
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:38 PM

Put an ounce of sarcasm with that, if you don't mind. LOL!

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#4

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:16 PM

A drone flying ahead of the train would also give fair warning to those on track.

Many other conditions besides terror could be detected ..

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#5
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:33 PM

addressing this like a brain storming session being critical...

A drone flying ahead of the train would also give fair warning to those on track.

those would be accidents, if you want to call it that where a lot would be due to human errors...

  • Cars/vehicles not waiting for train and crossing.
  • Inattentive locomotive engineers... sleeping or updating this online status.

as a few examples of accidents,... I won't really call them accidents, maybe accidents waiting to happen.

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#9
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:47 PM

Operator error is a big factor, but so is autonomous system malfunction (if that exists).

I am sure the rail companies know about both, and either are holding their cards, or not.

Premise: you can't fix stupid (generally ignorant), so you do the next best cost effective thing. Put in safety systems and make safety the #1 priority (not saying that it is not at the present time #1).

I wasn't really thinking even (nor was wifey) about a flying drone, but rather one that is on the tracks (also capable of getting off the tracks, or being "plowed aside" in the event of an unfortunate shut-down).

The flying drone has some advantages: (1) not inherently on the tracks, not easy for any belligerent actor to interfere with (per se). (2) It can have a wider field of view, possibly picking hostiles in the area, or even just mischievous children. The drone would never be weaponized, so no worries for little Johnny in that case.

I see the one disadvantage of flying drone as: This drone might not be able to sense ground movement/liquefaction during earth tremors (or it takes additional sensors, and ultra-precise flight controls). Clearly a drone would be able to pick up any short range transmitted RF pulse that was propagated down the tracks as part of guidance system, and would know if the tracks were covered by avalanche or rock slide, or mud.

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#14
In reply to #9

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 2:25 PM

Premise: you can't fix stupid (generally ignorant),

Sure you can....

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#15
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 2:49 PM

you can't fix stupid

or your can make constructive suggestions...

The flying drone has some advantages: ..... I see the one disadvantage of flying drone as:

As far as drones,... that's where a risk analysis would lead you to the answer (which you started), coupled with a ROI.

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#24
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 5:08 PM

If trains obliterated whatever was blocking tracks... ...and if whatever was blocking the track had no value whatsoever.. I would not have an issue.

Since trains become derailed and other accidents cost precious lives, hours and millions of dollars I'm for mitigating such accidents.

Every week I hear about people getting hit or run over by a train in the Chicagoland area. It's stupid but it happens on a very regular basis. Passenger trains get stopped for hours an Uber drivers rejoice in the aftermath.

If some sort of drone was an escort for certain trains through populated or other problem areas?

There's a chance it could be effective.

When I was a kidlet I spent a lot of time on the rails. A drone squawking at me would have been an effective deterrent.

Thank goodness there was no need.

... A factoid that I read years ago but may have no basis in reality was that there is a train accident of some sort every seven seconds in the United States!? is that even possible?.

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#27
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 6:23 PM

Possible,... also I would like to know what defines an accident to be countable as an accident.

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#6
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:37 PM

"A drone flying ahead of the train..." would be

susceptible to winds/rain/snow.

questionably operative inside tunnels.

questionably operative on bridges, especially truss, suspension, cable stayed types.

out of charge/fuel long before the train.

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#10
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:48 PM

Excellent points, kind sir!

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#29
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/23/2017 3:20 AM

Love the pun!

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#32
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/23/2017 9:31 AM

What pun, I am playing dull, boorish, and dumb this morning....

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#8

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:42 PM

I don't think a drone would work.....It can't travel fast enough and provide the image resolution needed to spot all problems associated with track failure...and you would need (min. 2) additional persons to monitor the video constantly...

Problems such as rail cracking or rail splitting...

Bridge structure....

...and useless for switching failures...

http://www.trackguy.com/trackwork_101.htm

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#11
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:48 PM

Maybe the drones equipped with the necessary sensors/cameras could scout the route a given train will take days/weeks ahead of time to look for these things.

Maybe doesn't have to necessarily be at the same time a train is traveling that route.

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#12
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 1:50 PM

More excellent points. It probably would be asking for a high-technology solution so something so simple

like what you pointed to earlier - rail sensor system with signal transmission to inform the operator(s).

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#13
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 2:23 PM

I don't think a drone would work.....It can't travel fast enough and provide the image resolution needed to spot all problems associated with track failure...

wait one second there....

We have a soccer mom driving a mini van stalled on the tracks,... target acquired... target eliminated.

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#17
In reply to #13

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 3:30 PM

Let me just chime in on that. No, Olympus 4, you may not engage the soccer mom! No! No! No!

The train will stop in time, ...in time, ...in time.

I was thinking maybe paint balls for the delinquent children, old men engineers stumbling across the right-of-way, and the dangerous terrorists, scurrilous poltroons that they are. Paint balls provide ready identification for pickup by authorities.

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#19
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 3:54 PM

But, I think she's,... Canadian... My fingers on the fire button... waiting for fire confirmation.

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#25
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 5:44 PM

With all the things that CAN go wrong, I'm amazed they do as well as they do.

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#28
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/23/2017 3:19 AM

Oooooh!

wouldn't cause a derailment in itself as the rails are still in line. However, most routes are equipped with track circuits that control the signalling and a failure of this type would interrupt current flow, turning the signals behind it to red.

is a surface defect that warrants attention, and would not in itself cause derailment.

has the same implications as .

has the same implications as .

is detectable through ultrasonic scanning, which most operations in the UK carry out on a routine basis.

is detectable using the track circuit approach.

is an example of a "facing crossover"; when the UK's Midland Railway was extended from Settle to Carlisle there was not a single example of a facing crossover anywhere on the route. Sadly, modern practice has introduced them. Missing parts are inexcusable. Routine maintenance inspection is the solution here.

is a type of trailing switch that largely disappeared from UK passenger line networks when new designs were introduced from 1923.

Well, the question was asked.

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#16

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 3:01 PM

is strapping Lyn to the tracks an option?

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#18
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 3:38 PM

No. Lyn would cause the train to stop, naturally. Besides, we don't want to become what we are trying to put a stop to. Lyn would make an excellent scout while riding a drone, since he can stiff out trouble a mile away.

Why Lyn is one heck of a guy, and I don't mind saying so myself.

He knows a lot more than he is letting on right now, sort of hanging back, waiting for that exquisite opening to develop.

I did think of one more option: It goes along with Solar Eagles reference to connected intelligent network of sensors.

I don't really know the full scope of capabilities already in place, but I could easily see the sensor network doing fast data acquisition of transmitted acoustic signals, i.e. wheel noise that can tell a lot about what kind of train is coming (along with a digital id signal), the wheel fundamental frequency should be X, but if the train is approaching, Doppler tells us it would be X+x (dependent upon speed), and if receding along the tracks, X-x (again speed dependent). A fast Fourier transform of that signal would reveal quite a lot. Somehow the tracks still need to know who/what is parked on the tracks. And I am sorry, but Lyn would dampen the harmonics just a tad.

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#20
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 3:56 PM

Lyn would make an excellent scout while riding a drone,

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#21
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 4:05 PM

Now that is just silly. Lyn would never strap on a bomb and go a raiding!

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#22
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 4:43 PM

Best part of the movie...

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#23
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 5:04 PM

True, but that could never be Lyn! I am sure Lyn is a pacifist. At least with his fists he is. Ever the gentleman. Courteous in all respects. Works hard. Never once complained. Almost seems like I am reading his eulogy, but NO, heavens forbid it!

Lyn has many more chapters to write. The Saga of Lyn is only just started.

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#26
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/22/2017 6:21 PM

Oh,.. we get it, you're his biggest fan.

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#30
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/23/2017 9:28 AM

I don't worship Lyn, but his opinion here is as valuable as any other including mine,

and I do not believe in gang mentality, where we all choose up sides and dog pile anyone.

I am advocating for a kinder, gentler forum, where we all can be heard, all can learn something

new, and express opinions about engineering issues. Frankly, it is relief to have a forum where the peace

has been restored, even if I was the worst transgressor.

Lyn really is a good, but misunderstood guy, as we all have been from time to time.

Now let's all shake hands, let the verbal pugilistic fusillade continue, just in a calmer, less boisterous tone.

Also, each of us is allowed to satirize, and speak with tongue in cheek, just not with a forked tongue.

We leave that to the forked-tongue devils.

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#31
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/23/2017 9:29 AM

What an awesomely athletic and beautiful cheerleader, and what a smile!

Aren't women excellent?

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#36
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/30/2017 2:56 PM

Yay cheerleaders

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#37
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/30/2017 3:17 PM

That right there is why there are folks that still occasionally tune in to a Dallas Cowboys Football game on TV.

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#33

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/28/2017 10:41 AM

A recent accident near here (Chamber's Bay near Tacoma, WA, USA).

The train passed a red signal before an open draw bridge (operator error) so it triggered a device that derailed the train on the ground rather than letting it get to the open bridge and possibly derail into the water.

Interesting to note in the article that BNSF has installed satellite and positive control train systems to help prevent accidents, but Amtrak has not yet installed the equipment on their trains.

Article describing accident

Mike W.

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#34
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/28/2017 10:44 AM

Interesting to note in the article that BNSF has installed satellite and positive control train systems to help prevent accidents, but Amtrak has not yet installed the equipment on their trains.

I can understand that, hauling freight is profitable,... hauling passengers isn't or at least less profitable. And High Speed Passenger Rails... is a money pit.

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#35
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/28/2017 10:58 AM

Is that a commentary on the relative value of cargo vs. passengers? ROFLMAO, industry busted again.

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#38

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/31/2017 7:52 AM

Re Train derailment "The train passed a red signal before an open draw bridge (operator error) so it triggered a device that derailed the train on the ground rather than letting it get to the open bridge and possibly derail into the water".

Would have made more sense for the device to brake the train instead of derailing it!

Re the idea of a drone, why could you not use a powered wheeled sledge equipped with cameras / sensors running about a mile in front of the train to make sure the tracks were clear?

Similar to this but without human and using a Battery or diesel for power.

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#39
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/31/2017 1:46 PM

I think that is where we started on this thread, and it slid off the tracks. LOL

Ausgezeichnet!

Maybe the trains peoples could not put the signal to stop far enough back due to other problems? What problems you say, don't ask me, I only wanted to be a farmer.

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#40
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

08/31/2017 11:01 PM

Because the screaming mimi would be creating much longer wait times at crossings among under things.

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#41
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

09/01/2017 8:55 AM

That is the trouble these days. Everybody wants something, and they want it right now, or else, tantrum city.

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#42
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Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

09/13/2017 3:53 PM

Hi all,

Automation and control + quality and safety are key points in railways systems. There are already in place many monitoring systems as well that are looking ahead of what is on the tracks to avoid any failure, accident or delay.

They are very complex systems and are getting day by day more and more automated. Obviously, old tracks and old trains are more susceptible to any problem that happens in the infrastructure and are more difficult to detect in advance. New trackside infrastructure and rolling stock are fully monitored and automated.

Rail systems are subject to high level of standards for security that goes from asset conditions to software robustness.

If you go to Japan, the stones around rails are adjusted daily by robots, in Netherlands a full system monitors everything on the tracks in real time and reports back to the maintenance centre to activate the action, new TCS are fully automated and work with different levels of locking mechanisms to avoid any problem and delays in service, etc.

There are trains running at speeds over 300km/h and that requires extremely robust and automated systems.

US for sure needs more investment in the rail sector and if the plans are completed the country will see the new technologies and advantages sooner than later.

Two commercial links (I am not promoting them; are presented as basic examples):

http://www.mobility.siemens.com/mobility/global/en/urban-mobility/rail-solutions/rail-automation/automatic-train-control-system/pages/automatic-train-control-system.aspx

http://www.wsp-pb.com/Rail-and-Transit/Services/Train-Control-Systems/

Rgs.

Elizabeth

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#43
In reply to #42

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

09/13/2017 4:38 PM

Thanks and welcome!

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#44
In reply to #42

Re: Wife and I Discussing Train Safety Issue

09/13/2017 4:41 PM

Nicely reported, thank you Elizabeth!

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