CR4® - The Engineer's Place for News and Discussion®


Previous in Forum: Kia Rio Sputters for Several Seconds Every Time I Fill w/ Petrol   Next in Forum: Transportation
Close
Close
Close
30 comments
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40722
Good Answers: 1606

The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 5:29 PM

I can't find anything on NTSB yet about this.

Does anybody have any factual information yet?

It has been reported that the train was going 80 MPH on a 30 MPH curve.

Two of the three people killed were avid train enthusiasts.

Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite, both "passionate advocates for passenger railroad," died in the derailment, said Jim Mathews, president of the Rail Passengers Association.

Register to Reply
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#1

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 6:18 PM

NTSB wasn’t able to first arrive there until later last night. So it’s really too soon to tell, the preliminary reports was that the train was possible going over the speed limits like you stated, as well as some maintenance issues with the rail.

this is all I heard from yesterday.

this afternoon, it was reported that 6people were killed?

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40722
Good Answers: 1606
#2
In reply to #1

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 6:23 PM

Last I heard was 3 dead.

FINAL RIDE:
Beloved Train Enthusiasts Killed in Amtrak Disaster

Yes, 80 MPH on a 30 MPH curve and the positive train control (speed limiter) was disengaged. What were they thinking????????????????? It saved 10 minutes, that's all.

Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#7
In reply to #2

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 8:37 PM

Yep... I flipping through the station on the radio this morning on my way to work... must have miss heard it, I caught it right in the middle of the report.

On internet, I also only found 3 dead.

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru
New Zealand - Member - Kiwi Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Engineering Fields - Power Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 8578
Good Answers: 359
#3

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 6:33 PM

Oh that's quite tragic.

CNN Link

At first glance it just looks like a simple case of miscommunication. Going too fast on a new route for the very first time and not slowing for a 30MPH curve or perhaps not realising that the PTC system hadn't been setup (for this new route but the PTC was on the old route?) and relying on it to slow the train (perhaps, trains are not really my thing).

Time and an investigation will tell.

__________________
jack of all trades
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 6151
Good Answers: 639
#4

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 7:05 PM

My guess is that the Engineer was distracted or bored. There is a system being developed and implemented to control the speed of trains, Positive Train Control.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Positive_train_control

An inexpensive solution that could be implemented in a short time might be a cell phone app using GPS to determine speed and location, looking up the RR speed limit and sounding an alarm if the train were speeding. It might alert an inattentive Engineer. Just an idea.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40722
Good Answers: 1606
#5
In reply to #4

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 8:00 PM

Both the train and the tacks had working PTC.

the positive train control (speed limiter) was disengaged.

Register to Reply
Guru
New Zealand - Member - Kiwi Popular Science - Weaponology - New Member Engineering Fields - Power Engineering - New Member Engineering Fields - Electrical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Posts: 8578
Good Answers: 359
#6
In reply to #5

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 8:36 PM

??? My source above had this to say....

Dinh-Zarr also said that section of the route had a system that cannot enforce speed restrictions on a train, as PTC can. "Sound Transit had centralized traffic control, which is CTC," she said. Sound Transit spokesman Geoff Patrick said earlier that PTC was installed in the segment of tracks where the derailment happened, but wasn't operational yet.

This would indicate.... wait, the CNN article has changed, a few hours ago there was a reference to it (I believe) being installed on the rail line but not enabled and functional until 3rd quarter of 2018, which has since been removed from the article.

__________________
jack of all trades
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 6151
Good Answers: 639
#9
In reply to #5

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 10:42 PM

And was the Engineer blindly relying on the PTC to control the train? It sounds like the people who drive into a lake because the GPS says to turn. Machines are not infallible.

Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Mar 2007
Location: at the beach in Florida
Posts: 20326
Good Answers: 1190
#8

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/19/2017 8:46 PM

..."Preliminary information indicated that the emergency brake on the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state went off automatically and was not manually activated by the engineer, National Transportation Safety Board member Bella Dinh-Zarr said.

The train was hurtling at 80 mph in a 30 mph zone Monday morning when it ran off the rails along a curve south of Seattle, sending some of its cars plummeting onto an interstate highway below, Dinh-Zarr said, citing data from the locomotive's event recorder."...

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-washington-amtrak-derailment-20171219-story.html

__________________
Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving. A.E.
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
Posts: 27268
Good Answers: 725
#10

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 5:08 AM

These things happen, sadly, as both the human and the systems used are fallible. There are always opportunities to learn in order to prevent recurrence. Provided the circumstances and best practice are shared, and lessons learned and applied, then all will be better in the future.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Croydon_tram_derailment

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#11
In reply to #10

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 7:23 AM

These things happen, sadly, ...

Yes they do,... its like plane crashes, the tragedy of a lot of people killed and injured at one time its sounds like a huge tragedy, and it is. Because of the destruction and injuries all at once until, you just look at the statistics. on deaths per 1,000,000 miles.

... as both the human and the systems used are fallible.

And that's why there are failsafe procedures not to be bypassed and are to be maintained and followed properly

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
Posts: 27268
Good Answers: 725
#12
In reply to #11

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 7:36 AM

Quite.

  • One of the safest places to travel, in terms of lowest passenger deaths per unit distance travelled, is in an airplane/aeroplane.
  • London Underground train travel is high up there too.
  • Somewhere near the bottom is the motorcycle.
__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 6989
Good Answers: 241
#14
In reply to #12

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 8:17 AM

"...

  • One of the safest places to travel, in terms of lowest passenger deaths per unit distance travelled, is in an airplane/aeroplane.

.."

This is true as long as the discussion is commercial aviation. General aviation is a different beast and has much higher rates of death.

__________________
Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge. - George Santayana
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#15
In reply to #14

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 8:22 AM

Consideration I live only about 50 miles from Oshkosh, Wisconsin,... Home of The EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association),... maybe that is possible. Its hard to say. But most if not all of those accidents points to pilot error.

btw, EAA is a great place to visit year around.

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 6989
Good Answers: 241
#20
In reply to #15

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 10:46 AM

It isn't that small aircraft are that much more dangerous when flying, in and of themselves. The significantly greater range of commerial vs general aviation aircraft make the numbers of problems per passenger mile much lower.

The most dangerous time during a flight is takeoff and shortly thereafter (well, really it is the 'landing', but you know what I mean). So shorter flights mean more takeoffs per mile.

__________________
Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge. - George Santayana
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#21
In reply to #20

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 11:13 AM

Our company had a small plane (twin engine prop, seats 6 or 8)...

and about 3 years ago, I needed to make a day trip to one of our facilities... one of the company's owners and VP came up for another reason...

I'm not familiar with the terms and such. but I'll try to explain it the best I can with my little or lack of,... understanding.

As we were flying it was cloudy,.. and they lock into the loran navigation??? and the plane follows this beam... until we come near the municipal airport.

We have always (2) pilots... (One is a constant and well seasoned, and co-pilot we'd have different ones that would come along to get their flying hours in) Well as we neared the destination airport, all of a sudden, this plane drops suddenly... and then this seasoned pilot just starts bitching at the co-pilot... what the phuq are you doing... you son of a ____. The pilot went on to say "This happen just last week to a pilot,... and he crashed and died". This went on and the VP and myself looked at each other wondering what just happened....

Later at the plant, the VP relayed to me what the pilot told him, something to the affect that the Loran failed???, and the reason that the pilot was bitching at the co-pilot is that you ALWAYS have to be piloting, you can't relax.

Later on, the VP mentioned that they are going to upgrade the navigation equipment on the plane.

Soooooo. in conclusion... yes, your point is valid.

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 6989
Good Answers: 241
#22
In reply to #21

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 11:38 AM

Glad everything ended up okay.

Pilot redundancy is another advantage of larger planes. Only the smallest planes typically fly with only one person trained to fly. I don't know if there are commercial passenger flights with only one pilot available, but if there are these are probably pretty rare.

If there is one pilot flying three passengers and that pilot suffers a fatal heart attack in the air, four people will likely die.

A copilot also is an extra set of eyes, looking out for other planes as well as aberrant indicators as well as things like pilot fatigue or improper action.

Bigger planes are also easier to see and therefor avoid.

Multiple engines also helps. Though it must be noted that one group of non-multiengine general aviation craft has never had an incident or accident involving loss of engine power to the plane.

On the up side, terrorist rarely target small non commercial planes that they aren't themselves piloting.

__________________
Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge. - George Santayana
Register to Reply
Active Contributor

Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 12
#25
In reply to #12

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/21/2017 10:03 AM

I think the statistics would change if you looked ay deaths per hour traveling instead of deaths per mile traveled

__________________
Lloyd
Register to Reply
Guru
Hobbies - CNC - New Member Hobbies - DIY Welding - New Member Engineering Fields - Electromechanical Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 19798
Good Answers: 358
#26
In reply to #25

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/21/2017 10:05 AM

problem with statistics,... with a play of numbers... it can sway one to do just about anything.

__________________
phoenix911
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Iowa, USA
Posts: 572
Good Answers: 49
#27
In reply to #25

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/21/2017 11:48 AM

Airframe and Avionics design are failures per hour of operation. Any equipment categorized as "Critical to safe flight and landing", have a 1 failure per billion hours of operation statistical design requirement (that can result in a catastrophic accident). You don't get there with single point failures (fail operational systems are triple redundant, and have dissimilar designs to ensure no single point design flaw). For items that are single point (e.g wings), they get inspection on a scheduled basis to certify them safe until the next inspection.

__________________
ignator -
Register to Reply
2
Power-User

Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 186
Good Answers: 13
#13

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 8:09 AM

It seems to me that if we can expect autonomous cars in the next few years that will account for millions of other cars on the road, pedestrians, cross traffic and almost anything else that crosses its path, then it shouldn't be that hard to make a train autonomous. A train would have to be able to do 2 things. Stay on the track at the right speed. I don't understand what the obstacle is that keeps this from happening.

Register to Reply Good Answer (Score 2)
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40722
Good Answers: 1606
#17
In reply to #13

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 10:27 AM

The obstacle is a lack of profit derived from such a large investment.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
Posts: 27268
Good Answers: 725
#18
In reply to #13

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 10:42 AM

Autonomous trains already exist.

London's Victoria Line, and London's Docklands Light Railway are two examples.

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 40722
Good Answers: 1606
#19
In reply to #18

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 10:44 AM

Many larger airports also have autonomous trains.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
Posts: 27268
Good Answers: 725
#28
In reply to #19

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/22/2017 2:55 AM

Quite.

  • London Stansted Airport [STN] has autonomous shuttles between the terminal building and several gate buildings.
  • Düsseldorf Flughafen [DUS] has an autonomous monorail between the main line station and the airport terminal building.
  • Shanghai Pudong Airport [PVG] has an autonomous maglev between there and the city centre.
  • Etc.
__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru
Technical Fields - Technical Writing - New Member Engineering Fields - Marine Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2008
Location: Vancleave, Ms about 30 miles inland from Biloxi and the coast
Posts: 3138
Good Answers: 105
#23

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/20/2017 12:56 PM

The cause of the accident is pure speculation at this point, but I will offer my thoughts. There was a safeguard in place, but it wasn't enabled. My guess is; someone in the engineering department failed to address the possibility of a high speed train entering a 30 mph zone without the proper safeguards in place and enabled. This was the first run of a high speed train on trackage that was not designed for high speed runs. I don't believe the engineer, (train) was at fault. There may have been a safeguard in place to slow down a fast train, but the route was not designed for high speed runs. In normal speed runs, 30-40 mph, a safety device would safely slow down such a train, but having a train traveling at twice the speed intended, any existing safety device would not have acted quickly enough to slow down the faster train. In other words, the safety slow-down device should have been relocated further back from the curve. That is my speculation.

__________________
Mr.Ron from South Ms.
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Oct 2014
Location: Hemet, Land of milk and honey.
Posts: 1632
Good Answers: 26
#24

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

12/21/2017 12:40 AM

Here is some possible factual information :

A. This was the inaugural run of a new high speed route.

B. A 30 mph curve, just after an 80 mph straight away, would not be considered part of a high speed rail line, at least not by world standards, where high speed rail lines really exist.

C. Everytime you have an inaugural run of anything, be sure that you inform all of the invited dignitaries that this will also be a training (?) run and there may be times where the Engineer will be distracted by the students questions.

D. Special notice to all designers and engineers that all slow speed curves on all high speed rail routes should be placed directly over major north-south interstates.

E. Whenever high speed rail routes are to be inaugurated, 20 + year old rolling stock is to be used in place of the newest rolling stock available.

F. Even though modern safety controls are available, it's often better to update the the little white doilies under all of the Martini's rather than leaving rings on the drop down tables.

G. When your local state government asks for another tax increase to support new high speed rail, you can feel rest assured that they are doing everything they can to put your personal safety first and foremost.

Register to Reply
Guru
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
Posts: 27268
Good Answers: 725
#29

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

01/05/2018 3:17 AM

One wonders how many dies on the roads that day, and whether any of it was newsworthy.

__________________
"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
Register to Reply
Guru

Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 6989
Good Answers: 241
#30
In reply to #29

Re: The Wreck of Amtrak Cascades 501 Train

01/05/2018 7:06 AM

The number of people who died on US roadways that day is around 100 with a reasonable degree of certainty.

News worthiness is debatable as this phenomena has been ongoing and is highly predictable. The number who die on US roadways will be around 100 today. The same is a reasonably safe prediction for next Wednesday as well.

On an individual basis, the tragedy is far more impactful. Similar to real estate, all tragedy is local.

__________________
Eternal vigilance is the price of knowledge. - George Santayana
Register to Reply
Register to Reply 30 comments
Interested in this topic? By joining CR4 you can "subscribe" to
this discussion and receive notification when new comments are added.

Comments rated to be Good Answers:

These comments received enough positive ratings to make them "good answers".
Copy to Clipboard

Users who posted comments:

harley (1); ignator (1); jack of all trades (2); lloyd2ls (1); lyn (4); phoenix911 (6); PWSlack (5); Rixter (2); ronseto (1); SolarEagle (1); tonyhemet (1); truth is not a compromise (4); wrenchtwirler (1)

Previous in Forum: Kia Rio Sputters for Several Seconds Every Time I Fill w/ Petrol   Next in Forum: Transportation

Advertisement