Crossing Loops, running or otherwise

 
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
The fireman was supposed to do more than keep the seat warm. Sad
YM-Mundrabilla

AFAIK, the fireman was in the "kitchen" warming some coffee. He could not see what was or was not going on in cab proper.

Since the most likely place to have a collision on a single line railway is at or near a crossing loop, such as at Violet Town, there should should have been a rule that crew should avoid making coffee at or approaching crossing loops.

The implementation of  such a rule is above the pay scale of mere train crew; it should have been the responsibility of someone like the Traffic Manager.

The need for above-pay-scale rules should have also been done by the Traffic Manager to prevent accidents at:
* Menheniot, near Penzance.
* Quintinshill, near Carlisle.

Sponsored advertisement

  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Strictly speaking, the Violet Town accident (about 1965) wasn't a "rolling cross" as the freight train was still some distance away from the loop and was in the section.
awsgc24

According to the Report of the Board of Enquiry, the Southern Aurora (Violet Town) crash was, in fact, intended to be a running cross, and the goods train had slowed accordingly.
A train, in this case the Aurora, belting through at 70 mph does tend to stuff up Control's carefully timed arrangement. Had the Aurora obeyed the Low Speed Caution aspect at the down end points, the running cross would have been spot on.

There was a Rule already in place, stating that the Fireman was to pay particular attention at crossing loops. The fireman ignored the rule and his subsequent duty to stop the train.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'He could see what was or was not going on in cab proper.'

If so, would that make him culpable rather than just negligent?
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
If so, would that make him culpable rather than just negligent?
YM-Mundrabilla


From the State Library archive; The coroner, Mr Pascoe found that Coulthard and Wyer breached their duty in relation to public safety and that the tragedy could have been prevented if they had been alert or awake. He declared both men ‘extremely negligent’, but stopped short of declaring them culpable. He decided that the resulting deaths of the accident were caused by ‘misadventure’.

N.B. Coulthard was the fireman; Wyer was the guard.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
There was a Rule already in place, stating that the Fireman was to pay particular attention at crossing loops. The fireman ignored the rule and his subsequent duty to stop the train.
Valvegear

Most glad to hear this rule had already been thought of. But, this is the first time than anyone else has seen fit to mention it.

But did the rule expressly say "do not say make coffee or go to the loop while approaching crossing loops."?

Also:

Could the guard of the Southern Aurora actually see the signals through his periscope, or while leaning out of the window? It would be difficult for the guard to respond to the red signal(s) being passed, if he could not see these signals.

Some VIC and NSW signals are on gantries, and would presumably be visible through the periscope.

VIC and NSW signals on posts would be less tall (AFAIK NSW less tall than VIC) and perhaps less visible through the periscope.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
But did the rule expressly say "do not say make coffee or go to the loop while approaching crossing loops."?
awsgc24
No. It did not say what he must not do. It expressly stated what he must do.

Could the guard of the Southern Aurora actually see the signals through his periscope, or while leaning out of the window?
awsgc24
Yes.

OK - I've dug out the Board of Enquiry Report, and here is what it says about your questions, plus the set-up of the running cross.

4.3 These instructions require the Fireman-
(ii) Have a responsibility in regard to signals and be always on the alert to act on his own responsibility.
(iii) Draw the driver's attention to anything he considers unsafe; also when approaching level; crossings, he must keep a sharp lookout and avoid all unnecessary duties that might distract his attention.
(iv) When the locomotive is in motion, he must operate the Locomotive Vigilance Control System . . . .  Before pressing the button, the Fireman must satisfy himself that the Driver is alert.
(v) In the event of the Driver becoming incapacitated the Fireman is required to control the train in emergency, he must shut of power and apply the air brake . . . .
(vi) Keep a good look-out for signals  . . .   the Fireman must be disengaged when approaching or passing a station, signal box or junction so that he may keep a good look-out for signals.

8.2 Sighting of Signals from the Brake Van and Locomotive.
On 19th February 1969, the Board rode the Brake Van MHN 2364 on the "up" Southern Aurora. Weather conditions and visibility were similar to those on the day of the collision.
No difficulty was experienced in viewing the signals from the side viewing mirror, and the distances in advance of them at which the indications could be recognised are shown below for the signals at Violet Town Loop.
 Automatic Signal ES. 5774                1 mile
 'Up' Home Arrival Signal No 27/8       72 chains
 'Up' Home Departure Signal No 27/4  42 chains
(My note: 1 mile = 80 chains.)

9. The decision of Mr Humphrey, Acting Senior Train Controller, and Mr McDonnell, Train Controller, at Spencer Street to cross the Southern Aurora and the goods train at Violet Town Loop was in accordance with good train running practice. If the Southern Aurora had obeyed the signal indications and slowed down, it would have resulted in an ideal running cross.


I think that will show you that rules were properly in place, and absolutely disregarded by both the Fireman and the Guard.
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
See Update to "12. SHORT, LONG AND OVERLONG TRAINS."
  awsgc24 Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney
I think that will show you that rules were properly in place, and absolutely disregarded by both the Fireman and the Guard.
Valvegear

Thank you for a comprehensive yet succinct summary of the VT accident.

There is a difference between a "running cross" and a "rolling crossing", which would depend on the lengths of the loop compared to the trains, and the arrival signals.
* CTC Loops in VIC (3000ft 915m)
* Non CTC loops in NSW (about 400m), except Harefield (900m)
* Southern Aurora (? - less than 400m)
* Freighter- 900m to suit VIC loops, 400m to suit NSW loops.

A running cross at say 80km/h needs a very long "Passing Lane" or about 6000m
A rolling cross at say 10km/h is enforced by a short loop of 400m or 900m
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I think that the terms 'running' and 'rolling' crosses are somewhat academic here in the case of Violet Town. All that was necessary was for the crew on the Aurora to be alive, alert, competent and to obey the signals.

The Rules have always said (more or less) that the fireman must be available to observe signals at stations, crossings etc and act accordingly should a need exist. He has bugger all else to do except keep the seat warm. It is not like steam where firing, steam and water levels can sometimes create crises of their own for the fireman but he should nevertheless be similarly available whenever possible.

It seems these days, however, that there is a trend by rule makers who, in attempting to specify/simplify/clarify/whatever rules, may create loop holes for two bob lawyers. There is no substitute for a blanket Rule which may be modified in specific cases/locations by a local instruction. This is, or was (?), the difference between the Rule Book and the General Appendix. Competence, diligence, professionalism  and experience were everything.

If one reads some of the British Accident Reports there is often a shortcoming in the Instructions/Rules or the training thereof which allows ignorance/stupidity to triumph. Common sense, proper training and experience never seem to count for anything these days.

The guard is in a more problematic position and, to some extent, must rely on the competence of the loco crew, their judgement and their far better view of the road and signals ahead.

By all means pull the tap in an emergency but it is a big step and he will need a good reason.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
The guard is in a more problematic position and, to some extent, must rely on the competence of the loco crew, their judgement and their far better view of the road and signals ahead.
By all means pull the tap in an emergency but it is a big step and he will need a good reason.
YM-Mundrabilla"
And in this case, 71 mph past a low speed caution signal for No 1 road ( the main line) at a well-known crossing loop, was a good reason. Tests showed that if either the fireman or guard had pulled the tap at that stage, the collision would have been prevented.
  Lockspike Junior Train Controller

I think that will show you that rules were properly in place, and absolutely disregarded by both the Fireman and the Guard.
Valvegear
True, however (and going just a little off topic) it is interesting that the coroner reserved his greatest criticism for the driver for continuing to drive trains while having a serious heart condition. I don't agree with that finding. I did a uni psych assignment on this event and I thought the fireman to be most at fault. The coroner also said of the guard, "his logbook was largely a piece of fiction", and was "satisfied he was asleep shortly after the train cleared Albury".
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
True, however (and going just a little off topic) it is interesting that the coroner reserved his greatest criticism for the driver for continuing to drive trains while having a serious heart condition. I don't agree with that finding. I did a uni psych assignment on this event and I thought the fireman to be most at fault. The coroner also said of the guard, "his logbook was largely a piece of fiction", and was "satisfied he was asleep shortly after the train cleared Albury".
Lockspike


I would say that, at the collision itself and the immediate minutes preceding it, the fireman was most at fault. He had by far the best view of track and signals, and was, in my opinion, culpable, in that he was under an obligation to prevent the collision, and did absolutely nothing. I think that Pascoe SM let him off lightly.

The guard, whilst being able to view the signals, did not know whether the train locomotive had passed the signal or not, and therefore had less immediate information than the fireman. However, there is no doubt that he was derelict in his duty since the rules required him to be alert to signals, and he wasn't.

Driver Jack Bowden deserved some criticism, because he knew quite well that he could suddenly die or be incapacitated from heart disease. In mitigation, he was entitled to believe that the fireman would do his duty correctly in the event of an emergency. Unfortunately, he was wrong.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
An unbalanced decision by the Coroner in my view.
  Trainplanner Chief Commissioner

Location: Along the Line
Some assistance if I may.   Have tried the likes of Wikipedia etc to get a copy of Board of Enquiry Report.   No success.  Can anyone assist with a link please.

cheers

TP
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Trainplanner,

Send me a PM with your e mail address; I should be able to help.
  Lockspike Junior Train Controller

An unbalanced decision by the Coroner in my view.
YM-Mundrabilla
Possibly, but it is interesting to get the opinions of a person from outside of the industry and in all likelihood a person without technical training.

The primary focus of railway boards of inquiry were to establish blame. The reasons why a person behaved as they did, in seeking to prevent a re-occurrence, were not considered.

Why did the fireman not stop the train once it was obvious the driver was not going to do so?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
An unbalanced decision by the Coroner in my view.
Possibly, but it is interesting to get the opinions of a person from outside of the industry and in all likelihood a person without technical training.

The primary focus of railway boards of inquiry were to establish blame. The reasons why a person behaved as they did, in seeking to prevent a re-occurrence, were not considered.

Why did the fireman not stop the train once it was obvious the driver was not going to do so?
Lockspike
' Why did the fireman not stop the train once it was obvious the driver was not going to do so?'

That is the question!
The answer is because he was negligent, incompetent, lazy, away with the pixies - who knows. He was certainly not someone you would be proud to have as an employee, let alone on the 'big wheel'.
  gordon_s1942 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
While this is NOT meant as any form of excuse about the Collision between the Southern Aurora and that goods train but I dont think the Standard Gauge had been in use that long with the 'rolling crossings' before it happened so the Crew never gave any thought to it happening or what circumstances could cause it to happen such as the fireman supposedly being 'out of the cab' and the driver having an 'episode' at that crucial time.
Management of the Day never thought of it either or suitable facilities would have been placed so the fireman didnt have to leave the Cab area except for using a Toilet and fitting of those buttons that must be pressed every 60/90 seconds or everything comes to a Stop has been a result of this incident and others.
It was always my impression that nearly every Rule and Regulation came about from some kind of incident happening before.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Whilst I appreciate what gordon_s1942 has to say, the newness of the Standard Gauge and running crosses is completely irrelevant.
Standard Gauge had been in operation in Victoria for seven years when the collision occurred.
Single line operation with crossing loops had been in existence in Victoria since Cocky was still an egg.
The rules which have already been summarised in earlier posts had been in existence for years prior to SG's arrival.
The rule that the fireman must be alert approaching signals, stations et al was not new. It applied to any gauge, anywhere in the State.

The fitting of the Vigilance Control, which entails the pressing of a button, was not a result of this crash. The VC was well established already. The fireman's misuse and inattention to rules of operation of the VC are well covered in the Report of the Board of Enquiry.
The crew did not need to consider what might happen in any circumstances; the crew had only to act in accordance with long established rules.
There was plenty of opportunity to leave the cab and put the billy on in safety after the Violet Town loop had been passed.
This Fireman ignored every rule - he could have averted a tragedy but was totally derelict in his duty and some people died and others were injured. No excuse whatsoever and no mitigating circumstances.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
'There was plenty of opportunity to leave the cab and put the billy on in safety after the Violet Town loop had been passed.
This Fireman ignored every rule - he could have averted a tragedy but was totally derelict in his duty and some people died and others were injured. No excuse whatsoever and no mitigating circumstances.'


Couldn't have put it better myself. Surprised that he didn't go to jail.

Rules or not, surely he would/should have checked the location and said something of his intentions to the driver. A classic case in support of those advocating one-man operation.!!!
  gordon_s1942 Assistant Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Being a long way from that area, I either had forgotten (50 plus years ago) that the standard gauge had been in use along with that form of operation for so long.
Also we were still Steam with the exception of one lonely 49 class that worked from Lithgow to Oberon until about 1971  when steam was finaly phased out so the vigilance control systems were unknown to me not being an engineman.
I hope my comments did not in any way dilute the seriousness of the issue and the reported negligence of those involved.

I see on occasions the Driver whose IU collided with the Indian Pacific east of Glenbrook station many years ago and while we were never on more than nodding acknowledging of each other because we worked on the Railways, I do wonder how that situation affected him.
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
For the benefit of anyone interested, I have now scanned the Board of Enquiry's Report into the Aurora collision, and the Appendix thereto.
I now have both available in pdf format.
  Showtime Train Controller

'There was plenty of opportunity to leave the cab and put the billy on in safety after the Violet Town loop had been passed.
This Fireman ignored every rule - he could have averted a tragedy but was totally derelict in his duty and some people died and others were injured. No excuse whatsoever and no mitigating circumstances.'


Couldn't have put it better myself. Surprised that he didn't go to jail.

Rules or not, surely he would/should have checked the location and said something of his intentions to the driver. A classic case in support of those advocating one-man operation.!!!

YM-Mundrabilla
Would not the driver have had the authority to tell the fireman to stay in the cab because the crossing was coming up?
One would think that upon seeing the fireman about to "step out" that the driver would have said to the foreman  "hang on a moment buddy, you can do that after we have crossed".
  billjohnston Beginner

Or perhaps more likely, kid go put the kettle on as we will be stopping at VT.
Bill Johnston
  Valvegear The Ghost of George Stephenson

Location: Norda Fittazroy
Would not the driver have had the authority to tell the fireman to stay in the cab because the crossing was coming up? One would think that upon seeing the fireman about to "step out" that the driver would have said to the foreman  "hang on a moment buddy, you can do that after we have crossed".
"Showtime"
Given the fact that the driver was dead at time, it would have been a little difficult.
In normal circumstances, the driver is the boss and, as the old Rules say, the fireman must be "cheerfully subordinate to the driver", but these circumstances were anything but normal.

Sponsored advertisement

Subscribers: awsgc24

Display from: