'People were screaming': Amtrak train derails over road bridge in Washington state

 

News article: 'People were screaming': Amtrak train derails over road bridge in Washington state

An Amtrak passenger train derailed on a bridge over a major highway in Washington state on Monday morning, sending part of the train crashing down onto Interstate 5 and killing several passengers, authorities said.

  freightgate Minister for Railways

Location: Albury, New South Wales
A new route for the cascades to reduce time taken. Was the track shared with dreightnor purpose built for Amtrak ?

'People were screaming': Amtrak train derails over road bridge in Washington state

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  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
The new route (it was the first day of use) was a freight line that already had local passenger trains on the northern half.

The Line was upgraded to allow Amtrak to use it as a more direct route out of Tacoma.

The Amtrak Cascades (Seattle-Portland) service has derailed on, or approaching, a bridge across the I5 Interstate freeway.



https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/Rail/PNWRC_PtDefiance/default.htm
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

Not a good look for Amtrak at all.  I noticed on the map that there is a curve in the track just before it crosses the highway.

Some perspective though - train travel is still far safer than driving.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
Some reports suggest a "High Speed Train". It is worth remembering that most passenger trains in the USA (NE Corridor being the main exception) are limited to 79 mph (127 kmh) due to the cost of installing ATS, ATC etc on the Routes, most of which are predominantly freight routes, owned by Freight railways.
  steven_h Train Controller

Location: Melbourne, Australia
For those playing at home, the consist was a Talgo with 'shared' bogies... each having a single axle in the middle.

http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/incidents/us-passenger-train-derails-onto-highway-in-washington-state-casualties-reported/news-story/e190cd6dbc09684fc775bed6fda1af01

It's therefore interesting to see the quote on the image in the post above where they show "An object found at the scene of the Amtrak train derailment in Washington."

It's just the bogie from the cars that have completely split apart. The bars that are lying down and partly under the guard rail are actually meant to be vertical.



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klIv6uLjZNY

You'll notice in the shot from behind the rear power car (I wonder if it was actually powering at the time?) that there is huge 'earth-work' on the right embankment... looks like the train left the tracks prior to the bridge.
  M636C Minister for Railways

Looking at the aerial photos. it looks like the leading locomotive left the track at the beginning of the curve.

The lead loco, new SC44 1402 actually ended up on the road without ever going on to the bridge.

Only one Talgo coach actually fell from the bridge, ending up on its roof.

It may have lost its lead axle before derailing.

The track is BNSF but has only recently been adapted for passenger service. This was the first regular service passenger train.
The curve is limited to 30 mph, but is at the end of a long straight.

It seems likely that  the train was travelling too fast for the curve, possibly the driver had lost track of his location.

Peter
  x31 Chief Commissioner

Location: gallifrey
I think you may be right as the track looks in good condition and was recently upgraded.
  gordon_s1942 Deputy Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
First reports were saying people were concerned that a 'New Train' was using 'Old Track' which now as more information becomes available is that the track has undergone a complete renewal around where the derailment has occured.
While today was the first day the Train ran as a Passenger service, I find it difficult to believe that tests of the both the Train and the Track havent been carried out previously at all speeds.
Now all anyone can do is hope there are no more than the three reported fatalities and those injured recover quickly and fully.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Trapped in a meeting with Rhonda and Karsten
The brand-new Siemens Charger loco up the front was equipped with Positive Train Control, which would've prevented an overspeed on the 30mph corner from occurring. It wasn't activated on the train that crashed, because PTC wasn't going to be rolled out until the whole Cascades corridor had it installed and commissioned in 2018.
  djf01 Chief Commissioner

The brand-new Siemens Charger loco up the front was equipped with Positive Train Control, which would've prevented an overspeed on the 30mph corner from occurring. It wasn't activated on the train that crashed, because PTC wasn't going to be rolled out until the whole Cascades corridor had it installed and commissioned in 2018.
LancedDendrite

As an expert from my armchair on the opposite side of the world:



Look at how small the speed boards are, and how close they are to the 200m radius curve.

Leaving aside that 50kph is pretty quick for a 200m radius curve unless it is well banked - and you can see that this is a new section of track connected to an old one  ....

A train approaching this at speed with a driver unfamiliar with the route, this level of signage is completely inadequate.  If the train is travelling at 120kph, by the time the speed board is readable, it's too late to slow the train to a safe enough speed to negotiate the curve.  

The driver has to - completely unprompted - slow the train in advance of the curve (which they might do if they were very experienced with the route) and the "warning" sign.  A lot like the Santiago de Compostela crash: a human factors disaster just waiting to happen.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
Came off at 128km/h (79.5 mph) it seems.

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-19/derailed-us-train-was-hurtling-80kph-over-speed-limit/9274352



  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
It doesn't like me editing the post as it ends in a tiny font - but further down that article it mentions Speed signs at 3km from the curve.
  Gavin J Junior Train Controller

Location: Stawell


This reminds me of a similar situation in my Connex days.

Now this is a graffitied warning board at Heyington for a severe 10kph speed restriction at Kooyong.
It is impossible to read the '10' speed by daytime and of course it will not show up in the headlights at night time.

So  a driver has no prior warning of the severe 10 kph speed restriction ahead, he will be doing his track speed of 65kph around the Kooyong curves, when all of a sudden he sees the caution board for the 10 kph speed restriction....it was 10 kph for a reason ! but a driver doing track speed of 65kph and not knowing its there could be in big trouble, and would be unable to slow to 10 kph

As usual I reported it to   Metrol, Crew Manager, Union all to no avail, it actually remained in this condition until it was taken down, several weeks later....oh the apathy !

I even reported it via the Connex website...I was promised a reply within 7 days....that was in August 2009....I'm still waiting.  

( Oh, I do not miss the horrible railway it was ! )

So if the train derailed at Kooyong, who would be in the wrong ? as the driver had insufficient warning to slow to his caution speed of 10 kph, and being a temporary speed restriction, it was not part of his route knowledge and he may not have been to Glen Waverley for months, thus didn't know of the speed restriction. That's what the warning and caution boards are there for !

Arguments were similar put forward in regards to missing / graffitied curve boards, as the driver should know the curve speed as part of his route knowledge, despite the curve board being missing or obscured.

In the Amtrak case, the boards were provided, maybe not at a suitable distance, although the telephoto lens probably makes it worse, or should the driver have known the speed, due to his route knowledge of the track ?
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
In Victoria, speed curve boards are almost an irrelevance.

A driver cannot be qualified to drive on a particular section of track until s/he can... without prompting actually describe the curve-board speeds along the track in order of the route. This is one of the reasons Victorian drivers take up to 2 years to learn to be effective and safe drivers.

The Weekly Notice temporary speed restrictions on a particular line must also be committed to memory.

I imagine Amtrak would have similar driver learning policies in which case my feeling is there were one or more extra persons in the drivers cab and the driver lost concentration due to communicating with the other people in the cab instead of having their mind on the job.

Mike.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

The engineer being distracted by other people in the cab is one possible cause, but there are a number of others that could have applied. I would say it is too early to jump to any particular conclusion, rather than speculating it would be best to wait until the NTSB investigation determines the truth.

A mobile phone (as in the 2008 Metrolink collision) is another, the NTSB investigation team will probably pull the engineer's phone records to check.

Fatigue is another possible cause.

Poor route knowledge is a big chance of being the cause. Just because there is a policy dictated by head office doesn't mean that policy will always be followed correctly by staff on the ground, especially in such a large and top-heavy organisation like Amtrak. Route knowledge issues could be broken down into four different categories:
1. A rogue engineer signing off on a route without actually being fully route competent.
2. A culture of engineers cutting corners on their route competency.
3. Poor management of route competency, or even pressure from managers to cut corners.
4. Poor route competency policies at regional/national level (perhaps different policies for full Amtrak routes as opposed to state-owned trains operated by Amtrak crews like the Cascades and Pacific Surfliner)

Interestingly, in July there was a derailment on the slower coastal route which the newly rebuilt track bypasses - again due to excessive speed going into a curve.

In the Amtrak case, the boards were provided, maybe not at a suitable distance, although the telephoto lens probably makes it worse, or should the driver have known the speed, due to his route knowledge of the track ?
Gavin J
According to the statement from the Washington State Department of Transport* there are also signs two miles before the speed restrictions commences.

I agree that the engineer should have known the speed restriction was there even without the two signs, if we were to assume Amtrak has similar route competency policies as countries with British-influenced railway systems like Australia.

* the WSDOT owns the track concerned and the rolling stock, and funds the service along with the Oregon DOT. Amtrak is the contractor that currently staffs the service.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

The southbound lanes of Interstate 5 under the bridge have reopened.

The CEO of Amtrak (the contracted operator of the train) has preempted the NTSB investigation by accepting that Amtrak was to blame for the crash. However, I hope that the NTSB investigation also looks at the safety of the Talgo cars (owned by Washington State) as some of them look like whole sections of the body had peeled away.
  georges Train Controller

The Washington Post reports on 3 January that:

"The Trump administration has fired a warning shot to the nation’s railroads, saying it plans to hold them to a December (2018) deadline to install an automatic braking system that might have prevented last month’s fatal Amtrak accident in Washington state, the Philadelphia derailment that killed eight passengers in 2015 and scores of other train wrecks.
The implementation of the system known as positive train control was postponed by Congress, which extended a deadline to have the systems in place from 2015 until December of this year and left open the possibility of an additional extension to 2020".

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/trump-administration-says-railroads-must-meet-automatic-braking-system-deadline/2018/01/03/a50f3584-f085-11e7-b3bf-ab90a706e175_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-cards_hp-card-national%3Ahomepage%2Fcard
  Clyde Goodwin2 Chief Train Controller

Loving the double standards of the posters in this thread.

Huge outcry over 3 deaths and less than 100 injuries in the USA.

Yet not one damn word or even a thread about the massively tragic African Train crash with 18 dead and over 200 injured overnight.
  Dangersdan707 Deputy Commissioner

Location: On a Thing with Internet
Most People unfortunately will use the excuse that Africa is a backwards 3rd world continent (ignore that the accident happened in one of the most industrialised African nations) or that 'We have no cultural or political ties there' same goes for terrorist attacks, massacres, famines in that continent. I do agree CGW2 however Y** **W
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
This thread actually started as a result of an article in the News section being commented on.

There is no article visible for the South African one yet, so I have added it (linked to an ABC article) - but it requires approval to be come visible and for someone to then start a discussion thread. Of course a thread can be started without of course, just add it into the International Discussion Forum.

And for those wondering - a truck driver tested his luck and lost (though he survived, as did the train loco crew), train derailed and burned, at least 18 dead.



And yes, if it doesn't happen in our own backyard, or the USA or UK, it doesn't seem to rate a mention - even the ABC article is buried way down.
  Clyde Goodwin2 Chief Train Controller

Mike Thank you for starting a thread on it and yes the media double standards are appalling.

Truck driver was grabbed by survivors and held after he tried to leg it from the scene.
  mikesyd Chief Commissioner

Location: no longer in Sydney
Mike Thank you for starting a thread on it and yes the media double standards are appalling.

Truck driver was grabbed by survivors and held after he tried to leg it from the scene.
Clyde Goodwin2
I have just added the item to the News Section and it should appear there after it gets approved.

As I understand it, that article then needs someone to decide that it is worthy of discussion, which then generates a thread in the News forum. All very confusing!!
  Clyde Goodwin2 Chief Train Controller

Mike Thank you for starting a thread on it and yes the media double standards are appalling.

Truck driver was grabbed by survivors and held after he tried to leg it from the scene.
I have just added the item to the News Section and it should appear there after it gets approved.

As I understand it, that article then needs someone to decide that it is worthy of discussion, which then generates a thread in the News forum. All very confusing!!
mikesyd
Yes thats why i did not start one much to long winded a process.
  ARodH Train Controller

Location: East Oakleigh, Vic
I'd a look at the site via google earth & I swear I see signs that the track use to have a gentler curve that got removed when the interstate was built. It appears that in order to cross it and keep most of the track alignment the same a shorter bridge was built resulting in a tighter curve.

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