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Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
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   Author  Topic: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident  (Read 216 times)
ClydeDET
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Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« on: Mar 9th, 2015, 7:52pm »
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Today, near Raleigh, NC. Washington-bound Carolinian hit a heavy truck carrying heavy machinery that got stuck on the track ''while attempting to make a difficult right turn". Locomotive on its side, baggage car and business-class AMFLEET derailed, about forty people hurt, none with life-threatening injuries, but 15 badly enough they were transported by ambulance.
 
What in the world can we do to cure truck drivers (and i'd say soccer moms in their giant SUVs, except she stayed with the ride and got her just deserts) of this behavior?


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #1 on: Mar 10th, 2015, 12:16pm »
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Clyde - Lodge Members -  
 
Ah! We have had this discussion before. It invites the larger issue? Whatever to do with endless grade crossings throughout  
the Nation?
 
For fact, the Train was the State Of NC promoted service. The wreck happened at Halifax, NC, an old ACL (Coast Line) point.  
So, we might assume the Train running at the legal 79 MPH.
 
Time was not helping here. This a.m. reports state there was a 'time window' of anywhere from five to six minutes, or as much  
as fifteen (15) minutes to avert this incident. Also, noted on the Railroad (CSX) fixtures, a placard for a telephone number to call...
 
Ideally, the truck operator would reflexively set out fusees, at both sides of the crossing. But, time by itself to set out fusees at  
1,000 feet may not have helped. Here, we have to take it on faith the Train Engineer knows to stop immediately when a fusee  
displayed...
 
...........................Vern.......................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #2 on: Mar 10th, 2015, 3:50pm »
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Yes, NC state supported, but operated by AMTRAK, so AMTRAK takes the hit 9including damaged equipment as well as reputation.  
 
Reports suggest that "the right turn was difficult" and that the driver was doing a repeated "back-up and try again", as well as "Trailer was stuck (high-centered?) on the tracks". Maybe both? Obviously legal entry on crossing, culpably foolish to continue to block it without doing SOMETHING to notify CSX (and AMTRAK) of the hazard.
 
As to grade crossings - i dunno what the answer is, but the screams when one is eliminated (and the equally noisy ones when somebody gets hit, despite warning devices) suggest elimination of the actual at-grade crossing without elimination of ability to pass the location (over or under) is desired by the traveling public. until somebody mentions paying for the modification...


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jmlaboda
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #3 on: Mar 10th, 2015, 4:21pm »
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It wasn't just a "Back up and try again" situation... both the driver and his accompanying State Trooper had the crossing blocked for quite some time before the train entered the scene, while they both failed to call the CSX Dispatcher to alert the railroad of the problem.  This is discussed in the article linked too below...
 
http://my.earthlink.net/article/us?guid=20150310/18598964-44a5-4b75-86c9-9ac8141c3ec8
 
This is more than just a simple problem... major mistakes were made and hopefully some asses will fall because of it.  Unfortunately Amtrak's image will be tarnished because of someone else's "major fail".


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jerry
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HwyHaulier
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #4 on: Mar 10th, 2015, 4:23pm »
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Clyde - Jerry - Lodge Members -
 
Right! You hint at some practical steps to at least mitigate. Perhaps the Railroads, in continuing safety missions:  
1) Would be well to reach out to State and National Trucking Associations. Ongoing advisories, industry meetings  
with "best practices" when a heavy commercial vehicle with difficulties crossing tracks.
 
And, 2) Campaign to assure this taught in CDL (Commercial Drivers License) classes. Work to get questions on  
the exams. Standing alone, none of it directly appeals to the "four wheeler" trade. Clearly, more work might be of  
some help with that?
 
As far as routes with rebuild at crossings to over or under structures? Yes, it could be a never ending "infrastructure"  
project! It still would not eliminate some incidents. The "NEC" here in the East is deemed highly protected, but bizarre  
incidents still happen...
 
In this Halifax, NC incident? Whatever the driver's state of mind? The "...he shoulda'..." would have been to make a  
quick telephone call to the number shown on the Railroad fixtures at site? We'll never know... Jerry, Just noted yours,  
and Many Thanks!
 
..............................Vern......................


« Last Edit: Mar 10th, 2015, 4:47pm by HwyHaulier » Logged

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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #5 on: Mar 10th, 2015, 6:03pm »
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The stories I had seen (thanks for that link, Jerry) didn't mention a state trooper escort, though there was a brief note of a "state trooper who was helping", without being clear as how long he'd been on scene, or what he was doing to "help". Now it seems we know - and it wasn't much, in practical terms, was it?
 
And seems to me we have two pretty serious failures to use common sense here. Driver was one, and state trooper was the other.  
 
I will say i do NOT think trying to make every road/rail crossing into an over-pass/under-pass is either possible or desirable. There is one on US 59 at Moscow, TX that is a four-lane over-pass over the Moscow, Camden & Saint Augustine. A single-track short-line that runs one train each way each day. Except on days they don't run at all. I understand the justification was too many people complained about the crossing being rough and the expense of maintaining it...


« Last Edit: Mar 13th, 2015, 9:38am by ClydeDET » Logged
George_Harris
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #6 on: Mar 11th, 2015, 12:23am »
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From the article linked by jmlaboda:
 
Quote:
Alerting the railroad wasn't the responsibility of the trooper, who had only 25 seconds or so to react after the approaching New York-bound train set off warning lights and the crossing arms came down, North Carolina Highway Patrol Spokesman Lt. Jeff Gordon said.

 
Do what??  Then who's responsibility was it?  The time to notify the railroad was when attempting the crossing did not go smoothly.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #7 on: Mar 11th, 2015, 3:03pm »
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Clyde - Lodge Members -
 
A very sad and needless disaster. Your writer knows, and has loaded to the Carrier named in the reports. A long time, most  
experienced firm with particular expertise in oversize, over weight, other over dimension shipments. Most all such shipments  
move subject to State issued movement permits.
 
In this incident at Halifax, NC, clearly an oversize load. And, it again makes the point that on such work, one must be ever  
attentive to every little detail. Here we have an apparent instance of failure to act. The barristers and attorneys will be busy  
with this one...
 
............................Vern....................


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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #8 on: Mar 11th, 2015, 6:28pm »
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Apparently this one - 125K pound electrical transmission gear of some sort -  required an escort by NC State Trooper. And apparently extensive route planning to avoid clearance problems. To me, common sense would have required immediate call to the CSX as soon as it became apparent it wasn't going to be a simple pull across the track deal. But I am pretty sure that everybody got focused on the immediate difficulty and forgot all about the potential for a train to come along. A train that would NOT be able to stop between the obstruction becoming apparent and arriving on scene at whatever track speed was...
 
And yes, the Bar (or some members thereof) will become quite busy on this matter.


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jmlaboda
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #9 on: Mar 11th, 2015, 7:56pm »
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Quote:
But I am pretty sure that everybody got focused on the immediate difficulty and forgot all about the potential for a train to come along.

 
 On this line, with 30 to 35 freight and passenger trains a day passing this very crossing, you would have to be pretty damn stupid to not be mindful of trains coming through.  That's a train EVERY 41 minutes.  All I can say is that I hope in that officer's future en devours he can keep from messing up that badly again... but there really is no cure for STUPID.


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jerry
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HwyHaulier
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #10 on: Mar 12th, 2015, 9:30am »
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Jerry - Clyde - Lodge Members -
 
Jerry, Thanks for your added comments about the steady and heavy flows of trains on the route. Shoot! Your writer resides near  
three hundred miles from the line of old COAST LINE track, and is well aware how busy it can be. To add to it, much below  
Petersburg, VA, the line runs thru town after town at grade. One would think the locals very aware to exercise caution around the  
line. A very "hot" line of track...
 
On a side note, years back your writer stayed at an in town Motel at Dunn, NC. The old COAST LINE Main about adjacent from  
the back window view. Those trains kept comin' all night long, doo dah, doo dah! Didn't bother me, but impressed how busy the line...
 
Update. 1145 HR. Search YAHOO! NEWS for latest. Watch the videos. Now we are to the "trial by newspaper" stage.
 
............................Vern...........................


« Last Edit: Mar 12th, 2015, 11:44am by HwyHaulier » Logged

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Lfire83
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #11 on: Mar 12th, 2015, 7:36pm »
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Something has got to be done about grade crossings, plain and simple. This year the new mandate for ENS goes into effect, I've spent the last few weeks putting some up on my routine track inspections. While this a good thing, this nations various civil engineers need to get serious about grade crossing eliminations. Crossing redesign and signals just aren't going to cut it. The population is only going to keep increasing, looking toward the future needs to be the priority. I've always liked the Texas highway system of using frontage roads, with most railroad right of ways having the room on either side, this should be a new standard in new capital projects.

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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #12 on: Mar 13th, 2015, 9:49am »
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Well, many (far from all) major highways in Texas have frontage roads and have eliminated at-grade crossings, and most new construction will try to take the highway over railroads, but we have a LOT where you cross at grade. Especially in towns. The busy lines, they try to eliminate at-grade crossings  for main roads (example US 79 between Taylor and Round Rock or the roads beside UP between Hearne and Navasota), but a lot of smaller roads that enter or cross the parallel road cross at grade. Some don't have anything but a cross-buck. Austin has a stretch on the MoPac Freeway where the UP (ex-MP) track runs in the median.
 
I don't know what he answer is, in the sense of anything I can think of would cost way more money than is available. And it is pretty clear that asking people to use good, common sense doesn't work very well...


« Last Edit: Mar 13th, 2015, 9:50am by ClydeDET » Logged
jmlaboda
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #13 on: Mar 13th, 2015, 3:41pm »
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Quote:
Some don't have anything but a cross-buck.

 
A trend that I have watched for several decades now in Western North Carolina is that electric warning devices are not installed to rural crossings except after someone has perished at one without them.  I know of only one crossing that had these installed without such an accident, and there is one that was installed after a friend of mine died because of the lack thereof (though I suspect that the train's headlight might have been confused with a car lot's bright light that was next to the tracks and pointing towards the crossing).  Thankfully the car lot light has been gone for a number of years now but it doesn't bring back my friend.    At least there hasn't been any other deaths at that crossing.


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jerry
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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #14 on: Mar 13th, 2015, 5:08pm »
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on Mar 13th, 2015, 3:41pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)

 
A trend that I have watched for several decades now in Western North Carolina is that electric warning devices are not installed to rural crossings except after someone has perished at one without them.  I know of only one crossing that had these installed without such an accident, and there is one that was installed after a friend of mine died because of the lack thereof (though I suspect that the train's headlight might have been confused with a car lot's bright light that was next to the tracks and pointing towards the crossing).  Thankfully the car lot light has been gone for a number of years now but it doesn't bring back my friend.    At least there hasn't been any other deaths at that crossing.

 
You see the same sort of thing down here. often require not only a kill, but a (successful) lawsuit by some of our better (and more predatory) plaintiff's side lawyers. Walter Umphrey or Joe Jamail, perhaps...


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George_Harris
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #15 on: Mar 13th, 2015, 11:29pm »
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on Mar 13th, 2015, 3:41pm, jmlaboda wrote:       (Click here for original message)
A trend that I have watched for several decades now in Western North Carolina is that electric warning devices are not installed to rural crossings except after someone has perished at one without them.  I know of only one crossing that had these installed without such an accident, and there is one that was installed after a friend of mine died because of the lack thereof (though I suspect that the train's headlight might have been confused with a car lot's bright light that was next to the tracks and pointing towards the crossing).  Thankfully the car lot light has been gone for a number of years now but it doesn't bring back my friend.    At least there hasn't been any other deaths at that crossing.

There may be more truth than poetry in what you are seeing.  Generally each state or subdivision thereof has a prioritized list of grade crossings for installation of active crossing systems.  How fast this happens generally depends upon financial realities.  In Tennessee (I have seen this statement in the reports on a specific grade crossing accident) if there is a fatality at a crossing that does not have active warning systems, that crossing is moved to the top of the list of priorities for installation of active warning systems.  Thus crossings having recent fatalities will be given protection before any other crossing on the list is touched, which could mean that no crossing that has not experienced a recent fatality gets any protection installed.


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HwyHaulier
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #16 on: Mar 20th, 2015, 1:43pm »
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Lodge Members -  
 
Any thing new on this story? In one of the video clips, appearances that both Town of Halifax, and State of NC had built in a number of  
reasonable protections.
 
By now, the several players in this are obvious. An attack of collected stupidity? One phone call to Jacksonville may have averted this...
 
At my end, still can't figure precise site of shipper, from whom this shipment originated. So, it is difficult to understand why this shipment  
routed thru Town...
 
............................Vern.........................


« Last Edit: Mar 20th, 2015, 1:44pm by HwyHaulier » Logged

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ClydeDET
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Re: Another AMTRAK Grade-crossing Accident
 
« Reply #17 on: Mar 20th, 2015, 6:45pm »
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on Mar 20th, 2015, 1:43pm, HwyHaulier wrote:       (Click here for original message)
Lodge Members -  
 
Any thing new on this story? In one of the video clips, appearances that both Town of Halifax, and State of NC had built in a number of  
reasonable protections.
 
By now, the several players in this are obvious. An attack of collected stupidity? One phone call to Jacksonville may have averted this...
 
At my end, still can't figure precise site of shipper, from whom this shipment originated. So, it is difficult to understand why this shipment  
routed thru Town...
 
............................Vern.........................

 
Yes, that one call probably would have insured no wreck. As to routing, I suspect there will be a full explanation from NTSB in a year or so.


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