Author Topic: Derailed US train was moving nearly three times faster than speed limit: Probe  (Read 484 times)

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SPQR

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The New York commuter train which derailed at the weekend leaving four people dead was travelling at nearly three times the recommended speed limit when it hurtled off the tracks, federal investigators said on Monday.

National Transportation Safety Board member Earl Weener said the train involved in Sunday's accident in the Bronx had clocked 82 miles (131 kilometers) per hour as it entered a curve where the limit was 30 miles (48 kilometers) per hour.

 "Preliminary information, from the event recorders, shows that the train was traveling at approximately 82 miles per hour as it went into a 30 mile an hour curve," Weener said.

 Investigators also found that shortly before the crash the train's throttle had gone to idle and there had been a sudden loss in brake pressure.

 "Our investigators will be carefully reviewing all the data to determine the functioning of the brakes throughout the trip and to determine why the throttle went to zero, brake pressure went to zero," Weener said.

 "At this point, we are not aware of any problems or anomalies with the brakes."

 The train, carrying between 100 and 150 people, crashed at around 7.20 am (1220 GMT) Sunday as it headed south to Grand Central Station in Manhattan.

 The train's seven cars derailed just before it reached Spuyten Duyvil station and flew across a grassy bank separating the railroad from the Hudson and Harlem rivers, which meet at that point.

 The front car came to rest only a few feet from the water and two cars toppled on their side.

 Weener said investigators had begun questioning the driver and would continue to do so over the coming days.

 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said earlier on Monday the cause of the crash, which also left 67 people injured, was most likely "speed-related," noting that the stretch of track involved in the accident was "tricky" but not especially hazardous.

 "This was a tricky turn on the system, but it's a turn that's been here for decades and trains negotiate all day long," he told NBC.

 "I think it's going to turn out to be about the speed more than anything, and the operator's operation of the train at that time."

 Cuomo later described the horror passengers experienced as the train skidded at high speed before coming to a rest.

 "The windows broke out, the doors opened and they were picking up stones, rock, dirt, tree limbs were flying through the cars," he said.

 Some passengers were "impaled" by debris as train cars flew into the air, officials have said, while others had to be cut free from tangled metal.

 The Metropolitan Transportation Authority identified the four victims, who ranged in age from 35 to 59. Two were men, two were women, and all were New York-area residents.

 Three of the victims had been thrown from the train. Commuter rail service in the area around the accident remained suspended on Monday.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Derailed-US-train-was-moving-nearly-three-times-faster-than-speed-limit-Probe/articleshow/26758792.cms

SPQR

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Either the conductor was on drugs,drunk, fell asleep on the switch, in a hurry or distracted. Either way it will boil down to human error.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 02:51:41 AM by SPQR »

SPQR

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Either the conductor was on drugs,drunk, fell asleep on the switch, in a hurry or distracted. Either way it will boil down to human error.

My guess is either he was drunk and on some sort of drugs. Andrew Cuomo says that it was "speed related" but what caused the conductor to go that fast ? He must of traveled that stretch of track many times. One of the passengers noted in the article that it is a well known stretch of track and trains cross there on a regular basis.There has to be a cause.You have to apply Occam's razor to this. The razor states that one should proceed to simpler theories until simplicity can be traded for greater explanatory power. The simplest available theory need not be most accurate.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 03:13:01 AM by SPQR »

Offline Fishrrman

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No, not on drugs, not drunk -- just tired, I reckon.

I ran trains on the Hudson line for years back in the Conrail era, mostly big freight trains in the middle of the night, from Oak Point yard in the South Bronx up to Selkirk yard outside of Albany.

Also worked on passenger, too, both for Conrail (before Metro-North) and later a very few trips on Amtrak (I was primarily a New Haven line guy for passenger).

When I first started on the railroad at the end of the seventies, there was something I learned quickly. That is, there were some jobs I thrived on, and other jobs that took too much out of me. I found that any job that reported early could be tough -- yes, I could get up at 3:00 or 4:00am and get to work, but after only a few hours on the job I was already beat. On afternoon jobs, however, I found my place. One isn't forced to get up early, as much rest as you need, the day off to do things, then go to work refreshed and ready. The afternoon jobs often didn't pay as well, however, and you never were going to have dinner and evenings at home. That was my choice, the right one for me.

On the other hand, some guys loved the early mornings. But they weren't for me and I understood that early on.

I didn't know the engineman in question, but I've read that he recently switched from afternoons to early mornings. It's quite possible he hadn't "broken himself in" on the new schedule.

SPQR's post above mentiones Occam's razor.

My reasoning is that after getting most of the way down the line from Poughkeepsie, he started getting a bit drowsy -- and "came to" about 90 seconds too late.

That's all it takes.
« Last Edit: December 03, 2013, 10:09:53 PM by Fishrrman »

SPQR

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No, not on drugs, not drunk -- just tired, I reckon.

I ran trains on the Hudson line for years back in the Conrail era, mostly big freight trains in the middle of the night, from Oak Point yard in the South Bronx up to Selkirk yard outside of Albany.

Also worked on passenger, too, both for Conrail (before Metro-North) and later a very few trips on Amtrak (I was primarily a New Haven line guy for passenger).

When I first started on the railroad at the end of the seventies, there was something I learned quickly. That is, there were some jobs I thrived on, and other jobs that took too much out of me. I found that any job that reported early could be tough -- yes, I could get up at 3:00 or 4:00am and get to work, but after only a few hours on the job I was already beat. On afternoon jobs, however, I found my place. One isn't forced to get up early, as much rest as you need, the day off to do things, then go to work refreshed and ready. The afternoon jobs often didn't pay as well, however, and you never were going to have dinner and evenings at home. That was my choice, the right one for me.

On the other hand, some guys loved the early mornings. But they weren't for me and I understood that early on.

I didn't know the engineman in question, but I've read that he recently switched from afternoons to early mornings. It's quite possible he hadn't "broken himself in" on the new schedule.

SPQR's post above mentiones Occam's razor.

My reasoning is that after getting most of the way down the line from Poughkeepsie, he started getting a bit drowsy -- and "came to" about 90 seconds too late.

That's all it takes.

I agree with you. Fatigue is major cause of these types of accidents.

Offline Oceander

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*  *  *

I didn't know the engineman in question, but I've read that he recently switched from afternoons to early mornings. It's quite possible he hadn't "broken himself in" on the new schedule.

SPQR's post above mentiones Occam's razor.

My reasoning is that after getting most of the way down the line from Poughkeepsie, he started getting a bit drowsy -- and "came to" about 90 seconds too late.

That's all it takes.

Unfortunately I think you've nailed it.  Getting too tired can turn even innocuous situations into dangerous ones.  In college I drove city buses.  At the beginning of one semester the company was short about 10% of its usual complement of drivers so a lot of us were grabbing tons of overtime.  Unfortunately, one of those drivers - not me - took too much; he had already driven about 60 hours the week in question.  He pushed too hard and ended up causing a bad accident.  The night in question he was driving a 40 foot bus and was sitting at an intersection that several of the bus routes passed through; his route went across the intersection, but another route turned right at the same intersection.  He was sitting at the light when a bus on the other route stopped in the right-hand lane and then proceeded to make a right turn on red.  He apparently got confused because he was so tired and unthinkingly started his bus into the intersection - most likely because in his tired mind the fact that the other bus went meant that the light had changed; unfortunately, he pulled out right in front of oncoming traffic travelling at about 40 mph.  Needless to say, a 40 foot bus that suddenly pulls in front of you broadside is a very hard target to miss, and two or three cars rammed the side of the bus.  No one on the bus was hurt, and the people in the cars only had minor cuts and bruises, but it could have been a lot worse.

The details of both the throttle and the brake pressure dropping to zero at the same time make me think of someone who's been driving for too long nodding off behind the wheel.  I'm sure a lot of people have had the experience of suddenly getting terribly tired while driving, but pushing themselves on because they had to get to where they were going, and suddenly getting into the stage where they fall into little microsleeps and then jerk awake.  Maybe not everyone, but I know that's happened to me.  I also know that it can happen just because you're doing something completely off your normal schedule, which is completely consistent with what Fishrrman said.

Unfortunately, that all means that this is one terrible tragedy, especially for the folks who died, but also for the driver, who may have simply hit a microsleep at the wrong time because he hadn't adjusted to a new schedule.

SPQR

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Unfortunately I think you've nailed it.  Getting too tired can turn even innocuous situations into dangerous ones.  In college I drove city buses.  At the beginning of one semester the company was short about 10% of its usual complement of drivers so a lot of us were grabbing tons of overtime.  Unfortunately, one of those drivers - not me - took too much; he had already driven about 60 hours the week in question.  He pushed too hard and ended up causing a bad accident.  The night in question he was driving a 40 foot bus and was sitting at an intersection that several of the bus routes passed through; his route went across the intersection, but another route turned right at the same intersection.  He was sitting at the light when a bus on the other route stopped in the right-hand lane and then proceeded to make a right turn on red.  He apparently got confused because he was so tired and unthinkingly started his bus into the intersection - most likely because in his tired mind the fact that the other bus went meant that the light had changed; unfortunately, he pulled out right in front of oncoming traffic travelling at about 40 mph.  Needless to say, a 40 foot bus that suddenly pulls in front of you broadside is a very hard target to miss, and two or three cars rammed the side of the bus.  No one on the bus was hurt, and the people in the cars only had minor cuts and bruises, but it could have been a lot worse.

The details of both the throttle and the brake pressure dropping to zero at the same time make me think of someone who's been driving for too long nodding off behind the wheel.  I'm sure a lot of people have had the experience of suddenly getting terribly tired while driving, but pushing themselves on because they had to get to where they were going, and suddenly getting into the stage where they fall into little microsleeps and then jerk awake.  Maybe not everyone, but I know that's happened to me.  I also know that it can happen just because you're doing something completely off your normal schedule, which is completely consistent with what Fishrrman said.

Unfortunately, that all means that this is one terrible tragedy, especially for the folks who died, but also for the driver, who may have simply hit a microsleep at the wrong time because he hadn't adjusted to a new schedule.

 :beer:

Offline mountaineer

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I saw that attention whores Schumer and Blumenthal nearly broke their necks to get in front of cameras at news briefings about the train, but New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin criticizes Mayor Bloomberg for not visiting the derailment site.
Quote
...  It is a blot on his record that he remained AWOL despite knowing the horrific details. As four riders lay dead and scores were injured in the Bronx derailment, the mayor continued to play golf in Bermuda. His admission that he learned of the tragedy soon after it happened at 7:20 a.m. but didn’t return to the city until nightfall shows an indifference that is like telling the boss to “take this job and shove it.”

Suppose the accident had not been an accident. Suppose scores were dead and hundreds injured. Would the mayor have continued to play golf?

However you slice it, there’s no defense for his decision. He blew off his responsibility because he doesn’t have to face voters again, and the effort by aides to argue that the mayor could play because Gov. Cuomo was working is ­pathetic. It’s impossible to imagine Ed Koch or Rudy Giuliani making the “it’s not my job” argument. ...

The only difference between the Democrats and the Republicans is that the Democrats allow the poor to be corrupt, too.
--- Oscar Levant


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