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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Tue Jan 09, 2018 2:12 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 1:51 pm
Posts: 8459
Location: Baltimore, MD
Ricky Gates is unlikely to be located, for good reason. For literally decades after that accident, I knew other employees on Conrail (and later NS) that openly expressed the desire to "get him down a dark alley some night" if the subject ever came up--either for the disrepute he brought to the freight railroad engineer's craft and industry, the "guilty until proven innocent" attitude adopted by Federal regulators in the crash's wake (including random drug testing), or even the "good time" he put an end to.

I've ridden in the distant past in locos equipped with ATS, and it IS downright annoying, like trying to cook in a kitchen where the smoke detector goes off every time you open the oven door or a package of smoked bacon. (Yeah, ask me how I know about the latter.)
Ages ago, I got the chance to raid some GG1s for spare cab fittings (cab signal displays, speedometers, ammeters, etc.) to restore a cab for display. I ended up with five cab whistles--two brass PRR "peanut" design (looks like a mini steam whistle) and three steel cylindrical shop-built jobs. Two of the three cylindrical ones had tape residue near the mouth. And these were passenger GG1s.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 2:53 pm 

Joined: Wed Apr 05, 2017 2:30 pm
Posts: 33
Following this discussion with some interest, I'm wondering if using more current technology would be a cheaper better solution. I'm thinking autonomous driving engines. It could be much simpler and cheaper than this PTC. They already have self driving cars. It would be much simpler to implement for railroads. The tracks don't change. The routes are known. There is no steering involved. No other vehicles to worry about other than possible obstructions on the track. All you can control is the speed. Much easier than a self driving car.

So if the cause was situational awareness, with an autonomous driving engine, the engine would have known about the 30mph curve before it ever left the station. That's the engine would have known. Who cares about the engineer. But if you just used the system as an assist to the engineer imagine having a screen in the engine with a view of the track (possibly zoomed). As you are going down the track you get these warnings on the screen.

5 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
4 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
3 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
2 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
1 mile, 30mph speed restricted curve
Initiating braking, failure to slow for 30mph speed restricted curve

When you stop and think about it, a lot of driving a train is cross your fingers, especially the faster you go and the longer the stopping distances become. I was curious about the cab in high speed trains and what they may have for seeing further down the track. But after watching this video, Rotterdam-Antwerpen 300 km/h, Thalys cab ride / cabinerit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vm8_l5oye4, it occurred to me, looking out the window is optional. If you did see an obstruction or problem with the track, by the time you saw it, the ability to do anything about it was 20, 30, or maybe 60 secs or more ago. So unless you can time travel, looking out the window is just for your entertainment. You're relying on your signals and have your fingers crossed.

When you realize that, might as well let the train drive itself or at the very least greatly assist the engineer. I thought of the idea of using a forward looking camera with a screen in the cab and then you could have speed dependent zoom. The faster you go, the more zoom you get. But the physical problem of curves and going over rises negates some of it's usefulness.

Never having gone for a cab ride in a steam engine, but after sitting in one, my first thought was, how the heck do you see where you are going? And then I wondered on what you do on left hand curves? Somebody said that's what the fireman is for. Now that the technology exists, would it be worth the cost to implement a camera system? Camera mounted up front, screen in the cab and using speed dependent zoom. In the preservation community and the use of part time, or even once in a while engineers, would it increase safety? How about you're looking out the window, see something and have the ability to glance over and see a zoomed in view? Or even don't bother with looking out the window, just watch the zoomed in view. Considering stopping distances, isn't the further you can see down the track better?


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 5:33 pm 

Joined: Fri Aug 27, 2004 4:02 pm
Posts: 986
Location: Back in NE Ohio
Sandy, it looks like Gates is part of a forum on Trains.com, and if I read part of an exchange correctly, it looks like Phillips already found him.

As for visibility on a steam locomotive, I'm going to relate my personal experience with the Polish "Wolstzyn Experience" from nine years ago. On my last round-trip to Poznan in Dec. of '08, on the first train of the morning (5:27 am, in darkness all the way), I was in the fireman's seat for the entire trip to Poznan, with the person I was paired with running all of the trip to Poznan that the Polish crew would allow. Shortly after departing Wolstzyn, Ol 49 2-6-2 #59 suffered what could only be called total electrical system failure, all cab lighting, and all headlights going dark. Now, under U. S. rules, that would mean the crew would be required to attach a light of some kind to the front of the locomotive, sound the bell continuously, sound the horn (whistle) frequently, and slow down to 20 mph for grade crossings. I can assure you that in Poland none of that happens. Not even blowing more for approaching a grade crossing, which they barely do anyway when everything is working normally (we American railroaders are all "Whistle Pigs" in comparison to them. If you ever do have a chance to run over there, don't even think about blowing a standard U. S. grade crossing signal - it's just one short toot). It was full-speed ahead all the way. Even on the fireman's side I found this disconcerting, and declined the opportunity to take the throttle until the problem was fixed in Poznan. Really, yes the fireman (when not shoveling coal) does look out the other side, but there are blind spots the closer something is to the locomotive (even on modern low-nose Dismals), and yes, at the speeds main line trains run, really all you can do by the time you see something is just sound a warning that you are coming through, and make an emergency brake application after you hit something. That's what supervision wants to see on the event recorder download.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sat Jan 13, 2018 11:03 pm 

Joined: Wed Oct 22, 2008 8:18 pm
Posts: 2154
Mtn3781 wrote:
Following this discussion with some interest, I'm wondering if using more current technology would be a cheaper better solution. I'm thinking autonomous driving engines. It could be much simpler and cheaper than this PTC. They already have self driving cars. It would be much simpler to implement for railroads. The tracks don't change. The routes are known. There is no steering involved. No other vehicles to worry about other than possible obstructions on the track. All you can control is the speed. Much easier than a self driving car.

So if the cause was situational awareness, with an autonomous driving engine, the engine would have known about the 30mph curve before it ever left the station. That's the engine would have known. Who cares about the engineer. But if you just used the system as an assist to the engineer imagine having a screen in the engine with a view of the track (possibly zoomed). As you are going down the track you get these warnings on the screen.

5 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
4 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
3 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
2 miles, 30mph speed restricted curve
1 mile, 30mph speed restricted curve
Initiating braking, failure to slow for 30mph speed restricted curve

When you stop and think about it, a lot of driving a train is cross your fingers, especially the faster you go and the longer the stopping distances become. I was curious about the cab in high speed trains and what they may have for seeing further down the track. But after watching this video, Rotterdam-Antwerpen 300 km/h, Thalys cab ride / cabinerit, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Vm8_l5oye4, it occurred to me, looking out the window is optional. If you did see an obstruction or problem with the track, by the time you saw it, the ability to do anything about it was 20, 30, or maybe 60 secs or more ago. So unless you can time travel, looking out the window is just for your entertainment. You're relying on your signals and have your fingers crossed.

When you realize that, might as well let the train drive itself or at the very least greatly assist the engineer. I thought of the idea of using a forward looking camera with a screen in the cab and then you could have speed dependent zoom. The faster you go, the more zoom you get. But the physical problem of curves and going over rises negates some of it's usefulness.

Never having gone for a cab ride in a steam engine, but after sitting in one, my first thought was, how the heck do you see where you are going? And then I wondered on what you do on left hand curves? Somebody said that's what the fireman is for. Now that the technology exists, would it be worth the cost to implement a camera system? Camera mounted up front, screen in the cab and using speed dependent zoom. In the preservation community and the use of part time, or even once in a while engineers, would it increase safety? How about you're looking out the window, see something and have the ability to glance over and see a zoomed in view? Or even don't bother with looking out the window, just watch the zoomed in view. Considering stopping distances, isn't the further you can see down the track better?


All of that is in the PTC, and it is tied into the engine workings, they decided to get the get going before it was activated. This is a Towering Infernal scenario, cutting a corner. I'm waiting on any further info from the NTSB, but it looks like the engineer missed a speed limit sign, with some apparent unfamiliarty with the line, with the lurking idea of something on the tracks. You can't just drop a car driving computer into a locomotive, you would have to reprogram it with the route information, that isnt in a driver system, its automobile based. There are multiple facets to this accident that causes this. But simple clear training prevents all of this.


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 Post subject: Re: Amtrak Derailment in Washington State
PostPosted: Sun Jan 14, 2018 12:23 am 

Joined: Tue Aug 31, 2004 10:38 pm
Posts: 55
[quote=There are multiple facets to this accident that causes this. But simple clear training prevents all of this.[/quote]

It should be simple, clear and EFFECTIVE training.

Ed


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