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Old 05 February 2018, 02:10 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
Join Date: 28 February 2001
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 8,266

Amtrak train on wrong track in deadly crash; it says freight line controls signals

Amtrak doesn't own the rails in the accident location. CSX does, so the Amtrak train's movements would be under the control of the CSX dispatcher.

Three things from the article trouble me:

Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, said at a news conference Sunday afternoon that the track the Amtrak train was on had been manually switched and "lined and locked." It caused it to divert from the main line and onto a side track, where the freight train was parked.
A manually operated switch being aligned and locked for the siding instead of the mainline goes against basic operating procedure. It wouldn't have been aligned that way by Amtrak. The siding is used for loading/unloading automobiles. Once the work train is in the siding, the switch is supposed to be returned to mainline operation.

Sumwalt said the CSX controlled tracks were not equipped with Positive Train Control, a high-tech overlay system Amtrak uses on tracks it operates. The system is designed to read signals and automatically stop a train before certain accidents occur.

"An operational PTC system is designed to prevent this type of accident," Sumwalt said.
But elsewhere in the article it says:

[An Amtrak spokesman] said at the time of the crash Amtrak crew was communicating with a CSX dispatcher via a telephone communication system. He said the signaling system that controls traffic on the four tracks in the area was down for maintenance.
I don't know if NTSB Chairman Sumwalt had this information available to him when he gave his press conference, but PTC relies heavily on the signal system. If it wasn't functioning (the NTSB will determine that during the investigation), I don't think PTC was going to be of much help in this case. It also suggests the possibility that the switch is normally operated remotely, but was in manual operation due to maintenance.

And 3)

"It appears that the Amtrak was on the wrong track," [Gov.] McMaster said at the news conference midday Sunday. "They weren't supposed to be meeting right there by the bridge, clearly. And it may be a time factor, but that's what it appears to me. But I defer to those who are experts in that and do have the correct information, but it appears that Amtrak was on the wrong track."
You were the first person the press quoted after this accident happened, Governor. The phrasing implicates Amtrak. Keep your damned mouth shut on things you don't understand.

I was shocked by the arial view of the accident site. I wondered if the passenger train had just one locomotive (the two freight locos were easy to identify, despite the damage. The cab and front truck assembly of P42DC #47 is completely sheared away.

And railfans closer to the scene than me tell me that was the second locomotive in the consist.


Last edited by Psihala; 05 February 2018 at 02:28 PM.
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