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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just turned on the news here and we have a very serious MetroLink/freight train accident here in So Cal. Reports of at least 6 killed and could be as many as 30. News is still sketchy.
 

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It is just an awful scene and there are several fatalities. It might end up being Metrolink's worse wreck.

I'd hate to speculate this early, but I think Metrolink may have ran a signal or the signals were not operating properly.

This Map shows where the collision took place. If you pan down (south) a bit you will see where the line goes from double tracks down to a single track due to the tunnels just to the northwest. Metrolink had just left Chatsworth and was heading North. UP was heading south. The wreck occurred close to the signals where Metrolink would have been held. UP may have also ran a signal, but this is northwest and far from the wreck site.

The Coast Starlight and other trains will obviously be disrupted for several days.

Terrible tragedy. I'm praying for those whose families may be affected by this.

For more information, below is a good link that appears to be updating:

Metrolink Collision
 

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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
If you look on Google Earth, you can see that the collision probably took place on the long sweeping curve just west of Canoga Avenue and just north of Rinaldi street. There is a short tunnel just to the west of the collision point. There are double tracks just south of the collision point.
 

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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
According to reports as of 6:00 am PDT, this is the worst passenger train accident in the U.S. in fifteen years. 17 killed and 135 injured-85 critical according to the Medical Director of Los Angeles Fire Department. Local reports this morning says that they are still removing victims.
 

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Several things should not have happened, two trains one track, but the engine telescoped the lead car, THAT should never have happened in this day and age, I thought the cars were engineered to prevent that? Terrible.
 

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Report just now that they see more bodies they haven't retrieved. Apparently the commuter train passed a red signal.
 

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Unfortunate final death count is 25. I don't know how many were injured, but the last I heard was over 100. The dead included one LAPD Ofcr who was off duty and enroute home. She was only 35 yrs old and had just started a new job down town. They are saying that the cause was the Metrolink engineer using his cell phone for texting messages and he ran through a red block signal just prior to the crash. My condolences go to the families of all of those who lost loved ones in this deadly crash.
 

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condolencenes to all Involved in this trajady. Especially for the 4 crew members of the UP in the Evolution headed freight train.

If you know the topography in this are all rail fans knew it was the Metrolink engineer who blew it and paid with his and his passengers lives.

The UP Mixed Frieght was heading Southbound traveling DOWNHILL from the Summit. We all know that you don't stop a frieght train comming downhill. I belive The metrolink was in the hole and came out against a red signal.

The speeds involved were not that high but the Kinetic energy behind the mass of the UP frieght coming downhill is what drove the Metrolink engine into her first passanger car and where most of the fatalities occured. The impact point was probably 100+ feet uphill from where they came to rest. With the mass of the Frieght plowing downhill into the Metrolink.

Ridership was at an all time high in So Cal due to fuel prices which are some of the Highest in the nation.
We desperately need double track from Santa Barbara to San Diego to prevent these accidents and handle frieght traffic.

Pete
 

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Any chance they would reroute the Coast Starlight over Tehachapi?
 

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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
My wife just learned that a fellow teacher she taught with about thirteen years ago was one of those killed. Also a counselor at one of the high schools in Glendale was injured. Hits close to home now.
 

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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Paul,

I've heard that the line should be open later tonight or early tomorrow.
 

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Paul,
No reroute planned for the Starlight.

It's current southern terminus is Santa Barbara. Buses will transport passengers to and from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Intermediate stops such as Oxnard will likely be served by another bus. That's what they did when I took it and the line had just washed out that day due to heavy rains.

And as Gary stated, they are working fast and furious to reopen the line.

UPDATE
Here is the official Amtrak announcement:

Starlight
 

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Hi

In this day and age of electronics, I don't understand why the railroads don't have electronic control of the trains as they travel. My understanding of this accident is that the Metrolink passed two yellow lights before it ignored a red light and ended up on the same track as a UP Frt.

Why couldn't the train have had a system that warned the engineer of the Metrolink of each Yellow with the engineer having to ackowledge each yellow. This would have verified the engineer was alive and present in the cab. If there was no ackowledgement from the engineer, the system could have shut down the motors I set the brakes. Even if the engineer had ackowledged both yellows, running the red light should have det the system to not only stop the metrolink, but send an emergency message to the UP Freight

Sure a systemlike this would be expensive, but how much will the 25 dead customers of the Metrolink cost?
 

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There are systems that do what you suggest...and they are uniformly hated. When these systems have an error, they apply the train brakes. Unfortunately, they can do that on a hill and stall a train so that it wouldn't be able to restart. Or, they can stop it while it's in a metro area...and block many intersections. They sometimes don't reset...and the brakes stay locked and the engineer can't get the train moving again. Like I said...uniformly hated.

The way this is supposed to work is that the engineer AND the conductor are BOTH supposed to call out the signals on their radios to each other. Further, trains have an enuciator in the cab that the engineer has to push about every minute. That tells the engine that he's still alive. If he doesn't push the button, the train applies the brakes.

The conductor lived. The engineer didn't. As this unfolds, the conductors story should prove interesting as the train passed two yellows and a red. Lastly, the UP freight had a crash camera...so the whole crash is recorded and is in the hands of the NTSB. Should make good YouTube viewing in less than a month.
 

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Posted By rlvette on 09/14/2008 7:21 PM
Hi
In this day and age of electronics, I don't understand why the railroads don't have electronic control of the trains as they travel.




As far as a system you describe, well it's in place on the former Santa Fe San Diegan route. And all Metrolink locomotives are setup for this system since they run this route. The system in place is Automatic Train Stop (ATS). But this is only there because the Santa Fe wanted to run trains over 79mph. The Interstate Commerce Commission mandated some form of train control for speeds over 79mph in 1947. Thanks to this, ATS is still in effect on many former Santa Fe districts.

However the collision took place on a former Southern Pacific line. No form of train control was ever installed, and to this day remains that way. How long this lasts is anyone's guess after this tragedy. Typical that it takes a tragedy to educate the public and government that systems do exist that could eliminate or at least reduce the possibility of running signals.

But ATS is not the most effective system out there, and (without going into the complexities of how ATS works) I doubt it would have prevented this horrible accident.

And Mike, unlike this video, I seriously doubt the video will ever be released to the public. Unless I missed your sarcasm ;)
 

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As others have said, there are ATS and PTC (positive train control) systems in place in many areas. However, the cost of implimenting them on every single piece of track in use would be astronomical, and even the cost involved in 25 deaths would pale by comparison. For those that would argue such systems are only needed on passenger carrying routes, look at the devastation caused by the wreck in Graniteville, SC. I can think of may other wrecks that have demolished town, taken lives, and yet involved no passenger trains.

Also, as has been pointed out, the systems are not foolproof. Ignoring for the moment the hassles caused by false activations, they require a certian length of time to act. If an engineer is ****-bent on running past a signal, or is for some reason incapacitated, the train can very easily still end up on the wrong side of the signal. If there also happens to be another train out there at precisely the wrong moment, this is what happens.

Don't misunderstand me, please. As an engineer, I would love to see a system that improves my chances of going home at night. But I also understand the simple economics of the situation. Maybe the public pressure from this tragedy will change things. As I understand, there are now signals being installed on the line through Graniteville. Of course, the cold hearted part of me wonders if it's really worth it to do EVERYTHING in our power to prevent a death. At some point, doesn't the cost outweight the benefit? Like I said, I kinda like living, and I would like to think that I'm guaranteed to come home to my wife, but I accept that I may be the one to draw the short staw and save the railroad the cost of some safety equipment.

Kinda macabre, isn't it? Sorry about that. I offer my condolences to all those affected by this tragedy, and my personal pledge to do whatever I can to prevent it happening to any train I'm on.
 

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KCBS (Channel 2 in LA) reported tonight (Tuesday) that the feds renacted the crash with two freight locos and one Metro engine, checked sight distances and such and found that the freight engineer had four seconds to respond, which he did, hitting the emergency braking button in two secs. The Metrolink engineeer never braked. He also blew throug the switch just downstream of the collision siite. The question is why? It will be interesting to see what the autoposy shows. Still, a very tragic and sobering event. BTW, the lady PR person for Metrolink, who announced to the press almost immediately after the crash, that it was their fault, got fired for speaking out of turn.
 

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A Steamed Elder
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Actually the Metrolink spokeswoman was NOT FIRED, she was "asked" to resign. Whatever that means. Apparently the Board for Metrolink were in disagreement as to when to announce the early findings. Most legal experts believe that the dollar amount for the upcoming lawsuits would more than pay for a high-tech warning system that would have prevented this accident.
 
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