Thursday, November 20, 2008

SCRRA Crash Today . . .

Metrolink (SCRRA) is still having bad luck. A Metrolink Train sideswiped a freight train in Rialto, California. The story is here, at least as much as there is now.

There have been recent developments in the Chatsworth disaster, too. Rip is putting together some links and some thoughts that will hopefully be up soon.


At 11:39 PM, November 21, 2008, Blogger arcady said...

Once is bad luck, twice is a problem, a third time would be criminal. Whether in the training of the drivers, or the design of the signal system, or the interaction of the two, there is definitely a problem and it definitely needs to be addressed. The only thing I can suggest is to look at railroad experience around the world. In almost 200 years of railroading, I suspect that many of the problems have already been solved at least once.

At 9:33 AM, November 22, 2008, Blogger John said...

This is actually similar to rear-end collision of an Amtrak train on an NS freight near Chicago about a year ago. In both cases, two people were in the cab, but the trains still overran red or restrictive signals.

One issue that was mentioned briefly on railfan forums was the fact that in the Chatsworth crash, it was theoretically the engineer's responsibility to call signals to the conductor. However, the informal opinion on the railfan boards was that this often was disregarded (and the railfans with scanners can hear such exchanges when made). If the engineer fails to call a signal, it would actually be the conductor's responsibility at least to contact the engineer, or in a more by the book case, to pull the emergency cord. Neither was done in the Chatsworth case, which would have averted the crash if it had been. The reason why conductors don't enforce the rules was given on the railfan boards as essentially "you gotta work with the guy".

My surmise is that a similar case applies with two people in the cab, but the train still overruns a signal: you gotta work with the guy. I would guess that the conductor in the Chatsworth crash and the extra guys in the cabs in Chicago and Rialto -- as well probably as the conductors -- are no longer working for Amtrak or Metrolink. At least, I hope not.

But aren't road foremen responsible for making field checks as well? Not calling signals would be a pretty serious rule violation, and if these guys were out on the line with their radios, it would be easy enough to pick up.


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