Amtrak Cascade Derailment at Dupont, WA

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#22
Well - not sure what the chain of command was thinking or doing at that speed? Whatever it was, it was not good judgement for conducting transportation. Prayers to the victims of this tragic event. :(

Were any train / railroad enthusiast members from this forum aboard the 501 inaugural run?

Thank you to all the first emergency responders.
 
Last edited by a moderator:

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#23
Here is a link to some good videos from King5 News of the Charger diesel being hauled away from the scene. For those not familiar with the area, the diesel is being hauled northbound in the southbound lanes of I-5. The haul is up a fairly steep grade leading up out of the Nisqually Basin.
http://www.king5.com/article/news/local/all-lanes-of-sb-i-5-reopen-near-dupont/281-500446781

The article said the diesel is being taken to Joint Base Lewis-McChord. There are spurs at Ft. Lewis where tanks and other large military vehicles are loaded onto flatcars for transportation by rail. Perhaps the diesel will be loaded onto a flatcar there.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#24
Here is a video by Glenn Farley of Seattle's KING 5 News that gives a good overview of the accident scene. Glenn, who has covered transportation stories for KING 5 for over 25 years, knows a lot about trains; both as a railfan and as an award-winning model railroader.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WIj2uPAs4Fs

There are lots of videos on You Tube of the accident.
 
#26
Article:

...much — if not all — previous route qualification training had taken place at night when busy freight railroad traffic could accommodate the luxury of a non-revenue passenger train on multiple training runs.
---------------



...busy freight railroad traffic???


Bruce
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#28
...busy freight railroad traffic???
My thought exactly. For those not familiar with the new by-pass route, there is no busy freight traffic. The line is used by Tacoma Rail to serve Ft. Lewis and there is very little freight traffic on it. I drove down to Vancouver a few days ago and noticed the freight speed boards are 10 mph. I have seldom seen a train on the line over the past 26 years I have been traveling the section of I-5 parallel to the tracks. Prior to the rehab, at times it appeared to be used for car storage.
https://www.mytpu.org/tacomarail/general-information/tacoma-rail-system.htm

The article presents few facts but cites a lot of rumors, which is why I caution readers to wait until the investigation is completed before drawing any conclusions. I do agree with the author that 1-2 years seems a bit long to wait for release of the final accident report unless administrative and/or court hearings are involved.
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#30
Article:


---------------



...busy freight railroad traffic???


Bruce
The article also talks about a student engineer when in fact it was a qualifying conductor not an engineer sitting in the conductor's seat. The amount of training is definitely going to be looked at and perhaps, the lack of a supervisor of engines on the maiden revenue run. I hate to bring it up again, but each operator should have consulted a current timetable and they should have emphasized to be aware of the 30 MPH curve after a 10 mile, straight track, high speed run during the normal pre job brief. Did this occur??
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#31
Last month my family and I drove down I-5/205 to Vancouver, WA. I was talking with my daughter and blew past two Vancouver exits before I realized we were about to cross the Columbia River into Oregon. No problem as I got off at the Portland airport exit, turned around and headed back north. The experience left me a little shaken as I have been driving that route for 26+ years and don't understand how I could have missed the exits. It shed a little light for me on how an engineer traveling a new route could get distracted and lose track of his location, no pun intended.
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
#32
NTSB News Release
National Transportation Safety Board Office of Public Affairs



NTSB Issues Investigative Update on Washington State Amtrak Derailment

1/25/2018
[TABLE="class: MainContentTable"]
<tbody>[TR]
[TD="class: Content_Center"]As part of its ongoing investigation into the Dec. 18, 2017, derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in DuPont, Washington, the National Transportation Safety Board released Thursday an update about the agency’s investigation.
NTSB investigators interviewed the engineer and the qualifying conductor, who were in the lead locomotive during the accident trip. Both suffered serious injuries as a result of the derailment and were not able to be interviewed until the week of Jan. 15, 2018. The following information is among that provided by the engineer and qualifying conductor during interviews with NTSB investigators:

  • The engineer, a 55-year-old male, was hired by Amtrak in 2004 as a conductor and then promoted to locomotive engineer in 2013.
  • In the five weeks preceding the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of track following the completion of seven to 10 observational trips in the locomotive as well as three trips operating the equipment, two northbound and one southbound.
  • The engineer said he felt rested at the start of his shift.
  • The engineer recalled that as the train passed milepost 15.5 it was traveling about 79 mph.
  • The engineer told investigators that he was aware that the curve with the 30 mph speed restriction was at milepost 19.8, and that he had planned to initiate braking about one mile prior to the curve.
  • The engineer said that he saw mileposts 16 and 17 but didn’t recall seeing milepost 18 or the 30 mph advance speed sign, which was posted two miles ahead of the speed-restricted curve.
  • The engineer said that he did see the wayside signal at milepost 19.8 (at the accident curve) but mistook it for another signal, which was north of the curve.
  • He said that as soon as he saw the 30 mph sign at the start of the curve, he applied brakes. Seconds later, the train derailed as it entered the curve.
  • The engineer said that he didn’t feel that having a qualifying conductor in the locomotive with him was a distraction.
  • The engineer also said that he would not have gotten behind the throttle if he had any reservations about his readiness to operate the train.
  • The qualifying conductor, a 48-year-old male, was hired by Amtrak in 2010 as an assistant conductor and was promoted to conductor in 2011.
  • At start of shift, he said he took part in the job briefing conducted by the conductor and the engineer. They went over general track bulletins and other items.
  • The qualifying conductor told investigators that he felt rested and alert at the start of his shift. He had never worked with the engineer before. He told investigators that the engineer appeared alert during the job briefing and while operating the train.
  • The qualifying conductor told investigators that there was minimal conversation between himself and the engineer during the trip. Instead he said he spent time looking at his paperwork to help learn the territory.
  • Just prior to the derailment, the qualifying conductor said he looked down at his copies of the general track bulletins. He then heard the engineer say or mumble something. He then looked up and sensed that the train was becoming “airborne.”

These accounts by the crewmembers in the lead locomotive of the accident train are just two sources of information that will be considered as the investigation progresses. In the coming weeks, investigators will compare these accounts with video captured from the inward- and outward-facing locomotive cameras, information from the locomotive event data recorder and other sources.
In addition to human performance and operations, investigators are continuing to develop information in a wide range of areas, including signals and train control, track and engineering, mechanical, crashworthiness, survival factors and recorders.
The investigation is expected to last 12-24 months.

[/TD]
[/TR]
</tbody>[/TABLE]

Additional information, including links to media briefings, the preliminary accident report, and other material is available on the Amtrak Cascades 501 accident page: https://go.usa.gov/xnfU6
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
#33
The NTSB report will take many more months to complete. At this point it appears extremely likely the report will conclude the crash was caused by human error due to loss of situational awareness. (Or something along those lines meaning he wasn't where he thought he was.)
In the five weeks preceding the derailment, the engineer had qualified on the Point Defiance Bypass section of track following the completion of seven to 10 observational trips in the locomotive as well as three trips operating the equipment, two northbound and one southbound.
One trip operating southbound. One single trip operating SB (he did observe other runs). Yet no Road Foreman of Engineers or other supervisor on board for this run. First revenue run, relatively new locomotive, engineer's had one trip at the throttle over this section in this direction? That just might merit a supervisor, eh? Uhm, yeah, Amtrak, that's going to be rather hard to explain now isn't it? (The accident run was SB for those who don't know the line.)
 

Bob

Forum Host
Staff member
#35
Thank you for the additional information and testimony to this thread.
You're welcome. This one is rather personal for me. I know the engineer as well as at least 6 or 7 of the railfan passengers who were on board, some of whom were severely injured (all were injured to some extent.) Not only that, but I came very close to riding this trip myself, for the same reason my friends were on board, the first trip over the new line. However, it was on a Monday and I didn't want to miss work, so I decided against it.
 

Bill Anderson

Well-Known Member
#36
Thanks for the update. Does anyone know who sets the guidelines for "qualification" of an engineer to run a certain route or section of track? Is it a federal agency or the railroad?
 
#37
One trip operating southbound. One single trip operating SB (he did observe other runs). Yet no Road Foreman of Engineers or other supervisor on board for this run. First revenue run, relatively new locomotive, engineer's had one trip at the throttle over this section in this direction? That just might merit a supervisor, eh? Uhm, yeah, Amtrak, that's going to be rather hard to explain now isn't it? (The accident run was SB for those who don't know the line.)
Having 7-10 trips observing the line, and then 3 trips actually operating is quite the qualifying runs. More than a freight engineer would typically get on a route they weren't qualified on.

Not sure what a road foreman would have added as it's not like the road foreman had operated over the line in revenue service previously. And there was a second person in the cab, who was learning the territory. Seems they weren't paying attention either.

I understand you are personally connected to this and the loss is a tragedy and hindsight is 20/20, but just as the engineer in Philly, the engineer lost situational awareness and it cost 3 people their lives.
 
#38
Thanks for the update. Does anyone know who sets the guidelines for "qualification" of an engineer to run a certain route or section of track? Is it a federal agency or the railroad?
Here is the Regulation on it.

https://ecfr.io/Title-49/se49.4.240_1231

§240.231 Requirements for locomotive engineers unfamiliar with physical characteristics in other than joint operations.


(a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no locomotive engineer shall operate a locomotive over a territory unless he or she is qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory pursuant to the railroad's certification program.

(b) Except as provided in paragraph (c) of this section, if a locomotive engineer lacks qualification on the physical characteristics required by paragraph (a) of this section, he or she shall be assisted by a pilot qualified over the territory pursuant to the railroad's certification program.

(1) For a locomotive engineer who has never been qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory over which he or she is to operate a locomotive or train, the pilot shall be a person qualified and certified as a locomotive engineer who is not an assigned crew member.​

(2) For a locomotive engineer who was previously qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory over which he or she is to operate a locomotive or train, but whose qualification has expired, the pilot may be any person, who is not an assigned crew member, qualified on the physical characteristics of the territory.​

(c) Pilots are not required if the movement is on a section of track with an average grade of less than 1% over 3 continuous miles, and

(1) The track is other than a main track; or

(2) The maximum distance the locomotive or train will be operated does not exceed one mile; or

(3) The maximum authorized speed for any operation on the track does not exceed 20 miles per hour; or

(4) Operations are conducted under operating rules that require every locomotive and train to proceed at a speed that permits stopping within one half the range of vision of the locomotive engineer.​
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#39
The NTSB report will take many more months to complete. At this point it appears extremely likely the report will conclude the crash was caused by human error due to loss of situational awareness. (Or something along those lines meaning he wasn't where he thought he was.)


One trip operating southbound. One single trip operating SB (he did observe other runs). Yet no Road Foreman of Engineers or other supervisor on board for this run. First revenue run, relatively new locomotive, engineer's had one trip at the throttle over this section in this direction? That just might merit a supervisor, eh? Uhm, yeah, Amtrak, that's going to be rather hard to explain now isn't it? (The accident run was SB for those who don't know the line.)
Rumor is one of the supervisors was tired and stayed home. I'm sure the investigators will interview all supervisors about this...

So the engineer knew that the 30 mph curve is at Mp 19.8 but, gee, you saw Mp 17 then... you're going 45sec/mile and the internal clock ALARM should have been going off!!! Stop or slow down, you don't know where you're at!!!
 

BNSFEng

Locomotive Engineer!!!
#40
Having 7-10 trips observing the line, and then 3 trips actually operating is quite the qualifying runs. More than a freight engineer would typically get on a route they weren't qualified on.

Not sure what a road foreman would have added as it's not like the road foreman had operated over the line in revenue service previously. And there was a second person in the cab, who was learning the territory. Seems they weren't paying attention either.

I understand you are personally connected to this and the loss is a tragedy and hindsight is 20/20, but just as the engineer in Philly, the engineer lost situational awareness and it cost 3 people their lives.
I had run the coast line where I run the SOUNDER many times before with freight trains, still I took a solid 2 weeks to feel comfortable running at higher passenger speeds and this is in the daylight. 10 trips west and ten east. I took one more week just to be sure.
 





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