Feb 052018

Amtrak91 Crash 6 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments

“An aerial view of the site of an early morning train crash Sunday, February 4, 2018 between an Amtrak train, bottom right, and a CSX freight train, top left, in Cayce, South Carolina. The Amtrak passenger train slammed into a freight train in the early morning darkness Sunday, killing at least two Amtrak crew members and injuring 116 people,” authorities said. (AP Photo/Jeff Blake)
Video Credit: Rachel Wise, via local reports by The State: “Here’s what you need to know about the train collision in Cayce, South Carolina. A crash involving an Amtrak passenger train and a freight train in Cayce, South Carolina on February 4, 2018, killed at least two people and injured 116.”
Amtrak91 Crash 12 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
#BREAKING: #Amtrak91 train crashes into a stationary CSX freight train in Cayce, South Carolina, about 10 miles south of Columbia (in Lexington County), in a mostly industrial area near the intersection of Interstate-26 and Interstate-77, according to Derrec Becker of South Carolina Emergency Management, killing two Amtrak employees, and injuring 116 on Sunday, February 4, 2018 – the third deadly train crash involving Amtrak in less than two months, and the second Amtrak crash to have happened outside of Charlottesville, Virginia within the past week.
That Charlottesville Amtrak train crashed into a garbage truck, attempting to beat the train at a crossing having bar crossing protection and a working railroad crossing signal, killing two men operating the truck. The train was packed with Republican congressional members and their families en route to a GOP Retreat near Charlottesville, Virginia, on Wednesday, January 31, 2018.
NTSB Chair Maps Amtrak 91 Crash 1024x576 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
#Amtrak91 was en route from New York City to Miami with 139 passengers, 8 Amtrak crew aboard, when the passenger train, passing a track switch sending it on-course to side-tracking, suddenly hit head-on a stationary CSX freight train in the dark of night and derailed at 2:45 am early Sunday morning near Cayce, South Carolina, as depicted above by National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert L. Sumwalt during his news conference Sunday afternoon.
Amtrak91 Crash 1 1024x576 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
Both fatalities were passengers on the Amtrak 91 train.  “About 140 passengers were on the train,” Becker said to reporters and media at the crash site.
“Passenger injuries ranged from scratches to broken bones,” Lexington County spokesman Harrison Cahill said.
“We know that they are shaken up quite a bit, and this is unlike anything else they’ve ever been through before,” Captain Adam Myrick with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department told The State newspaper in Columbia, South Carolina. “We wanted to get them out of the cold, get them out of the weather.”
“The Amtrak train’s lead engine and some passenger cars derailed,” Amtrak said in a statement. Photos posted on social media by reporters at the scene showed at least one Amtrak rail car on its side and several CSX cars and engines damaged.
“The wreck happened near a rail yard where several spurs branch off for train cars to be unloaded. Investigators don’t know if the Amtrak train was diverted from its track,” Associated Press reports.
Video Credit: Rachel Wise, via local reports by The State: “Here’s what you need to know about the train collision in Cayce, South Carolina. A crash involving an Amtrak passenger train and a freight train in Cayce, South Carolina on February 4, 2018, killed at least two people and injured 116.”
The National Transportation Safety Board has launched an investigation into Amtrak 91 crash and derailment. At a briefing on Sunday, NTSB chairman Robert L. Sumwalt confirmed earlier reports that the stationary CSX freight train was on the right track, and the moving Amtrak 91 passenger train was on the wrong one.
Robert Sumwalt, chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), said “a team of investigators has been dispatched to Sunday’s crash. A news conference (was) held (Sunday) afternoon,” he said.
Sumwalt said he did not know the speed of the train at the time of the crash, and that authorities are still gathering the necessary materials for the investigation, and would be able to provide more information Monday.
President Trump “was briefed on the train accident in South Carolina and is receiving regular updates,” deputy White House press secretary Lindsay Walters said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone that has been affected by this incident.”
The collision caused 5,000 gallons of fuel to spill and authorities are working to contain the leaks, according to Time. “About 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel spilled at the scene, Becker said. Hazmat crews were dispatched, and the spill was being contained. There was no threat to the public, he said.
The Red Cross set up an emergency shelter at nearby Pine Ridge Middle School to assist with the injured, the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department said on Twitter.”
Recent pattern of train crashes and derailments threaten railway safety and security.
Amtrak 91 was the second major crash for Amtrak in less than a week. On Wednesday, January 31, 2018, a train carrying GOP members of Congress to a retreat in West Virginia hit a garbage truck near Charlottesville, Virginia. The crash killed one person in the truck and left others wounded.
Amtrak501 Crash 6 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
On December 18, 2017, an inaugural run of a new high-speed passenger rail route south of Tacoma, Washington, performing as Amtrak 501 passenger train derailed (shown in the photo above) on Interstate 5 Point Defiance overpass near DuPont, Washington near Seattle, sending cars crashing into the highway below, and killing three passengers on board. 

The bypass was intended to “reduce congestion and separate passenger and freight traffic,” and was “designed for faster speeds and shorter travel times (saving ten minutes from Seattle to Portland) than the previous route used by Cascades.” (via Wikipedia).

Amtrak501 Crash Location Map - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments

Furthermore via Wikipedia, “the lead locomotive, Amtrak/WSDOT (Washington State Department of Transportation) Siemens SC-44 Charger No. 1402, and all twelve cars derailed, while approaching a bridge over Interstate 5. The trailing locomotive, Amtrak P42DC No. 181, remained on the rails.

A number of automobiles on southbound I-5 were crushed and three people on board the train died. The train derailed a short distance from where the new route merges with the previous route.

Preliminary data from the data recorder showed that the train was traveling at 78 miles per hour (126 kilometer per hour), nearly 50 miles per hour (80 kilometer per hour) over the speed limit, when the incident happened.”

Amtrak Crash Map Near Philly - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments

As chronicled and detailed by Fox News: “Amtrak, which operates a nationwide rail network that serves an average of 85,700 passengers per day, has had a string of incidents in recent years. At least 26 Amtrak derailments were reported between 2014 and 2017.

Here’s a look at some of Amtrak’s deadliest accidents in recent years. Each of these train crashes killed at least two people on board.”

For instance in 2015, an Amtrak 188 train en route from Washington, DC Union Station to Philadelphia 34th Street Station derailed at 9:30 am just south of  Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200.

Amtrak188 Crash 1 1024x768 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments Amtrak188 Crash 3 1024x535 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments Amtrak188 Crash 4 1024x514 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
In a most recent incident, a GOP Retreat Amtrak Train Rams into Garbage Truck, Driver Killed, Crossing Railways Track, having bar crossing protection and a working railroad crossing signal, near Charlottesville, Virginia (approximately 11am ET Wednesday, January 31, 2018).
Sarah Evancho, who lives nearby, heard a boom when the crash happened. It’s trash day, and the truck had just picked up garbage at her house.
“I’m just heartbroken for this man and his family,” Evancho, who is a local pastor, said of the victim. “This doesn’t happen here.”
At least one person on a dump truck was killed after it was struck by a train carrying members of Congress to a GOP policy retreat on Wednesday.
White House spokesperson Sarah Sanders confirmed the fatality, along with a serious injury to a person on the truck. She said there are no serious injuries among the members of Congress, though staff for Rep. Jason Lewis of Minnesota said he is being treated “per standard concussion protocol” at a local hospital.
“I’m fine compared to, tragically, the truck drivers, and thankful for the prompt action of our doctors and first responders,” Lewis said in a statement. “My thoughts are with the family of the individual who passed away.”
The University of Virginia Health System said three patients was transported to UVA Medical Center, and two additional patients was being transported there. One patient is critical, while the others are being evaluated.
“Today’s incident was a terrible tragedy,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, who was aboard the train. “We are grateful for the first responders who rushed to the scene and we pray for the victims and their families. May they all be in our thoughts right now.”
The train was taking the lawmakers to a Republican retreat at The Greenbrier, a resort in West Virginia on the border with Virginia. They will take charter buses the rest of the way to the retreat, and Vice President Mike Pence is still expected to speak tonight. President Trump is expected to speak at a Breakfast with GOP Lawmakers scheduled for tomorrow morning.
On the day after President Trump’s First State of the Union Address, highlighting a $1.8 trillion dollar 10-year investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure, the irony is glaring that these two intermodal surface transportation have collided on this day – a Federation Railroad Administration (FRA) Amtrak train packed with GOP lawmakers, collided with a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) garbage truck.
Once again, shortly after Amtrak 501 derailment onto Interstate 5 outside of Seattle, Washington back in December, and now on Sunday, February 4, 2018 an Amtrak 91 passenger train collision with a CSX freight train, is “positive train control” widespread funding and implementation now an imperative, given last week’s Amtrak crash outside Charlottesville, Virginia, wherein lawmakers can now specifically empathize with the impact of this advancement in high-speed railways technology!
Video Credit: Rachel Wise, via local reports by The State: “Here’s what you need to know about the train collision in Cayce, South Carolina. A crash involving an Amtrak passenger train and a freight train in Cayce, South Carolina on February 4, 2018, killed at least two people and injured 116.”
Shouldn’t all Amtrak trains be certified with a locomotive decal stating that it is equipped with positive train control technology?
Says Jeff Stagl, Managing Editor of Progressive Railroading: “Since the Rail Safety Improvement Act was enacted in 2008, nearly 40 U.S. freight and commuter railroads have spent a lot of money in an attempt to implement positive train control (PTC) by the mandated deadline of Dec. 31, 2015.
As of mid-November, the impacted railroads had collectively expended more than $1.5 billion, according to the Association of American Railroads (AAR). The vast majority of those dollars were disbursed by the U.S. Class Is, which likely will face a total implementation price tag of about $10 billion.” 

Positive Train Control System Overview - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments

Positive train control (PTC) is essentially a train traffic control system technology analogous to our conventional highway traffic light control system technology, originally invented by Garrett Augustus Morgan Sr – also historically credited as the first African American in Cleveland, Ohio to own an automobile – a tangential technological educational acknowledgment of February 2018 Black History Month!
“Morgan had witnessed a serious accident at an intersection, and he filed a patent for a highway traffic control device having a third “warning” position in 1922. The patent was granted in 1923 … Morgan later sold his traffic signal patent rights to General Electric for $40,000,” according to Wikipedia, which was a fortune for an African American man making a living back in those early “roaring J.P. Morgan 1920s” days of the 20th century.
PTC is “a system of functional requirements for monitoring and controlling train movements and is a type of train protection system. The term stems from control engineering. The train is only allowed to move in case of positive movement allowance. It generally improves the safety of railway traffic.”
The Alaska Railroad Corporation shows above the technological components of PTC involves four (4) aspects:
  1. Central Train Management and Dispatch Systems (TDMS).
  2. Main Communication Technology linkages between trains and TDMS.
  3. Global Positioning Systems on locomotive location reporting and mandatory speed directives and stoppage enforcements.
  4. Wayside Tracking Technology on communication to locomotive engineering cockpit about tracking integrity, signal crossing safety, and track switching positioning and forewarning, via Data Radio Linkages back to Main Communication Technology (2) above.
Moreover, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association (AREMA) describes “Positive Train Control,” as having these four (4) primary characteristics:
  1. Train separation or collision avoidance
  2. Line speed enforcement
  3. Temporary speed restrictions
  4. Rail worker wayside safety
In the case of the most recent Amtrak 91 train crash and derailment, as suggested in the above video with reporters on Sunday, February 4, 2018, by NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, “positive train control” could have provided the train engineer a forewarning that the track switch ahead had the doomed Amtrak 91 train “tragically off-course” of the main line through-course tracking, and “catastrophically on-course” to side-tracking towards a head-on collusion with a stationary CSX freight train sitting on side-tracking.
Although America’s crumbling infrastructure has been viewed as a potentially unifying issue for the two political parties, Democrats and Republicans remain far apart on how to proceed forward.
Most Republicans, as they mingled at the Capitol on Tuesday, January 30, 2018 after Trump’s first State of the Union speech, “talked up infrastructure as public-private partnerships driven by tax credits for corporations.”
Most Democrats believe the nation’s infrastructure fundamentally is a federal government funding initiative with strict congressional regulations and requirements tied to local purse strings on how they spend in strengthening and retrofitting America’s crumbling infrastructure.
“Yet the (2008 Rail Safety Improvement Act) law’s impact on regionals and short lines is much more significant than the federal list of mandated and exempted small railroads might indicate,” says American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) President Richard Timmons.

“Although Congress’ intent was to exempt all Class IIs and Class IIIs from Positive Train Control (PTC) requirements stipulated in the Rail Safety Improvement Act, small railroads that help move traffic on Class Is’ lines or are connected with commuter-rail systems need to install PTC equipment on their locomotives to comply with the letter of the law,” ASLRRA President Timmons says. 

President Trump is now rapidly turning his “Make America’s Infrastructure Great Again” vision into federal policy and legislation with the help of the Republican-controlled Congress, particularly through its “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act” – providing authorization through FY 2020.
The U.S. Senate’s FAA Reauthorization Act (S. 2658); and The U.S. House’s ”Aviation Innovation, Reform, and Reauthorization Act” (H.R. 4441) – providing comprehensive reforms to the Air Traffic Control System, and even provisions for enhanced airport security and airport modernization.
And ”Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER)” discretionary grant program – providing operations of public transportation and passenger rail agencies to continue their transportation safety and security improvements!
Trump SOTU 8 - Positive Train Control Technology Stops Train Crashes and Derailments
In closing, here’s what President Trump said about America’s crumbling infrastructure during his first State of the Union Address Tuesday, January 30, 2018:
“As we rebuild our industries, it is also time to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure.
America is a nation of builders. We built the Empire State Building in just 1 year — is it not a disgrace that it can now take 10 years just to get a permit approved for a simple road?
I am asking both parties to come together to give us the safe, fast, reliable, and modern infrastructure our economy needs and our people deserve.
Tonight, I am calling on the Congress to produce a bill that generates at least $1.5 trillion for the new infrastructure investment we need.
Every Federal dollar should be leveraged by partnering with State and local governments and, where appropriate, tapping into private sector investment — to permanently fix the infrastructure deficit.
Any bill must also streamline the permitting and approval process — getting it down to no more than two years, and perhaps even one.
Together, we can reclaim our building heritage. We will build gleaming new roads, bridges, highways, railways, and waterways across our land.”

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