Investigators: Was Amtrak engineer using cell phone when train crashed?

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by Newscience, Jun 2, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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  2. DTWBOB

    DTWBOB Silver Member

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    From what I've heard his cell phone was in his "grip" --- not his hands, but railroaders call their carry on bag.

    Chances are when all is said in done, they'll find he was distracted by a projectile that hit his windshield and it's a known fact that two other trains in the area were hit by projectiles.

    North Philly, to say it nicely, is not the best part of that town.

    DTWBOB
     
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  3. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Although I still won't comment on what I think may or may not have happened, what I will say is that Positive Train Control (PTC) would have definitely prevented this accident - and that funding had little to nothing to do with that technology not being installed. Amtrak has had ACSES (Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System) on the Northeast Corridor for years. I have personally run trains using this technology (back what when I were an engineer) and find it absolutely ridiculous that it hasn't been in place on at least the heaviest traveled railroads for years. I know the FCC is partly in play here too as they control the wireless bands involved and have reportedly dragged their feet releasing the necessary frequencies, but it is usually too much to ask for multiple agencies to work together.

    This sort of reminds me a little bit of Amtrak's ADA compliance plan. All train services are at least ADA compliant, if not fully accessible. Amtrak was mandated to improve access at stations, so they developed a 5-year plan to bring all 483 stations to full compliance and set aside all the necessary money to do so via internal funds or grants, but the corporation actually owns just 68 stations throughout the country, and many of the other entities involved wouldn't even permit Amtrak to perform the work on their property. As a result, not all stations have been brought up to the standard despite the willingness of the carrier. I think we are going to run into a similar problem with PTC: Amtrak and all the state or municipality-funded commuter railroads who have spent millions of dollars (Metrolink alone spent $211M for their 512 miles of shared and owned track) will be ready to go, and by the time major corporations like UP, BNSF, and CSX get off their asses and install the wayside technology, the units on board the trains will be obsolete and won't work.

    I sincerely hope they don't allow that proposed PTC extension until 2020. To do so is a slap in the face to the companies and government agencies that have poured resources, both monetary and labor, into the program to meet the completely reasonable 2015 deadline. If they'd started working on it 5 years ago (the technology hasn't changed!) we wouldn't be having this discussion.
     
  4. milchap
    Original Member

    milchap Gold Member

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    @timfrost : Your posts are much appreciated. :cool:
     
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  5. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    Absolutely! +1! :)
     
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  6. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    To enlarge on @milchap's comment above, it is an eye-opener to understand the professionalism and hard work done on Amtrak through timfrost's postings! If only Milepoint had similar (unofficial) representatives from the various major airlines as participants, this would be one heck of a forum! I will definitely be thinking of timfrost every time that I now board an Amtrak train! ;)
     
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  7. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Thanks gents :)

    Always happy to dispel myths and answer questions. Some things I'll post out in the open and some not, but I'll always be honest and try to be prompt.
     
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  8. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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    You're the man, timfrost! :):):)
     
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
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  9. Wandering Aramean
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    Wandering Aramean Gold Member

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  10. Newscience

    Newscience Gold Member

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  11. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Interesting. This only deepens the mystery.
     
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  12. Dublin_rfk

    Dublin_rfk Gold Member

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    Ignore the man behind the curtain.
    Why are we so concerned about a possible distraction of the engineer by the use of a hand held device?
    The facts(?) as reported are the train accelerated rapidly and for a sustained period of time before exceeding the rated speed limit. A momentary distraction (hand held device - rock against windshield) would be just that momentary.
    The slow leakage of information coupled with the extreme parsing of words is more worrisome than the use of said hand held device.
     
  13. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    Frankly, knowing the engineer as I do I would have been absolutely shocked if I learned he was using his cell phone during the time of the accident. Many of my coworkers are speculating night and day about what happened, but the NTSB will get to the bottom of it.

    I still feel safe at work. I'm much more worried about bacon truck drivers who don't know how to stay off the tracks than faults in the track, equipment, personnel, and signals.
     
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