Railroad Thread

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J
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Thu Nov 08, 2012 3:29 am

Hadn't hard of that lost train story either.

Here is an example of improper rigging destroying a new locomotive.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OvyIrsZ7Zhs

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Stopping distance vs. train length- questions for J

Postby 3WE » Mon Dec 10, 2012 6:51 pm

There's been a couple of articles in our newspaper dealing with some pedestrian deaths and suggesting that railroads are not working hard enough to prevent them. Of course that's a heck of a tough argument- in most cases it's kids jamming on their i-pods and not a lot that the railroads can do about that. OTOH the article sites what seems to be policies that you don't put on the brakes when you see someone on the tracks- and don't go emergency until AFTER you hit something- and maybe...MAYBE one might question that- even though it's incredibly stupid to be jamming with ear phones while walking on a train track.

This has brought out a lot of interesting comments- some of which- IMO have have fallacies.

The first fallacy is that hundred-car trains weigh zillions of tons and therefore take forever to stop. The fallacy is that a rail car has 16 brake shoes and a 100-car train has 1600 brake shoes. Consequently- stopping power has 'nothing' to do with the length of the train- it's that a single rail car is heavy and that the brakes are kind of weak. Ok, I did put 'nothing' in tick marks- and wanted to ask the genuine question of how long does it generally take for the air to leave and to apply full emergency braking from a full-length train. The "time of application" probably does affect stopping distance some- but I wonder what sort of times are we talking about- any insight J?

The other 'fallacy' or I should say 'exaggeration' is that "we can't go into emergency, it's dangerous". Ok, I'm sure there are real risks of breaking couplers and maybe a slight risk of derailment from emergency brake applications. On the other hand, I know that trains go into "emergency" pretty often due to air leaks, broken hoses, or air couplings coming loose. Same old thing 100 car trian and = 200 air hoses, and sometimes soemthings going to break. I've seen it personally once, heard one from a 1/2 mile away and then got on my on my scanner to hear that a signal malfunction gave a train an uplanned stop signal. So, I hear the argument that you don't WANT to go into emergency- but the argument that it's "terribly dangerous"...if it was that dangerous, then there needs to be some serious redsign and monitoring of air hoses!

Thoughts from J/others?
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:57 pm

I'm a former supervisor but by no means an airbrake expert but will share a couple of thoughts.

First of - a minor correction - a typical railcar has one brake shoe per wheel not 2. That said, the stopping distance of a train is somewhat effected by train length. A freight locomotive engineer applies the brakes by manipulating a handle on the locomotive to reduce the air pressure in the train line (the pipes and hoses that are connected from front to back). A control valve on each rail car senses the reduction in pressure and directs pressurized air from a reservoir on each car into the brake cylinders that press the brake shoes to the wheels. This pressure reduction is not instantaneous and on a long train the control valves may not sense the “signal” to apply for several seconds.

An emergency brake application is similar except that the reduction in air pressure is far quicker by the engineer. The “signal” also travels faster as each car senses the emergency brake reduction and vents the brake pipe on each car. While not “dangerous” the brakes heavily apply from front to back and if the train is on a sharper curve or there are a mix of long cars next to short cars interesting things can happen.

Improper braking can lead to problems: I recall an incident where the engineer mishandled the brakes on his train when moving at something like 10 miles per hour. The train was made up of multi-level automobile cars and a number of them ended up on their sides.

Regardless of what type of brake is applied, you are dealing with metal wheels on metal rails – the coefficient of friction is significantly less than a highway vehicle meaning it really does take a heavy freight train a mile or more to stop. Here is a grim photo of a passenger train (stops fare quicker than a freight train) handling a crossing accident where several teenagers died after driving around a crossing gate. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DOPtw5ZLX_c

People on the tracks being struck by trains is a continuing challenge and expecting an engineer to apply the brakes every time they see someone in the distance is silly and simplistic. Someone may be listening to head phones and step out of the way at the last instant or someone bent on suicide might walk briskly out to the track as the last second. I read where fencing was deployed aggressively only to find that suicides then happened more often on station platforms.

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby 3WE » Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:07 am

J wrote:People on the tracks being struck by trains is a continuing challenge and expecting an engineer to apply the brakes every time they see someone in the distance is silly and simplistic.


I understand that "every time" you see a potential hazard is overly simplisic. However the argument is being twisted around to imply that they "never" apply brakes UNTIL they hit something (or pehraps that they do not apply brakes even in cases where it "seemed extremely obvious" to brake).

Not taking sides- but am trying to convey how the story is being conveyed. As we know from this forum- it's always easy to say, "why didn't they just do what seems so simple and obvious" (generally because it is not simple or obvoius).
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Articles continue: Railroads responsible for cattle

Postby 3WE » Tue Dec 11, 2012 12:19 pm

We may be having a week long series in the newspaper.

Today the article points out some interesting old laws from the early 1900's [edit] and laws that are still on the books [/edit]....In many areas railroads are responsible to not kill cattle on the tracks, and apparently, there are many examples of the railroads erecting fences to keep cattle off of tracks.

This is contrasted with known pedestrian short cuts where the railroad refused to erect a fence or contribute to a foot bridge, etc.

Again- not rendering my own opinion other than that will make for a very interesting discussion in court.
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Fri Jan 11, 2013 6:29 pm

Video Combines Railroads and Aviation
(Good for any youngsters in your family)

With the help of a weather balloon, an HD camera and a GPS-enabled cell phone, Fugelseth filmed the epic journey into space. The balloon floated 95,000 feet high before bursting. The toy was recovered 27 miles away in a cornfield. Note: Safety precautions were followed, i.e. FAA instructions for weather balloons and monitoring wind conditions.

http://www.flixxy.com/a-toy-train-in-space.htm#.UOorwInjmmA

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Steam Retirement Article

Postby 3WE » Sun Apr 07, 2013 1:09 am

Interesting ironing...they hoped to get to the scrap yard under steam power, but alas, they ran out of water

http://www.stltoday.com/news/local/metr ... 903dc.html
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:31 pm

Interesting read.

Below is a link of an article from the same time period discussing another scrap yard not too far away. Here hundreds of steam locomotives (and WWII Sherman Tanks) were cut up for scrap. During this time period a railroad might retire an entire class of steam locomotives (some of which were still in good condition) so that they could close obsolete fueling and repair facilities. The scrap yard had "the pick of the litter" as the retired locomotives arrived and frequently put smaller and healthier ones back in service (for a little while until they too were cut up for the furnaces.)

Here is an interesting quote from the article.


“A diesel switcher, a new one, costs $180,000,” Mr. Dillon says. “We’ve got mountains of scrap iron around here, and, if the diesels brush against them the traction motors are likely to be damaged. And when one of them derails, there would be damages, too.”

Not so with steamers. They can bump into obstructions, or stub their toes and derail, but keep right on running with a minimum of repair. Evidence of this is seen in the mangled footboards on the plant’s engines. They are, you might say, battle scars.


http://www.nwsw.info/?p=196

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Total Crossing Disaster!!!!!!!

Postby 3WE » Tue May 07, 2013 2:25 am

http://screen.yahoo.com/train-levels-ca ... 55756.html

I post this for the sake of discussion regarding braking performance and braking policy.

I counted about 14 cars....if they were 80 ft, it would be ~1200 feet or 1/4 mile.

While we have no information on when the brakes are "selected" it seems that a few cars pass before things really kick in.

There's also that 'policy' that you do not brake until you hit something???
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Tue May 07, 2013 3:33 am

Most locomotives on road trains in North America are equipped with event recorders (tracking such things as throttle position, speed, time brakes applied, when horn is sounded, etc.) It is pretty likely the crew applied the brakes prior to the locomotive arriving at the crossing. If not a plaintiff's attorney could claim the crew did not do everything in their power to stop (even though, as you can see here, all that moving mass doesn't stop right away.)

If the link does not work for you, copy the title of the video into your favorite search engine to see it.

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby 3WE » Tue May 07, 2013 7:38 pm

I meant to express that I thought the train displayed pretty good stopping ability once the brakes kicked in. Of course, maybe the train was somewhat empty and not going all that fast.
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Texas railroad bridge fire and collapse

Postby Rabbi O'Genius » Thu May 23, 2013 12:58 pm

Seems like it's the horizontal equivalent of the WTC collapses.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-22641179
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby 3WE » Thu May 23, 2013 6:19 pm

Why am I learning about a Texas train-related calamity on an aviation forum citing a link with a United Kingdom URL that mentions Canada?

As to the domino effect... amazing.
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby Lancer » Sat May 25, 2013 2:22 pm

On detection of a situation that endangers the crew safety or that of the public, the engineer will supply an emergency brake application.
Many trains in North America now have "helper" power which are locomotives placed in the middle or at the rear of the train for additona tractive effort and more efficient, equal brake power.
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Total Train Disaster.

Postby 3WE » Sun May 26, 2013 1:13 am

Westbound UP hits Northbound BNSF- and there happens to be a highway bridge over the top, and the bridge collapses and two folks wreck on the bridge.

BNSF gets about 10 cars past the intersection when the UP hits it. It's probably a "blind intersection" due to the highway embankment.

The good news, zero fatalaties.

http://www.semissourian.com/story/1972577.html

Parlour talk speculation:

A windstorm blew over several cars on the UP track several weeks ago, perhaps signal wiring was damaged in the clean up?

EDIT: Upon further research, there were TWO previous incidents this year- the windstorm, then a derailment of about 4 cars on the BNSF in the immediate area...more fuel to the messed up wiring theory.

OR, I blame Vector for Food.
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Wed May 29, 2013 4:05 pm

Here is a video from about 20 years ago that starts off fairly benign but then gets pretty interesting.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vsxVfSwW2F8


A freight train was doing some switching and pulled out too far onto the main track. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board report number for this incident is R91H0206, entitled "Canadian Pacific Limited and Via Rail Inc. near collision, Mile 33.79, CN Smiths Falls Subdivision, Smiths Falls, Ontario, 1303 EST, 06 February 1991".

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby 3WE » Wed May 29, 2013 8:29 pm

The engineers exit was not very graceful.
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby Rabbi O'Genius » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:47 am

BBC wrote:Magnificent Mallard: The world's fastest steam locomotive
Three-quarters of a century ago, a locomotive built in Doncaster set a world speed record for steam rail travel on a stretch of track just south of Grantham. That 1938 record - of 126 miles per hour - remains to this day.

To mark the 75th anniversary of the achievement, the National Railway Museum in York has arranged for Mallard to meet its five surviving sister locomotives from the A4 Class - which ran on the East Coast Mainline from the 1930s to the 1960s.


Nice slideshow tells the story....

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-23137106
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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:17 pm

Thanks ROG for posting that - pretty remarkable stuff.

Here is a recent video of a parade of preserved steam locomotives in Wolsztyn Poland.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NJ1PfWpM7pc

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby Rabbi O'Genius » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:37 pm

Nice, so what's the engineering explanation for the strange lateral "cowlings/fairings" at the front of some of the engines?
......never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. – John Donne

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:13 am

Smoke deflectors - designed to channel air currents to lift smoke above and away from the cab.

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby ocelot » Mon Jul 08, 2013 8:50 am

Any thoughts on the mess in Lac-Mégantic?

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby monchavo » Mon Jul 08, 2013 10:28 am

J wrote:
Here is an example of improper rigging destroying a new locomotive.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=OvyIrsZ7Zhs


J,

Excellent tape. The noise it makes is so deliciously jarring. "improper rigging" - something as simple as a chain snapping because it was asked to do too much?

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby J » Mon Jul 08, 2013 12:56 pm

ocelot wrote:Any thoughts on the mess in Lac-Mégantic?


The initial news reports are as varied as those covering an airline accident. The following is about as good a recap as I've seen for now.
Lac-Mégantic: What we know, what we don’t know

http://www.montrealgazette.com/news/M%C3%A9gantic+What+know+what+know/8626661/story.html

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Re: Railroad Thread

Postby ocelot » Mon Jul 08, 2013 5:17 pm

Thanks.


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