[RailTransportation] TRANSPORTATION: RAILROAD: DISASTERS : TRANSPORTATION: RAILROAD: HISTORY: The Wreck of Amtrak 188: What Caused the Worst American Rail Disaster in Decades?

 

.

.

TRANSPORTATION: RAILROAD: DISASTERS :

TRANSPORTATION: RAILROAD: HISTORY:

The Wreck of Amtrak 188:
What Caused the Worst American Rail Disaster in Decades?

The Wreck of Amtrak 188
What caused the worst American rail disaster in decades?

By MATTHEW SHAER

January 26, 2016

New York Times

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/31/magazine/the-wreck-of-amtrak-188.html

.

.

Ill describe it to you this way, says Sarah Feinberg of the Federal Railroad Administration. If a train is traveling in an area where P.T.C. isnt in place and working as a backstop, youve got a situation where an engineer has to execute everything perfectly every hour, every day, every week. All the time. Because the slightest, smallest lapse can mean disaster.

.

snip

.

The spring of 2015 was a fractious time for Northeast Corridor engineers. In March, over the objections of the unions, Amtrak had cut the time engineers were allowed between daily runs, from an average of roughly two and a half hours to, in many cases, 90 minutes or less. Amtrak employees foresaw disaster: Forcing shorter breaks, day after day, between runs increases fatigue-related risk and the potential for loss of focus, Edler, a member of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, wrote in an open letter to Amtrak brass.

.

According to other engineers, Bostians couplet on May 12  a run down to Washington and a run back to New York  was one of the routes affected. (Amtrak declined to comment on any changes to Bostians schedule but did say that from time to time, [the company] revisits crew assignments to look for efficiencies, improve crew rest or to reflect changes in train operations.) The new route had his Acela 2121 arriving at Union Station at 4:53 p.m. and, after a change of trains, pushing off at 7:10 onboard 188s Cities Sprinter. If all went well, that would leave him roughly two hours in Washington.

.

But just minutes after the Acela 2121 left New York, Bostian encountered a problem with his cab signals, an internal device that automatically displays information about obstacles or other trains ahead. Without a functioning signaling device, Bostian was forced to reduce the top speed on the 2121, his eyes fixed on every wayside signal for indications of trouble ahead. It was an onerous task. He arrived at Union Station half an hour behind schedule. His actual break time  the time he would have to himself, to eat a sandwich or make a phone call  was all but obliterated, and an Amtrak colleague has since described a collective sense that Bostian was frazzled on arrival.

.

snip

.

On the evening of May 12, at least two trains were struck by objects near Frankford Junction. One was a southbound Acela, which was reportedly hit at around 9:05 p.m. The other was a Septa train headed to Trenton. The Septa engineer, who called in the incident just minutes before 188 derailed, immediately put out a hot track warning, indicating to all oncoming trains that there was dangerous activity in the area.

.

According to an assistant conductor onboard Amtrak 188, who later spoke to the National Transportation Safety Board, Bostian heard the hot track warning and replied that he had been hit by something as well. By then, Bostian would have been opening up the throttle, preparing for the last straightaway before Frankford Junction.

.

It was a tricky series of maneuvers for even the most experienced engineer: speed up out of North Philadelphia Station; slow for a gradual curve at North Second Street; throttle open again for the straightaway, where the speed limit is 70 m.p.h.; and dump speed for the sharp 50-m.p.h. curve.

.

Instead, Amtrak 188 continued to accelerate on the straightaway  90 miles per hour, 95. Near the entrance to the curve, it hit 106 m.p.h., more than twice the posted speed limit. At the last moment, Bostian activated the emergency brake, but it was too late: The 98-ton locomotive and the seven cars and the 250 terrified passengers were now traveling on their own momentum, free from the rails, lurching rightward into the earth and forward into the surrounding darkness.

.

snip

.

Gotbaum made one more pass through the car, stopping in front of a woman who appeared to have been crushed by a loose seat. She was not moving. One of her legs protruded from the wreckage at a bizarre angle. There was nothing more that Gotbaum could do. The smoke was thickening; visibility was almost nil; his lungs were stinging. He headed for the window.

.

It is unlikely that even had he known to look for Justin Zemser, Gotbaum would have found him. According to a lawsuit filed by the Zemser family, Justin was launched from the train car as it overturned. His injuries included skull, sternum and spine fractures; cardiac lacerations; and a punctured aorta. A seat over, Darby would emerge with scrapes and bruises. Two bodies in motion, they followed radically different trajectories, governed by physics and maybe fate  Darby landing in a heap inside the train and Zemser ejected from it.

.

At around 11 p.m., Richard Zemser received a phone call from his brother Howard. Justin had been on the train that derailed in Philadelphia, and Howard hadnt heard from him. I thought, Well, maybe his phone is lost, Richard told me. But as the hours went by, it was clear to me something was wrong, because Justin was so close with his parents, and he would have found a way to get word home, even if it involved hunkering down and building a radio, like Marconi.

.

Worried, Richard phoned a precinct house in Philadelphia. An officer there promised to call Richard if he heard anything. At around 6 a.m., the phone awoke Richard. Emergency medical workers had found Justins body, identified by his dress whites and name tag. Richard promised to notify his brother and his sister-in-law, and set down the receiver.

.

I dont often shed tears, Richard recalled, and so I measure my sadness by the size of the lump in my throat. Im going to tell you right now, ever since I got that phone call, this damn lump has not stopped growing.

.

snip

.

In the harsh glare of the temporary light fixtures, hundreds of emergency medical workers were at work, escorting those who could walk to waiting police and E.M.T. vehicles and helping to carry those who could not. By dawn, hundreds of survivors were safe in local hospitals, and a grimmer phase of the recovery was underway.

.

snip

.

Its easy to see: a rattled young engineer finishing the second leg of a frustrating couplet, aboard a racehorse of a high-powered locomotive he was still growing accustomed to. A notoriously tricky piece of track. And a moment of distraction at precisely the worst time.

.

Perhaps the most tragic aspect of the wreck of 188 is that it could have been avoided, or at least mitigated, had the right safeguard  positive train control  been in place. Renewed pressure has been brought to bear on the industry by P.T.C. advocates like Robert Sumwalt of the N.T.S.B. and Sarah Feinberg of the Federal Railroad Administration. (The agencies have been pushing for the technology for decades.) My hope, Feinberg told me recently, is that the derailment was our long-overdue wake-up call that we need P.T.C.  that we owe it to passengers and rail staff to have it online.

.

.

UPDATE: Radio traffic & video from deadly Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia
May 12, 2015
http://www.statter911.com/2015/05/12/ live-video-audio-from-philadelphia-amtrak-derailment-4th-alarm/

.

A shorter URL for the above link:

.

http://tinyurl.com/mnmub4u

.

.

AMTRAK DERAILMENT OPERATIONS: THE FIRST 24 MINUTES

10/29/2015

BY VINCENT P. MULRAY

http://tinyurl.com/gm4hc6g

.

.

On the evening of May 12, 2015, as I was documenting daily staffing and reviewing incident reports, just a few miles to the east, on one of the busiest and fastest rail lines, a passenger train was departing from the 30th Street Station and heading to New York City. At 9:28 p.m., the public address system at the Kensington and Castor Avenue fire station dispatched my resource identifier-Battalion 10. Within a minute, I was heading to a passenger train derailment that would challenge first responders and supporting agencies.

.

Phil McLaughlin, a Philadelphia (PA) Fire Department retired deputy commissioner, often said, “Experience is our hardest teacher-it gives us the test first, then the lesson,” emphasizing the benefits of simulated emergency incident training and the study of past emergency responses. Our department was tested on that night when Amtrak Train 188, traveling at more than 100 miles per hour, derailed and crashed at Frankford Junction, killing eight passengers and injuring more than 200 others. At 9:28 p.m., a full box assignment-four engines, two ladder companies, two battalion chiefs, one rescue, and one medic unit-were dispatched to Coral Street and Wheatsheaf Lane for a train derailment. Additional information requested en route identified it as an Amtrak passenger train. My past work experience, running passenger trains on these same tracks and doing extensive research on passenger train crashes, train bombings, and assessing the Center City commuter rail tunnel, would all serve as a base of knowledge required for this incident.

.

.

How Philadelphia Responded to the Amtrak Disaster

A look at how the response unfolded to the citys worst train disaster in decades.

Wendy Ruderman and Mensah Dean

Philadelphia Daily News

May 14, 2015

http://www.emergencymgmt.com/disaster/ How-Philadelphia-Responded-to-Amtrak-Disaster.html

OR

http://tinyurl.com/hyms2k3

.

.

Prior Coverage of the Amtrak Derailment in Frankford

http://tinyurl.com/jm3xoj6

.

.

WEBBIB1516

http://tinyurl.com/q8tavoy

.

.

Sincerely,
David Dillard
Temple University
(215) 204 – 4584
jwne@temple.edu
http://workface.com/e/daviddillard

Net-Gold
https://groups.io/g/Net-Gold
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/net-gold
http://listserv.temple.edu/archives/net-gold.html
https://groups.io/org/groupsio/Net-Gold/archives
http://net-gold.3172864.n2.nabble.com/

Temple University and Google Sites Research Guides
AND Discussion Group Directory
http://tinyurl.com/ngda2hk

OR

https://sites.google.com/site/researchguidesonsites/

RESEARCH PAPER WRITING
http://guides.temple.edu/research-papers
EMPLOYMENT
http://guides.temple.edu/employment-guide
INTERNSHIPS
http://guides.temple.edu/employment-internships
HOSPITALITY
http://guides.temple.edu/hospitality-guide
DISABILITIES AND EMPLOYMENT
http://guides.temple.edu/c.php?g=134557
INDOOR GARDENING
https://groups.io/g/indoor-gardening
Educator-Gold
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Educator-Gold/
K12ADMINLIFE
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/K12AdminLIFE/

PUBLIC HEALTH RESOURCES INCLUDING EBOLA
http://guides.temple.edu/public-health-guide

STATISTICS SOURCES RESEARCH GUIDE
http://guides.temple.edu/statistics-sources

Social Work and Social Issues Discussion Group
https://groups.io/g/social-work

Tourism Discussion Group
https://groups.io/g/Tourism

Digital Scholarship Discussion Group
https://groups.io/g/DigitalScholarship/threads
https://listserv.temple.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A0=DIGITAL-SCHOLARSHIP
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/digital-scholarship/info
https://digitalscholarshipandscholarlypublication.wordpress.com/

Copyright Research Guide
Copyright, Intellectual Property and Plagiarism Sources
http://guides.temple.edu/copyright-plagiarism
Fair Use
http://guides.temple.edu/fair-use

Blog
https://educatorgold.wordpress.com/

Articles by David Dillard
https://sites.google.com/site/daviddillardsarticles/

Information Literacy (Russell Conwell Guide)
http://tinyurl.com/78a4shn

Nina Dillard’s Photographs on Net-Gold
http://www.flickr.com/photos/neemers/

Twitter: davidpdillard

Temple University Site Map
https://sites.google.com/site/templeunivsitemap/home

Bushell, R. & Sheldon, P. (eds),
Wellness and Tourism: Mind, Body, Spirit,
Place, New York: Cognizant Communication Books.
Wellness Tourism: Bibliographic and Webliographic Essay
David P. Dillard
http://tinyurl.com/o4pn4o9

Rail Transportation
https://groups.io/org/groupsio/RailTransportation

INDOOR GARDENING
Improve Your Chances for Indoor Gardening Success
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/IndoorGardeningUrban/

SPORT-MED
https://www.jiscmail.ac.uk/lists/sport-med.html
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sports-med/
http://listserv.temple.edu/archives/sport-med.html

HEALTH DIET FITNESS RECREATION SPORTS TOURISM
https://groups.yahoo.com/neo/groups/healthrecsport/info
http://listserv.temple.edu/archives/health-recreation-sports-tourism.html

.

.

Please Ignore All Links to JIGLU
in search results for Net-Gold and related lists.
The Net-Gold relationship with JIGLU has
been terminated by JIGLU and these are dead links.
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Net-Gold/message/30664
http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/healthrecsport/message/145
Temple University Listserv Alert :
Years 2009 and 2010 Eliminated from Archives
https://sites.google.com/site/templeuniversitylistservalert/

.

.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

.

.

.

 

Groups.io Links:

You receive all messages sent to this group.

View This Message (#582):

https://groups.io/g/RailTransportation/message/582

.

.

 

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s