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Passenger Trains > Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Legal Li


Date: 11/13/11 14:56
Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Legal Li
Author: wcamp1472

Some modern train wrecks had monumental impact on legal liability cases and subsequent mechanical betterments required for passenger car construction.
This legal history/structure has also established new distinctions in categories of passenger equipment trains.

Off the top of my head, I can think of several wrecks that changed the landscape; I'm foggy on the dates, but this is what I remember...

* Chase, MD, mid-1980s (CR Engr. Ricky Gates, et al.)
* Bayou Conaut(?) barge into low RR bridge/fog, fiery Amtrak crash, Florida, mid-1990s
* MARC/Amtrak fiery collision (broadside), suburban DC/MD late-1990s
* Calif. Commuter/stopped-Freight, head-on collision (cell/texting distraction?) Late 2000s
* Ariz(?), Amtrak train hit broadside by high speed truck, Late 2000s.

Excursion operators:
Gettysburg RR: Boiler disaster, dropped crown sheet incident ex-CP RR 4-6-2 #1278, early 1990s. (Launched updating to FRA Steam Loco Inspn. Rules)

Add corrections & other incidents (repercussions)to above listing that will help me get my brain around the current operational/legal situation(s).
What are the legal decisions/judgements/interpretations that got us where we are?

Wes Camp



Date: 11/13/11 15:33
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: shoretower

Only two of the accidents you mention had truly national repercussions for the freight railroad industry.

The Chase accident in 1987 led to the whole process of Federal certification for locomotive engineers, an entirely new activity for FRA. It also led, indirectly, to much more burdensome crash-resistance standards for passenger-carrying equipment, and also to the refusal by FRA to permit mixed operation of freight and non-FRA-compliant passenger equipment ("light rail" cars) without temporal separation. The background was that, when Conrail made the decision to cease operating electric freight trains in 1982, they asked for, and FRA granted, a waiver from cab signals with enforcement on the NEC. The locomotives Ricky Gates was operating had cab signals, but only a warning whistle, no throttle/brake enforcement.

And that led to the other consequential accident, at Chatsworth in 2008. Sanchez (the engineer) may have been trying to commit suicide when he ran head-on into a UP local freight. We'll never know, but some very unpleasant stuff about Mr. Sanchez's personal life came out in the NTSB investigation. In any case, he took 24 innocent people with him. NTSB had since 1992 had Positive Train Control on its "most wanted" list, and bills to require it had been introduced in Congress multiple times. One was still active when Chatsworth occurred, and within one month it was passed by both houses and signed by the President. So the industry is now required to spend a great deal of money because of one man's actions -- even more money than Ricky Gates cost the industry.

No other passenger train accident of which I'm aware has had consequences of those sorts.



Date: 11/13/11 16:04
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: Jaanfo

Shoretower, although Sanchez had some personal problems I think it was made clear that there is absolutely no evidence to support any notion that it was suicide, he just wasn't paying attention.

As for the accidents...

* Chase, MD, mid-1980s (CR Engr. Ricky Gates, et al.)

Also known as the Gunpow collision... I think the reprucussions of this accident are well known. This accident caused widespread reform to the entire transportation industry, not just the railroad itself. This accident led to DOT drug and alcohol regulations in every corner of the transportation.

* Bayou Conaut(?) barge into low RR bridge/fog, fiery Amtrak crash, Florida, mid-1990s

Big Bayou Canot led to reforms in the boating industry, not so much the railroads. I believe there were regulation changes to bridge construction/maintenance as well (the bridge was an inactive swing span which hadn't been well secured, as a result the collision with the barge caused the bridge to swing partway open in front of the train. This basically caused the train to fly off the bridge into the Bayou).

* MARC/Amtrak fiery collision (broadside), suburban DC/MD late-1990s

This led to new rules on signalled railroad lines requiring trains which fall to speeds below 10 MPH to proceed as though they are on an approach signal (or restricted speed depending on the signal system in use) regardless of whatever less restrictive signals they had before (The signal had been taken back by the dispatcher for the Amtrak meet while the MARC train was at a station, but the MARC train continued at speed after the station, forgetting the signal had been taken back). It also led to new safety regulations regarding emergency exits in train cars (Number of emergency windows to be more precise).

* Calif. Commuter/stopped-Freight, head-on collision (cell/texting distraction?) Late 2000s

Like the Gunpow incident this particular accident has had reprucussions reaching far beyond the railroad, even leading to laws amongst everyday drivers regarding text messaging which driving. As for the railroad, it has established new laws regarding using personal electronics by crew members, led to updating of the hours of service, and the biggest one is the requirement of Positive Train Control.

* Ariz(?), Amtrak train hit broadside by high speed truck, Late 2000s.

I don't know if this will have a big impact on the railroad industry, but it *could* have an impact on the trucking industry based upon the results of the investigation. If the driver had a medical problem, or if he was an obvious risk the NTSB and DOT could make life hard for a lot of drivers and trucking companies with similar records all over the country.



Date: 11/13/11 16:52
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: PHall

Jaanfo Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> * Ariz(?), Amtrak train hit broadside by high
> speed truck, Late 2000s.
>
> I don't know if this will have a big impact on the
> railroad industry, but it *could* have an impact
> on the trucking industry based upon the results of
> the investigation. If the driver had a medical
> problem, or if he was an obvious risk the NTSB and
> DOT could make life hard for a lot of drivers and
> trucking companies with similar records all over
> the country.

Just for the record this was in Nevada.



Date: 11/13/11 17:24
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: lapklub

> Bayou Conaut(?) barge into low RR bridge/fog, fiery Amtrak crash, Florida, mid-1990s

Big Bayou Canot led to reforms in the boating industry, not so much the railroads. I believe there were regulation changes to bridge construction/maintenance as well (the bridge was an inactive swing span which hadn't been well secured, as a result the collision with the barge caused the bridge to swing partway open in front of the train. This basically caused the train to fly off the bridge into the Bayou). <

I believe this was actually in Alabama, between Mobile and Pensacola FL not too far out of Mobile.
Mike



Date: 11/13/11 17:46
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: Out_Of_Service

many wrecks were costly in legal liability some were more prolific in their notoriety ...

a few that were very costly that didn't get as much national pub as the others did were:

1 the NS run away that derailed and evacuated the town in Carolina from toxic fumes

2 the NS run away over Keating Summit in Pa. that derailed and caused major contamination of the waterways in the area

3 the CP acid train derailment in Fairmount Park in Philly across from the Philadelphia Zoo

4 the CSX train derailment and explosion near Louisville that evacuated residents in proximity to the railroad

ahhh ... Passenger Thread i forgot ...

1 the CofNO track train wreck in Bourbonnais Il. truck went through gates got stuck on tracks with low boy

2 one the most recent the trucker on his cell phone goes through protected crossing causing fiery collision with Downeaster



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/13/11 19:16 by Out_Of_Service.



Date: 11/13/11 22:03
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: EtoinShrdlu

>* Chase, MD, mid-1980s (CR Engr. Ricky Gates, et al.)

>Also known as the Gunpow collision... I think the reprucussions of this accident are well known. This accident caused widespread reform to the entire transportation industry, not just the railroad itself. This accident led to DOT drug and alcohol regulations in every corner of the transportation.

This is what I thought for a long time, but it was actually an accident almost exactly a year later at Lamoken, DE, where a tower operator sent an Amtrak train into a gang, with the train derailing at 90 mph or there abouts. Not sure how many M/W forces were killed/injured, but the engineer survived the locomotives sliding down the embankment. Apparently when they went up into the tower, the operator had disappeared, but the joint was sitting on the control machine.

What is also missing from the Gunpow story is that in a fit of cost cutting, Amtrak had removed the PRR's got-to-hell track where the mains came together for the bridge. Had that track been there, Ricky would have needed a set of water wings, those 44 people wouldn't have perished, and we probably would never had heard of him.



Date: 11/13/11 23:48
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: Out_Of_Service

EtoinShrdlu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> This is what I thought for a long time, but it was
> actually an accident almost exactly a year later
> at Lamoken, DE, where a tower operator sent an
> Amtrak train into a gang, with the train derailing
> at 90 mph or there abouts. Not sure how many M/W
> forces were killed/injured, but the engineer
> survived the locomotives sliding down the
> embankment. Apparently when they went up into the
> tower, the operator had disappeared, but the joint
> was sitting on the control machine.

the incident happened in Chester Pa. just south of the Commodore Barry Bridge on 2 track about a mile north of Hook interlocking where the tower operator at Hook tower(Marcus Hook) routed a train i believe 66 onto the out of service track where a surfacing gang was working ... the train hit a ballast regulator and the engine(AEM-7) went down the embankment on it's side ... the foreman and the equipment opr jumped to safety before the train got to them when the saw the headlight of the train approaching them on their track ... the incident was instrumental in the FRA implementing regulation that MW work crews are now required to erect a shunting barricade on either side of their work area in the track out of service


> What is also missing from the Gunpow story is that
> in a fit of cost cutting, Amtrak had removed the
> PRR's got-to-hell track where the mains came
> together for the bridge. Had that track been
> there, Ricky would have needed a set of water
> wings, those 44 people wouldn't have perished, and
> we probably would never had heard of him.

these were basically split point derails with frogs connected to the interlocking mechanism controlled by the tower opr/s



Date: 11/14/11 07:48
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: Daze

EtoinShrdlu Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> What is also missing from the Gunpow story is that
> in a fit of cost cutting, Amtrak had removed the
> PRR's got-to-hell track where the mains came
> together for the bridge. Had that track been
> there, Ricky would have needed a set of water
> wings, those 44 people wouldn't have perished, and
> we probably would never had heard of him.

Yes, this item disappeared from the story....talking about "removal of safety devices" during an "upgrading" because of "excessive" costs just didn't have the traction of "drugs" at the time. If split point derails had still been installed, along with enforcement for the cab signals, Ricky Gates and his crew would have been the only ones in danger. It's history now, but that's the rest of the story. Daze



Date: 11/14/11 10:30
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: lapklub

>many wrecks were costly in legal liability some were more prolific in their notoriety ...

a few that were very costly that didn't get as much national pub as the others did were:

1 the NS run away that derailed and evacuated the town in Carolina from toxic fumes<


Were you referring to the Graniteville SC wreck back in I believe 2005. It was not a run away. The local crew had forgotten to realign the siding to the main line. Along comes a train and goes into the siding and hits the local and all hell breaks loose in the derailment that involved tank cars with toxic chemicals(chlorine).
This did bring about a new form to fill out whenever a main line switch is used. Especially in TWC territory you will hear crews say whether or not any switches were used and they sign off on it.



Date: 11/14/11 11:59
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: SilverPeakRail

Don't forget, there was a second Chase, MD collision in the early 1990's where a cut of light engines hit a coal train that was crossing over on the same spot as the infamous Amtrak/Conrail collision. It was caused by the engines not having the air properly made up at the Washington Terminal, with only the F-40 having working brakes approaching the collision point. The con sit was a single F-40 and three E-60's, dead in tow. That resulted in the requirement that a Qualified Maintenance Person, who has to be qualified every three years, do the Daily and Terminal air brake tests. That cost the railroads a bundle too.



Date: 11/14/11 18:57
Re: Recent (?) Costly train wrecks that got us in Lega
Author: toledopatch

Out_Of_Service Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

>
> 1 the CofNO track train wreck in Bourbonnais Il.
> truck went through gates got stuck on tracks with
> low boy


The truck involved in the Bourbonnais wreck was not a low boy and it did not get hung up on the crossing. The driver was hauling steel on a flatbed and failed in his attempt to beat the approaching train. Apparently he had also severely violated hours of service with fraudulent log books.



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