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Western Railroad Discussion > To bail or not to bail?


Date: 03/28/23 11:47
To bail or not to bail?
Author: RailDawg

Bailing from a moving train must be one tough decision to make. 

What goes into that decision? 

Anyone here come close?

Chuck

 



Date: 03/28/23 11:53
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: CaliforniaSteam

I don't know what I would do. Depends on the speed at the bailing off point. I hope that I'm never in that situation to have to make that call. Operating in heavy grade territory its always in the back of your mind, with the way trains are built in the Psr era.

CS

Posted from Android



Date: 03/28/23 11:59
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: howeld

It would appear this engineer made the right call in this case.



Date: 03/28/23 12:30
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: santafe199

RailDawg Wrote: > ... must be one tough decision to make ...

In 32 years of train service I thought about that every single time I ever boarded a train. But I knew I could never provide an answer until the very split-second that decision needed to be made. I thank God I NEVER got to that point. In the end, I believe the decision would be a gut instinct rather than a rational train of thought. The only thing left to ponder is: would I freeze and not make the jump if it was indeed called for...

Lance/199



Date: 03/28/23 12:40
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: okcrr

They make motorcycle air bag jackets. I know the RR would never supply them but I guess it would be better than nothing if you worked these "widow maker" trains regularly enough. Scary thought indeed. Human instinct is to stick around and try to get the situation under control, but by that point you realize you can't regain control you might be well past any survivable speed. You'll have a very narrow window of time without any crash gear to determine that you've lost control and you have no hope of regaining control. After about 20 MPH your odds are pretty slim jumping off unscathed. Over 30 and the odds you'll snap your melon on the way down increase a lot.



Date: 03/28/23 13:10
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: BurtNorton

First decision point:
  • #1:  Have I done everything possible to stop the train as engineer.? Check to make sure I haven't done something stupid like forget about DBI feature vs independent brakes vs automatic brakes OR with AC locos have I placed the locos in full dynamics to slow the train down and released the independent brakes?.  If out of options with #1:
  • #2a.  If I'm under 20 mph (and increasing in speed) and in a conventional cab,  bail out.   
  • #2b.  If I'm under 20 mph (and increasing in speed) and in a new/safety cab, bail out. 
  • #2c.  If I am over  20 mph (and increasing in speed) and in a convention cab:  soul searching required.   speed of train vs rate of acceleration vs ROW condition to bail out
  • #2d.   If am over 20mph (and increasing in speed) and in a new/safety cab,  ride it out unless we are set up for a head-on >50 mph...then above 50 mph its time to do some soul searching. :
    • if head on is looking >50 mph,   roll the dice.   You might survive, you might not...but don't bail. 
  • Key here is to make a decision early on before you are above 15-20 mph.     For info, the engineer involved on the UP ore train derailment BAILED OFF at 15 mph and landed on his feet.  Good work.
  • Chances are good you'll survive in a safety cab/new cab at any speed but decreasingly so as speed increases.  Bailing out at a high rate of speed is near certain death. 
Burt
 



Date: 03/28/23 13:57
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: Lackawanna484

are there crash standards established for locomotives, with crumple zones, etc that have demonstrated some level of protection?

In many places, trains run with cab cars at 79 mph in grade crossing territories.  Not much protection between you and the 18 wheeler, gravel trailer, etc ahead.



Date: 03/28/23 16:41
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: 3rdswitch

In the Santa Fe Pico Rivera, CA, rear ender back in the late eighties, the crew bailed off the lead unit at just under forty mph, both survived with only cuts and bruises.
JB



Date: 03/28/23 19:09
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: BobE

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> are there crash standards established for
> locomotives, with crumple zones, etc that have
> demonstrated some level of protection?
>


Perhaps this is something the DOT test track in Pueblo, CO is used to determine?

BobE



Date: 03/28/23 19:21
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: cchan006

To add to BurtNorton's post above...

The BNSF head-on collision at Panhandle, TX in 2016 had the engineer bail, while the conductor stayed on. The train was travelling ~40 mph at the time (supposedly), and slowing, but the incoming train wasn't, and travelling pretty fast. The engineer survived, the conductor didn't. Sad example of soul searching...

Last time this accident was discussed, the final NTSB report hadn't been released yet, and if it had, there would have been discussions here already. Rumors of controversy on the possible cause, so for those new to the accident, or those who are cats (too curious), don't expect any answers if there are questions. Some things are better left unsaid.



Date: 03/29/23 04:39
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: dcfbalcoS1

                 If I am not mis lead, the railroads discourage bailing only because they do not want to be liable for your injuries. They may not enen talk about it.

                 The decision would probably have to be made long before you need the answer. In the midst of a situation such as run away, collision, etc is NOT the time to take a few minutes and ponder your options. you should have made that up in your mind for all scenarios LONG AGO. Different answer for everyone.



Date: 03/29/23 05:13
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: junctiontower

I think my biggest fear of bailing out would be the train derailing on top of me.  I guess the deciding factor for me would be what I was about to hit.  If I'm about to hit another locomotive head on at speed, I think I would take my chances bailing out.



Date: 03/29/23 05:40
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: train1275

Damn close ....

I was working mechanical with another guy. We had stalled on a grade and had to double to the top. It was dark and we went light back down to pick up our double about six miles north. Blind curve  .... my fellow mechanical guy and I were riding what was now the lead unit with the 2 man crew. We arc into a curve and my buddy says "hey isn't the rest of our train parked just around this curve ?" as he proceeds to climb out of the E unit and down the steps. We were going about 20 -25 mph. Engineer comes to and big holes it. I follow out the cab onto the steps. We slide on the rail across a crossing and stop .... less than one foot from the coupler of the cars. My mechanical buddy had descended to the stirrup step and I was right above him. Yikes ! For us it had been a long day and we were about 20 hours on duty at that point (no hours of service for us). Can't say about the train crew other than it was not the first time that night they had zoned out. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/29/23 05:41 by train1275.



Date: 03/29/23 06:30
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: PasadenaSub

And is it harder to get out of a widecab than a standard cab locomotive? 

For the engineer, the door is behind him as before - but for someone on the fireman's side - it seems it would take a little longer to get down to the nose door and out.



Date: 03/29/23 06:44
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: Lackawanna484

BobE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Lackawanna484 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > are there crash standards established for
> > locomotives, with crumple zones, etc that have
> > demonstrated some level of protection?
> >
>
>
> Perhaps this is something the DOT test track in
> Pueblo, CO is used to determine?
>
> BobE

Perhaps.

Any idea of what the standards are, and how they might affect a crew member's choice about jumping?



Date: 03/29/23 07:03
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: train1275

Years ago one of the guys at Pueblo told me there is only so much you can do for crash worthiness related to human beings. You can beef up the designs to a point of incurring minimal equipment damage, but there is a tipping point where the crew will be killed by the impact, regardless of the crushing.



Date: 03/29/23 09:05
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: PHall

train1275 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Years ago one of the guys at Pueblo told me there
> is only so much you can do for crash worthiness
> related to human beings. You can beef up the
> designs to a point of incurring minimal equipment
> damage, but there is a tipping point where the
> crew will be killed by the impact, regardless of
> the crushing.

Seat belts and shoulder harnesses like you have on military airplanes to keep you in the seat would help in keeping you from being a ping pong ball in the cab.
But nobody would use them because ain't nobody going to tell them what to do...



Date: 03/29/23 09:21
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: Lackawanna484

I would expect that 150 train cars and a DPU behind you will generate a lot of momentum.

"Crash protection" isn't going to be a big help.

Posted from Android



Date: 04/02/23 14:23
Re: To bail or not to bail?
Author: ns1000

Lackawanna484 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I would expect that 150 train cars and a DPU
> behind you will generate a lot of momentum.
>
> "Crash protection" isn't going to be a big help.
>
> Posted from Android

Right......

Loco cabs have improved over the years, but they are NOT perfect.  You basically have to decide between "hunkering" down in the cab/ "riding" it out or bailing and facing THE REAL possibility that the incoming wreckage will "roll" up on you (at which point survival becomes slim to none).

I have never faced that choice and hope I never do.



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