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Eastern Railroad Discussion > CSX Runaway Report

Date: 05/21/01 18:04
CSX Runaway Report
Author: webmaster

This was forwarded to me by a reliable source.

Todd Clark


The Facts surrounding the incident of the runaway CSX train on May 15 at Stanley Yard in Toledo, Ohio.

The circumstances involve a 3, person yard crew. The engineer was on the locomotive, the conductor was at the location where a double was made, and the switchmen was at the final spot to cut the locomotive away. After completing their double, 22 loads and 25 empties, 2898 tons the cut was pulled as instructed by the yardmaster. The yardmasters instructions included information that a switch would be lined against them for the route they were to use. The engineer failed to control the movement to permit stopping in time to line this switch properly. As a result, the engineer made the decision to dismount the moving equipment and run to line the switch for the route to be used.

The switch was lined and the engineer tried to board the moving equipment. The engineers hands slipped off the grad irons and he fell to the ground. The engineer was dragged approximately fifty yards and did injure himself with scrapes and bruises to both legs and forehead. He declined medical attention but did submit a personal injury report for May 15 and is listed as out of service. Locomotive 8888 and 47 cars, without anyone on board, traveled through several control points and Ohio cities for approximately 71 miles before the movement was stopped safely. The engineer was dragged approximately fifty yards and did injure himself with scrapes and bruises to both legs and forehead. He declined medical attention but did submit a personal injury report for May 15 and is listed as out of service. This is the written explanation that CSX had us review during our job briefing before going to work.

The report then tells what rules were broken:

I. Failure to control movement CSX Operating Rule 105/46, and 555, NORAC Operating Rule 80

II. Failure to properly handle switches CSX Operating Rule 104B, and 104C, NORAC Operating Rule 104

III. Mounting and dismounting moving equipment Safeway and safe job
procedures 22, 25, and 55 IV. Failure to properly use air brakes Air brake and train handling rule 3.5.1

Date: 05/21/01 19:16
Author: Kushtaka

Thanks for the straight story, Todd.

Would it be safe to say the engineer will be looking for a new job?

Date: 05/21/01 20:13
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: powerbraker1

The people who don't do the work always know what rules were violated- hindsight is 20/20. I have seen much worse whenever management tried to run trains during strikes. We still don't know enough to figure out what happened. Either there was NO air on the 47 cars, or it had just been cut in and the cut was not charged up yet. I am betting no air. There is absolutely no way an SD40 can drag 47 cars with a 20-pound reduction if the trainline is charged. Is it common to handle that many cars with no air during switching movements? You betcha. The engineer had just doubled over, and most likely he had no idea how many loads and empties he had- he just had an idea of how many total cars, but only if he was lucky. When he tried to stop for the bad switch, that is most likely the first time he had the chance to feel how the cut handled. That is a sickening feeling to come up against a bad switch, apply the independent (no air on the cars- remember?), feel the slack come in, and then notice that the independent is not having much effect in slowing down the cut. One unit and 47 cars? Too many for one engine with composite brakeshoes to handle. It even feels like you are accelerating, and in a way you are- when you apply the independent, you slow the engine down momentarily- then the slack rolls in and speeds you back up to your original speed. A very funny feeling indeed- only another engineer knows what I am talking about.

If he had just run through the switch, he would most likely have just gotten a handslap. But fear of oppressive discipline makes you take risks that you wouldn't normally take. If he did have air on the cars, he moved too soon- they were not charged up. Did the yardmaster rush him? Possibly. What should he have done? Either requested that the air be put on the cars, or, if the air was on the cars, charged up the trainline before moving. I have worked with crews that liked to grab 60-80 cars with a couple of GP38-2s and go to switching. I would usually go ahead and pull the cut out on the lead until they stopped me, then I would say "hold on- I need to check something out," and then I would lace the air on 5 or 6 cars as a safety measure. Sometimes you have to look out for yourself.

So, those of you that have already tried this man and found him guilty, don't be so hasty- sure, he made some bad judgments, but he wasn't alone in this by any means. He has a culpable yardmaster and ground crew also, I am willing to bet.

There, but for the grace of God, go ... many of us.

"We have met the enemy, and he is us." --Pogo.

Date: 05/21/01 20:43
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: S291

seems so far nobody has mentioned the alerter?? i'm betting the engineer, in a hurry, applied the engine brakes and the automatic brake (since they said there was a 20 lb reduction)so that would keep the engine at a slower speed, along with the weight of the cars dragging it down, and maybe with a little air reduction if they werent fully charged. either way, the amount of air reduction or the full application of the engine brake would keep the alerter from cutting power to the engine, and this being an ex-con, it may not have even had an alerter. hummm....

Date: 05/21/01 21:01
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: powerbraker1

You are right- if the automatic was fully applied, it would override the PCS and the engine could rev according to the throttle position- provided there was an alerter. If the PCS did trip, the throttle must be placed into idle before the PCS can be reset. So, he screwed himself by trying to set the dynamics, which have little or no effect at low speeds anyway (even extended range dynamics do nothing below 10 mph). But alerters and deadman pedals haven't been required in years. I still have the last deadman pedal I ever used in the back of my pickup (GP7). As soon as the FRA said okay, the Missouri Pacific started removing their deadman pedals. I just beat them to the punch on the one I have ;-)

Date: 05/21/01 21:08
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: trainhand

powerbraker you about summed up the way the engr. felt. deadman pedals are still on some old chessie engines. I had one once that had a deadman and an alerter on it.

why would you want a deadman pedal?

Date: 05/21/01 21:22
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: Runs4TheNS

S291 wrote:
> and this being an ex-con, it may not have even had an alerter.
> hummm....
> Casey

Before joining the ranks of NS, I was an engineer for CR. I don't know where guys are getting the misguided idea that CR didn't have alerters on their equipment, but EVERY CR locomotive that I've ever operated had either an alerter or deadman's device... right on down to a GP35 that I had to do my final locomotive engineer's exam on at Conway yard in December of 1994 (the unit was pulled from the stored serviceable line at Altoona two days before and pressed into service due to a power shortage). In CR's final years, even equipment with deadman's pedals (mostly SW units) were retrofitted with alerters.

If CSX 8888 did not have an alerter, I would be 99.9% certain that CSX removed it themself.

Now, CSX run through power was common in our area, and THEY were notorious for not having alertness or deadman's devices. If that yellow reset button wasn't at the bottom of the control stand, it was a pretty good indication that the CSX unit wasn't equipped. I can clearly recall a day several years back when I was told by the "Blue Room" in Philly that the non-equipped CSX SD50 we were to have in the lead from Oak Island to Park Junction was perfectly legal...

Date: 05/21/01 22:04
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: powerbraker1

Why would I want a deadman pedal? Memories of a million miles of holding one of the damned things down, either legally, with one of my feet, or with a flagstick. Same reason I have a 24RL brake valve handle off the last F7 I ran back in the 70s. Same reason I have a chrome GP7 reverse lever. Same reason I have a nylon AAR controller reverse lever. Same reason I have a cylinder test cock wrench. Same reason I have my old 567B engine maintenance manual and my BW Raymond. I used to work with all of these things, and they are no longer in use. I guarantold you that you aren't using a deadman pdedal off an F7. Some people threw their old timetables away when the new ones went into effect (as required by the rules)- I kept mine. Glad I did.


Date: 05/21/01 22:53
RE: CSX 8888 Alerter
Author: BCM

Casey is correct. CSX #8888 does indeed have an alerter. It was mentioned in an earlier forum posting that the 20-lb application of train brake and full application of the independent brake in effect disabled the alerter (i.e. prevented it from shuting down the unit).

Date: 05/22/01 01:10
RE: CSX 8888 Alerter
Author: topper

While I have no idea if the CSXT 8888 is indeed equipped with an Alerter, here's a little overview of how one works:

The purpose of an Alerter is to provide a Penalty Application of the train brakes along with (at least) a Full Application of the locomotive's Independent brake, if the operator does not make a positive response to reset the Alerter after it "cycles". The Alerter functions whenever the Automatic Brake Valve is "cut-in" and in the "Release" or "Service" positions, and the Independent Brake Valve is "cut-in" and the Brake Cylinder Pressure is less than approximately 35 pounds.

The action of the Alerter is nullified whenever the Independent Brake
Cylinder Pressure is greater than approximately 35 pounds. (The exact pressure varies somewhat from unit to unit.) Thus, any application of the Independent above that pressure would prevent the Alerter from functioning. I'm not familiar with CSXT's air brake pressure policies, but most SD40-2s equipped with Composition brake shoes have the Reducing Valve set to provide 72 to 80 pounds of Brake Cylinder pressure when the Independent is in the fully applied position. So it follows that if the Engineer had fully applied the Independent (or applied it above whatever pressure the Alerter is set at), the Alerter would've been nullified.

I was initially told that the crew was handling the cars without air, although I have no way to confirm that. If that is indeed the case, then the only operative brakes would've been those on the locomotive.

Date: 05/22/01 09:17
RE: CSX Runaway Report
Author: twinbrook

The engineer was dragged 50 yards by a locomotive and only suffered scrapes and bruises? Wow, indeed! If I were he I would look for a desk job someplace. I would also say some grateful prayers.

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