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Passenger Trains > Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers


Date: 02/22/24 20:42
Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: pt199

 A Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority Regional Rail train was mistakenly routed onto a de-energized track on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor on Thursday morning.
The incident stranded 250 passengers for about an hour. They remained aboard the train until a rescue train arrived to take them to Philadelphia.
SEPTA officials told Philadelphia news media that the error was made by Amtrak.
Some delays occurred on the NEC between Wilmington and Newark but no other portion of the SEPTA system was affected. From the akronrrblog 
 



Date: 02/23/24 11:20
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: GenePoon

It is confirmed that it was an Amtrak error. Further information suggests that the design of the Amtrak interlocking and signaling at that location is inadequate.  From one who knows the territory:

The problem is speed signaling. The normal signal for SEPTA there is medium clear. If the route the train was (incorrectly) given was also a medium speed route, the signal would have been medium clear. There are no route indicators at Phil. The engineer would not have been able to know about the misroute until he was close enough to see the switch points, at which point it was too late to stop. From the news reports, it sounds like only the head car was in the deenergized area. I think the engineer will be ok. There was an almost identical incident at Harold years ago in which an Amtrak train was routed onto the LIRR Port Washington branch. Route indicators were installed at Harold as a result. I guess that Phil will be next.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/23/24 11:21 by GenePoon.



Date: 02/23/24 11:42
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: joemvcnj

Harold Interlocking east of Long Island City, used by LIRR and Amtrak, prevents this sort of thing, such as to prevent over-height train of the LIRR, Amtrak, or an LIRR Budd M-3 train from entering the 63rd Street tunnel. PTC knows the type of train. A route indicator of some sort (I don't know the signal indication names) back at Woodside indicates Grand Central Madison or otherwise. If any improper train were to take the misaligned route, the ASC, PTC, and penalty brake systems would kick right in, and alarms would be going off at the New York Control Center in Manhattan. 

I know in the late 1970's, the Night Owl was routed out of Tunnel Line 2 onto the LIRR Port Washington Branch, not the Hell Gate line, which is one more track over. The train stalled, the pantograph of the motor flung up, and was ruined. 



Date: 02/23/24 20:12
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: abyler

GenePoon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> The problem is speed signaling. The normal signal
> for SEPTA there is medium clear. If the route the
> train was (incorrectly) given was also a medium
> speed route, the signal would have been medium
> clear. There are no route indicators at Phil. The

The normal signal at PHIL 1N for SEPTA should be Limited Clear, PHIL interlocking is No. 20 turnouts and permitting 45 mph.  Medium Clear would indicate the route to the High Line due to former presence of No. 15 turnouts and the 30 mph speed limit, I don't think that aspect displays for routes over the SEPTA route to Track 4.  The 1N signal can also display a Medium Approach aspect to indicate needing to prepare to stop at either 32-4 automatic or 112L at Arsenal (or the equivalent Conrail signals).  It cannot display a Clear route.

Its proabbly not a good look if he made the overrun on a Medium Approach.  The rule for Medium Approach is proceed prepared to stop at the next signal, begin reduction to Medium Speed as soon as the signal is clearly visible.

1N signal is visible 550 ft. ahead of the limits of PHIL and its 950 ft. from the 1N signal to the 12 crossover.  In the normal course of things, he should have been down to 30 mph ahead of the switch and seen the switch was misrouted in time to stop at that point.  If that's what happened, there will be a lot of scrutiny.  If he blew by PHIL on a Medium Clear he should have known that indicated a route to Conrail and also begun to stop and been able to stop in time if he was paying attention.

The engineer should also have received an Approach Limited or Approach Medium signal at 58-1 past Darby that should have given him a heads up about what was happening up ahead.

I'd need to dig up the route and aspect charts to confirm this, but its what appears to be possible looking at the signals.

> engineer would not have been able to know about
> the misroute until he was close enough to see the
> switch points, at which point it was too late to
> stop. From the news reports, it sounds like only

The AC motor stop sign is 650 ft. past the diverging switch to SEPTA.  The engineer should have been able to see the switch points ahead of that.  The dead overrun wire continues another 1300 ft.

> the head car was in the deenergized area. I think
> the engineer will be ok. There was an almost
> identical incident at Harold years ago in which an
> Amtrak train was routed onto the LIRR Port
> Washington branch. Route indicators were installed
> at Harold as a result. I guess that Phil will be
> next.

We installed 1300 ft. of over-run wire in Harold on the Port Washington Branch as a result, and they also added "Accept Non-Wired Route" indicators in PSCC to warn the console operators (after that, they misrouted a LIRR train down the Loop tracks before we added third rail to them).  At PHIL, they could just modify the location of the AC Motor Stop sign to provide additional distance to stop and move the insulators to give a more reasonable stopping distance and an ability to reverse.  Personally, I would move the AC motor stop sign to the very end of the wire at the southbound home signals, but I am not in charge.



Date: 02/23/24 20:57
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: abyler

joemvcnj Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Harold Interlocking east of Long Island City, used
> by LIRR and Amtrak, prevents this sort of thing,
> such as to prevent over-height train of the LIRR,
> Amtrak, or an LIRR Budd M-3 train from entering
> the 63rd Street tunnel. PTC knows the type of
> train. A route indicator of some sort (I don't
> know the signal indication names) back at Woodside
> indicates Grand Central Madison or otherwise. If
> any improper train were to take the misaligned
> route, the ASC, PTC, and penalty brake systems
> would kick right in, and alarms would be going off
> at the New York Control Center in Manhattan. 

That's not what we did.  The Grand Central route is signalled only with 250 hz carrier code signals, not with the standard 91.67 hz codes or with the 250 hz overlay of the 91.67 hz codes.  Only the M3/M7/M9 trains have equipment to decode these control lines, all other trains receive a restricting or stop signal (0 code).  This was to prevent the LIRR diesel equipment from having access.  The codes to the tunnel are 0/270 (Clear and Limited aspects), 0/120 (Medium), 0/75 (Approach), and 0/0 (Stop).  Remember that LIRR uses Medium Speed = 40 mph.  There also are not any control lines provided from the Hellgate Line to the Grand Central tunnels, so such a route can only be provided by manually cranking the switches in the field.

The eastbound routes have non-wired route alerters in Penn Station Control to prevent misrouting of Amtrak trains.  There isn't PTC protection, PTC doesn't provide routing protecting.  ACSES PTC settings are a 5 toggle system Types A to E, with A being Acela, B being Regionals and select commuter trains, C being most passenger trains, D mail and express, and E freight and MOW.  These set operating speeds.



Date: 02/24/24 10:31
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: engineerinvirginia

With speed signalling the crew is NOT RESPONSIBLE for a misroute...if you can't tell which way you are going and end up going the wrong way, make a normal stop. NOT YOUR FAULT!



Date: 02/25/24 05:40
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: Englewood

engineerinvirginia Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> With speed signalling the crew is NOT RESPONSIBLE
> for a misroute...if you can't tell which way you
> are going and end up going the wrong way, make a
> normal stop. NOT YOUR FAULT!

That was also my thought.  They are SPEED signals NOT Route signals.
The engineer just follows the signals.  Once the engineer sees the route is wrong then he becomes responsible.
The only exception would be if there was something in the Special Instructions about it.

Engineers don't have aspect charts to know that at XYZ the only time you get a Medium Approach is when you are lined 
a certain way.  In my experience the aspect charts are the most closely held secrets of the signal department. I managed to
get one for certain plant once but the signal supervisor made me promise not to let anyone else see it.

Quoting a previous poster: "The rule for Medium Approach is proceed prepared to stop at the next signal, begin reduction to Medium Speed
as soon as the signal is clearly visible.
"  Do you mean Approach Medium?  If a Medium Approach is encountered the train should already be
reducing to Medium Speed based on a previous Approach Medium.  Normal signal practice is not to expect a train to act on a more restrictive signal "as soon as 
the signal is clearly visible".  The clearly visible distance can be affected by fog, snow, rain, train on adjacent track, etc." Conditions that are way
to variable to be used in a safety sensitive situation.

When I was still in the rules business I know that Norac had something in the indication of Limited Approach about reducing to Medium Speed
when the signal became visible.  In this case safety was not compromised.  The switches were good for Limited Speed.  It was an attempt
to reconcile the 30 mph speed required by an Approach Signal on straight track with the Limited Speed allowed by the longer crossover.
Probably something that an FRA inspector didn't like or could not understand.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/24 05:59 by Englewood.



Date: 02/25/24 07:24
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: engineerinvirginia

Englewood Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> engineerinvirginia Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > With speed signalling the crew is NOT
> RESPONSIBLE
> > for a misroute...if you can't tell which way
> you
> > are going and end up going the wrong way, make
> a
> > normal stop. NOT YOUR FAULT!
>
> That was also my thought.  They are SPEED signals
> NOT Route signals.
> The engineer just follows the signals.  Once the
> engineer sees the route is wrong then he becomes
> responsible.
> The only exception would be if there was something
> in the Special Instructions about it.
>
> Engineers don't have aspect charts to know that at
> XYZ the only time you get a Medium Approach is
> when you are lined 
> a certain way.  In my experience the aspect
> charts are the most closely held secrets of the
> signal department. I managed to
> get one for certain plant once but the signal
> supervisor made me promise not to let anyone else
> see it.
>
> Quoting a previous poster: "The rule for Medium
> Approach is proceed prepared to stop at the next
> signal, begin reduction to Medium Speed
> as soon as the signal is clearly visible."  Do
> you mean Approach Medium?  If a Medium Approach
> is encountered the train should already be
> reducing to Medium Speed based on a previous
> Approach Medium.  Normal signal practice is not
> to expect a train to act on a more restrictive
> signal "as soon as 
> the signal is clearly visible".  The clearly
> visible distance can be affected by fog, snow,
> rain, train on adjacent track, etc." Conditions
> that are way
> to variable to be used in a safety sensitive
> situation.
>
> When I was still in the rules business I know that
> Norac had something in the indication of Limited
> Approach about reducing to Medium Speed
> when the signal became visible.  In this case
> safety was not compromised.  The switches were
> good for Limited Speed.  It was an attempt
> to reconcile the 30 mph speed required by an
> Approach Signal on straight track with the Limited
> Speed allowed by the longer crossover.
> Probably something that an FRA inspector didn't
> like or could not understand.

All I am sure of is that you do get signal progression.....you don't just accept a restrictive aspect after having passed Clear...you do get to step down. If you get anything that isn't right you have the liberty to Stop and report. And about misrouting, you aren't responsible as long as you Stop....doesn't matter where you stop as you are not at restricted speed. Just make a safe normal Stop. DIspacther may authorize you to make a reverse move, although i do see that running out of electric territory would be a problem if you have electric power. That's the railroad's problem however if it was they who sent you don't the wrong track!

Much is made about what signals say, but the engineer has only to handle his train. It can only stop with planning, and that can require some distance. 



Date: 02/27/24 11:19
Re: Misrouting Strands SEPTA Passengers
Author: mbrotzman

It takes two to Tango. An operator or dispatcher can set a wrong route, but the engineer has to ACCEPT the wrong route. Continuing past a point of no return, where it is obvious that you are going to the wrong place indicates a lack of route knowledge. If you recall the Cynwyd Keystone, that Keystone left Amtrak territory on signal indication and that engineer got some time off. Speed signaling or not, engineers should not blindly follow signal indications like a motorist following their GPS onto railroad tracks. 

In this case the SEPTA R2 was clearly on the wrong route as soon as it passed the number 12 switch. The engineer was either unqualified on the route or actingly intentionally as some sort of work action. 



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