Posts Tagged ‘National Transportation Saftey Board’

Talgos Sent to Beech Grove Shops

September 2, 2020

Two Talgo VI trainsets have been moved to Amtrak’s Beech Grove shops for storage.

Amtrak has not said what it plans to do with trainsets Mt. Hood and Mt. Olympus, which were removed from service following a December 2017 fatal derailment in DuPont, Washington.

The Talgos are owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation and were used for several years in Cascades Service between Vancouver, Washington, and Eugene Oregon.

The agency owns two other Talgo trainsets that remain in Washington State.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation of the 2017 derailment was critical of the design of the Talgos but manufacturer Talgo has disputed that portion of the conclusions of the NTSB report.

Amtrak Adopts NTSB Safety Recommendation

April 22, 2020

Amtrak has implemented a recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board following an April 2016 incident in which two maintenance of way workers were killed by a passing train in Pennsylvania.

NTSB recommended that train dispatchers not be allowed to participate in potentially distracting activities, including making phone calls, while directing train operations.

Amtrak adopted that recommendation, the NTSB said this week in a news release.

The news release said that 230 safety recommendations made by the Board in 2019-2020 remain unaddressed.

The Amtrak workers were at a job site near Chester, Pennsylvania, when they were struck by a train.

Flynn Scrutinized for Atlas Safety Record

March 6, 2020

Amtrak President select William J. Flynn is being scrutinized for the safety records of the airlines that he oversaw during his time at Atlas Air Worldwide.

Pilots for Atlas, which is a freight and charter operation comprised of three carriers, have suggested that safety has not been among Flynn’s priorities.

Business Insider reported that the pilots contend Atlas has hired inexperienced and inadequately qualified pilots.

The BI report also said union leaders and pilots have been concerned about “shoddy training standards, fatigue and overwork, poor morale, and below-industry pay.”

These conditions, the pilots said, have reduced the level of safety at Atlas.

Atlas has for the past three years been locked in contentious contract negotiations with its pilots.

In February 2019 an Atlas Boeing 767 flying under contract for Amazon crashed while approaching Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport, killing both pilots and a pilot from another airline who was riding in the flight deck jump seat.

Although the National Transportation Safety Board is still investigating the crash, it did release a statement agreeing in part with concerns raised by pilots about what they termed a lack of emphasis on safety and training standards.

Following that crash Flynn said in a prepared statement that some concerns that had been raised about safety at Atlas were “misleading and inaccurate, and inappropriately connect the Flight 3591 tragedy with ongoing contract negotiations.”

Flynn’s statement said Atlas has worked hard since its founding more than 25 years ago “to earn and maintain a record of safety and compliance.”

Flynn is scheduled to become Amtrak’s next president and CEO on April 15.

Cascades 501 Engineer Sues Amtrak for Negligence

January 25, 2020

The Amtrak locomotive engineer who was involved in a December 2017 derailment in Washington State has sued his employer, claiming that he was not properly trained.

Steven Brown filed the lawsuit in Pierce County District Court seeking compensation for physical and mental injuries suffered in the derailment of Cascades No. 501 near DuPont, Washington.

“As a consequence of the Defendant’s negligence and carelessness in violation of laws and regulations, the Plaintiff has suffered hearing impairment, hearing loss, pain, anxiety, general and special damages, diminishment of earning capacity, loss of enjoyment of life, and general damages yet to be determined,” the lawsuit says.

Brown alleges that Amtrak acted negligently when it failed to properly train locomotive engineer on a new route and that he and others were not given a sufficient number of familiarization runs on the Port Defiance Bypass.

Fifty other unnamed individuals are also named in the suit and Brown’s attorneys said they would file amended complaints as those individuals are identified.

Cascades 501 was determined by the National Transportation Safety Board to be traveling 78 miles per hour as it entered a 30-mph curve on the Point Defiance Bypass.

The resulting derailment resulted in the deaths of three people with dozens more injured. Some wreckage fell from a bridge onto Interstate 5.

The incident occurred on the first day of revenue service on the route.

Amtrak immediately suspended service on the Point Defiance route and has yet to say when it will be restored.

Orphan Wisconsin Talgos May Find Home in Pacific NW

December 11, 2019

The Talgo equipment built for but never used in Amtrak service in Wisconsin was moved last week to Milwaukee from the Beech Grove Shops near Indianapolis.

Trains magazine reported that the equipment might be poised to be sent west for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The magazine said a Talgo spokesman said the company is working with Amtrak to prepare the equipment for service in the Amtrak Cascades corridor.

This includes the installation of positive train control and “features to align with the service provided in the Amtrak Cascades Corridor.”

The Talgo Series 8 train sets were built in 2012 in Milwaukee for use in Wisconsin-funded service to Madison that never materialized.

Trains said Amtrak released a statement saying that the Talgo equipment in question is being considered by the carrier for use in the Pacific Northwest.

The Wisconsin-built Talgos have been sitting at Beech Grove since 2014.

They were moved to Chicago on Friday, Dec. 6 over the route of the Cardinal between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Trains reported that the ferry move was hindered by freight train interference.

The Wisconsin Talgo train sets include three cab cars, three bistro cafes, three baggage-coach end cars and 22 coaches.

Although Talgo equipment has been used in Cascades service for years, it became the subject of controversy after a Talgo Series VI trainset was involved in a Dec. 18, 2017, derailment in DuPont, Washington, that left three dead.

A National Transportation Safety Board report concluded, among other things, that the design of the Talgo equipment played a role in the consequences of the wreck.

Talgo has disputed that and asked the NTSB to reconsider that finding.

In the meantime the Washington State Department of Transportation has said it wants all Talgo VI equipment removed from service as soon as possible, citing the NTSB report.

Amtrak is responsible for providing replacement equipment for the service.

The Trains report noted that a contract between Amtrak and Talgo has yet to be finalized and that the “interim” nature of the equipment use might be a point of contention.

The equipment would also need a waiver of Federal Railroad Administration crashworthy rules.

The State of Oregon, which also funds Cascades Service, plans to keep in service its two Talgo Series 8 train sets that it purchased in 2013.

The Trains report speculated that the Wisconsin Talgos will be reconfigured into two train sets with some equipment being kept for backup service as needed.

Talgo Manager Takes Issue With NTSB Report

November 19, 2019

A Talgo manager said the National Transportation Safety Board that its report on the derailment of an Amtrak train in Washington State in December 2017 contains many errors and unsubstantiated statements.

The NTSB recommended that Amtrak and the Washington State Department of Transportation remove from service immediately the Talgo Series VI trainsets and replace them with equipment that meets current federal safety standards.

Talgo has asked the Board to reconsider its conclusions and recommendations in the case.

Talgo’s Director of Product Development and Compliance Joshua D. Coran told Railway Age that the recommendation to cease using Talgo equipment immediately was “unprecedented and nonsense.”

“I have researched every available NTSB report of passenger train derailments and collisions dating back to 1971,” he told the magazine. “I have found 33. None recommends the removal of an entire fleet of cars.”

The NTSB report concluded that because the Talgo Series VI equipment did not meet federal safety standards it poses an unnecessary risk to passenger safety.

Talgo Series VI equipment was being used on Cascades No. 501, which derailed due to going too fast on a curve.

The NTSB concluded that the Talgo equipment did not provide adequate passenger protection and was structurally vulnerable if involved in a high-energy derailment or collision due to its lack of crashworthiness protections.

The Talgo equipment, though, was in compliance with Federal Railroad Regulations having been “grandfathered” in on one FRA regulation.

In an editor’s note, Railway Age noted that Coran’s comments were his own and not necessarily reflective of the views of Talgo.

Coran said the NTSB’s recommendation “to replace compliant equipment with compliant equipment makes no sense, as it accomplishes nothing except negative commercial impact on the manufacturer of the criticized equipment, Talgo, and benefits manufacturers of potential replacements.

More of his comments can be found at https://www.railwayage.com/safety/ntsb-amtrak-501-report-errors-and-unsupported-statements/

Talgo Challenging NTSB Cascades Derailment Report

November 2, 2019

Talgo is challenging a recommendation of the National Transportation Safety Board that its equipment be removed from service by Amtrak.

The NTSB made that recommendation in its report on the December 2018 derailment of an Amtrak Cascades Service train that left three dead.

The safety agency concluded that the design of the Talgo equipment used in Cascades Service contributed to the fatalities and injuries in the crash.

The agency also said the Talgo equipment was not in compliance with Federal Railroad Administration crashworthiness regulations.

Talgo is asking the NTSB to reconsider its conclusions, saying that evidence presented by the company to the agency and the participation of its representatives was not seen by NTSB members before they voted on the likely cause of the derailment.

The Spanish railroad equipment maker also called unprecedented the NTSB recommendation to remove Talgo Series VI trainsets from service “instead of recommending improvements or modification to or further research on the Talgo railcars.”

Talgo’s petition to the NTSB said the agency erroneously pointed to the FRA “grandfathering” provisions allowing the Series VI trainsets to begin operating in 1999 without complying with an 800,000-pound buff strength requirement.

However, Talgo said it has a letter from the FRA noting that lack of carbody integrity was not an issue, which was confirmed “by new finite element stress and collision dynamics analyses performed by independent engineering firm Simpson, Gumpertz, Heger.”

That report “establishes that the Talgo Series VI railcars meet the relevant federal safety standards and performed in the derailment as well or better than conventional cars would have under similar circumstances,” Talgo said.

Talgo wants the NTSB to review again its findings based on evidence either initially ignored or now submitted.

Citing the NTSB report, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s Rail Division, which funds Amtrak’s Cascades Service, has called for replacing all of the trainsets used in Cascades Service before service resumes on the Point Defiance Bypass.

County Wants all NTSB Recommendations Implemented Before Amtrak Returns to Point Defiance Bypass

September 14, 2019

A Washington state county has issued a list of actions that it wants to see implemented before rail passenger service resumed on the Point Defiance Bypass.

The Pierce County Council has asked Amtrak, Sound Transit and the Washington State Department of Transportation not to use the route until all of the recommendations issued by the National Transportation Board are in place.

The NTSB issued the recommendations in its report into the cause of a Dec. 18, 2017, derailment of an Amtrak Cascades train that left three dead and dozens injured.

The derailment occurred on the first day of revenue service for Amtrak on the route, which is located between Tacoma and Olympia, Washington.

Amtrak suspended use of the Point Defiance route following the derailment and has not said when it will resume using it.

Among the NTSB recommendations were implementation of positive train control on the route and ending the use of older Talgo Series VI trainsets. WSDOT has already said it plans to do the latter.

No date has been set for Amtrak to resume using the Point Defiance Bypass and the resolution by Pierce County has no legal effect because it has no regulatory powers over the rail line.

Human Error Ruled Cause of Silver Star Crash

July 24, 2019

The National Transportation Safety Board has concluded that human error led to the February 2018 collision in South Carolina of an Amtrak train and a parked CSX train.

Two Amtrak crew members were killed in the collision and 74 others aboard the train were injured.

The accident happened when Amtrak’s southbound Silver Star was routed into a siding where the CSX train was sitting unattended in Cayce, South Carolina.

The NTSB investigation determined that the conductor of the CSX train had reported to the train’s engineer that a switch from the main to the siding had been realigned for the main.

The engineer in turn relayed that information to a dispatcher. However, the conductor had not realigned the switch.

At the time of the collision, the signal system on a 23-mile segment of the Columbia Subdivision has been suspended while workers were installing equipment for positive train control.

Trains were being dispatched by track warrants given over the radio.

The NTSB also concluded that the collision occurred as a result of inadequate attention to safety risks.

The board concluded that CSX failed to identify and mitigate the risk of operating trains while the signal system was under suspension.

Killed in the collision was the Amtrak engineer and conductor, who on the head end to copy train orders.

The Silver Star was traveling at more than 50 miles per hour when it struck CSX local F777.

“CSX failed to ensure that this crew was properly prepared to perform the tasks CSX assigned them to do that night,” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt, about the events leading to the Feb. 4, 2018, collision.

In the wake of the Silver Star accident, the NTSB asked the Federal Railroad Administration to issue an emergency order requiring railroads to operate trains at restricted speed approaching switches when a signal suspension is in effect.

In response the FRA issued an advisory to that effect, but not a rule. The NTSB in its final report repeated its recommendation that this be made a rule.

The NTSB also said the FRA could do more to prevent accident caused by misaligned switches, such as requiring the installation of switch position indicators.

In the Silver Star investigation, NTSB personnel found that CSX never conducted efficiency testing, or a skills assessment, on either the engineer or conductor of F777 for the purposes of ensuring proper switch alignment.

“I believe that the conductor had every intention of following the rules and thought that he did,” Mike Hoepf a consultant on human performance told NTSB. “He just made a mistake.”

The final NTSB report also called into question the effectiveness of using a Switch Position Awareness Form to mitigate the risk of an improperly lined switch.

No such form used by the F777 crew on that day was found by NTSB investigators.

NTSB to Announce Silver Star Collision Cause

July 2, 2019

A July 23 hearing has been set by the National Transportation Safety Board to determine the probable cause of a February 2018 collision between Amtrak’s Silver Star and a parked CSX auto rack train.

A preliminary investigation has already determined that a switch left lined from the main into a siding routed the Miami-bound passenger train into the path of the auto rack train near Cayce, South Carolina.

The board will meet at 9:30 a.m. to issue its findings in a proceeding that will be webcast.

Following the collision, the NTSB asked the Federal Railroad Administration to issue an emergency order regarding operations in territory in which the signal system has been turned off for maintenance or an upgrade.

The signals governing the CSX tracks used by the Star were out of service so workers could install positive train control equipment.

The collision killed the conductor and locomotive engineer of the Amtrak train and left 90 others onboard injured.