Railroad companies fight safety rules to make safety improvements

Discussion in 'Architecture & Engineering' started by cosmictraveler, Jan 19, 2012.

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  1. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Less than four years after a California train disaster spurred passage of major safety legislation, railroad companies are pushing hard to relax the law’s chief provision.

    They have won over key Republicans, and extracted a major concession from the Obama administration, in their bid to scale back and delay a system to prevent crashes such as the head-on collision that caused 25 deaths and 135 injuries in Chatsworth, Calif.

    The Rail Safety Improvement Act, passed in late 2008 soon after the Chatsworth disaster, mandated the $13 billion project and stuck railroad companies with nearly all of the cost. The law calls for installation of a technology known as Positive Train Control, or PTC, that automatically puts the brakes on trains about to collide or derail.

    http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_n...ght-safety-rules-with-help-from-gop-and-obama



    So why would it cost so much, 13 billion, to come up with a way to just prevent the trains from colliding with each other? If a signal was being transmitted that could be recieved up to 5 miles away that lets other trains, on the same track only and heading towards them, that they should automatically start stopping and sound an alert.
     
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  3. spidergoat Valued Senior Member

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    There are lots of trains, and each one would need to be fitted with the system. We really need an overhaul of the entire system, we should be investing more like a trillion dollars on this project.
     
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  5. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I agree but for the time being there should be a quick fix to this problem that can be made without billions being spent. As I was trying to come up with a simple signaling system that every train would carry and as another train was getting closer the signal would automatically start slowing then stopping the train coming from both directions. That also could be made simpler by an audio alarm that grows louder as the train that's on the same tracks is getting closer so that the engineer would stop the train themselves.

    With the advent of GPS you could easily fit a device on every train to tell where another train is in proximity to your location. The device would only show trains in your general area and exactly where they are. That way no extra signaling equipment would be needed and all trains can be equipped with a GPS system very easily and cheaply.
     
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  7. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    Trains run on parallel tracks and GPS would show approaching trains all the time. What they wouldn't show is what track you are going to be on in the near future.
     
  8. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    As with the military, they have sophisticated enough equipment to tell where every single soldier, plane, truck and anything else anytime on the earth. Using that same type of equipment that already is being used would be the thing to do if the military would allow it to be done. I'm saying to show only trains that are on the same tracks within 5 miles of each other.
     
  9. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    The military has no such capability.
    Cell phone GPS can be used for location, but it can't resolve down to parallel tracks.

    Trains are often on the same track, even head on, and take a switch to a siding.

    The FACT is, unlike roads which have dedicated lanes for traffic going in opposite directions, trains are so obsolete that they often share single tracks going in both directions.

    Now we could spend LOTS of money to solve the real problem and dedicate tracks to each direction, but realistically no one wants to spend that much money on a passenger transportation system with the limitations inherent in trains.

    Indeed, the solution that is being foisted on the railroads is not to prevent the collisions, but just to put the brakes on a little sooner before they run into each other.
     
  10. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Could transponders be used to tell a central office where each train is located and if there was any trains that were headed for each other the main office could notify them by cell phone about the oncoming problem or just switch them before they hit.
     
  11. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    And once again, Arthur steps in it.
    The US military has access to the encoded form of GPS, giving it about ten times the positioning accuracy available to civilians. That's about 20-30cm of resolution for the military, and about 2-3m for civilians.

    20-30cm is sufficient resolution to determine which track a train is on.
     
  12. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    No, the military version of GPS tells you where you are to that resolution, doesn't tell a central site where everything else is. We don't have that ability to, as was alluded
     
  13. arfa brane call me arf Valued Senior Member

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    That's just dumb.
    A soldier with a military GPS unit can tell where they are to 0.3m, say. So if they communicate this to a central command post, as do the soldiers in all the trucks, planes and so on, I would say the central site "knows where everything is".

    I suppose the military has GPS units that don't need soldiers to report their locations, they do this automatically. It certainly sounds like the military would think that was useful enough to build them, and they or some contractor would certainly have the technology.
     
  14. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    Using transponders with odd numbers would indicate that they are on the same tracks and even numbed transponders would indicate the other side of the tracks. They would have to be adjusted as to which tracks they are on because all tracks would have to be made one way or another. The trains engineer would make the adjustments before they got going onto the tracks with their loads.
     
  15. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    But that's the problem, they share the same track but are going in opposite directions. So there is no one side or the other.
     
  16. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    But with the transponders you'd know exactly where each train is located, within a certain distance, be either a central station watching them all or by the trains in the areas that the signal can be received. So with every transponder that's on one set of tracks everyone knows where it is at all times and where it's going or there trains in that area will know where the others are located on their same tracks no matter which way they are heading. The main thing is that the engineer must calibrate the transponder as to which tracks they are on, odd or even.

    They could use a receiver on board the train to know where other trains are as well and which direction on their same tracks the others are going.
     
  17. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    I don't think you understand how our rail system works.
    There is no 'odd or even' set of tracks in most places and our rail systems vary so much that no one system is likely to be effective.
    There was one transponder based system being tested, but it's being pulled and replaced with a radio based system.



    This is where the Chatsworth accident took place.

    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=chats...929&gl=us&hq=chatsworth hill academy&t=h&z=18

    The freight train was coming out of the 500 ft tunnel from the West at 40 MPH

    The Metrolink was going North towards the tunnel also going 40 mph.

    There is only one track through the tunnel and around the curve.

    Follow the track out of the tunnel and around the bend to where it splits into two tracks, the Metroliner, prior to the collision was on the side track and had a stop sign meaning the system already knew the other train was coming and he wasn't supposed to proceed onto that SINGLE track, but he was busy texting and missed the stop signs.

    As it was he never hit his brakes and because of the 90 degree bend, the other engineer only managed to hit his two seconds before they collided.

    The PTC system, had it been in place, would have reacted not only to where the other train was, but also to the running of the red light, and slowed the impact considerably.
     
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2012
  18. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    I know that, I am saying the transponders would be numbered odd or even to be used on the tracks which ever the trains are actually on. Odd numbered transponders would be dedicated to tracks going one direction with trains on them. That way the trains on that track would know where each train is located within a given distance to be determined by the transponders strength of signal. If a train were to be switched over to the other way then its transponder would al;so switch to show that its now on those other tracks showing all other trains where it is and where it is going.
     
  19. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    Your explanation makes no sense, use the Google map and explain what train has what transponder set.

    Secondly explain how a transponder system works at all (they work by line of sight) in this situation when one of the trains is in a tunnel with the mouth 90 degrees to the direction of travel of the other train.
     
  20. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    But before it entered the tunnel it could have been showing what it was doing and which tracks it was switching onto. That would have alerted the train coming at it that a accident was eminant and they both would stop automatically before the accident happened.
     
  21. adoucette Caca Occurs Valued Senior Member

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    No, the Westbound Freight train was on the ONLY track going through the tunnel. It never switched tracks.

    The Freight train had been in other tunnels to the West and there would have only been about a 50 second period when the lead engine of the Freight train would have been in the open, before entering that last tunnel prior to the collision, but a line of site transponder wouldn't help since at that time it and the Metroliner it ran into were both heading North (the Freight train turns 180 degrees just prior to the collision), and also at that point in time the MetroLiner was not on the same track.

    Just about the time the Freight train emerges from the last tunnel, the Metroliner runs the stop light and only THEN are they on the same track as the Freight train.

    The impact is about 15 seconds later.

    There was no accident eminent until about 15 seconds prior to the impact.
     
  22. cosmictraveler Be kind to yourself always. Valued Senior Member

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    So I don't see to much that could have been done in that situation to avoid the collision other than having an automatic breaking system installed whenever a red light appears.
     
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