• Trains

    From Mike Powell@454:3/105 to DARYL STOUT on Mon Feb 20 16:40:00 2023
    Moving this to the Chat echo...

    Along that line, with all the mess with the 2 derailments from Norfolk Southern (first in Ohio, then in Michigan), this is going to revive the
    call to put extra crew on the train, to watch for things like smoking or flaming wheels (hotbox) as the train goes down the track (they did that
    years ago, before getting rid of the cabooses).

    Part of the recent labor dispute involved the railroads' desire to cut the
    crew requirements from 2 (engineer and conductor) to 1 (engineer). I hope
    this will teach them (or the government) that this is not a good idea.

    For large trains, I believe they probably need to bring back 3-person
    crews. Back in the mid-1990's, I almost went to CSX conductor's school but decided against it when I realized how many responsibilities a modern day conductor has on a 2-person crew. An extra set of eyes and ears would be a good thing.


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  • From Ky Moffet@454:1/1 to Mike Powell on Tue Feb 21 00:04:00 2023
    MIKE POWELL wrote:
    Moving this to the Chat echo...

    Along that line, with all the mess with the 2 derailments from Norfolk
    Southern (first in Ohio, then in Michigan), this is going to revive the
    call to put extra crew on the train, to watch for things like smoking or
    flaming wheels (hotbox) as the train goes down the track (they did that
    years ago, before getting rid of the cabooses).

    I live about 150 feet off the tracks here. It's a low speed zone due to
    coming into town and the refinery siding just across the river; even so sometimes I hear a stuck brake screaming, or see a "thumper" that
    visibly hops up and down -- imagine that at 70mph instead of 20mph.
    (Supposed to be 20mph. Leaving town often run faster.)

    Anyway, I have BNSF Emergency on speed dial, and I report the bad ones. (Especially the one I could still hear screaming when it reached the
    third crossing in town, two miles away. Can track 'em by the horn.)

    Part of the recent labor dispute involved the railroads' desire to cut the crew requirements from 2 (engineer and conductor) to 1 (engineer). I hope this will teach them (or the government) that this is not a good idea.

    Seems to me you need that second person just for the redundancy, if one
    drops dead or has to use the john at the wrong moment. Admittedly with a train's momentum, quick reactions don't often mean much.

    For large trains, I believe they probably need to bring back 3-person
    crews. Back in the mid-1990's, I almost went to CSX conductor's school but decided against it when I realized how many responsibilities a modern day conductor has on a 2-person crew. An extra set of eyes and ears would be a good thing.

    Certainly wouldn't hurt. But they need to be competent, and that's going
    away as the equity crap corrupts hiring.

    Couple other factors at work...

    1) Track maintenance. Out west our tracks are in excellent shape. BNSF
    crews are out there working on 'em all the time. Eastern tracks don't
    seem to get so much attention; instead they lower the speed limit (some
    are as low as 5mph, and in such awful shape you wonder how the train
    finds the tracks, never mind stays on 'em).

    2) Antifa types, who don't always claim their work. Concrete on the
    tracks out near Seattle... caught before it caused a wreck, but it's
    happened twice that I know of.
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  • From Mike Powell@454:3/105 to KY MOFFET on Tue Feb 21 16:08:00 2023
    I live about 150 feet off the tracks here. It's a low speed zone due to coming into town and the refinery siding just across the river; even so sometimes I hear a stuck brake screaming, or see a "thumper" that
    visibly hops up and down -- imagine that at 70mph instead of 20mph.
    (Supposed to be 20mph. Leaving town often run faster.)

    I can see the old L&N mainline from my front windows, at least at this time
    of year. :) A smaller RR runs trains on it now, and they are mostly
    alluminum ignots. When I first moved to town, it was nothing to see
    100-car coal trains on the line.

    Anyway, I have BNSF Emergency on speed dial, and I report the bad ones. (Especially the one I could still hear screaming when it reached the
    third crossing in town, two miles away. Can track 'em by the horn.)

    That is a good idea.

    Seems to me you need that second person just for the redundancy, if one
    drops dead or has to use the john at the wrong moment. Admittedly with a train's momentum, quick reactions don't often mean much.

    I agree. I don't know why they think they can run safe trains with only
    one. A lot has been computerized, but you cannot replace the value of a
    couple of good people being the eyes and ears.

    Certainly wouldn't hurt. But they need to be competent, and that's going
    away as the equity crap corrupts hiring.

    It does.

    Couple other factors at work...

    1) Track maintenance. Out west our tracks are in excellent shape. BNSF
    crews are out there working on 'em all the time. Eastern tracks don't
    seem to get so much attention; instead they lower the speed limit (some
    are as low as 5mph, and in such awful shape you wonder how the train
    finds the tracks, never mind stays on 'em).

    That is good to hear. Maybe it is the culture of CSX and NS that causes
    that, I am not sure. I know back in the 1980's, when Seaboard/Family Lines started absorbing the L&N, they had a lot of derailments, and that is half
    of the group that became CSX.

    2) Antifa types, who don't always claim their work. Concrete on the
    tracks out near Seattle... caught before it caused a wreck, but it's
    happened twice that I know of.

    I wondered about sabatoge, and that is something the new mentioned as a possibility, but the footage of what looks like a hot truck might tell a different tale.

    Mike


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  • From Ky Moffet@454:1/1 to Mike Powell on Tue Feb 21 19:31:00 2023
    MIKE POWELL wrote:
    I live about 150 feet off the tracks here. It's a low speed zone due to
    coming into town and the refinery siding just across the river; even so
    sometimes I hear a stuck brake screaming, or see a "thumper" that
    visibly hops up and down -- imagine that at 70mph instead of 20mph.
    (Supposed to be 20mph. Leaving town often run faster.)

    I can see the old L&N mainline from my front windows, at least at this time of year. :) A smaller RR runs trains on it now, and they are mostly alluminum ignots. When I first moved to town, it was nothing to see
    100-car coal trains on the line.

    I've counted a few along here; they're almost always three engines (and
    almost never a pusher, despite being the down end of a long slow climb)
    and 110 cars, no matter what they're hauling. This is a railroad town
    (two yards!) at the intersection of BNSF's N-S and E-W for this part of
    the country, but I'm on the N-S and it gets less traffic, only about six
    or so per day.

    A few times a year I see a single engine and one to three passenger
    cars, privately-owned (this used to be a cheap way to live) or charters.
    Saw a private one go by just last week, and a charter the week before.
    Traffic jam! :)

    Anyway, I have BNSF Emergency on speed dial, and I report the bad ones.
    (Especially the one I could still hear screaming when it reached the
    third crossing in town, two miles away. Can track 'em by the horn.)

    That is a good idea.

    They never sound thrilled to get my calls. :)

    Seems to me you need that second person just for the redundancy, if one
    drops dead or has to use the john at the wrong moment. Admittedly with a
    train's momentum, quick reactions don't often mean much.

    I agree. I don't know why they think they can run safe trains with only
    one. A lot has been computerized, but you cannot replace the value of a couple of good people being the eyes and ears.

    Yeah. Computerized and track sensors are all well and good, but stuff
    still goes unpredictably wrong now and then.


    Couple other factors at work...

    1) Track maintenance. Out west our tracks are in excellent shape. BNSF
    crews are out there working on 'em all the time. Eastern tracks don't
    seem to get so much attention; instead they lower the speed limit (some
    are as low as 5mph, and in such awful shape you wonder how the train
    finds the tracks, never mind stays on 'em).

    That is good to hear. Maybe it is the culture of CSX and NS that causes that, I am not sure. I know back in the 1980's, when Seaboard/Family Lines started absorbing the L&N, they had a lot of derailments, and that is half
    of the group that became CSX.

    Look on Youtube for something like "Worst train tracks" and the one
    that's outright wavy will come up. It's a short line hauling from one
    side of town to the other (in Ohio, no less) and it has to just creep
    along, you could out-walk it. The line was recently sold, to CSX?? don't remember, and supposedly they're going to do some long-delayed
    maintenance ... ha ha ha. Probably the first ever. But from what I heard
    the line's profit margin was so low that it was either make do or shut
    down. The right-of-way was probably worth more.

    I used to live out at Clarkston MT, with the rail line along the river
    about two blocks away... Clarkston is mostly a dry clay lakebed, and everything SINKS, forever, and especially where old river channels used
    to be. Every couple months I'd hear the train noise suddenly go thumpy
    over a particular spot, and next day BNSF's crew would be out there
    adding yet another load of gravel and fastening track back together. And
    for a while the trains were quiet again.

    It's really amazing how quiet well-maintained cars are on a
    well-maintained track.

    2) Antifa types, who don't always claim their work. Concrete on the
    tracks out near Seattle... caught before it caused a wreck, but it's
    happened twice that I know of.

    I wondered about sabatoge, and that is something the new mentioned as a

    And there are always idiot copycats.

    possibility, but the footage of what looks like a hot truck might tell a different tale.

    Yeah, and there are a lot of derails (about 1700 per year... but in
    terms of miles per load, that's not bad at all!), but because of the
    debacle in Ohio now we're going to hear about each and every one like
    it's somehow a brand new unheard-of disaster. Today there's HEADLINE
    NEWS TOXIC CHEMICALS DERAIL in Nebraska... come to find out it was coal
    cars. Um... messy, and you probably shouldn't breathe the dust, but
    hardly what the public thinks when they hear TOXIC!!!11!1!!!

    Back about 15 years (before I moved here) there was a derail right down
    at my road crossing (about a block away) and because there are houses
    all along here... well, that may explain why BNSF has repacked the base
    along here twice in ten years, and replaced most of the ties too. Track
    is perfectly straight, not a dent to be seen.

    And when they were rebuilding the crossing after the derail, they found
    the bones from a suicide-by-train from some years previous (train knew
    they hit someone, but didn't find the body... apparently got knocked
    into the swampy area and sank).
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  • From Daryl Stout@454:1/33 to Mike Powell on Wed Feb 22 00:51:00 2023
    Mike,

    Part of the recent labor dispute involved the railroads' desire to cut
    the crew requirements from 2 (engineer and conductor) to 1 (engineer).
    I hope this will teach them (or the government) that this is not a good idea.

    I've wondered about the remote controlled locomotives. They are supposed to just use these in the yards, but there is likely no one in the cab at the controls...and I think that's done by a single crew member on the ground.
    From a video I saw, he had a rather large electronic control panel with him.

    For large trains, I believe they probably need to bring back 3-person crews. Back in the mid-1990's, I almost went to CSX conductor's school but decided against it when I realized how many responsibilities a
    modern day conductor has on a 2-person crew. An extra set of eyes and ears would be a good thing.

    I watched a video again from Danny Harmon on Distributed Power Units (DPU's). while it lessens the slack action on longer trains, the size
    of them means that they are too big to fit into most sidings. If they
    get stopped along the way, numerous grade crossings end up getting blocked.

    First, there was the derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania line (East Palestine). A few days later, a derailment west of Detroit (the first 2
    were Norfolk Southern). Then, there was one at Santa Fe Junction in
    Kansas City...caught live by the Virtual Railfan Live Cameras...that
    was the second such derailment there I'm aware of. Then, there was a
    coal train derailment in Nebraska (the latter 2 were Union Pacific). I
    guess CSX and BNSF are due to be next (sigh!).

    I saw a post where the engineer has to inspect the wheels of every car,
    if the conductor isn't there to do it. With the length of the trains, the
    train likely would be greatly delayed in leaving the yard. With the first incident, apparently there was a failed defect detector, and the dispatchers failed to warn the crew. Add the potentially haphazard inspection by a conductor, the lawyers are like sharks with the pending lawsuits...they
    smell blood in the water, as it were.

    Apparently, the smoke, etc. from the burn-off they did of the hazmat chemicals, is now contributing to "acid snow" further east. There is a "chemical rainbow" in area bodies of water, people's pets and marine
    life are dying, and I'm sure a bunch of folks will have health issues as
    a result of this. Apparently, if Norfolk Southern fails on its part, the
    fines they could face would be at least triple the cost of cleanup.

    Daryl

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  • From Mike Powell@454:3/105 to DARYL STOUT on Thu Feb 23 16:05:00 2023
    First, there was the derailment near the Ohio-Pennsylvania line (East Palestine). A few days later, a derailment west of Detroit (the first 2
    were Norfolk Southern). Then, there was one at Santa Fe Junction in
    Kansas City...caught live by the Virtual Railfan Live Cameras...that
    was the second such derailment there I'm aware of. Then, there was a
    coal train derailment in Nebraska (the latter 2 were Union Pacific). I
    guess CSX and BNSF are due to be next (sigh!).

    It does not help that the press reported the coal train as hauling "toxic chemicals." :(

    I saw a post where the engineer has to inspect the wheels of every car,
    if the conductor isn't there to do it. With the length of the trains, the train likely would be greatly delayed in leaving the yard. With the first incident, apparently there was a failed defect detector, and the dispatchers failed to warn the crew. Add the potentially haphazard inspection by a conductor, the lawyers are like sharks with the pending lawsuits...they
    smell blood in the water, as it were.

    I don't doubt that they do!

    Apparently, the smoke, etc. from the burn-off they did of the hazmat chemicals, is now contributing to "acid snow" further east. There is a "chemical rainbow" in area bodies of water, people's pets and marine
    life are dying, and I'm sure a bunch of folks will have health issues as
    a result of this. Apparently, if Norfolk Southern fails on its part, the fines they could face would be at least triple the cost of cleanup.

    Burning it off is bad, but letting more of it seep into the water table may have been worse. I don't know enough about chemicals to be sure.

    The thing a lot of folks don't realize is that, for most bulk transfers,
    each railcar replaces (IIRC) 3-4 semi trucks. So, if the railroads didn't
    move the hazmat freight, those chemicals would be on a whole lot of trucks sharing the interstates and other roads with you and I.

    Mike

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  • From Ky Moffet@454:1/1 to Daryl Stout on Fri Feb 24 08:08:00 2023
    DARYL STOUT wrote:

    Apparently, the smoke, etc. from the burn-off they did of the hazmat chemicals, is now contributing to "acid snow" further east. There is a "chemical rainbow" in area bodies of water, people's pets and marine
    life are dying, and I'm sure a bunch of folks will have health issues as
    a result of this. Apparently, if Norfolk Southern fails on its part, the fines they could face would be at least triple the cost of cleanup.

    Ask yourself:

    If the pets are dying, why aren't the little kids dying?

    While breathing this crap is bound to be hazardous, there's evidently a
    lot of coincidence being ascribed to it, and possibly some staged animal deaths when someone sees dollar signs on the horizon. (Chickens artfully arranged on the ground do not convince me; they're not gonna die evenly
    spread out like that.) Kids are at least as susceptible as dogs and
    piglets, and should die at about the same rate.

    Setting the contents on fire because (as they said) they feared an
    explosion (meaning the tanks were NOT leaking) -- was quite possibly the dumbest thing they could have done, ensuring the widest possible
    distribution of the worst possible byproducts. Didn't those cars have
    pressure relief valves? If not, why not?? My inner chemist opines that
    just venting them would have been far less hazardous than the burn
    products, and easier to deal with (frex, vent through a precipitating solution; ordinary salt water likely would have worked).

    And heat ==> expansion ==> overpressure ==> explosions, so someone was completely off base there.

    The railroad may have been responsible for the derail, but whoever
    decided fire was a better solution is responsible for the secondary
    effects. If the tanks hadn't already exploded, and were not yet leaking,
    they weren't real likely to. At the very least, they should have
    consulted an industrial chemist.

    The stupid, it's nuclear....
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  • From Ky Moffet@454:1/1 to Mike Powell on Fri Feb 24 08:24:00 2023
    MIKE POWELL wrote:

    It does not help that the press reported the coal train as hauling "toxic chemicals." :(

    And jumped on the next three derails like it was something unusual.
    There are an average of 5 derails per day (tho declining). Most are just messy, not hazardous.

    Burning it off is bad, but letting more of it seep into the water table may have been worse. I don't know enough about chemicals to be sure.

    [puts on chemistry hat... many decades back, that was my major]

    A single chemical can be dealt with -- add something it reacts with to
    become relatively inert (in this case, vent it through a hose into a
    tank of whatever would make the least toxic result; salt water probably
    would have worked), and haul away the precipitate.

    But burning it creates all manner of nasties that you can't just deal
    with in bulk, and scatters the results far and wide. That's what the
    black smoke is -- incomplete burn products because it was combining with
    air to make random particulates. Basically similar to burning plastic.

    The thing a lot of folks don't realize is that, for most bulk transfers,
    each railcar replaces (IIRC) 3-4 semi trucks. So, if the railroads didn't move the hazmat freight, those chemicals would be on a whole lot of trucks sharing the interstates and other roads with you and I.

    The stats I just looked up:

    There are 30-40 derail-related deaths every year.

    There are about 4500 trucking-related deaths every year, about 3/4ths
    being the car in car-vs-truck.

    That's probably a good indication of the relative frequency of accidents
    that matter to the populace at large.

    Also, in pounds per mile, trains are 4x to 9x more efficient than trucks.
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  • From Mike Powell@454:3/105 to KY MOFFET on Fri Feb 24 15:58:00 2023
    [puts on chemistry hat... many decades back, that was my major]

    A single chemical can be dealt with -- add something it reacts with to
    become relatively inert (in this case, vent it through a hose into a
    tank of whatever would make the least toxic result; salt water probably
    would have worked), and haul away the precipitate.

    But burning it creates all manner of nasties that you can't just deal
    with in bulk, and scatters the results far and wide. That's what the
    black smoke is -- incomplete burn products because it was combining with
    air to make random particulates. Basically similar to burning plastic.

    That explains a lot, thanks!

    There are about 4500 trucking-related deaths every year, about 3/4ths
    being the car in car-vs-truck.

    That's probably a good indication of the relative frequency of accidents
    that matter to the populace at large.

    They are the ones that matter to me for sure.

    Also, in pounds per mile, trains are 4x to 9x more efficient than trucks.

    Yeah, because they can haul so much more. I was using roughly 4 semis to 1 rail car based on the shipping weights we used to ship out where I used to work. The product loaded into full tank car of lard, for example, would
    weigh about 4 times more than the product weight on a "legally-filled" semi trailer would.

    We always legally-filled our own trucks, and would plan legally-filling contract loads. It was pretty regular that a truck would show up that was supposed to be empty but was hauling something on the side hoping the load
    we had for them would not be a full trailer (but it almost always was!).

    Mike


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  • From Daryl Stout@454:1/33 to Mike Powell on Sun Feb 26 02:26:00 2023
    Mike,

    It does not help that the press reported the coal train as hauling
    "toxic chemicals." :(

    Most ALL trains nowadays haul hazardous materials (hazmat) in some form. Without those, many products we use wouldn't be available...and the prices would really skyrocket. Never mind the shipments of gasoline, ethanol, coal, etc.

    I don't doubt that they do!

    The lawyers will likely be the main ones who benefit. I saw yet another Norfolk Southern derailment in the Carolinas Saturday...that makes 3 for
    them (Union Pacific had a coal train derail in Nebraska this last week),
    and for the second time I can remember, a train derailed at Santa Fe
    Junction in Kansas City...caught LIvE on the Virtual Railfan Live Feed.

    Burning it off is bad, but letting more of it seep into the water table may have been worse. I don't know enough about chemicals to be sure.

    I got a note from a fellow ham about this firm hauling off what basically
    was lye. Yet, it was cheaper to do it in one container than another...
    however, not much was left of the container afterwards...which proves
    "you get what you pay for".

    The thing a lot of folks don't realize is that, for most bulk
    transfers, each railcar replaces (IIRC) 3-4 semi trucks. So, if the railroads didn't move the hazmat freight, those chemicals would be on a whole lot of trucks sharing the interstates and other roads with you
    and I.

    And, there's going to be a wreck of some sort with any mode of transport today...you can't get around it. Then, the evacuations and cleanup that
    occurs with the event.

    Daryl

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  • From Daryl Stout@454:1/33 to Ky Moffet on Sun Feb 26 02:30:00 2023
    Kyle,

    Ask yourself:

    If the pets are dying, why aren't the little kids dying?

    All of us will, eventually.

    Never mind "don't drink the water".

    While breathing this crap is bound to be hazardous, there's evidently a lot of coincidence being ascribed to it, and possibly some staged
    animal deaths when someone sees dollar signs on the horizon. (Chickens artfully arranged on the ground do not convince me; they're not gonna
    die evenly spread out like that.) Kids are at least as susceptible as
    dogs and piglets, and should die at about the same rate.

    Good point.

    Setting the contents on fire because (as they said) they feared an explosion (meaning the tanks were NOT leaking) -- was quite possibly
    the dumbest thing they could have done, ensuring the widest possible distribution of the worst possible byproducts. Didn't those cars have pressure relief valves? If not, why not?? My inner chemist opines that just venting them would have been far less hazardous than the burn products, and easier to deal with (frex, vent through a precipitating solution; ordinary salt water likely would have worked).

    All railroads should also have hazmat trains that first responders can
    train on, in dealing with things like this. They are also supposed to
    check the wheels of each car, spending 3 minutes on each one...but most
    trains would seemingly never leave the yard. They feel that "time is money", but it'd cost more afterwards if there was a derailment.

    The railroad may have been responsible for the derail, but whoever
    decided fire was a better solution is responsible for the secondary effects. If the tanks hadn't already exploded, and were not yet
    leaking, they weren't real likely to. At the very least, they should
    have consulted an industrial chemist.

    The other thing is to be sure that whatever this stuff is hauled in, is durable enough to handle it. One tanker was to haul what was basically corrosive lye...there wasn't much left of the tanker, but the customer
    wasn't willing to pay extra.

    The stupid, it's nuclear....

    If I remember right, nuclear waste has been hauled by rail.

    Daryl

    ... He was promoted beyond his level of incompetence.
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