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dbdb

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Everything posted by dbdb

  1. dbdb

    Canadian Rail Accidents

    If I understand how the brakes work, they are engaged by air pressure from a reservoir on each car which is divided into two parts for service braking and emergency braking. Before the train gets underway, the brake system is pressurized and the reservoirs fill with air. When air pressure along the train is slowly released below a certain pressure service braking is engaged. When all the pressure in the air line is rapidly released the emergency reservoir will apply additional force to the brakes. Over time air leaks from the brake system on each car. As air pressure in the reservoirs drops the force of the brakes drops. On perfectly level ground that might not be a big deal but on a slope gravity opposes the braking force. The steeper the slope and the heavier the car the greater the force due to gravity. As air leaks from the system eventually the braking force reduced to less than what's needed to oppose the force of gravity and the train will begin to roll. As the train picks up speed braking forces are not just opposing the static force of gravity but the kinetic force which takes even more braking force to overcome. Now, if I understand the system correctly the only way to re-engage the air brakes on the cars to stop the train is to re-pressurize the air line to refill the reservoirs to full pressure releasing the brakes then re-engage them by releasing the pressure -- slowly for service brake or rapidly for emergency brakes. There are two things conspiring it takes a long time to recharge the brake system and during that time the train is accelerating so there is an increasing amount of kinetic energy for the brakes to stop. In an extreme scenario the speed increases so the kinetic energy is beyond what the air brake system can stop -- this happened in the Cajon pass derailment featured on an episode of Mayday. What likely happened in the case of the CP derailment, and now I get why the TSB was particular about not calling it a runaway, is the train simply ended up going too fast for sharp curves accelerating while the engineer was desperately trying to get the brake system up to pressure to control the speed of the train. Until the brake system was fully pressurized all that would have been available to slow or stop the train would be the independent and dynamic brakes on the 3 locomotives which would be woefully insufficient. While the distributed locomotives may have helped get pressure to the brake system faster it wasn't fast enough for a train accelerating on a steep slope heading toward a sharp curve just minutes away. The lesson is don't park a heavy train on a steep slope for a long time relying on air brakes. With some statistics predicting the rates at which rail car air brakes lose pressure engineers (the white collar kind) could come up with an equation or model to predict what the maximum safe time a train could stop on a given slow with air brakes. Hopefully this incident will trigger the TSB and Transport Canada to do the research and come up with that so dispatchers and engineers can make better informed decisions in similar circumstances.
  2. dbdb

    Canadian Rail Accidents

    Quick question for smallspy or one of the other railroaders on here. I was discussing the circumstances of the CP derailment with a friend the other day and he mentioned something that I didn't know that I think was confirmed in an article I read today on the CP derailment. I ready that air dryers are used in the winter and it significantly slows air flow to pressurize the brake system. My friend says a relative who is a CN conductor mentioned it can often take an extremely long time, as much as an hour get the system up to enough pressure to release the brakes in the winter. Is that true?
  3. dbdb

    Canadian Rail Accidents

    The TSB representative at the press conference yesterday said they were based out of Calgary but the engineer and conductor were experienced in the territory. It surprised me the TSB has already made statements suggesting they've already ruled out the actions of the accident crew as a cause. They must have some pretty good evidence to the contrary especially when they're so careful to avoid the term "runaway".
  4. dbdb

    Canadian Rail Accidents

    The Transportation Safety Board investigation page for more details: http://tsb.gc.ca/eng/enquetes-investigations/rail/2019/r19c0015/r19c0015.asp Sounds like the air brakes failed after a couple hours sitting on a steep grade. The findings should be interesting.
  5. Dash-cam footage of the start of a train derailing at a grade crossing near Saskatoon: https://www.ctvnews.ca/canada/dashboard-video-captures-moment-52-car-train-derails-near-saskatoon-1.4264158 That's something you don't see everyday.
  6. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    That's situation with a lot of a lot of today's companies lead by people with business degrees who have great expertise in finance and management but no foundational experience or education on the good or services the company offers. Via may be terrible at keeping a schedule but at least they know their business lives and dies by customer experience and in my experience they do a pretty good job. Good customer experience also depends on knowing what you can deliver and setting reasonable expectations. While it's unfortunate they're dropping 1 trip per week, all things considered it's probably the right move for the short term. I expect once CN completes more capital improvements through the prairies over the next couple/few years we'll see improvements to Via service between Toronto and Edmonton. Making an inference from Via's summer schedule reduction on the Canadian my bet is CN will be announcing a substantially bigger siding expansion/double tracking plan for 2019 probably resulting in a summer of chronically delayed Via #1/#2 trains.
  7. dbdb

    Amtrak

    There are a couple of flaws in the Times Union story. First, if the cars separated, I would expect the brakes would begin to engage once air pressure is lost so the student credited with saving the day probably didn't actually do anything that wasn't already happening automatically. Second, the lady who claims the separated car had a very wrong perception of the event, the separated car could not have been accelerating if it was separating from the rest of the train. The article on CBC has a witness account that makes more sense; a pop, a hiss, some burning followed by cold air -- coupler breaks with a pop, cars begin to separate and air line disconnects with a hiss, electrical line is arcs as it's ripped off (burning smell) and cold air once the gangway connection opens.
  8. dbdb

    Saskatoon Updates

    There may not be any on the road by then. A news release says: "objectives to attain a 100 per cent accessible fleet by the end of 2018".
  9. Safety concerns because of the position of the aircraft may be part of it but there are other aspects to consider. First and foremost is the necessary investigation. Also inspecting the runway for debris that could put other aircraft at risk. Repairs to any runway infrastructure that may have been damaged like lighting or ILS equipment to ensure the runway is safe to return to operation. As far as the investigation goes this is not a little fender bender on the expressway. Aviation investigation is a thorough and lessons learned from every event inform safety improvements. The runway may or may not have clues to help investigate the cause of the accident such as skid marks, debris or even parts that have fallen off the aircraft. That possible evidence needs to be preserved until investigators arrive and assess it. This rigor is why there are so few accidents and accidents with fatalities in recent years compared to decades past.
  10. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    From the news release: Yeah, sounds like just a replacing end of life kitchen equipment and associated electrical, and installing a WiFi access point. The dining room and fixtures on the trips I've taken is still in great shape no need or value in replacing those.
  11. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    Interesting. That might suggest some more aggressive capital work next summer. Responding to your earlier comment about double tracking between Edmonton and Winnipeg, at 60mi/year that will take a while at that rate. You probably have access to current info but timetables from 2007 for the Rivers, Watrous and Wainwright subdivisions show at that time only a few very short sections of double track. CN hasn't been very timid with capital expansion for a long time. Someone commented on the prairie north line. I'm not sure how much CN is utilizing it or what the condition is. CP seems to be using their northern line a lot more. CP has a lot more tanker trains passing through Saskatoon. Last Saturday there was a bit of a traffic jam through Sutherland yard with trains waiting on the main line in the middle of the city. CP invested in improvements to the line when Fred Green was CEO to handle more, heavier and longer trains. That work began a few years after the story I linked to about CN ripping out double track near Jasper. Hunter Harrison was running CP for a relatively short time compared to his tenure at CN. I've always though of Harrison as a short term planner who shies away from capital investment for short term efficiency gains at the cost of longer term health. While CPs operating ratio during Green's tenure was pretty poor compared to the North American average, I think the work that he lead is showing dividends allowing CP to better accommodate recent traffic growth.
  12. dbdb

    Air Canada

    Westjet just dove in to comparable Saab 340s in Alberta to extend the reach of their network so it would seem unlikely AC would phase them out entirely. I'd bet the decision is more related to pilot availability, cutting back 5 1900 flights to 2-3 dash 8s is still reasonable frequency without sacrificing seat counts and frees up pilots for other route opportunities.
  13. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    The Via Canadian problem is a symptom of a bigger CN capacity problem. How much of CN's current troubles were manufactured during the Hunter Harrison era? While looking for some articles on double tracking projects this year I found a Western Producer article from 2001 discussing CN ripping out 64km of double track around Jasper built in the 70's to improve capacity to the west coast for grain. No doubt it would have cut maintenance costs in the short term but was it worth it in the long term where CN is struggling to handle everything, not just grain? CNs COO wants to see the entire mainline between Winnipeg and Edmonton double tracked but so far it's only relatively short sections and there's no tangible goal. I have to wonder if CN has any sort of strategic plan to guide long term goals and increased traffic.
  14. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    Via dispatchers must use so called "discovery math". Saskatoon at mile 191.6 - Watrous at mile 129.0 = 62.6 miles. Divide by maximum possible track speed all the way at 80mph = 0.78 hours or about 47 minutes. 47 minutes is optimistic. More than double the 28 minutes estimated. It actually reached Watrous at 11:17 or 65 minutes after departure from Saskatoon. I see now the estimated time to arrive in Winnipeg is midnight, back to 5 hours late with another optimistic estimate with no updated departure estimate. It reached Melville at 1:31pm and left at 1:57pm. Arrived in Rivers at 9pm, just over 6 hours given they lose an hour crossing time zones. Rivers is 136 track miles from Melville for an average speed of 23mph. At least it's faster than a bicycle, about the speed of a fast horse. Via should just indicate the Canadian schedule is accurate to within +/- 1,440 minutes (1 day).
  15. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    About 5 hours late into Saskatoon. From the ETAs to Winnipeg it looks like they plan to make up most of the lost time before reaching Manitoba. I'm not sure how realistic. It left Saskatoon at 10:12, when I just looked estimated arrival in Watrous is 10:40. That's not possible at track speed. Watrous to Melville at 12:50 is optimistic. Only possible if they can run track speed all the way, no stopping, no pulling into sidings, no slow orders. That said there is an awful lot of slack in the schedule between Wainwright and Rivers making up most of the lost time is possible if Via gets highball signals all the way.
  16. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    Unrelated to snow, there was a biggish derailment just west of Saskatoon near Landis, SK -- 40 cars and 2 locos on the ground, CN mainline closed since this morning: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/saskatchewan/train-derailment-saskatchewan-landis-1.4839654 #2 (eastbound) is scheduled through there overnight.
  17. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    If true, the fiber could be a boon to communities along the line. It makes a lot of sense for communities along the line to have an ownership stake in the rail line to do projects like running fiber along the right of way that wouldn't provide economic benefit to foreign investors but would certainly provide social and economic benefits to those communities.
  18. Sounds like there was a greater chance of being struck by a meteorite that getting off the ground. The chocked wheels would have stopped him and if that didn't stop him and he managed to get the engines going, release the brakes, possibly needing to reverse thrust and power over the chock blocks I doubt he would have figured out how to steer the aircraft with the tiller to some straight section of pavement to take off.
  19. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    Not just bus/rail but air/bus and air/rail too. Lots of opportunity to offer better service for passengers in a way that captures more business for the transportation companies. Ride share services could even play a role when that sector matures.
  20. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    I agree with M. Parsons, provinces would be better off looking at bus service over rail but I think the overall business model needs to change. The Canadian is nowhere near the level of service required for the prairies and BC to be anything beyond a niche even if they could stick to a schedule. What makes more sense would be an integrated network of independent van/car service to feed the network of larger cutaways and coaches and maybe even Via. The van/car services would be small operations run by members of the communities they serve with a vested interest in the service to the communities they serve, a variety of ownership structures are possible from individuals to non-profit consortium to co-op. Sort of how short line railroads work integrate with the Class I's. There was an article on CBC today that indicates Greyhound lost 20% ridership on the Yellowhead and Trans Canada corridors when the Saskatchewan Government shut down STC last year. That tells us the STC network servicing small communities fed 20% of their traffic. Unfortunately service to all those small, ever shrinking communities runs at a loss because there aren't enough passengers for the traditional bus service business model. There is no business model for a single provider big network servicing small communities. Small regional networks alone can't offer seamless end-to-end inter-regional transportation. Governments should step up to stimulate the industry but they don't need to get deeper into the transportation business. I'm not sure they should immediately jump to subsidies. Legislation is a good place to start to better encourage and accommodate smaller players and startups. Maybe the feds could bootstrap a non-profit corporation that runs on cost recovery like Nav Canada to provide booking/scheduling solutions/service to a national network of independent transportation providers. Via could bring value to solve the problem not with it's trains but it's ticketing, scheduling and logistics capabilities. Amtrak runs Cascades trains between Vancouver and Seattle twice a day but they also contact Trailways to run "throughway" coach service several more times/day to connecting with Cascades trips that don't run all the way to/from Vancouver. Via or a spinoff could be a facilitator of inter-regional non-rail ground transportation on a break-even basis without government investing in running a fleet of buses.
  21. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    I was on #2 in March when it was nearly a half day late from Winnipeg. The scenery through Ontario was way more interesting. Lots more interesting geological formations vs the usual trees and lakes. No one takes that train to get anywhere fast. On my trip people were agitated about possibly losing hotel reservations or missing flights not the fact the train was late. A realistic timetable will prevent unhappy passengers. Running through scenic areas during the day is a value add. On my trip we made up a few hours highballing it once we got past Winnipeg even with a nearly hour long wait for a new crew after ours timed out. The most time was lost on the Melville sub, Wainwright sub and Edson sub. CN has a bunch of double track projects in Saskatchewan and Alberta that could help the Canadian so it doesn't have to wait as often for long freights.
  22. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    More details The TL;DR is 16 passengers, 5 crew, baggage car + 2 locos on the ground about 3am, crew injured, no passengers injured, all taken to Hudson Bay, SK for medical assessment, remote section of track 37km north of Hudson Bay, TSB says train hit washout at 50km/h.
  23. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    They could do it the old way and run second train set as another "section" of the full train. If it's a regular occurrence expand the schedule to add additional trips which could in turn attract more passengers turning it into an advantage.
  24. This is great news. Getting that line back up and running and most members of the ownership consortium with a vested interested in the success of the communities along the line and not just the line itself will make a big difference in how it's managed.
  25. dbdb

    VIA Rail Canada

    Maybe I'm a bit cynical but I suspect some of that decision is some pork barrel politics throwing economic benefit to areas of Quebec where the Liberals may want to earn some votes in the next federal election. If they get started now they will be able to unveil the refurbished cars just ahead of the next election. If they bought new as they are to replace the LRC cars via the RFP route, it's likely the winning bid would be from a U.S. or other foreign company with little if any of the work coming to Canada.
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