Canadian Pacific grain train derailment kills three crew members (04/02)

Discussion in 'International Transport' started by Adlington, 5 Feb 2019.

  1. Groningen

    Groningen Established Member

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    The story of the wrong brakes concerned the Australian freight November last year oretrain near Port Hedland; not that one in Canada.
     
  2. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    I wonder if scotch blocks, (wedges) under all the leading loco wheels would be a solution, easier and safer to apply than loads of handbrakes and probably as effective.

    One used to be used on LUL 59 stock to prevent trains running away in depots as the handbrakes were not always up to the job.

    Half a dozen of these must help as, despite the weight of the train there is not a lot of force to initially move the train.

    Once the train is moving it is a different ball game.
     
  3. axlecounter

    axlecounter Member

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    Putting them under the loco is more or less the same as putting on the loco handbrake. If the weight of the loco combined with the rail-wheel friction can’t give you enough braking force that train will start moving no matter what.
    As for “safer to apply” (and to remove!) I’m not really sure.
     
  4. Taunton

    Taunton Established Member

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    You sometimes have to look beyond the detail in accident descriptions for the background to such accidents. And there do seem some similarities to the Lac Megantic accident in Quebec some years ago.

    Legal crew limits of 12 hours getting scheduled right up to the limit, and railway control not keeping up with happenings and delays to crews, leading to getting to the 12 hour point out on the open line on a steep gradient, where they have to stop. Presumably the first crew were told to make for Field with minutes to spare, and didn't make it. Why had they been let go from Lake Louise if things were so close? Maybe you can work like this on the flatlands in the Prairies. But not on the gradients of the Kicking Horse.

    Second crew take two hours to get there, likely coming up in a van over the snowy highway from Field, and then hiking across the landscape from the Trans Canada highway to the tracks and where the locos were. Did the first crew though expect them to take 2 hours; were they told the crew was much nearer so didn't bother to apply the handbrakes? Were the crew actually coming up all the way from Golden? Was it understood it was snowing up there? Where is the dispatcher nowadays? Was the dispatcher jumping up and down at them to get away immediately they were relieved, as there was opposing traffic held up? Did the dispatcher remind them to set handbrakes? These are train crews who spend their lifetimes on these gradients and understand all the issues.

    In a UK context, it is like a driver getting to a legal limit halfway down the Lickey incline, being told to stop right there on the gradient and wait for another driver.
     
    Last edited: 17 Mar 2019
  5. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    I agree - it'll be interesting to read a full account of the circumstances when accident report comes out.
     
  6. philthetube

    philthetube Established Member

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    I was referring to putting on handbrakes along the length of the train or using scotch blocks in addition to the loco brake.

    It sounds as if in this case the loco brakes bled off, or something like that, and there was no secondary system, which scotch blocks would have provided.
     
  7. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Just come across this accident report on a runaway derailment at the same place 22 years ago - http://www.bst-tsb.gc.ca/eng/rapports-reports/rail/1997/r97c0147/r97c0147.pdf

    There is quite a lot of detail in the report on operating procedures and changes to them subsequent to that accident.

    I'll paint you a picture - you're standing by the lead loco, pointing downhill (westwards) on a 2.2% gradient, looking back eastwards along the train. It's 1.3 miles long and weighs about 15,000 tonnes.

    If you put chocks under all 12 wheels of the (180-190 tonne) loco and released all the train brakes, do you think that would stop it moving down the hill?

    (For comparison, the Lickey incline is a 2.7% gradient, the 'fearsome' climbs to Shap and Beattock summits are about 1.35% at their steepest).
     
    Last edited: 21 Mar 2019
  8. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    The loco has a parking brake that stays on without the need for air or power, so won't "bleed off" (assuming it was applied).
     
  9. axlecounter

    axlecounter Member

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    If the idea was to put scotch blocks along the rest of the train you’d be up for a funny afternoon, when you’d need to take them out...
     
  10. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Scotch blocks would probably be no quicker than handbrakes and definitely more dangerous. I should imagine if the train rolls a few feet when someone in inserting or removing one it would have a good chance of taking their hand off. Which for the only crew member on a train in a remote part of Canada in winter would proabably be fatal. Besides which, how do you carry the several dozen chunks of wood needed to scotch enough wagons?
     
  11. Adlington

    Adlington Member

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    One on each wagon....
     
  12. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    And what are the chances of them actually being there when needed in a hurry?
     
  13. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    And that's putting aside the safety issue with using them on a 2.2% gradient with a train weighing 15,000 tonnes to stop.
     
  14. Adlington

    Adlington Member

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    You would put them under a stationary train, still held on the gradient by the pneumatic brake, with sufficient (if diminishing) air pressure.
     
  15. GB

    GB Established Member

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    A handbrake applies way more braking force than chocks do as a handbrake applies the brake to both sides of the wagon on boggie vehicles. Also, if you haven't put enough chocks under the train by time the brakes leak off and the train moves it will either roll over the chocks and roll away or roll over the chocks and derail.
     
  16. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    Well, this is one of the problems that ECP brakes would/will solve - assuming they ever enter general service........
     
  17. thebigcheese

    thebigcheese Member

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    I thought brakes on trains worked the other way round - ie pressure was needed to release the brakes. This means it fails safe. Is that not the case?
     
  18. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    In normal service that is true. However it is achieved by having a tank of compressed air on each wagon, which is normally kept charged up by the train pipe. However when the pressure in the train pipe drops, a special valve sends the air from the tank to provide the force to push the brakes against the wheels. If the train is left without an air supply for a few hours then the air leaks out of the system and the air brakes release, so the train must rely on parking brakes.

    Some parking brakes on multiple units are applied automatically by springs if the air pressure is lost, which should keep a train stopped but aren't powerful enough to stop a moving train. But on wagons they are applied by turning a wheel on the underframe.

    I think an ECP brake would leak off in the same circumstances as a normal air brake would. It's electrically controlled but still needs an air supply to create the brake force.
     
  19. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    My understanding is this accident was caused by the single pipe being at atmospheric pressure, preventing the air in the vehicle reservoirs being topped off.

    In an ECP system the train pipe would remain pressurised during the emergency brake application, as in the first instance the command would be sent electrically.
     
  20. edwin_m

    edwin_m Veteran Member

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    Do you have a link to support that assertion? The only thing I can see upthread is a mention that the report isn't out yet.

    Normally a full brake application leaves some pressure in the pipe to get round this problem (although it is possible to lose braking by using the wrong technique that uses up the air in the reservoirs). The brake pipe only goes to atmospheric pressure if the train is split or there is some other major leak, in which case the loss of reservoir pressure is the same risk with either an ECP or a conventional air brake.
     
  21. big all

    big all Member

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    assuming its still the same as single pipe when i trained 45 ish years ago and my understanding is correct :D
    train [brake]]pipe charges to 70-72.5psi 5 bar 'auxiliary reservoirs for each vehicle charge to pipe pressure
    the tank contains about 2 full brake applications then if not further charged via the train pipe for several mins will still contain perhaps a further 60% then perhaps a final 30% off brake with a final added perhaps 20% if train pipe dropped to zero

    now you may have some air still in the aux tanks but this cannot transfer to the brake cylinders as the triple valve will be in the lap [doing nothing]position as it needs a further drop in pressure to apply air to the brake cylinder or a raise in pressure to the release position where it charges the aux reservoirs
     
    Last edited: 3 May 2019
  22. tiptoptaff

    tiptoptaff Established Member

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    I did indeed wonder why crew relief was being undertaken there rather than Field. Where exactly is Partridge? I can't seem to find it on Google maps....
    Of course, regulations on the way US/Canadian crews work is a lot less stringent than we're used to in the UK.
     
  23. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    On my SPV RR atlas, Partridge is between the two spiral tunnels, and is the location of a "passing siding".
    The train would have been heading pretty much eastwards at that point.
     
  24. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    There is a (not very good quality) schematic of the line over the pass here - http://www.tsb.gc.ca/ENG/rapports-reports/rail/1996/r96c0086/r96c0086.html#5.0

    'Partridge' passing siding is above (east) of the upper spiral tunnel, 'Yoho' siding is between upper and lower and 'Cathedral' siding is below the lower tunnel.

    It's about 15 rail miles from Stephen (the summit, 6 miles east of Partridge) to Field, and it would take a freight train about 40 - 60 minutes to climb or descend the hill, due to the low speeds necessitated by the gradients, curvature and train weights.
     
  25. LNW-GW Joint

    LNW-GW Joint Veteran Member

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    Yes, on checking the SPV map again I see I got it wrong, I was describing the Yoho crossing.
    Partridge is as you say above the top spiral.
    I've got some pictures of an uphill double-stack container train threading the spiral tunnels, taken from the Hwy 1 verge, but the vegetation is such as to render it invisible except for the odd container top peeping above the tree line.
     
  26. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    The nearly 2 mile long 'Partridge' passing siding should be roughly in the middle of this Google maps satellite image - https://www.google.com/maps/place/B...10018a53e7fab!8m2!3d51.3970028!4d-116.4944445

    The railway is the 'line through the trees' just south of the Trans-Canada highway (Hwy 1), with the two spiral tunnels off to the left and Wapta Lake just off to the right. There is a train visible over on the right.
     
  27. ac6000cw

    ac6000cw Established Member

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    Yes, trees are a bit of a problem in western Canada if you actually want to *see* the trains rather than just hear them...(but it's such stunning scenery I'll forgive it).

    This photo is from east of Wapta Lake on Ohara Park road, looking west - the Trans-Canada highway is only 60m away but invisible through the trees on the right...

    East_of_Wapta_Lake_small.jpg
     
    Last edited: 4 May 2019

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