Monday, September 27, 2021

AMTRAK Derailment in Middle of Nowhere Should Make Enthusiasts Hesitate

AMTRAK would like  to extend its service into the Lehigh Valley with passenger rail from Allentown into the Big Apple. I've told you I have mixed feelings about it. I think before it expands anywhere, it needs to do a better job of managing its website and answering its phone. Try to book a ticket anywhere and you'll see what I mean. It's next to impossible to book on the website, and the phone just rings and rings. This is no fluke. I have experienced this issue several times now. This is what you'd expect from yet another government-subsidized operation. I loved taking the AMTRAK from DC to Pittsburgh, but would hate it if I had to commute that way.  

In addition, I am more than a bit concerned about its fatal weekend derailment in Montana, which appears to have been caused by a faulty switch or bent rail. Switches, in particular, should be inspected daily. A train company unable to answer its phone or manage its webpage 

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

Government run utilities usually descend into poor service. No accountability, bureaucratic stagnation. Wait until take total control of electric and fuel supplies.,

Anonymous said...

On the plus side there really isn't much "Nowhere" between the Lehigh Valley and NYC.

Anonymous said...

Im curious what you mean by "Inspected daily." A visual inspection? Ultrasonic inspection?

Do you understand the sheer quantity of wyes and rails? Modern ultrasonic rail inspection that seems to be cutting edge only runs at 20mph. It can detect many flaws in the rail but it is far too slow to run daily. To get out and look at each wye would take time too. Does the conductor get out and check each morning at each point?

Many track problems happen because of defects that are unseen. Track that appears safe may not be when at speed.

Anonymous said...

And yet there are people who want government to run healthcare.

And education.

Anonymous said...

Sir, you clearly have no idea about Amtrak operations. This track in question is owned by a private company, Amtrak pays for the right to operate passenger trains over it. Your idiotic statement about inspecting switches daily shows just how ignorant you are. Using your logic, highway bridges should be inspected daily. Any utility in a roadway should be inspected daily. Wires that go over roadways should be inspected daily. Fool.

And yes, I have over 40 years in the railroad industry.

Carl said...

My dad used to take the commuter train from South Bethlehem to Lansdale and then in later years he went from Bethlehem to NY on commuters. Good stories at dinner time. He said "You knew we were going to hit something when the conductor would come running down the aisle from the front of the train." The regulars knew that was an indication to put your head between your legs!

Anonymous said...

My the theories or logic mentioned in this post , then all US highways should inspected daily for potholes or missing signage? LMAO.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Highways are routinely inspected every two years and resurfaced every ten years. I believe tracks on trains carrying human cargo should be checked daily for physical obstructions, with a more detailed inspection annually. Moreover, the inspection should be by the USDOT, not AMTRAK or the company that owns the line. Trains need to be faster and safer.

Anonymous said...

Trains, like other forms of mass transit, are extremely safe. That being said, tragedies do happen and we're dealing with the result of failing to invest or even maintain our infastructure for decades. I did read in initial reports that the switch was inspected last Thursday, but perhaps we need to reevaluate and raise inspection standards too? I'm sure this will be fully investigated and hopefully we'll learn and improve.

Anonymous said...

Bernie,
Utilizing your logic the roads and bridges should not be inspected by Penndot or any of their money grubbing contractors then.

And to further that more people travel over most Lehigh valley bridges on 79 or 22 in day then that of rail lines. Should all bridges in the Lehigh valley be shut down for inspection daily. Would that be adequate or should all of them be shut down at a higher frequency to proportionally match the number of people that cross them? Remember it has already been confirmed by Penn Dots own teams a very large proportion of bridges in the Lehigh valley are sub par and deficient.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Actually, PENNDOT highways should be inspected by third parties who had nothing to do with the improvements being inspected. Given the number of fatalities caused by poorly maintained roads, inspections should be frequent. Any transportation surface on which humans travel should receive a daily inspection for anything that could kill people. Railways need it and I do not trust AMTRAK to do so bc they are unable to even answer a phone or manage a webpage. My points are perfectly logical and emphasize the importance of human cargo.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bridges that are rated functionally obsolete need not me closed but those that are structurally deficient are eventually closed

Anonymous said...

Bernie, you are full of s--t. You have no idea of what you are talking about. You want third party testing? Then go down to Hugh Moore Park in Glendon. Easton city owns the active bridge across the Lehigh River. They had it properly inspected and repaired and have money in the budget for more work. Now look at the other bridge crossing the railroad tracks from the park to downtown Glendon. It has been closed off for years now. And why? Because it is owned by the county and for years the county used an outside independent inspection agency to inspect it. This outside agency gave the county owned bridge a clean bill of health for years but when the county switched to a Penn Dot inspection of this bridge the inspectors found immediate problems and condemned the bridge. Seems that the independent inspectors didnt want to go under the bridge because of an active railroad. But the Penn Dot inspectors arranged to stop the trains so they could properly inspect the bridge and found serious problems. So dont tell me that Penn Dot needs outside inspectors.

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's no indication that I'm full of shit, although I am. The County has its own team of bridge inspectors so you are mistaken. The problems at the bridge in Glendon had been noted for years before it was finally closed. My point is that bridges and roads and any infrastructure should be inspected by entities that have no connection to those who maintain or build them. That is the only way to ensure that it is done fairly, safely and above suspicion.

Anonymous said...

Bernie. YOU are mistaken in regards to the county owned Glendon bridge. The county inspections were faulty because the inspectors didn't want to tangle with the railroad. The next set of inspectors did a proper inspection and ordered an immediate shut down.

Anonymous said...

for what it is worth try
https://railroads.dot.gov/newsroom/press-releases/federal-railroad-administration-announces-rail-inspection-technology-rule
"Using existing methods, companies are typically able to test about 20 miles of track a day. By contrast, companies employing continuous rail testing are typically able to test 80 to 160 miles of track daily. "

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:08, you make my point. There should be third party inspections

Anonymous said...

Well, we can always dream, can't we.

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the pipeline has been defeated. Gas will continue to be moved by rail through our cities. While pipelines certainly have risk, they're not nearly as risky as relying upon rail. Sal Panto has been sounding the alarm for years re: disaster preparedness in the event of a fuel tanker explosion. He's stated frankly that Easton is completely unprepared and that major parts of his city could be quickly incinerated, as happened several years ago in Quebec. So we killed a pipeline that would reduce this risk, and we have an ongoing problem with track inspections. None of this is good.

Bernie O'Hare said...

This post has nothing to do with PennEast pipeline