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Amtrak is becoming part of a a real-life Atlaa Shruggrd. Again.

Posted by $ katrinam41 2 months ago to News
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The very machines that make our lives comfortable will now be a danger to us. It's very real. Good call, Ayn.
SOURCE URL: https://www.westernjournal.com/disaster-heartland-multiple-confirmed-dead-rescue-work-continues-montana-amtrak-derailment/?ats_es=%5B-MD5-%5D


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  • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
    You'd be surprised at the number and type of "incidents" that occur annually on open track, switch yard and roadway crossings per year. A friend of mine, in Minneapolis, was a Federal accident investigator for NTSB rail. He headed 5 FBI investigative cells that would deploy nationally.

    I've spent over 25 years working with Harsco Fairmont rail maintenance equipment. Bed leveling, tie and rail replacement, fill and tamping, re-grinding profiles are just a few of the services their products can accomplish. Some of the ribbon rail machines may be 1/2 to 3/4 mile in length. It is incredibly complex to re-route and coordinate the mass of rail traffic and keep every nuance of integrity of the rails at the same time. In the movie, Atlas Shrugged, when Hank and Dagny are overseeing the construction of the "bridge", a Harsco rail "machine" is part of the scene.

    In 2010 Berkshire Hathaway completed the acquisition of BNSF. If I'd had 26 billion in 1996 I'd have jumped in. I fixtured one of the most complex parts of G;E's Tier 1 locomotive diesel engine; main bearing caps. Unbelievable tolerances, temperature sensitive to geometric dimensions. Working with the engineers, they divulged that the new engine was to power new electric "traction" motors. G.E. and Toshiba electric were synchronously developing the technology. Global competition to put new gear into heavy haul rail that would cut fuel consumption by 30 to 35 percent. The rail industry in this country is second to The US Navy in diesel consumption. At the same time this was occurring new pollution control measures were going through the US congress, and passed. While naval and rail fuel were unaffected the restrictions on road fuel inflated the cost and price for the trucking and civilian fuel. Transferring the profitability for the oil refiners to the general public, directly and indirectly. Right out of Atlas...n'so? er' no? LOL

    I'll save what I know, and have been involved in, regarding electric power generation, for another time.

    Burlington is rather personal. In Dec of 1937, in Davenport Iowa, my grandfather was killed in a yard switching incident. In Dec of 1957, almost to the day, in the St. Paul switch yard, my dad almost lost his life in an identical incident. Rail transport has one of the highest mortality rates of any occupation. Gives me pause to speculate on my non-existence
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    • Posted by diessos 2 months ago
      hmm... an Amtrak accident the same week that Pelosi is planning a vote on infrastructure.. How convenient.
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      • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
        Accident summary excluding highway rail crossing
        https://safetydata.fra.dot.gov/office...

        40 years ago there were approximately 9500 accident/incidents nationally at highway rail intersecctions. Today I think the number has been reduced to around 2000.
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        • Posted by $ 2 months ago
          Railroad crossing accidents have gotten fewer with the installation of flashing lights and gates. Crossings are definitely safer then when my dad was driving a truck through a thick ground fog in PA in the 50's. He watched the radio antenna of a car pass him (couldn't see anything else below the fog layer) and moments later it was hit by a train Dad could see but the car driver could not. Those valley fogs in PA and OH were literal killers.
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    • Posted by mccannon01 2 months ago
      I worked on a new technology project that aided in identifying train problems like dragging brakes and faulty bearings and other defects on car wheels going by at speeds up to 100mph long before actual failure takes place. If a problem is detected it will tell you which car and axle the problem is on. Wheel problems are a big contributor to derailments. It was tested successfully in a BNSF yard in Kansas City in 2015/2016 as well as a test track in Colorado before that. BNSF dragged their feet on the process so a company in England picked it up. They've been dragging their feet until recently and now they are going to install it in India. We'll see what happens.
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      • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
        I worked with a wheel reconditioner in St Paul around 2015. Match pairs to an axle, then match per truk within a given tolerance to accommodate curves and turns. I've also worked with three different main bearing blocks over the years...I thought Mack walking beam suspensions were tough on gear.

        So, your work was fixed station sensor? Infrared? I see where the hardware and software is applicable recently. I did a lot of machine automation in a lot of different disciplines in the early 90's. Most complicated job was a welding machine incorporating 4 proprietary systems. We were the test site for GE Fanuc syncro-servo card for a PLC. 5 EEPROM later...success. We had to compensate for thermal growth of different gage laminations of low carbon and stainless steel sheeting. These were spot welded in varying progressions and side shift, making diamond patterns, on materials up to 5 ft wide and 24 ft long. Targeting pre-perforated material in the progression of welds that the perf would fall in the midst of the pattern was done with thermal feedback and algorithmic compensation. Our thermal feedback was limited to contact sensing at the time. We've come a long way baby!
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        • Posted by mccannon01 2 months ago
          It is a fixed station with an "inspection zone" about 35 to 40 inches long the train rolls over in either direction. No infrared. The main sensor tech is based on patented ultra sound (various frequency) receivers detecting simultaneous air borne and track borne signal profiles. Front end processing is done in the analog form as the signals are detected (very fast!) and results (and other signals) are placed on digital inputs to a SBC for further processing and recording - optional real time data transmit over LAN or cell tower (these devices can be placed in the middle of nowhere if need be). I live in Western NY and had the system email me spreadsheet data for trains from the yard in KC (we had it on a cell line). I could also log on and make adjustments if needed. [Side note. I did most of the software development for the system.]

          The train speeds in the BNSF test yard were slow enough we output a signal to a cheap camera to take a picture of the defective wheel as it rolled by. You'd be surprised at some of the stuff we found.

          I've done a lot of PLC programming for mainly Rockwell systems, but also did Siemens and Mitsubishi.
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          • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
            Commercial transportation is fraught with failures. One small machine shop I built fixturing for produced over 20k in rail replacement gear annually. Within 200 mile radius of Minneapolis I provided repairs and parts for tractor and trailer spindles in excess of 10k incidents over 25 years. That does not include the weld and machine of bearing journals to original spec.

            Understand ultra sound approach. I can sense "wrongness" in mechanical things by vibration, smell, heat, without apparent failure. Your approach is a wonderful extension of human senses.
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    • Posted by $ 2 months ago
      My grandfather retired from the NYC as an engineer with an unblemished record. His brother wasn't so fortunate, involved in a horrific accident that killed people. I have always loved trains and treasured the 2 1/2 day trips from here to Seattle on the Empire Builder. Watching these lines falling into disrepair is sad, but even government subsidies won't keep them afloat.
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      • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
        100% privatized is the only way to see if the economics work or not. Before my grandfather's death, my grandmother told me, he went to Chicago to propose a formative for a "partnership" between rail and tractor/trailer distributions to the major rail businesses. His proposition was to modify loading platforms to accommodate tractor/trailer combinations or trailers alone. He was summarily dismissed by all. As I watch multi tiered containers roll by at nearly a mile at a time.....ah well.
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        • Posted by $ 2 months ago
          I agree. Privatization is the only way for this sagging economy to pull itself out of the mire, but without government "help" in any way, shape or form. Ah well indeed. Someone heard his proposal, decided it was too good for someone else to implement and appropriated it for themselves.
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          • Posted by $ Commander 2 months ago
            "Comfort" with the way things are is usually a strong determinate. When an organism, and businesses resemble biological organisms, are "pushed" they evolve. This is true of all life.
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  • Posted by mccannon01 2 months ago
    My wife and I travel by train at least once or twice a year east, South and West from Western NY. These accidents are discouraging, but will not stop our travels... yet.
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