City Journal Summer 2014

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Summer 2014
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Nicole Gelinas
System Failure « Back to Story

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Brilliant, Ms. Gelinas. Your masterful writing brought together all of the factors that need to be examined in this tragic accident. There is more than enough blame to be shared. I hope it does not fall to Mr. Rockefeller to shoulder it all.
What dribble.

This Rockefeller guy fell asleep at the switch and it was that which cause the accident.

OMG. Beautifully written, as always. But this one misses the core issue and misstates the MTA technical blunder that continues the flaw that led to this four-fatality train wreck.

"Just last month, for example, the MTA approved a $210.5 million long-term contract to install “positive train control,” a system that the federal government now requires in the wake of an earlier crash in California. Positive train control allows trains to detect excessive speed as well as the presence of other trains. Such a system may have prevented Sunday’s crash by detecting and halting dangerous speeding, NTSB official Earl Weener said Tuesday afternoon. But, as the MTA warned, positive train control is complicated. It involves supervising contractors who must build five separate electronic and detection systems as well as integration with Amtrak, whose trains share MTA tracks"

No-no-no. This is crap. Amtrak has already installed a NIST standard PTC system on all its trains.

It doesn't require building a XXXX thing on the tracks to implement speed controls. Train position is monitored primarily with GPS. The box reads GPS like a "Tom Tom" and enforces speed limits through the existing engine control systems and automated braking. The Speed Control Unit of the PTC works with existing well-known on-board systems.

American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association is anything but shy. These systems have been modernized to full use since 2009. The primary speed control system is cheap and a simple install.

Where there's money involved is doing train tracking systems for the central office. That and using the system to respond to emergency situations -- what's done by phone to train crews today.

Speed controls ??? Cheap and easy.

And one big question is why MTA doesn't just go ahead and install the existing Amtrak PTC system for its own trains? Use the GPS version and you're done without spending big bundles of money.



Speed. And it's probably not the first time that over-speed events have happened on this line, with this train, or with this engineer.

Records doubtless exist, you should FOIA them.

PS: It's "braking" not "breaking."