Why did the train derail?
Three were killed and 50+ injured on the first full-speed run.
This author says that training to qualify engineers had 6 and more people in the control cab, which has seats and intended room for 2 people at a time, and training runs were conducted at night, when visual cues as to location on the route appear differently than in daylight. The derailment happened during the first full-speed run with passengers, which was during the daytime, and had one fully qualified man in the control cab and one training to be qualified.
Which leads to the question: if two qualified engineers with daytime experience on the run had been used, at least for this first day, might the wreck have been prevented? Or, might the speed have at least been reduced, making injury less severe?
Let's see who gets fired for this, and how far up the chain of command that happens to. I'm betting aside from the engineer (and that's not a
certainty) it's ZERO.
I would include another cynical perspective that resignations, after a disaster, in the chain of command in the USA are unheard of. Interesting that's not usually the case in the USA military.
To be fair, there has never been in the USA media much in the way of follow up stories on that topic.
An exception: in 1983 the Mianus River Bridge (northbound lane) on I-95 in CT collapsed [I-95 is the major route between NYC & Boston]; 3 peoplewere killed, due in large measure that it occurred very early in morning (about 1:30 AM) [traffic was light]. The Hartford Courant newspaper assigned reporters to follow (surreptitiously) some St of CT (employees) divers whose job it was to inspect the pilings, etc., that were under water on state roads (looking especially for water that had undermined the pilings). I can't remember how many, but at least a few, when 'out on field work' weren't doing anything at all [I'm not remembering if they had signed off that the Mianus Bridge was in a good state/passed inspection]. They were photographed and the pixs were published. I fear that's a long bygone era re journalism.
We had a tram do a similar thing a while back. That was put down to taking a bend too fast, too.
Simulators seem to be the norm in a good many transportation systems. There's a vid somewhere of a simulator for training new bus drivers who use it
for tng before they start work on some public transportation network somewhere in the USA (the simulator is a mock-up of the bus with a visual display
That doesn't seem to be commonplace, IF it exists at all, for RRs.
The one's for airline pilots are on hydraulic pistons that mimic in flight attitudes (not that the pistons will let you do a roll, etc., in the simulator).
I understand Quimby to be saying that looking out the window to see where you are is a large part of knowing what to do in the control cab. A tall
tree, or a hill, or a building might let you know how close you are to a curve or a gradient change. And, a person gets familiar with these visual
cues by running the route in real-life conditions.
This is certainly different from high-altitude air piloting, where instrumentation gives much of the information. The clouds you saw the last time you flew won't be the same on the next run. So, I think simulators probably do more for training an airplane pilot.
City buses get more guidance from street signs than from landmarks, I think, and I don't imagine city traffic speeds make familiarity with the route so crucial, so long as you have a skillful, attentive driver. I have heard quite a few adverts for drivers for school buses. The ads say they will pay for training. I think a person simply has to pass the written test and driving test to get a license. I assume there is also a background check, and probably a drug check.
School buses and any form of public transport driven on the roads have a whole different set of rules and conditions that apply. I am qualified to drive heavy vehicles which covers buses, however, my licence does not cover driving said vehicles with paying passengers on board. To me it seems a little anachronistic because If I have a bus load of people that are riding free, I am covered.
I can't drive the students at work in my car because I am not covered for anything other than pleasure and personal trips to and from work. To take students I would have to be insured for business and I am not prepared to do this. Every other teacher does this too which means that the school has to pay for taxis or charter buses to go on journeys even if a young person needs to see an emergency dentist, for example.
Unless something VERY unusual has gone on, the investigators will know exactly what happened, within minutes of attending. On modern units, they also
have the equivalent of a 'plane's black (Orange) box, too.
Funny thing... If the train driver/engineer is killed, during the incident, it's weirdly common for the inquiry to record the cause as "Driver error", which is always rather suspicious, to me.
Route knowledge, as it's known, here, is always done either as a second man (Using the "fireman's" chair), or, more likely, as a passenger. A common place is in the rear cab, if the unit has one. You are not allowed to drive on a line where you haven't been extensively tested on your route knowledge, unless you have a second man (Usually a traction inspector) with you, that has. Unless there's a dire emergency (Or someone's cadging a sly lift to somewhere that he ought not to be), you'll never see more than three people, up front. More than two is highly unusual.
Yes, landmarks are used. But, over here, every lineside structure (Electricity sub stations/wiring boxes/overhead gantries/&c. have letters/numbers painted on them, for identification purposes and, often, the driver will use those. There're little things, too, such as the noise that your unit will make, when it goes over a certain bridge, for example.
'course, back in the golden days, there were bobby (signal) boxes all over the place. Now, there are very few. The last line I drove over used to have a box at every crossing, every junction and every station.
Now, it has one. Funny, though. The BR rule book still says that, in certain circumstances, you're supposed to walk to the nearest box...