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Union Tpke

NYC Transit's Handling of Signal and Emergency Brake Problems Prior To The Williamsburg Bridge Collision

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NYC Transit's Handling of Signal and Emergency Brake Problems Prior To The Williamsburg Bridge Collision


This document was completed by the MTA Inspector General in December 1996. This eye-opening document details the failures that led to the tragic 1995 collision on the Williamsburg Bridge. It also illustrates the incompetence in NYCT's decision not to improve emergency braking rates.


 

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Posted (edited)

This is one of the more damning indictments of NYCT managerial culture I’ve ever seen. Wow. The level of inaction, territorialism and sheer arrogance displayed is terrifying. It’s interesting to contextualize this report’s findings in the at times impact-blind speed reduction efforts undertaken over the ensuing two decades — the direction of the agency changed, but the inability to step back and see problems and take initiative did not. I recommend everyone read it.

Edited by RR503
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It is interesting that pretty much all TA and other official literature pays no attention to the scope and impact of the "accleration mods" carried out on the whole fleet after the Williamsburg crash. This document seems to assume that the mods simply reverted the fleet back to the R1/9 performance that the signal system was largely designed around. It actually crippled the cars much harder than that and everyone seems to have just eaten the substantial change in speed and travel time over the past 25 years without much complaint.

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17 hours ago, Amtrak706 said:

It is interesting that pretty much all TA and other official literature pays no attention to the scope and impact of the "accleration mods" carried out on the whole fleet after the Williamsburg crash. This document seems to assume that the mods simply reverted the fleet back to the R1/9 performance that the signal system was largely designed around. It actually crippled the cars much harder than that and everyone seems to have just eaten the substantial change in speed and travel time over the past 25 years without much complaint.

I'd love to see a study of the potential runtime gains from simply running R68s at the design acceleration curve...

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Maybe now some people will understand why my peers were taught that the correct question to ask was  "how fast does this train stop ?" rather than the " how fast does it go  ?" Some of the long time posters probably remember some of those threads going back a decade or so. I know the feeling of being tripped by a signal at the north end of 23rd Street and finally coming to a stop past the interlocking signal north of Union Square. There are many RTO folks ,including  supervision,  who have stopped posting regularly because of the constant obsession with speed in many threads while we were taught by knowledgeable people that safety is supposed to trump any other consideration. Knowing the truth about the signal deficiencies is exactly why many of us take issue with the premise of running more trains closer together. Without a full scale evaluation of the signal system it appears to be a recipe for disaster IMO. Thanks Union  Tpke  for bringing this to light. You have exposed  the  chasm that exists between theory  and the  reality  . Some of the  in house  discussions/arguments  described  were known  by some of us hourly folks.  Carry on. 

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Trainmaster5 said:

Maybe now some people will understand why my peers were taught that the correct question to ask was  "how fast does this train stop ?" rather than the " how fast does it go  ?" Some of the long time posters probably remember some of those threads going back a decade or so. I know the feeling of being tripped by a signal at the north end of 23rd Street and finally coming to a stop past the interlocking signal north of Union Square. There are many RTO folks ,including  supervision,  who have stopped posting regularly because of the constant obsession with speed in many threads while we were taught by knowledgeable people that safety is supposed to trump any other consideration. Knowing the truth about the signal deficiencies is exactly why many of us take issue with the premise of running more trains closer together. Without a full scale evaluation of the signal system it appears to be a recipe for disaster IMO. Thanks Union  Tpke  for bringing this to light. You have exposed  the  chasm that exists between theory  and the  reality  . Some of the  in house  discussions/arguments  described  were known  by some of us hourly folks.  Carry on. 

To be fair, TM5, there's really nothing wrong with asking "why can't my train go faster?" It's in fact a central tenet of NYCT policy these days. As that IG report itself says, the stopping distance issues that plagued the system's car equipment have by and large been fixed -- it isn't anymore a system where, as has been said to me by others, taking a brake application means you'll stop...eventually. It also isn't a system where many signals are not capable of stopping a train at MAS (though as I and others have written in the past, those mods aren't so simple and unquestionable as "they were needed for safety"). I think one of the great things about the past year in transit has been that people at NYCT have been challenging all of these bits of accepted wisdom about safety, and have found many many areas where safety and increased speed can coexist -- it's a subjective, culturally led concept, after all. 

Edited by RR503
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