Follow up to recent rail stories
BART saw circuit problem at center of Metro probe
Metro officials said the malfunction that appears to be at the heart of last month’s deadly Red Line crash was traced to “flickering” in a track circuit that seemed to be a “freak occurrence” they had never before encountered or knew was possible, The Washington Post reports.
But that type of transient, intermittent failure is known to experts who work with automated transit systems and was flagged as a hazard by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system in San Francisco. Officials there installed a separate system as a protection against flickering track circuitry.
BART is considered a sister system to Metro because it was built about the same time using similar designs, technology and suppliers. Metro never installed the backup system, known as the sequential occupancy release system, that is used by BART.
The signal system used by both BART and Metro is quite different from that used by SkyTrain (and the Docklands LRT) which I referenced in my original story. It also seems that “intermittent failure of track circuits most often occurs when there is poor electrical contact between the steel rails and the wheels of the train.” This means that the equipment itself may not be the problem but the state of the track and the wheels. This wheel/rail interface has been found to be critical in a number of railway crashes – and is one of the reasons that the break up of British Rail into separate track and train operating companies was so much opposed by my former colleagues at HM Railway Inspectorate.
I am still bothered by the fact that the stationary train was being driven manually while the one that hit it was under system control. That seems to be a mix that ought not be allowed.
Alberta sees LRT, not HSR, as provincial priority
Light rail transit expansion for Calgary and Edmonton trumps provincial needs for high speed rail, according to Alberta provincial government officials, despite rising clamor for linking the two cities with intercity service. The stance follows the release Monday of a feasibility and ridership study, evaluating HSR service between the province’s two largest cities. “At this time, when we’re a little short of cash, show me the money. That’s what I would have to say because we’ve got a lot of other needs that will have to come first,” said Alberta Finance Minister Iris Evans.
source Railway Age Breaking News
There is not much more to add. And in fact the link does not provide much more detail. That is in stark contrast to the wealth of information provided by the full report of the passenger demand analysis for HST which I provided a link to. I think it would be a very good idea for some of the most frequent commenters to this blog actually take the time to read that report – and indeed make a practice of actually referring to the source of any story before launching into comment mode. Even when a report is in the public domain, if it is available on the web I will not reproduce much of it here, though I will, of course, selectively quote the bits I am commenting on. But that does not mean there is not a whole lot of other information available from the same source -and often that would actually obviate the need for the some of the questions and comments I have seen – but not replied to – recently.
“A little short of cash” is a bit hard to swallow – Alberta may not be in the middle of a boom any more but it is a lot better off than most places. Intercity High Speed Rail should also not be seen as a competitor for funds with urban light rail – the markets are quite different. If HSR is – as the proponents seem to be saying “of investment quality” there should be private sector funds for it. Not that I would allow that to make my mind up but then I am not the Alberta Finance Minister. And if I were I would be looking at the longer term public interest – not just the short term cash flow.