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Old 02-25-2010, 07:42 AM   #76
glatt
 
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The NTSB is holding hearings this week. The first day of hearings provided no new information. Yesterday did provide some very interesting information that I hadn't heard before.

Alstom, the maker of the sensor that mysteriously failed to sense a train, causing the Metro train crash last June, is blaming Metro for using 3rd party hardware in the circuit. They mixed brand new 3rd party hardware with a 40 year old circuit and didn't give the technicians installing the new hardware instructions on how to do it correctly.

Quote:
The Metro engineer, Johann Glansdorp, "was told Alstom would not consent with the mixing of equipment," said Illenberg, the lead Alstom representative for the investigation. During the overnight shift June 16, Metro replaced the component as part of an upgrade of its aging track system.

Illenberg said the specific risk associated with using non-Alstom equipment is that it would require boosting the power level of the device. That, in turn, could increase the potential for a signal malfunction that could prevent the system from detecting a train on the tracks, causing a crash, according to industry sources.
tw is right, it is Metro management's fault.

Quote:
In interviews with federal investigators, Metro technicians who worked on the portion of track involved in the accident before the crash said the installation of equipment by Union Switch & Signal caused speed and power problems because it did not properly match the existing equipment, much of which they noted was 40 years old. "That's obviously mismatched," said Thomas Barcheski, a 21-year veteran of Metro at the time of the crash, according to a transcript of his interview.

Barcheski said he had asked superiors for new procedures for testing and handling the equipment but was told that there were none and that no training on it was provided by Metro. "We're not given anything," Barcheski, an automatic train control mechanic, said in his interview.

Metro officials testified Tuesday that information about new testing requirements was in the 2006 bulletin. But Alan Nabb, a senior Metro official, testified Wednesday that distribution of the bulletin to Metro's 190 technicians was "probably uneven."

Barcheski told investigators that he was not aware of those testing requirements. Moreover, employees said they were frustrated at their inability to fix problems linked to the new gear and were discouraged about trying to get the construction crews that installed the devices to return to adjust them.

"It fell on deaf ears most of the time," said Bruce Weibel, an automatic-train-control mechanic.
This information is finally coming out. So they know it's a problem with electronic hardware compatibility, but they still haven't fixed it. I know because the trains are still being driven by humans. The derailment less than two weeks ago was caused by driver error, as pointed out by tw above. The human drivers are now causing accidents. It's time they fix the circuits and get the trains back to computer control again.
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Old 02-25-2010, 09:24 AM   #77
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The cynic in me says they deliberately won't be fixing the circuits until the whole investigation and final rulings are done, because to do so would be admitting that that was the problem in the first place.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:00 PM   #78
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Originally Posted by Clodfobble View Post
The cynic in me says they deliberately won't be fixing the circuits until the whole investigation and final rulings are done, ...
I also integrated late 1950 electronic technology into 1980s equipment. It's not hard or difficult. It does not create reliability failures. Electricity never changed. But it requires an engineer (or other patriotic American) to have proper information (ie all tech specs) AND for management to understand significance of technical facts so that management can provide the necessary "attitude and knowledge". What did change?
Quote:
Alstom warned against mixing components across all train control systems.
That says near zero - by itself is literally insulting to all readers. But then something cryptic follows about power mismatches. Ok. Reporter is not doing her job. Posting hearsay rather than numbers. Good reporters, at a minimum demand and then quote numbers even if she does not understand them.

However the reporter did include what any 15 year old would understand:
Quote:
Moreover, employees said they were frustrated at their inability to fix problems linked to the new gear and were discouraged about trying to get the construction crews that installed the devices to return to adjust them.

"It fell on deaf ears most of the time," said Bruce Weibel, an automatic-train-control mechanic.
Is that hearsay - subjective statements - more informative? No numbers means the reporter's information is almost insulting. But at least she provided something minimal.

The Alstom bi-phase data port can only output 10 milliamps. The Union Signal receiver requires 12 milliamps minimum. We don't know anything until we have those numbers. Then a significant minority learn from the 1% how simplistic this really is AND how much contempt management had by not knowing something that students in college physics labs measure. If responsible management was told this, then a responsible management would have shut down that entire region - replaced all signaling with emergency flagmen.

If those numbers were provided, then reporter’s other hearsay (subjective) quote has credibility. Any manager in Metro - even personal director - who could not understand significance in those numbers should be fired for not being sufficiently educated in basic management principles. Answers must always include the perspective of numbers. Without numbers, then perspective is easily replaced by emotion and wild speculation.

Demonstrated is the same problem in this discussion: Toyota stop sale.

Apparently we do not only have a serious Metro management problem. We also have an investigation committee or newspaper reporter with the same problem. Answers given without numbers should result in sharp condemnation. People died. Subjective citations simply insult even the victims. No numbers why the problem would not be fixed; requiring, if necessary, widespread and public condemnation.

There is sufficient evidence to indict management. The investigation committee’s job is to obtain facts – especially numbers – to convert an indictment into a scathing accusation. Doing any less would even insult victims of that crash. And should concern every Metro user.

How to have a solution. It starts with the reporters always including numbers. If a power mismatch exists, the reporter must include the appropriate numbers or a URL. Numbers must always exist to provide the necessary perspective. No numbers is how the "politically correct" get problems ignored.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:30 PM   #79
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Yeah. Well, the Post is a shell of its former self. I'm just glad they had a reporter at the hearing.
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Old 02-25-2010, 07:34 PM   #80
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Sounds like the same thing Toyota is trying to do with their electronics.
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Old 02-25-2010, 11:34 PM   #81
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
Yeah. Well, the Post is a shell of its former self.
Is it the Post that is degrading? Or is it a new breed of reporter taught to be a communication major and therefore does not understand how to ferret out the irrefutable fact?

I was amazed back at Watergate and again during "Mission Accomplished" how Bob Woodward routinely corralled facts. I was always amazed how David Habersham even identified an American defeat in Vietnam by viewing facts ... in 1963. And I routinely have contempt for the local 'Action News' or NBC Dateline who spend so much time with gossip or hype for ratings. I truly miss Ted Koppel.

Is it the Post that does not have talent? Or are so many communication majors do not learn what is necessary to have a fact? There are fundamental reasons why all military academies graduate everyone with engineering training. The military needs people who can analyze and extract the irrefutable fact.
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Originally Posted by TheMercenary View Post
Sounds like the same thing Toyota is trying to do with their electronics.
Demonstrated is the same problem in this discussion: Toyota stop sale .

Does Metro have severe problems? 40% of the deaths in America are all one that one transit system. Numbers are damning. By not providing numbers, someone is either hiding something. Or someones are simply not able to grasp fundamental and damning facts. Or a third possibility. The entire Metro management is being manipulated for a massive beheading. I doubt it. But that is also a possibility.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:21 AM   #82
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C'mon, tw. The reporter isn't cross examining these people, just reporting what is said in the hearings. It's up to the people holding the hearings to ask for details.
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Old 02-26-2010, 07:51 AM   #83
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The mother load of detailed public documents about this crash investigation is here at the NTSB site.

I was looking for a transcript of the hearings, but don't see one.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:13 AM   #84
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I found an official aerial map of the sight distances, similar to the one I whipped together in the days after the accident on Google Earth, looking for answers that nobody was providing.

So of course, I had to see how close I was in my armchair analysis.

I wrote that:

Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
If you go to Google Earth and look at the accident scene, you can measure from the point of impact back in a straight line until that straight line gets obstructed by something, and then you know how far away the driver should have been able to see the stopped train. When you do this, you will see that the accident happened at a curve, under a bridge, and the visibility was actually pretty bad. The driver, if she had been paying 100% attention to the track in front of her, would have first seen the corner of the stopped train when she was about 355 meters away. At that particular location, according to the Washington Post, the train speed limit is 59 miles per hour. A train traveling at 59 miles per hour will cover 355 meters in 13.5 second. She wouldn't have seen the full train until she was about 160 meters away or 6 seconds from impact.
According to the official map, drawn by people on the ground with survey equipment, the stopped train was partially visible at a distance of 1,118.2 feet (or 340.8 meters.) I said it was partially visible at 355 meters. The official report said the train was fully visible at a distance of 471.0 feet (or 143.5 meters.) I said it was fully visible at 160 meters.

I had been measuring from the position of the crashed trains, and it turns out the stopped train was pushed down the track about 3-4 meters by the impact, and I hadn't accounted for that. So my calculations were pretty damn close. Much closer than I expected.
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Last edited by glatt; 02-26-2010 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 08:26 AM   #85
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Cool.
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Old 02-26-2010, 12:40 PM   #86
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
C'mon, tw. The reporter isn't cross examining these people, just reporting what is said in the hearings. It's up to the people holding the hearings to ask for details.
Which was my question. Which one forgot to report the numbers?

Bottom line - the numbers were not provided and are absolutely necessary.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:03 PM   #87
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glatt View Post
The mother load of detailed public documents about this crash investigation is here at the NTSB site.
I was looking for a transcript of the hearings, but don't see one.
This document says why the failure happened.

Critical is something called bobbing. In simple terms, a transmitter at one end of two rails sends an audio signal to a receiver at the other end. Each interlock has its own frequency. If the receiver 'hears' the signal, then a relay closes. If anything appears on that track, the rails are 'shunted' together. No transmitter signal gets to the receiver. The relay opens. A train must be on that track when no signal is heard.

But the system has been defective (intermittent) for two years. Bobbing constantly. No useful solution implemented by identifying the problem. IOW repairs rarely identified a problem before 'fixing' it. They did what so many (probably a majority of) untrained A+ Computer Techs do. They just keep replacing parts until something worked.

And yes, this summary in Toyota stop sale applies. In both cases, we are talking about a logic one condition, a logic zero condition, and the always existing third state. The world is not binary. The world is ternary. That interlock system had noise that caused 'bobbing'. Caused constant failures (an intermittent failure is a complete failure).

In one case, while trying to fix bobbing on one track, suddenly bobbing was observed on an adjacent track. It is not clear if or why the adjacent track was also not fixed.

Other factors are discussed implying significance. The phone system was inoperable or unreliable even though conversations essential to human safety were reportedly conducted on that system. Rains had completely flooded phone and signalling wires days previous. But the reason for bobbing appears (may be) completely different. And something that no track maintenance people could possibly discover. They needed serious and better trained assistance. Instead they kept shotgunning.

A failure exists. So one keeps replacing parts until failures go away? Nonsense. Unfortunately so many never learn how to analyze before solving a problem. So they shotgun.

Bottom line: from what I understand, that entire section of track was completely unreliable for almost two years. At minimum, every engineer should have been trained to approach Fort Totten as if the system was always defective. We know this new (three month) engineer did what she was trained to do and what the signals told her to do - went through a blind curve at normal speed.

That report has numbers that the reporter should have been reporting. Bobbing was even reported via the remote data units (RDU) that receive that information every one second. But (apparently) no system existed to alarm on bobbing so that network operators could take immediate emergency action. Bobbing at the highest levels of management was considered all but normal operation. 85% of all problems are directly traceable to top management.

When bobbing occurs, transmitter power is changed (ie increased) in some desperate hope to solve the problem using the Tim Allen joke: "More Power!". Those new and 40 year old signalling devices are compatible. But require adjustments that are always done anyway on every track.

If the reporter was reading facts, she would not hype about mixing 40 year old equipment with new equipment. She would have read the report. Noted (by my definition of reliability) that entire section of signalling was completely defectve - intermittent. And that nobody had identified the problem. Just kept trying to fix it - for two years.

Shotgunning (except in a few instances) was the only repair technique. If your auto mechanic used shotgunning, he should be quickly unemployeed. And yet so many Americans so little learn how to analyze (solve) problems that shotgunning (especially in computer repair) is normal. It appears shotgunning was relavent for causing nine deaths. And it appears the reporter also did not identify the actual problem. Her report without the word 'bobbing' is woefully negligent.

Also discovered were supervisor errors:
Quote:
During postaccident interviews, TSSM, ATC mechanics working on the Red Line stated using PMI 11000 – High Frequency Track Circuits adjustments procedures for GRS modules. They further stated having no procedures to adjust or to verify track circuits when US&S impedance bonds were installed with GRS ATP modules. Neither the CIT crew leader nor the ATC mechanics interviewed mentioned the October 6, 2006 engineering bulletin during their interviews. The CIT supervisor mentioned he was aware of an engineering bulletin, but understood the engineering bulletin only applied to high current substation return impedance bonds and did not apply to regular impedance bonds.

WMATA provides form PM-1, Track Circuit Adjustment to record all track circuit adjustments and verifications performed under the PMI 11000 procedure. Column seven of the form is labeled Shunt Test and provides two columns to place a check to indicate if a shunt was used on the transmitter end and/or the receiver end of the track circuit. The form is contradictory to the October 2006, Engineering Bulletin since it does not provide the option to indicate if three shunts were used for track circuit shunt verification as specified in the bulletin.
IOW after upgrading the signalling system, they are suppose to duplicate a train (shunt the rails) at each end and somewhere in the middle. Employees were only doing what management told them. Management failed to provide the necessary 'attitude and knowledge'.
Quote:
Postaccident train control historical data were reviewed and indicate that at approximately 1:33 am on December 12, 2007 track circuit B2-304 was down. The data correspond to the date and time the high current substation return impedance bond at chain marker B2-311+71 was replaced. This is the B2-304 track circuit receive impedance bond. The data further indicate that about five hours later, track circuit B2-304 began bobbing between train movements. The bobbing continued intermittently until the day of the accident.
The crash was in 2009.
Quote:
Postaccident data from the morning of June 17, 2009 indicate track circuit B2-304 was performing irregularly during the time the track circuit adjustment and verification process was conducted. Because of the frequent bobbing of track circuit B2-304, the shunt verification tests could not be verified to confirm the CIT crew leader statements made in the postaccident interview. According to the postaccident data, the performance of track circuit B2-304 changed significantly just prior to the arrival of the first train. From the time the impedance bond was replaced, the track circuit was bobbing and the track relay was seldom energized for more than 30 seconds between drop outs. Nine minutes before the arrival of the first train, the track circuit began staying energized for minutes at a time and was only bobbing for a second or two. The data further indicate that train detection failed for the first and nearly every train during the entire occupancy of track circuit B2-304 after the impedance bond was replaced on June 17, 2009 until the time of the accident.
We should be discussing murder charges.

Last edited by tw; 02-26-2010 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 02-26-2010, 02:30 PM   #88
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How obvious was the problem?
Quote:
Postaccident inspection of the signal equipment in the train control room at the Fort Totten station identified the B2-304TR electromechanical vital relay for track circuit B2-304 to be out of correspondence with the physical location of the accident trains. The track relay was energized with both accident trains still shunting the occupied track circuit. After removal of the accident wreckage, track circuits in the vicinity of the collision were tested using a 0.06 ohm and a hardwire shunt. Track circuits B2-344, 336, 328, 322 and 312 were tested with a single 0.06 ohm shunt at three different locations, at the transmitter end, in the middle and at the receiver end of the track circuit. All track relays de-energized in response to the detection of each shunt. Track circuit B2-304was then tested and detected a 0.06 ohm shunt at the transmitter end of the circuit. The track circuit however failed to detect a 0.06 ohm or a hardwire shunt in the middle of the track circuit.
With two crashed trains on the track, the signalling hardware still reported the track empty. The reason for crash was immediately obvious to all Metro managment. Later tests showed signals would detect trains at both ends of the 738 foot track. But not in the middle.

The report then goes on to explain why maintenance people needed high tech help. But high tech assistance was not called. Instead, they just kept replacing parts on wild speculation - shotgunning.
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Old 02-26-2010, 03:09 PM   #89
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Originally Posted by tw View Post
That report has numbers that the reporter should have been reporting.
Nonsense, the normal newspaper reading public's eyes would just glaze over at the numbers in that report. They only want to read who is blaming whom for the failures. It's not up to them, or you, to figure out the technical details of what went wrong. That's the job of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, and the people they employ. I doubt the shiny shoed whores in the front office would understand the technical aspects of the system, or it's failures, but they are definitely obligated to create a culture that understands and responds to these numbers. They failed to do that, and are accountable.
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Old 02-26-2010, 05:52 PM   #90
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Originally Posted by xoxoxoBruce View Post
Nonsense, the normal newspaper reading public's eyes would just glaze over at the numbers in that report.
Which is why no reporter should have mentioned Challenger's O-rings or below freezing temperatures at launch. It just confuses Americans who are now that dumb.

The O'ring, in this case, is 'bobbing'. Bobbing is the damning fact ignored for days in this location. A problem ongoing throughout the day - and ignored. A similar even even discovered in another Tri-State Oversight board evaluation that the board accidently discovered in March 2009. Even the 'near victim' train operator was not aware of a failure. But we are all so dumb as to need our reporters to also keep us dumb.

Meanwhile glatt did the reporter's job. Kudos.

Only eyes that glaze over are those that love to be dumb and stupid. They don't have any business reading newspapers anyway. Maybe we should pass a law that if one is dumb and stupid, then he must not be permitted to buy a paper. That would solve everything.

We should be discussing murder charges for those nine deaths.
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