What Role Did Tracks Play In Santiago de Compostela Crash?

Jul 25th, 2013 | Posted by

The day after the horrific crash of a Spanish passenger train in Santiago de Compostela discussion is focusing on the speed the train was traveling as it entered the curve where it derailed, killing at least 80 people. One of the train’s operators under investigation, according to authorities in Galicia:

A spokeswoman for the Galicia supreme court said the driver, who was only slightly injured, was under investigation. He was named by local media as 52-year-old Francisco Jose Garzon, Reuters reported.

He has not been arrested, but was under a police guard at the hospital. It was expected he would be questioned on Friday by police, acting on instructions from the judge assigned to investigate the crash, who has access to the train’s data recording black box.

State train company Renfe said the driver was a 30-year veteran of the firm with more than a decade of train driving experience.

The AP analyzed the video of the crash and came up with the following estimates of the train’s speed at the time of the derailment:

Spanish officials said the speed limit on that section of track is 80 kilometers (50 miles) per hour.

An Associated Press estimate of the train’s speed at the moment of impact using the time stamp of the video and the estimated distance between two pylons gives a range of 144-192 kph (89-119 mph). Another estimate calculated on the basis of the typical distance between railroad ties gives a range of 156-182 kph (96-112 mph).

If that’s true, as it looks, then it is understandable why the operator is being looked at by Galician authorities for excessive speed. If the operator were responsible, then it would resemble the Chatsworth disaster from 2008, when a Metrolink train operator ran a red light and crashed head on into a freight train.

One of the outcomes of the Chatsworth crash was a Congressional mandate to instal positive train control on passenger rail lines across America. Such systems are now a central focus of the discussion regarding the Santiago de Compostela crash. Spanish newspaper El País focuses on that issue in an article (translation below via Migeru at European Tribune):

Alternating AVE segments with segments of conventional track or of lower specifications occurs at other points of the line. The Alvia train between Madrid and Ferrol, the fastest going through Santiago, travels on different tracks. Between Madrid and Olmedo (Valladolid) it takes advantage of the AVE track. Then, between Olmedo and Ourense it returns to a conventional track, waiting for the completion of the AVE works already underway. Finally, between Ourense and Ferrol it again joins the AVE line, which at the entrance to Santiago goes alongside the old track.
At that moment, the train must brake and when it reaches the tight bend where the accident took place it must leave it speed at barely 80km/h. The velocity drop at that point is very steep: form 200 km/h to 80 in a short time span.

The causes of the excessive speed are still not known. The line where the accient occurred is stil not within the ERTMS (European Rail Traffic Management System), a rail traffic mnagement system preventing a train from exceeding the established speed limit or disobey stop signals, very similar to the automatic alert systems already installed in many European countries. This system is the one deployed, for instance, on the Madrid-Barcelona AVE line in october 2011.

Why was this done? According to El País, it was done to limit purchase of right of way (translation below is mine):

At the entrance to Santiago, although the old route widened, the line loses some of the features of high speed. This was done, in part, to prevent expropriation in a remarkably urbanized area from being much greater than it already was.

In other words, that section of tracks had not yet been fully updated to AVE standards because of a desire to limit expansion of the existing right of way. Spanish higher speed trains often use a mix of dedicated high speed tracks and local shared tracks, as they do between Madrid and Santiago de Compostela.

We can anticipate where that discussion will go next regarding California, which is looking at a similar model on the Peninsula as well as in the Southern California area, at least in its initial phases. California HSR would use dedicated tracks between the Bay Area and SoCal metropolises, and then transition to shared conventional tracks to get to the final destination in downtown San Francisco and downtown Los Angeles.

All sections of track that California HSR uses will have positive train control of the kind that exists throughout much of Europe. The Peninsula is looking at installing CBOSS, which is not the same as ERTMS and may not be compatible with another ERTMS type system used elsewhere in the California system.

So we should expect at any moment to hear HSR opponents argue that the Santiago de Compostela crash shows that California HSR is a bad idea because it would run the same risks as the tracks in Spain. But such arguments don’t hold water.

Many European HSR systems use a similar model to that of Spain, where trains use dedicated tracks between cities and shared tracks within them, and do so without incident. We don’t yet know if there was a failure of design or of system operation in this crash. It may well have been a very tragic case of operator error. And California HSR will not operate exactly the same way as the Spanish rail system. There remains every reason to believe the California HSR system operating plan is safe.

At the same time, California should aim higher. The Blended Plan should be a short-term measure, not a long-term solution. The entire route from downtown SF to downtown LA should be as dedicated as possible for HSR service, using a single, ERTMS compatible standard. If additional money and right of way is needed, so be it. Safe and effective passenger rail operations must take precedence.

  1. Useless
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 21:26

    A complete dedicated HSR track from beginning to end is not financially feasible today and tomorrow, and the completion of the California HSR network as a blended system is a given.

    The California HSR project must live with this fact and do whatever it takes to make the rail travel safe in blended traffics over shared legacy tracks, by requiring stronger high-speed train cars, replacing Metrolink and Caltrain train cars with lighter EMUs, and implementing ERTMS across the entire length of the HSR network.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, now you really make no sense. The trains that carry lots of people are fine if they are light and UIC-compliant, but the trains that will carry less people need to be heavier, FRA-compliant dinosaurs?

    And please don’t say that the higher speed requires heavier trains for “safety”, because in a sudden deceleration from 200 mph to zero you’re equally splat, no matter whether the train had non-deformable end posts or not.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s not about saving everyone…it’s about saving the most people possible. The train is not always traveling at 200mph. By your logic there would be no safety construction at all because if you can’t save them all at max speed then why bother? That’s ridiculous.

    Useless Reply:

    @ John Nachtigall

    You have to understand that Peter’s trying to sell Shinkansen and its “PTC prevents all crashes” story here.

    Peter Reply:

    No, I’m saying your argument makes no sense.

    Peter Reply:

    Obviously it’s not about saving everyone. I was pointing out that Useless’ argument, advocating for UIC-like standards for commuter trains but higher standards for HSR trains makes no sense.

  2. synonymouse
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 21:35

    As far as operator error goes you cannot reduce that with the government operation model, which automatically means militant house unions, the 13 undocumented no-show bunch. It is next to impossible to fire anybody at Muni and I would guess BART is about the same.

    In fact you could argue that driverless is safest as there is no one in the cab to try to disable the automatic controls, whether it be to go faster, or to attempt to sabotage out of suicidal or jihadist tendencies. Try to get driverless or private operation past the machine pols who are being paid off by the unions. It is AmBART with bloated payroll and featherbedded all the way. Perennial subsidies. You know BART is going to try to get the money for Amalgamated’s juicy raise from MTC and the State.

    If you want to eliminate a curve without destroying the village mine a blinking tunnel. You don’t need scorched earth PB-style nor elevateds. Can you imagine the body count if this had been on an aerial.

    We’ll see what the investigation finds. Could be, as one poster on the Altamont site suggested, the propulsion motors were locked fully on, for whatever cause, and the brakes were no match whatsoever.

    TomW Reply:

    “As far as operator error goes you cannot reduce that with the government operation model, which automatically means militant house unions”

    France’s railways are government-operated, and they haven’t had a single fatality on their high-speed lines. The TGV lines have a system that prevents operator error.

    The UK steadily reduced operator error in the years of government ownership through things like AWS. The infrastructure is still government-owned, and additional measures have been in place (since train operations were privitised) that have further reduced the risks from operator error (TPWS being the main one).

    “driverless is safest as there is no one in the cab to try to disable the automatic controls”. There’s also no-one to *stop* the train because something’s wrong (e.g. vehicles on the track…). You let the system dictate the *maximum* speed, and allow the driver to go slower if unsual circumstances warrant it.

    “If you want to eliminate a curve without destroying the village mine a blinking tunnel”… or you could keep the curve, slowing trains down and adding a few minutes of travel time. That would save money.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There appears to be an official presumption of guilt on the part of the driver:


    “He added that Mr Garzon could not yet testify because of his medical condition.”

    It seems strange that the engineer has not tried to defend or explain himself straightaway. You have to wonder if he is not co-operating and maybe there was intent. All reports indicate he was only slightly injured.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I guessed right on this one. Operator won’t talk:


  3. Richard Mlynarik
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 22:02


    Take a break. Stop posting for a bit.

    William Reply:

    Perhaps you should stop responding first?

    Tony D. Reply:

    RM, you don’t have to be an a$$hole everyday of your life you know…

    Alan Reply:

    Yes, he does. It’s all he knows.

    n bluth Reply:

    I’m honestly curious Richard: are you as caustic in real life as you are on this blog?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You all are engaging the troll, violating the first law of troll-dom

  4. Paul Druce
    Jul 25th, 2013 at 23:05

    Never thought it possible to try and wave the bloody red flag for CAHSR. Rather a low moment for this blog.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Personally I read it as waving the bloody red flag for bagging CBOSS and ensuring that there’s better signaling on commuter lines shared with HSR.

  5. William
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 00:48

    If over-speed proved to be the cause of the crash, then we must find out if any ATC systems are in-place at that section of track, or that the reaction time of the ATC to reduce the speed of the train is not quick enough, or that ATC system or part of it is broken at the time.

    I don’t think anyone can argue that running HSR on tracks sharing with local, low-speed trains is safer than running on dedicate HSR tracks. On any systems, one don’t purposely create complex situations, since the more complex the environment is, the more chance glitches will happen. So I’ll continue to argue that any-track-any-platform is not a good idea if it is not operational required, and argue for dedicate HSR platforms.

    TomW Reply:

    The question is whether the lower risk from dedicated HSR tracks outweighs the higher cost of construction. Mixing trains of different speeds only slightly increases the risk of collisions… and most of that risk will be near stations where speeds are low, and consequences less severe.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So I’ll continue to argue that any-track-any-platform is not a good idea if it is not operational required, and argue for dedicate HSR platforms.


    Let me verify that I’m following your logic:

    Phase 1. Collect underpants
    Phase 2. ?
    Phase 3. Profit

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t think anyone can argue that running HSR on tracks sharing with local, low-speed trains is safer than running on dedicate HSR tracks.

    Right, because all low-speed trains crash and all low-speed trains have signaling systems that don’t provide automatic train protection?

    William Reply:

    I am saying that any ATC is “more likely” to experience glitch that may lead to accidents in a complex environment, such as on tracks that’s shared between high and lower speed trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I am saying that any ATC is “more likely” to experience glitch that may lead to accidents in a complex environment, such as on tracks that’s shared between high and lower speed trains.

    Yeah, that’s completely wrong. How come all those accidents are not on lines equipped with ERTMS, D-ATC, etc.?

    William Reply:

    Has it been confirmed that the Spanish accident doesn’t involve ERTMS equipped tracks?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The end of ERTMS/ETCS is at PK 80.149, with non-ETCS signals E7 and E9 at PK 80.619
    The essential features of the line are diagrammed in
    http://s13.postimg.org/7tc2sezrb/LAV_OU_SC_1.png and
    the latter being most relevant.
    (“N1” is ETCS Level 1. “N0” is Level 0, meaning ASFA on this line.)
    You can see this location about 29m50sinto http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QvvvL3OTtXk if you’d care to take a cab ride.

    The 80kmh speed restriction (a 300m radius curve, and the site of the derailment) is at PK 84.230, 4km beyond ETCS/ERTMS territory. About 31m40s into the cab ride video.

    The legacy ASFA signalling system, which does not provide speed supervision, is in place on the entire line, with ETCS-1 overlaid on the middle 70km high speed section, but not at stations or their lower speed approaches.

    It’s not clear to me if the train involved in the accident (class 730) operated under ETCS/ERTMS in the ETCS-signalled section or not, but there is no question that it was under manual control in the last 4km of its journey.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Train not under ETCS/ERTMS supervision amywhere between Ourenese and Santiago de Compostela.
    ASFA Digital only.

    ¿Cuál es el sistema de seguridad del Alvia Madrid-Ferrol?

    Hasta Olmedo (Valladolid) está activado el sistema ERTMS. A partir de ahí, funciona el ASFA. Hay un tramo de 80 kilómetros entre Ourense y Santiago donde está instalado el ERTMS. A pesar de ello, RENFE no ha homologado el sistema para el Alvia en ese tramo, según confirman desde ADIF pese a que los trenes Avant de media distancia que circulan por esa misma línea sí lo utilizan. RENFE, requerido por este periódico, no aclaró ayer por qué un año y un mes después de que los Alvia híbridos comenzasen a circular por allí aún no cuentan con esa seguridad. Tampoco confirmó si los trenes Avant sí tienen operativo el sistema. En todo caso, y a pesar de que el Alvia podría alcanzar los 220 kilómetros por hora en parte del tramo Ourense-Santiago, como va vigilado por ASFA no puede hacerlo: el límite para cualquier tren que vaya controlado por este sistema son los 200.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard, thank you for this link. Even with my fractured Spanish this was a fairly clear read and does indicate precisely what you have said.

    It would appear that under AFSA you have to exceed 200km/hr to activate the automatic braking and that it was essentially all up to the engineer to brake properly. One report says he did try to brake. I suspect, with total lack of proof, that operators were routinely taking liberties at this juncture, but this time something went terribly wrong with the practice.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    We may know more when the locomotive data recorder examination results become public. If they are using Bombardier standard equipment, the relevant information would be recorded.

    William Reply:

    My whole point is: “Don’t purposely create a complex system if one don’t have to”

    thatbruce Reply:


    It should be “Don’t purposely use multiple systems if one doesn’t have to”.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    In other words, “everybody in any way whatsoever involved in CBOSS — advocating, funding, profiting from, etc — needs to put put up against a wall and shot.”

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds rather harsh, unless ones a bagger, that could be construed as an unlawful attempt at a coup against the lawful CA State Government and good enough for charges to be filed and arrests to be made… I’d withdraw that disgrace of a statement… If I read your statement correctly Richard…

    Joey Reply:

    You don’t get jailed for making nonspecific threats against public officials on the internet (justified or not). Though we’re not far off from that…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Only Democracy in the Middle East ™ is already there. A retired engineer who publicly accused the military procurement heads of corruption regarding which rocket defense system to buy is facing 6 months for insulting a public official.

    Joey Reply:

    Systems vastly more complex than California will every see exist all around the world today, and the software and hardware to manage them safely has been in existence for decades.

    Joey Reply:

    Do you have a few billion dollars laying around? Because that’s the cost of dedicated HSR platforms at San Jose and Millbrae. You also eliminate the possibility of useful cross-platform transfers, and doom half of all CalTrain riders to be marooned at Mission Bay.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No, the cost is not a few billion dollars, not if one exercises some thought, and is prepared to cross existing agency “turf lines”. Millbrae BART station cost what, $100m?

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, you can get 4 tracks at Millbrae without the tunnel if you take one BART track. What about San Jose, where the plan for dedicated HSR tracks includes a viaduct all the way from Santa Clara to Tamien, including the “iconic bridge” over the I-280/SR-87 interchange?

    What about TAKT-style CalTrain overtakes, which improve service for everyone and simplify service patterns?

    What about the need for duplicate tunneling from Bayshore to Mission Bay? What about the sizable cost of four-tracking the DTX? What about being able to dynamically allocate capacity at Transbay in case 4 HSR + 2 CalTrain tracks proves to be not the optimal solution or being able to reassign platforms in the event of a service disruption which would otherwise cause cascading delays?

    Joey Reply:

    Also, why is a commuter train colliding with a commuter train at low speed any better than a commuter train colliding with an HSR train at low speed?

    William Reply:

    @Joey, I am not arguing for “not installing” ATC systems, just that in a system that HSR and local trains almost never share tracks, ATC systems for both systems would be simpler, thus less prone to failure.

    Joey Reply:

    How would it be simpler? You still have trains running on tracks and you need to keep them from colliding. You have fewer trains on each track, but the price of full four tracking (and some six tracking if you still want CalTrain overtakes) is not justified when the alternative is a readily available, off-the-shelf, well-tested PTC system.

  6. Reedman
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 09:50

    If the Spain train had been on a dedicated HSR track with the same radius turn and the same apparent overspeed, but an elevated HSR track, the situation would have been worse. The China crash was on elevated track, and four cars fell.

    Joey Reply:

    If it had been dedicated HSR track, ERTMS would have prevented the overspeed.

  7. Useless
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 10:16

    Spain’s fatal crash jeopardizes Renfe bid for US$16bn Rio-São Paulo bullet train

    By Daniel Bland – Thursday, July 25, 2013

    The fatal train crash that occurred Wednesday (Jul 24) in northwestern Spain will likely disqualify Spanish state-owned railway operator Renfe from competing in Brazil’s upcoming 35.6bn-real (US$15.9bn) Rio-São Paulo-Campinas bullet train tender.

    “All bidders must submit a document stating that they have not participated in a highspeed train project which has recorded a fatal accident in the past five years, which resulted from faulty operation of the train system,” the tender documents published by national ground transport agency ANTT read.


    Useless Reply:

    So bye bye RENFE, Talgo, and Bombardier from the Brazilian HSR tender.

    nick Reply:

    Depends what is defined by “faulty operation” of the train system though and that hasn’t been determined yet. If it is driver error presumably the disqualification might apply. It does seem astonishing in hindsight that there could be such a step change in speed limits i.e down to 80 kph over a very short stretch – a bit like many us highway interchanges with short on ramps and sharply curved off ramps.It is equally frightening that there didnt appear to be any kind of failsafe to prevent such a horrendous tragedy. At first I thought that was why there was a second driver. I also understand that these trains of swappable guage bogies and wondered if these had any bearing. Or brake failure. Whatever the cause is due to the train was obviously going far far too quickly

    Useless Reply:

    @ Nick

    There should have been an automatic speed control system functioning when that accident happened. So yes, the “faulty operation of the train system” does apply in this case, because safety planning is a part of the train system too and RENFE failed in that regards.

    thatbruce Reply:


    There should have been an automatic speed control system functioning when that accident happened.

    Yes, there should have been.

    But, is the automatic speed control system being pushed by RENFE in their Brazil HSR bid the same automatic speed control system that the train was using at the time of the crash? These trains transition between the newer ETCS/ETRMS (likely included in the Brazil bid) and AFAS (older and several previous incidents have occurred with non-HSR trains using this and similar systems, and likely not included in the Brazil bid), and commentators think that it was under the latter system when the accident occurred.

    synonymouse Reply:

    OPB says that train control was at “ETCS level 1”:


    thatbruce Reply:


    Some put into the Wikipedia article that it was on the older non-ETCS system:

    The bend where the accident happened is the first curve reached by a Santiago-bound high-speed train coming from Ourense after an 80-kilometre (50 mi) stretch of high-speed track which is limited to 200 km/h (124 mph). The high-speed track has ERTMS-compliant signalling, but the bend is an upgraded conventional track shared with low-speed trains, and only has the older ASFA signalling system.

    I’m not sure who is correct.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Me neither but I would surely trust a trade journal way before the media. In any event deceleration would have to be initiated before the curve, viz. in the ETCS segment.

    The engineer is another work in progress – he may be scared and holding out for a lawyer or a union rep. You have to ask where he would acquire the knowledge to de-activate the failsafes.

    And then the weird derailment and one car shot way up onto the top of the bank. Also notice the graffiti on the embankment walls. Definitely not a secure area.

    French TV devoted much of their broadcast to the disaster last nite. Try France 2 jt 20 heures for Thursday. Their inhouse rr consultant stressed jacobs bogies could have worked out a lot better.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s stupid to be “discussing” this here.

    http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?t=707928 (including full information about the ERTMS/ASFA signalling changeover location)

    wdobner Reply:

    Spanish ERTMS installations have to this point been confined to the Barcelona-Madrid-Seville AVE corridor. While the HSL the train was transitioning from was designed for 350km/h operation, it is currently only being used at speeds up to 200km/h, and AFSA is instead being utilized to provide protection. When the line was connected to the AVE network it was due for an upgrade, including ERTMS. I’d be willing to bet that upgrade comes a bit earlier.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Wrong, as always.

    wdobner Reply:

    It would appear some updating of the Wikipedia and Ferropedia articles is in order.

    nick Reply:

    If the equipment hasn’t been provided then it can’t be described as faulty though. If what is said above about the section of line not being with the ERTMS covered area is true, then you can;t say that the non existent ERTMS equipment was faulty. Surely an new dedicated hsr such as that to be built in Brazil will have the latest system anyway. If a car lost control because it was built before abs etc was available or even optional, then you couldn’t argue that the abs was faulty.

    Useless Reply:

    @ nick

    When a country new to high speed rail runs a HSR bidding contest, that country is asking for not just the railway equipment, but also the planning, operations, and maintenance expertise; this is why this kind of bidding is a package deal involving both the railway equipment vendors AND
    railway operators; the railway equipment vendor supplies the hardware while the railway operator supplies the expertise to create and run the system.

    Since RENFE failed to install its own railway tracks a critical piece of safety hardware that is essential in safe operation of bullet trains, then RENFE is no longer qualified to provide the expertise that Brazil needs to plan, build, and operate a safe and efficient HSR network.

    Now moving to the California HSR system, California needs a railway operator that has built and run a blended mixed traffic system without fatal accidents for years, because the blended mixed traffic system is what California has. That would mean now there are just three qualified bidders from France, Germany, and Korea.

    thatbruce Reply:


    There’s an important difference between ‘failed to install’ and ‘failed to ensure that it could not be overridden’.


    then RENFE is no longer qualified

    which doesn’t rule out Talgo and Bombardier as equipment providers should one of the other bids happen to use them (I haven’t looked at whose bidding with what in Brazil).

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Useless

    This disaster will have domestic political consequences. Alstom-SNCF back in the picture would surely piss off PB-BART-Bombardier, Moonbeam and his Tejon Ranch Co pals. I am proceeding on the assumtion Brown whacked Van Ark.l Would that the Sperminator were still in office. Brown is out of it.

    The wreck’s legacy will tend to slow the juggernaut – it could stiffen up the judge in Kopp’s litigation and make him more deliberate and regulatory-minded.

    synonymouse Reply:

    sobering legacy

    Useless Reply:

    That would appear to disqualify Renfe, according to the newspaper.

    The rule — which applies only if an accident is due to “operational causes” — has already disqualified China’s Communications Company Limited from the running due to an accident in June 2011 that killed 33 people.

    The private and public Spanish companies that make up the consortium in the running for the contract have been reluctant to speak publicly about the impact of the accident on their bid.

    But several unnamed sources close to the consortium, which includes Renfe and Spanish rail network administrator Adif, told Spanish business daily El Economista that they felt the contract was “lost”.


    Eric Reply:

    Good. Seems to me the free market is the best way of handling this. There is real accountability for the companies involved, and if the government goes too far in its requirements, it will find itself without any bidders.

    VBobier Reply:

    Accountability? To whom? The citizens of the state or counties that are in the USA? Or to CEO’s who are only accountable to a Board of directors, which in the case of NEWS Corp is not accountable at all to anyone short of the CEO. Or to the BANKS that feel they can foreclose on anyone, since the Banks almost rival Government in size and power, even those who they don’t have a mortgage with and then get away with it?

    CEO’s aren’t elected by citizens, their dictators, unless a Board of Directors says otherwise and has the power to countermand what a CEO demands…

    Or the Government of the People, by the People and for the People of the United States of America, it’s citizens that is?

  8. nick
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 10:33

    sorry “might NOT apply”

  9. Keith Saggers
    Jul 26th, 2013 at 16:42

    Positive Train Control (Moorpark to San Onofre)d Track & Signal work.
    $201.60 million Intercity Rail Capital Projects
    This money is allocated in the California State Rail Plan
    In current traffic Google shows 112 miles in 3 hours driving for this journey

    Joey Reply:

    Another PTC system which the HSR trainsets will have to be fitted with?

    Brian Reply:

    Nope, no track sharing north of La Union Station. Any track sharing south of LA would be on new shared track not built yet.

    Joey Reply:

    Either the HSR trainsets need a second third PTC system or the Surfliner/Metrolink trains need a second.

    Joey Reply:

    And the strikethrough failed to show up.

    thatbruce Reply:


    LAUS to Fullerton is new shared track. Fullerton to Irvine would be shared HSR/Metrolink on existing track.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    thatbruce and Brian, all pure conjecture considering the time frame. All of this is at least 2 decades away, if it ever happens. That’s 10 more “business plans” away, plenty of time for the whole game to change.

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Jul 27th, 2013 at 10:42

    Came across this, which might be of interest for historical perspective–Gulf Curve wreck at Little Falls, N.Y. in 1940 on the NYC, with 30 fatalities; wreck caused by overspeed and slack action from a brake application, resulting in derailment and the train hitting a wall. The resulting impact caused a rupture in the steam locomotive’s boiler, adding an explosion to the derailment.


    Alon Levy Reply:

    Off-off topic: didn’t that section have 8″ superelevation on curves, subsequently reduced to prevent derailments?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I honestly don’t know. It could have had high superelevation back in steam days, and may well have been reduced because of potential problems with stopped trains, but that would all have been prior to the late 1940s, when that stretch was rebuilt to remove the speed restriction. Post rebuilding, the speed limit was the standard of 80 mph for the whole line, which had been Central’s overall speed limit since at least the late 1930s, even with automatic train stop.

    One thing that was notable at the time was that the railroad paid its own money to take out this speed restriction (and the safety hazard that it demonstrated itself to be)–and then the tax department of New York socked them with a nice new tax bill for “improvements” to their property. Another example of how things have been stacked against railroads for years; almost makes you sympathetic for the sometimes cranky attitude some rail executives have toward the public–almost.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s the way property taxes work. Make your property worth more the taxes go up.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Yeah, except for that double standard again. Highways and airports don’t pay property taxes, they take property off the tax rolls!

  11. Beth Perrill
    Jul 29th, 2013 at 16:27

    I want to ask Robert Cruickshank if I could have permission to reprint portions of What Role Did Tracks Play In Santiago de Compostela Crash? in a newsletter?

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