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Transportation

Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia 160

An anonymous reader writes: An Amtrak train has derailed in Philadelphia, injuring at least 50 of the roughly 240 people on board. The train was on its way from Washington D.C. to New York City when it derailed around 9:20pm local time. Former congressman Patrick Murphy, who was aboard the train, said, "It wobbled at first and then went off the tracks. There were some pretty banged-up people. One guy next to me was passed out. We kicked out the window in the top of the train car and helped get everyone out."
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Amtrak Train Derails In Philadelphia

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  • by koan ( 80826 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2015 @10:22PM (#49678665)

    Any word on whether or not America will ever upgrade (and repair) it's rail lines?

    • Re:Bummer (Score:5, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 12, 2015 @10:26PM (#49678677)
      Sure. Right after we fix your grammar.
      • Wisconsin's upgrading rail. One of the main drivers is demand for fracking sand. Since Amtrak runs on mostly freight rails, you need to improve the case for freight to get better passenger service.
        http://www.jsonline.com/busine... [jsonline.com]

        • further, rail is private infrastructure. BNSF, UP, CSX, KS, and the others can upgrade their stuff when they feel like it.

          • The tracks for the Northeast Corridor and Acela trains are predominantly owned by either Amtrak or the regional transit agencies such as MBTA or SEPTA. Almost none of this critical section of track is privately owned.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      America has the most rail of any country. More then the runner ups of both China and India, combined [wikipedia.org]. It may not be the most sophisticated per mile, but good luck upgrading all of it.

      • Oh no, there you go. Pointing out that the US doesn't fit the pattern of all those small European countries, or even large, more populous Asian countries.

        • So the adoption of policies appropriate to Europe FOR THAT AREA of the USA is entirely appropriate. The failure to learn those lessons, and instead to insist on spraying AMTRAK money across totally useless routes as pork for congress rats, is an example of the problems of US democracy.
          • You don't understand how national transportation systems work, apparently. And as much as I wish Congress would eliminate pork, I doubt if Amtrak was the only train running on that section of tracks.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      How many deaths will it take before we as a country demand proper upkeep and upgrade of infrastructure. We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. Power, transportation, communication (telegram, phone, internet), water projects, and etc. Is sad how things have gone downhill so badly.

      • How many deaths will it take before we as a country demand proper upkeep and upgrade of infrastructure.

        Zero died in this incident, and it isn't clear that "bad infrastructure" even played a role.

        • Zero died in this incident,

          If you can't get that part right it doesn't speak much for any of the other things you say.

          • by jythie ( 914043 )
            To be fair, this is a rapidly updating story with various reports having between 0 and 6 deaths depending on when they were written, at least as of this comment.
    • See, the airlines base their regional rates around Amtrak rates. So without Amtrak (or one with fewer hooks into local transportation), the airlines can screw over their customers that much more. The airlines aren't the only ones who'd love to see Amtrak disappear either. Big oil and their lackeys the car manufacturers all would love to see rail transportation disappear completely. They can't touch freight because that's private, but Amtrak is Federal which means it's easier to neuter.

      I haven't seen any ind

      • Light rail and Amtrak are two totally different things. Don't conflate them.

        Light rail is extremely expensive per mile and of dubious usefulness since it usually doesn't happen to be going the way you need to go. It's an alternative to car-commuting or buses, but doesn't have the flexibility of bus routes and certainly not the convenience of cars. But it doesn't take you far, only within your city.

        Amtrak is for inter-city and regional travel. (You can also take it cross-country, but that takes days and

      • > Big oil and their lackeys the car manufacturers all would love
        > to see rail transportation disappear completely.

        Assuming "Big oil" or "the car manufacturers" even noticed the impact passenger rail has on their bottom lines (read: statistically, none at all), it's still a pretty big reach to argue that the amount is even big enough to justify paying the salary of a single lobbyist or two.

        Remember, outside the northeast, American trains are almost universally DIESEL. And Bombardier's non-electric Acel

    • by cusco ( 717999 )

      I'm just wondering how anyone noticed. It's Philly, most of the area looks like a train wreck . . .

  • by antiperimetaparalogo ( 4091871 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2015 @10:29PM (#49678691)
    I just (2-3 minutes ago) watched it in the morning news - IN A GREECE TV STATION!

    2 thoughts:

    The world is so small nowadays.

    Why is this on Slashdot...!?

    • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2015 @10:41PM (#49678735)

      Why is this on Slashdot...!?

      Because some people who read slashdot also take the train

      Because technology failures are interesting to technology people

      Because intrastructure issues are important to the economy that employs slashdot readers

      • it is new news, i think he is wondering why its on slashdot as fast as it is. usually we could expect this news 5 days from now!
        • You know what? This derailment happened on the busiest passenger railroad line on the whole planet. Many many people will be affected all over the world when these commuters do not arrive at work on time tomorrow. The world still revolves around NYC. This is big news for the business world.

          • This derailment happened on the busiest passenger railroad line on the whole planet.

            I have ridden on this line from NYC to DC. I have also ridden on the Yamanote Line in Tokyo. There is absolutely no way that this Amtrak line is the world's busiest.

            • There is absolutely no way that this Amtrak line is the world's busiest.

              What you were not paying attention to, is that those rails are not just used by Amtrak. They are also used by SEPTA and New Jersey Transit. Both of these agencies run a lot more trains on these tracks than Amtrak. Between the three of them this is the highest capacity passenger rail in the world.

              • by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Wednesday May 13, 2015 @01:10AM (#49679293)

                Between the three of them this is the highest capacity passenger rail in the world.

                No way. The Yamanote line carries more than 3 million people on a typical day. During rush hour, a train arrives every three minutes. This Amtrak line is no where close to that. This train was carrying 258 people. The Japanese pack that many people into a single compartment.

                • Between the three of them this is the highest capacity passenger rail in the world.

                  No way. The Yamanote line carries more than 3 million people on a typical day.

                  The two train stations in NYC handle over 2 million people on a typical day. They are two of the busiest train stations in the world and they are just a few blocks apart. One million people walk through the main hall at grand central terminal, twice a day. I don't have current stats on how many people ride on the rails in question but it is probably well over a million people a day. This is not some stupid podunk railroad, this is major US infrastructure that is currently down.

                  • by dave420 ( 699308 )
                    You should probably look up those numbers if they're the very crux of your argument. To not do so makes you look rather disturbed.
                  • "One million people walk through the main hall at grand central terminal, twice a day. "

                    None of whom are there to get on a train toward Philadelphia and Washington.

      • Why is this on Slashdot...!?

        Because some people who read slashdot also take the train

        Because technology failures are interesting to technology people

        Because intrastructure issues are important to the economy that employs slashdot readers

        I could accept the later two (even if an accident just happened, without any details of a technical nature, is not a good enough reason to discuss technology/infrastructure issues) - BUT "Because some people who read slashdot also take the train"?

        Should i report about Athens' trafic and weather, just in case?

        • This is the busiest passenger rail on the whole planet.

          This shuts down amtrak and also regional commuter rail.

          Lots and lots of people are going to be late for work tomorrow.

          These are not just any people, they are the ones who pay big money to ride the commuter train (usually over $300/month) so many companies will probably be running very short-handed in the management department tomorrow.

      • Someone mod parent up..!
      • by antdude ( 79039 )

        Dr. Sheldon Cooper and many others take the trains too! :D

    • by jythie ( 914043 )
      Since it is Amtrak it touches on the deep divide within the nerd community regarding mass transit, which ties heavily into cultural disputes, economic philosophy, and masculine identity. So it crosses on some rather touchy topics.
    • You only mentioned you were Greek three times, so I think you got away with it.
    • wait, greece still has TV's?

      also, i hope their commentary goes something along the lines of, "this tragedy occurred on an actual functioning, profit-neutral rail line" because, you know, greeks probably have never encountered that scenario.

      http://www.bbc.com/news/magazi... [bbc.com]

  • by FranTaylor ( 164577 ) on Tuesday May 12, 2015 @10:47PM (#49678759)

    Nobody ever said that we should upgrade every single mile of railroad in this country and nobody ever said that we should offer high speed rail service to rural Wyoming, but that won't stop people from telling us why it's hopeless to upgrade our rail system.

    • I say that we should upgrade every single mile of railroad! I also demand that every town that has a paved road should also get high-speed maglev.
    • we should offer high speed rail service to rural Wyoming

      Then again...that would sure speed up getting tourists to Yellowstone.

  • California is on pace to spent 2 trillion dollars on creating a new high speed rail like (between 80 mph and 400 mph). Too bad rail safety isn't what it needs to be.

    • Too bad rail safety isn't what it needs to be.

      Yeah if it were only safer than every other mode of transportation.

      Oh wait, it is.

  • If you look at this amtrak passenger coach [vistadome.com], its height seems to be above 20 feet. When something this tall, riding on narrow rails, takes a high speed turn, it's bound to overturn and derail due to high center of gravity. Why don't they make much shorter coaches to reduce the CoG? That might eliminate most of these crashes.

    • Because people don't want to crawl around in 5-foot-high passenger compartments, that's why.

      The coach has to be that high off the ground because of the height of the wheels.

      One problem in my view is definitely the narrow width (4'8.5") of the rails, which of course we can thank the Romans for (train rails are that width so that two Roman war horses can fit between them and pull a chariot that isn't any wider than their two butts). If they made the rails wider, trains would be more stable in turns. However

    • by dj245 ( 732906 )

      If you look at this amtrak passenger coach [vistadome.com], its height seems to be above 20 feet. When something this tall, riding on narrow rails, takes a high speed turn, it's bound to overturn and derail due to high center of gravity. Why don't they make much shorter coaches to reduce the CoG? That might eliminate most of these crashes.

      That's a special parlour car, which seems to be extra high compared to most passenger coaches in the USA. The standard is the Amfleet I and Amfleet II passenger cars, which are all 12ft, 8 inches tall with a CG of 60.4 inches. [jbartus.com]

    • That's kinda irrelevant in this case. The crash that just happened happened on the NEC, a stretch of track from DC to Boston that has tighter clearances than most of the rest of the US, in part because the rest of the US was kind of developed haphazardly.

      On the NEC, passenger trains have a maximum height from top of rail to top of car of 14.5 feet. The maximum width is 10.5 feet, but that's usually the case elsewhere too. 14.5 feet isn't excessively high, I believe similar heights are used throughout Eur

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