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Empire Builder hit by landslide

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I wonder if this will give BNSF an excuse to extend moratoriums from 48 to 72 hours. All jokes aside, something really needs to be done about this. Just wait until a hazardous material train gets dumped into the sound, then you will certainly see something done.

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Via Twitter: "Service between Seattle to Everett disrupted until 8:45AM-PT, Tuesday April 9 due to mudslide. Alternate transportation will be provided."

 

Meanwhile, June, the Cascades aren't having a good day either: "Amtrak Cascades@Amtrak_Cascades

Train 508 Portland to Seattle cancelled due to equipment issues. Alternate transportation will be provided."

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i know we have had several threads about the slides, especially south of everett. remind me again of why it seems only in the past few years it has been a major problem. the route of the eb has been along this stretch of puget sound since its inception by great northern. is it just careless bluff top development?

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i know we have had several threads about the slides, especially south of everett. remind me again of why it seems only in the past few years it has been a major problem. the route of the eb has been along this stretch of puget sound since its inception by great northern. is it just careless bluff top development?

 

You might really be on to something here. I've suspected careless bluff top development myself. Clear-cutting trees, in some cases for stupid views, can help cause slides. Shame on the jurisdictions who let homeowners do this in the first place. I feel for BNSF (and Amtrak and Sound Transit) all of whom will now lose another two days of service. I can only hope that this issue be FINALLY and DEFINITAVELY dealt with.

 

More sad-faced photos:

 

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/04/southbound-amtrak-train-derailed-near-everett/

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i know we have had several threads about the slides, especially south of everett. remind me again of why it seems only in the past few years it has been a major problem. the route of the eb has been along this stretch of puget sound since its inception by great northern. is it just careless bluff top development?

 

You might really be on to something here. I've suspected careless bluff top development myself. Clear-cutting trees, in some cases for stupid views, can help cause slides. Shame on the jurisdictions who let homeowners do this in the first place. I feel for BNSF (and Amtrak and Sound Transit) all of whom will now lose another two days of service. I can only hope that this issue be FINALLY and DEFINITAVELY dealt with.

 

More sad-faced photos:

 

http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/04/southbound-amtrak-train-derailed-near-everett/

Actually BNSF only loses a few hours, they clean it up and then put the trains through. Only passenger trains lose two days.

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From Facebook, not sure of the source:

 

 

The last three cars, two coaches and the diner, were detached from the rest of the train. The coach passengers detrained, and walked down the tracks to the sleepers where they boarded and rode to the Mukilteo Sounder stop and were put on buses with their luggage from the baggage car. The engines, bag, and three sleepers are OK. The derailed cars are awaiting a crane to lift them back on the tracks and then they will go to Seattle yard. It is too early to tell about future trains with this equipment.
I would imagine that tonight's #7 will short-loop in Spokane, as Everett is not really equipped to turn a Builder.
Cascades trains in the recent past have bused around the slide, by running empty past it. The buses go from SEA to EVR and back.

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From what I've read, there has been daily deluges of severe rainfall. (Footnote: Other exteme weather phenomena, like lastyears' warmest on record, is what fueled Sandy into a cyclone measuring 1,500 miles in diameter at it's largest. That's as big as either of east or west coasts tell me that Mother Earth is finally tiring of our sh**ing it for so long, whenever we please, in our air, oceans, and land). The planet is simply trying to clean the wounds we have placed into it.

 

Which leads to the second factor, some mentioned: home owners required and got a clearing of flood controling trees, for sake of better views and higher land values tied into those views, with an unexpected side effect. Loose so many trees (in other words, screw up Mother Earth again), and the land is not as resilient to absorbing the volume of water unleashed by the rains.

 

That anyone with a half a brain, the engineers who ok'd such tree clearing, the landowners who prostitute themselves to mortgage bankers in a systematic fashion that it endangers themselves and the lives who are on the rails below: either dynamite it and be done now, or let Mother Earth take her vengeance and go through the process slowly, as per Chinese water torture.

 

In the meantime BNSF should round up the homeowners who are on record for demaning the land be altered for ehancing their view, and force them to help shovel the mud off the right of way.

Edited by NE933

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From the Yahoo Empire Builder group:

 

 

The rest of the train, the Empire Builder from Chicago, continued toward Seattle. An Amtrak spokesman in Chicago said the passengers on the derailed cars were moved to other cars. They were being bused to Seattle from Mukilteo, according to Amtrak employees in Seattle.
...
The damage to the Superliner cars appears to be minimal. Lightweight semi-permanently-coupled Talgo cars might not have been as lucky. Also just a fluke that the train was on the track nearest the hill, or it would have continued unscathed....

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NorthCoastHiawatha said:

 

"Actually BNSF only loses a few hours, they clean it up and then put the trains through. Only passenger trains lose two days."

 

This is clearly an underwriting decision, and a calous one at that, which decides that frieight can't sue if it's buried in mud, only dead passengers' families can. The problem here is that the surely terrified crews of the freight trains that are first to traverse an avalanched area, their lives are expendable as long as commerce gets past.

Edited by NE933

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Let us know what equipment #8 has at SPK, will you (if you're up in the middle of the night :) ) Some friends will be boarding at MSP in a couple of days, and would like to know whether they'll be getting on a really short 8/28 or whether Amtrak manages to gather up additional equipment.

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NorthCoastHiawatha said:

 

"Actually BNSF only loses a few hours, they clean it up and then put the trains through. Only passenger trains lose two days."

 

This is clearly an underwriting decision, and a calous one at that, which decides that frieight can't sue if it's buried in mud, only dead passengers' families can. The problem here is that the surely terrified crews of the freight trains that are first to traverse an avalanched area, their lives are expendable as long as commerce gets past.

It's not a matter of freight crews being expendable. But crews are far better trained in emergency procedures are than a bunch of passengers. Plus, if the vibrations of a train are likely to loosen up the land and cause another slide, it's possible that the lead engine could get by unscathed, and then the land gets loose and knocks out what's bouncing around behind it (as was apparently the case here, as well as the freight train derailment that was caught on video a few months ago). If the crew are all at the front of the train, they should be okay. It's the equipment behind (i.e. freight or passenger) that might be more in danger. And yes, freight is far more expendable than passengers are. Lose a few stacks of wood or a couple dozen cars, and the insurance companies settle with the shippers and everyone moves on. Here, even if nobody was injured, you could still potentially see ambulance-chaser lawsuits ("BNSF and Amtrak both knew the danger of mudslides in this area, and put passengers' lives in danger...") that will tie the two railroads' lawyers up for years.

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From what I've read, there has been daily deluges of severe rainfall. (Footnote: Other exteme weather phenomena, like lastyears' warmest on record, is what fueled Sandy into a cyclone measuring 1,500 miles in diameter at it's largest. That's as big as either of east or west coasts tell me that Mother Earth is finally tiring of our sh**ing it for so long, whenever we please, in our air, oceans, and land). The planet is simply trying to clean the wounds we have placed into it.

 

Which leads to the second factor, some mentioned: home owners required and got a clearing of flood controling trees, for sake of better views and higher land values tied into those views, with an unexpected side effect. Loose so many trees (in other words, screw up Mother Earth again), and the land is not as resilient to absorbing the volume of water unleashed by the rains.

 

That anyone with a half a brain, the engineers who ok'd such tree clearing, the landowners who prostitute themselves to mortgage bankers in a systematic fashion that it endangers themselves and the lives who are on the rails below: either dynamite it and be done now, or let Mother Earth take her vengeance and go through the process slowly, as per Chinese water torture.

 

In the meantime BNSF should round up the homeowners who are on record for demaning the land be altered for ehancing their view, and force them to help shovel the mud off the right of way.

 

Putting the political propaganda aside, the real issue is an excess of DHMO.

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From what I've read, there has been daily deluges of severe rainfall. (Footnote: Other exteme weather phenomena, like lastyears' warmest on record, is what fueled Sandy into a cyclone measuring 1,500 miles in diameter at it's largest. That's as big as either of east or west coasts tell me that Mother Earth is finally tiring of our sh**ing it for so long, whenever we please, in our air, oceans, and land). The planet is simply trying to clean the wounds we have placed into it.

 

Which leads to the second factor, some mentioned: home owners required and got a clearing of flood controling trees, for sake of better views and higher land values tied into those views, with an unexpected side effect. Loose so many trees (in other words, screw up Mother Earth again), and the land is not as resilient to absorbing the volume of water unleashed by the rains.

 

That anyone with a half a brain, the engineers who ok'd such tree clearing, the landowners who prostitute themselves to mortgage bankers in a systematic fashion that it endangers themselves and the lives who are on the rails below: either dynamite it and be done now, or let Mother Earth take her vengeance and go through the process slowly, as per Chinese water torture.

 

In the meantime BNSF should round up the homeowners who are on record for demaning the land be altered for ehancing their view, and force them to help shovel the mud off the right of way.

No deluge. We just had a couple of days of normal rain, which is par for the course here. I actually live in Everett, WA, not Queens, NY and am familiar with the weather I am living in. The slopes are inherently unstable, being soft sediment on top of clay, and the poor drainage from bluff-top development doesn't help. BNSF and the State are finally going to start working on it.

 

There was also a huge slide on Whidbey Island within the last couple weeks for the same basic reason. But there was no railroad to interrupt there, just the only road for access to 17 houses. These slopes like to slide and always have. Also the geology is such that the trees don't really help and often hurt due to their weight. The slide on Whidbey had lots of trees. Which are now a lot lower down.

Edited by zephyr17

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It's not a matter of freight crews being expendable. But crews are far better trained in emergency procedures are than a bunch of passengers. Plus, if the vibrations of a train are likely to loosen up the land and cause another slide, it's possible that the lead engine could get by unscathed, and then the land gets loose and knocks out what's bouncing around behind it (as was apparently the case here, as well as the freight train derailment that was caught on video a few months ago). If the crew are all at the front of the train, they should be okay. It's the equipment behind (i.e. freight or passenger) that might be more in danger. And yes, freight is far more expendable than passengers are. Lose a few stacks of wood or a couple dozen cars, and the insurance companies settle with the shippers and everyone moves on. Here, even if nobody was injured, you could still potentially see ambulance-chaser lawsuits ("BNSF and Amtrak both knew the danger of mudslides in this area, and put passengers' lives in danger...") that will tie the two railroads' lawyers up for years.

Thanks for the tutorial; I know I'll never go lonely with your reading my posts and the responses they draw from you. Just in case though, I was using irony and sarcasm when comparing commerce to the human life in crew and passengers alike. I'm sure, even though we've not ever met, you know I'd rather a "few stacks of wood" is what I'd rather loose than a a couple hundred people.

 

The thoughts about the lead engine likely going untouched is very good and true. Thank you much!

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Sounder and Amtrak customers are riding buses again rather than rail lines north of Seattle because of a mudslide that derailed a passenger train Sunday — the latest in what has been an exceptionally bad season for mudslides in that area.
Sounder service between Seattle and Everett is canceled Monday and Tuesday, when Sound Transit will provide special express buses to and from the Sounder stations. Amtrak expects to resume service Tuesday morning.
There were 200 slides during the fall and winter, 50 of them blocking tracks, BNSF Railway said in February. The most spectacular hit a moving freight train in mid-December and derailed seven cars. A March 21 slide buried tracks in five feet of debris. Sound Transit has canceled a record number of Northline Sounder runs this rainy season.
None of the train’s 86 passengers and 11 crew members was hurt in Sunday’s slide just north of Howarth Park in Everett, which had little impact on some railcars but badly jostled others.
“We almost went over,” said Alicia Munds, of Silverdale, who had just awakened about 8:50 a.m. Sunday when the train suddenly jerked like something had hit it.
...
Other passengers saw mud and trees sliding down a cliff and striking the train.
...
The train came to a halt with three cars derailed, two of them visibly tilted off the tracks. The train’s front cars transported passengers to Mukilteo, where they boarded buses for Edmonds and Seattle.
The slide, which BNSF Railway spokesman Gus Melonas described as 15 feet high and 30 feet wide, prompted the company to issue a 48-hour moratorium on passenger trains on the railway’s double main line.
About a quarter mile of track was damaged, but freight trains were able to get through on the adjacent line Sunday and will resume travel on the line where the train was derailed sometime Monday, Melonas said.
Until passenger service resumes, Amtrak will bus passengers between Seattle and Everett, according to Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman in Chicago. It also plans to bus Empire Builder passengers between Seattle and Spokane, because they cannot travel the line’s usual route through Everett.
Construction is expected to begin later this year on a $16 million, federally funded project to stabilize six or seven spots along the Seattle-Everett corridor that have been prone to mudslides.
BNSF will construct retaining walls, remove loose soil and install drainage pipes in soggy areas.
A BNSF presentation to Sound Transit showed standing water near suburban homes in Mukilteo, and pointed to years of residential development as a contributor to slides. Some transit-board members wondered if global warming is causing wetter seasons.
The Washington Department of Transportation warns that much more work needs to be done to fully prevent mudslides.

 

Edited by CHamilton

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gn steamships

if only amtrak had acquired jj hill's great northern steam ships as heritage equipment they could run them sea-evr thus bypassing the northern slide zone.

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How about a rule that passenger trains must use the outside track through slide zones during/after major rain events? The whole area is double-tracked, and from pictures it looks like 75% of slides only affect the track closest to the cliffs (and even larger slides have a greater impact on the inside track). That would have prevented this derailment.

 

Might cause some dispatching headaches though...

 

Mark

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Wouldn't call it particularly bad though. Lots of light rain, but even managed to get out and do some yard work. It was a record for ONE DAY, it wasn't like it was overall record rainfall.

 

I've lived here for 22 years, and the rain over the weekend seemed pretty ordinary to me. I live about 7 miles from the slide zone, too.

Edited by zephyr17

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