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Re: DMU, kick this dead horse, again

Posted by TransitChuckG on Thu Jul 11 03:37:40 2019, in response to Re: DMU, kick this dead horse, again, posted by TransitChuckG on Thu Jul 11 03:26:15 2019.

On Saturday, January 2, 1982, a single RDC collided with an ARCO gasoline tanker truck at the Second Street Pike crossing as it was approaching Southampton Station. SEPTA motorman Donald Williams was severely burned in the accident and died several days later. The accident caused flames to shoot fifty feet in the air and created a plume of black smoke visible for several miles. Photographs from the fire indicate the crossing signal equipment was working properly, with lights flashing as flames shot into the air.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) later determined that SEPTA did not follow proper safety standards by running single RDCs that were not intended to operate as single units. Members of Conrail unions who had protested in October 1981 commented that SEPTA was not experienced in operating commuter trains and predicted that an accident would occur. The unions also advised that all but two RDCs had to be run in sets of two in order for the crossing signal equipment to activate properly in anticipation of an oncoming train (Conrail had used four-person crews to operate RDCs). The two RDCs that could operate as one-car trains were car numbers 9151 and 9152, which were specially equipped with "excitation", an electronic device which assured shunting of track circuits when operated as a one-car train. Car number 9164, which was not equipped with excitation, was involved in the fiery crash and did not activate the crossing circuits at the proper time. The flashing lights did, however, eventually activate by the time the train entered the Second Street Pike crossing. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the accident was caused by the failure of RDC 9164 to maintain shunt with the track and constantly activate the warning signal. Additionally, RDC 9164 did not have an excitation device that would have allowed it to maintain constant shunt despite a momentary loss of contact. As a result of the accident, the NTSB recommended that SEPTA modify its grade crossing protection systems to ensure that a momentary loss of shunt would not cause warning devices to fail to function. Additionally, the NTSB recommended that SEPTA modify the passenger doors in their RDCs to make them open outward, not inward, to allow passengers easy evacuation in an emergency situation.
SEPTA general manager David L. Gunn ordered more stringent safety precautions along the Fox Chase-Newtown commuter rail line, and state investigators joined federal officials in the investigation of the collision.
Gunn ordered that only two-car trains be run on the 15.2-mile single-track line. The order came after officials of unions representing railroad workers said that SEPTA was not following proper safety standards by running single-car trains on the line.
SEPTA took over operation of the line from Conrail on an experimental basis in September in an effort to reduce the amount of money spent to run commuter trains. Conrail had used four-person crews to run two-car diesel trains between Newtown and Reading Terminal. SEPTA, however, cut the number of cars and operators in half and terminated the route at Fox Chase Station in the Northeast.
At the time of the takeover, angry members of Conrail unions warned that SEPTA was not equipped to run commuter trains and predicted that an accident would occur.


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