The Age: Rail Crisis As Train Brakes Fail

 
  Autopenguin Assistant Commissioner

More Siemens anguish in today's Age; got to love the Liberal transport droid Mulder suggesting that all of them should be withdrawn from service, by the way! Naturally his ailing party wouldn't have to deal with commuter anger when a huge number of cancellations result Smile

Oh, and spot the reporter who carnt speek Englishe goode... "A rail system source said cars were forced to break..."  Rolling Eyes

http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/brake-woes-sideline-trains/2006/11/15/1163266640138.html?page=fullpage#contentSwap1


Stephen Moynihan, Transport Reporter
November 16, 2006

Some of Melbourne's newest passenger trains have had to be withdrawn from service after a spate of braking failures.

Connex, the operator of the suburban rail network, has reported 15 incidents involving trains overshooting platforms since Monday and is at a loss to explain the problem.

The most serious incident occurred on Tuesday night when a train failed to stop at Brighton Beach station and travelled into the level crossing at South Road.

The boom gates still had not been lowered as the train came to rest in the middle of the intersection. A rail system source said cars were forced to break to avoid colliding with the train.

The problems involve a fleet of 72 German-built trains that were introduced to the suburban network in 2003.

Fourteen three-carriage trains have been removed from service following emergency talks between Connex and the trains manufacturer, Siemens.

The withdrawal of the trains is expected to cause some disruption to services, particularly on the Pakenham and Cranbourne lines, until the problems can be fixed.

The source said the problems were connected to the trains' computerised braking system. In several incidents, drivers were forced to apply emergency brakes, push emergency stop buttons and activate handbrakes to bring the trains to a halt.

But even after activation of all manual braking systems, some trains continued moving. One incident occurred while a driver was undergoing assessment by a transport official.

Connex chairman Bob Annells last night confirmed that some Siemens trains had been removed from service and said it was unlikely the incidents were caused by driver error.

"It does seem clear from our analysis it is most likely a software issue in the computer-assisted braking system," Mr Annells said.

But a spokesman for Siemens denied the trains were at fault. "There is nothing wrong with the brakes," he said.

Mr Annells said passenger and driver safety was Connex's main concern and his company was working with Siemens staff to find the cause. "We haven't had a problem with these trains for over a year," Mr Annells said.

But he conceded there had been issues in the past. "(They) have experienced overshoots and modifications were made to correct the matter. It seemed that those changes had been successful. Obviously this has not fully addressed the issue."

Since its introduction in April 2003, the Siemens fleet has been plagued with controversy. The trains were initially too wide for suburban tracks and have recently been repaired to fix faulty wiring. They have also been criticised for having only two sets of doors on each side of each carriage, causing bottlenecks for passengers.

In 2004, after a train failed to stop at Williamstown station, the Rail Tram and Bus Union won a fight for an improved braking system to be installed in all Siemens trains.

Mr Annells said Connex had briefed the transport safety regulator and the union to alert them to the faults and to outline plans to fix the trains.

"Maintenance logs and operational records are being checked and each train will be given a full running brake test before being returned to service," Mr Annells said.

He said Connex was made aware of the problem earlier in the week. He denied the company was covering it up in the lead-up to the state election.

A Siemens spokesman denied the company was playing down the issue and said it was a matter for Connex.

In May, the State Government announced it would spend $800 million on new trains. Siemens is believed to be lobbying hard to snare the contract.

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the Government was responsible for all matters of train safety. "Irrespective of the political embarrassment and inconvenience, the fleet of Siemens trains must be withdrawn and the braking fault identified and rectified," Mr Mulder said.

A spokesman for Transport Minister Peter Batchelor said Connex was monitoring the trains and defective trains would be removed from service

Siemens trains make up just under a quarter of the 328 trains in Melbourne's suburban fleet.

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  bramt Deputy Commissioner

Also "talks between Connex and the trains manufacturer, Siemens." if you want to get picky.

If the trains kept moving after all manual/emergency brakes were applied, how can it be a computer problem?
  Autopenguin Assistant Commissioner

Also "talks between Connex and the trains manufacturer, Siemens." if you want to get picky.
"bramt"


Heh... let's just say that, as a freelance journalist (music, not news) myself, I often lament the days when papers were willing to pay a salary for a proofreader Smile


If the trains kept moving after all manual/emergency brakes were applied, how can it be a computer problem?


Perhaps the computer can override the manual brakes?
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Don't suppose a drop of rain on the rails had anything to do with it............
  merlin Chief Commissioner

Location: North East Adelaide
Also "talks between Connex and the trains manufacturer, Siemens." if you want to get picky.

If the trains kept moving after all manual/emergency brakes were applied, how can it be a computer problem?
"bramt"



Ummm, yesssss... We all know trains stop instantly, the very second brakes are applied...

"ya canna' break the laws a physics, Jim"...
  wolfpac Minister for Railways

Location: Over here...
[quote="Autopenguin"][quote]

Opposition transport spokesman Terry Mulder said the Government was responsible for all matters of train safety. "Irrespective of the political embarrassment and inconvenience, the fleet of Siemens trains must be withdrawn and the braking fault identified and rectified," Mr Mulder said.

Siemens trains make up just under a quarter of the 328 trains in Melbourne's suburban fleet.[/quote]

Hang on, isn't it Connex's problem, not the State Government's? And Mul-derr is prepared to remove [i]one quarter[/i] of the fleet to recify the "problem"... And how on earth does the system cope with that?!

Maybe they withdrew the Hitachi's too soon... RazzLaughing

And as [b]YM-Mundrabilla[/b] said, clearly rain didn't have anything to do with it, just like wet roads don't affect car stopping distances! Rolling Eyes

Why not [b]merlin[/b], everyone seems to think trains can stop on a dime, even in wet weather. And physics, who needs that! Rolling EyesLaughing

Wolfpac
  197M-1981T-3M Chief Train Controller

Location: Bayswater
There has been a lot of mention of wet weather. Of course a train will take longer to stop when rails are slippery. However, I did not notice anywhere in the Age article that there were overshooting problems with XTs or Comeng. I drove both over the last two days and had no problems stopping anywhere (including down the mountain) I have driven the Seimens and have found the service brakes to be woeful compared to the rest of the fleet. Not only that, I have found the problem is exacerbated on a 3 car set (I have experimented by stopping from 60 in B6 and the 3 car will take longer) Whether this points to just a software problem or something else I am not sure.
  tranzitjim Chief Commissioner

Location: Banned
Now do they regret sending all those Hitachi sets to the scrappers?

I bet they wish they had held on to them all.
  ninthnotch Dr Beeching

Location: Not here. Try another castle.
Now do they regret sending all those Hitachi sets to the scrappers?

I bet they wish they had held on to them all.
"jimoncrack"
They could have benefitted from U-boat bogies.
  Craig Chief Commissioner

Location: Edithvale, VIC
Dear All

[quote="The Age"]
Connex acts on brake failures
Stephen Moynihan
November 16, 2006 - 10:21AM

Drivers will manually control Melbourne's newest trains after a spate of braking incidents.

Today, The Age newspaper revealed 14 three-carriage Siemens trains have been removed from service after train operator Connex reported 15 incidents of braking malfunctions.

Connex chief executive Bruce Hughes admitted the most serious incident involved a passenger train failing to stop at Brighton Beach station and travelling into a level crossing.

Mr Hughes said the problem was "not a fundamental safety issue" and said the sophisticated technology controlling the trains' braking system would be scaled back to allow drivers more control of their trains.

Mr Hughes said the safety of passengers and drivers was Connex's main concern and the company was working with Siemens to identify the cause of the problems.[/quote]

Kind Regards


Craig Smile
  wolfpac Minister for Railways

Location: Over here...
Well, that was an anti-climax...  Laughing

Wolfpac
  Riccardo Minister for Railways

Location: Gone. Don't bother PMing here.
Now do they regret sending all those Hitachi sets to the scrappers?

I bet they wish they had held on to them all.
"jimoncrack"
They could have benefitted from U-boat bogies.
"ninthnotch"


Wasn't the plan to stick the U-boat bogies under the Hitachis?
  Heihachi_73 Chief Commissioner

Location: Terminating at Ringwood
Just throw surplus Hitachi bogies under them - I'm sure they are still floating around (if not, find some H/MTH/Harris bogies - boing!).
  Dreadnought Assistant Commissioner

Location: Oooh, look! [Pointing upwards] An eagle!!
Now do they regret sending all those Hitachi sets to the scrappers?

I bet they wish they had held on to them all.
"jimoncrack"
They could have benefitted from U-boat bogies.
"ninthnotch"


U-Boats don't have bogies - They've got ballast tanks, torpedo tubes, propellors and periscopes but no bogies...

...'cos you wouldn't have been suggesting we import those narrow gauge sparky things from north of the Murray, surely????

Cheers,
Dreadnought
  BJ Titsengolf That's Numberwang!

Location: Right here, right now, right here, right now...
[quote="The Age"]
Connex acts on brake failures
Stephen Moynihan
November 16, 2006 - 10:21AM

[snip]

Mr Hughes said the problem was "not a fundamental safety issue" and said the sophisticated technology controlling the trains' braking system would be scaled back to allow drivers more control of their trains.
[/quote]

If a brake fault isn't a fundamental safety issue, what is?
  clownswilleatme Deputy Commissioner

They said the worst incident was at Brighton Beach where a train overshot into the level crossing...


Errr, I was on a Siemens that failed to stop at Ripponlea and not only overshot into the crossing (at speed before the gates had the chance to come down) but completely cleared the crossing on the other side.

Would have gone through the crossing at maybe 50kph? Didn't stop till halfway to Elsternwick.
  BJ Titsengolf That's Numberwang!

Location: Right here, right now, right here, right now...
That was the worst one they'd admit to.

The full story on stuff like this never makes the papers.
  angus42 Chief Train Controller

Location: Around Kyneton-Melbourne

Mr Hughes said the problem was "not a fundamental safety issue" and said the sophisticated technology controlling the trains' braking system would be scaled back to allow drivers more control of their trains.
"Loki"


If a brake fault isn't a fundamental safety issue, what is?


Indeed.  And a train overrunning into a level crossing before booms (or whatever) have closed isn't a fundamental safety issue?  The "Age" report said that car drivers had brake to avoid the train.  No train driver wants to slide helplessly past a signal, even if there's clear track beyond -- even if he's blameless.

Isn't this a classic case of people who have responsibility talking down the problem?

As for 6-car Siemens sets braking better than 3-car sets, maybe the wheels on the second set are running on cleaner rail with better adhesion, and have less skidding and skid correction?  I seem to remember multiple Sprinters braking better than single Sprinters, which are notoriously slippery.

But this week I've been noticing Siemens trains parked in the North Melbourne sidings, while a Hitachi (possibly more than one) has been in service.  Funny, but when I used to catch the 7-something train from Lilydale in the mornings, I hated to have a Hitachi straight out of the stabling sidings; they were freezing![/quote]
  comeng_2006 Junior Train Controller

Location: Frankstoned Line
I say build more Comengs and get rid of the Siemens
  Somebody in the WWW Banned

Location: Banned
Comeng as a company doesn't even exist anymore.

Comeng trains were last built in 1989 and will be withdrawn starting from within 3-4 years time... why would you want to build more?? Confused
  comeng_2006 Junior Train Controller

Location: Frankstoned Line
The Comengs have been around since the early 80's and there still going no problems, there better than the Siemens trains and the X'Craps for that matter
  station street Chief Commissioner

Has anyone notied anything significant this epak hour? I'm not travelling so I can't say...

It will be interesting to see how much Connex use this in the rperformance results details at the end fo the month,

However - significant though it may be, you can probably put these trains in the 'maintenance allowance' and maybe take out some slightly sick trains, as we sort of saw during the Races, Show...

  -   Station   Street
  comeng_2006 Junior Train Controller

Location: Frankstoned Line
I rode a Hitachi at 4.08pm from Mordialloc to Frankston, and it seems like theres more Comengs running again on the Frankston line, but I still did see Siemens
  SPSD40T2 Chief Commissioner

Location: Platform 9-3/4 and still waiting !!
tp ask the really obvious question....why are they failing ?? surely none of this is new technology....surely someone designing trains kknows they have to stop...and golly sometimes it rains !!

its 2006 why is this even happening.. ...?? has me amazed!!
  psr85 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sandringham Line, Melbourne
Plenty of 3 car Siemens out on the Sandy line this evening.

I wouldn't be surprised if the majority were out and about.

I was also told that the Siemens could have the acceleration of the X'Trap however the amount of power is limited by a computer program. Can the same be said for the braking?

Also to the above who said they overshot by halfway to Elsternwick... not doubting you but how fast did you come in to the station? The brakes must have done absolutely nothing, hence a brake failure, I guess.

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