David Schanoes

David Schanoes

David Schanoes is Principal of Ten90 Solutions LLC, a consulting firm he established upon retiring from MTA Metro-North Railroad in 2008. David began his railroad career in 1972 with the Chicago & North Western, as a brakeman in Chicago. He came to New York 1977, working for Conrail’s New Jersey Division. David joined Metro-North in 1985. He has spent his entire career in the operating division, working his way up from brakeman to conductor, block operator, dispatcher, supervisor of train operations, trainmaster, superintendent, and deputy chief of field operations. “Better railroading is ten percent planning plus ninety percent execution,” he says. “It’s simple math. Yet, we also know, or should know, that technology is no substitute for supervision, and supervision that doesn’t utilize technology isn’t going to do the job. That's not so simple.”

While we’re waiting for the NTSB to analyze the event recorder data and forward-facing camera video on the NJ Transit cab car involved in the Sept. 29 Hoboken Terminal crash, assuming there is useable information (there is no data from the locomotive event recorder, because it was non-operational), let’s jump ahead a year or two and anticipate the conclusion of the NTSB’s investigation and the list of forthcoming recommendations.

Friday, 30 September 2016 08:36

Preventing, not chasing, the ambulance

The Sept. 29th NJ Transit accident in Hoboken will, of courser, trigger another round of the now-usual “how could its,” “should nevers,” “told yous,” “failure to properly regulates,” “lack of trusts,” “insufficient crew members,” “inadequate trainings” “cost/benefits,” from the usual parties, most of whom are motivated by the best of intentions, which just happen to coincide with some strictly personal agendas, or strictly organizational agendas, or election needs, and . . .

Tuesday, 26 July 2016 11:12

PTC, legacy train control and vitality

Steve Ditmeyer’s article “PTC vs. Legacy Train Control Redux” is very thought-provoking. Yes, Congress did define PTC by functionality, not technology. No, PTC need not be tied to fixed wayside block signals (interlockings are a whole other issue).

Monday, 18 July 2016 12:27

It can’t happen over there

I’ve lost count of the times I’ve heard or read or been told how much safer rail transportation is in Europe than it is in the United States.

Executive Summary: After one year of investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board has determined that the cause of the fatal derailment of Amtrak train 188 at Frankford Junction is exactly the same as the cause determined within eight hours by everyone who knows anything about railroading.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016 06:39

Zero tolerance for cellphones

The BBC has filed the following report on the February 2016 head-on collision of two commuter trains in Bavaria, Germany:

Monday, 21 March 2016 00:00

Maybe, maybe not

All you need to know about FRA’s NPRM, Train Crew Staffing, can be found by clicking HERE. Or maybe by reading below. Your call.

Thursday, 11 February 2016 15:57

Why occupancy = vitality

You remember this from not so long ago, don’t you?: “In much of Asia and Europe, engineers are protected by a technology known as positive train control or PTC.”

Editor’s note: The following is David Schanoes’s presentation, “Better, Safer Railroading: 10% Planning, 90% Execution,” at Railway Age’s 2015 Passenger Trains on Freight Railroads Conference.

Monday, 10 August 2015 12:39

Stop whimpering and find a way

Last week, the FRA released its most recent report to Congress on the status of PTC implementation. As these things go, it’s not a bad report. It touches on all the big issues; says all the right things; and almost pleads with Congress to do something, but not just anything, the right something re: the approaching deadline.

Monday, 20 July 2015 15:34

The importance of little accidents

You know the kind I mean: the ones where nobody gets hurt, nothing blows up, and nobody shows up, except you.

Monday, 15 June 2015 14:55

Control the speed of the train. Period

The National Transportation Safety Board, in a second update of the May 12 fatal Amtrak derailment in Philadelphia, announced that it found no indication that the locomotive engineer of train no. 188 was using his cell phone to talk or text while operating the train. In response to questions posed separately, NTSB confirmed that indeed the cell phone records support the engineer’s statement that he utilized the cell phone to call 911 after the accident.

I watched the webcast of the June 2, 2015 U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure oversight hearing of the Amtrak accident in Philadelphia.

Monday, 18 May 2015 11:15

If only . . . but wait . . .

I’ve been in France. I love being in France, a country that in the past 20 years has spent twice on its railways what it has spent on its roads. What am I missing? Another fatal overspeed derailment? At Frankford Junction?

Thursday, 23 April 2015 09:30

DOT “suggests” and FRA “recommends”

The U.S. Department of Transportation circulated a press release detailing actions taken to “address some of the issues identified in recent train accidents involving crude oil and ethanol shipped by rail.”
I never get tired of explaining the simple mathematics that govern safe train operations. The more thorough our grasp of the simple mathematics of time, distance, velocity, acceleration, coefficient of friction, etc., the more sophisticated, deeper, more inclusive becomes our knowledge of what we must do to achieve safe train operations, and the more robust is our calculation for the intersection of safety and performance.
Thursday, 05 February 2015 20:53

The right equipment is not perfect equipment

After the most recent tragedy, and tragedy it is, on MTA Metro-North Railroad, U.S. Senators Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) were interviewed by telephone.
Monday, 03 November 2014 13:15

NTSB, Metro-North, and politicians, Part 3

Let’s continue with my comments from Part 1 and Part 2 on the Oct. 28, 2014 National Transportation Safety Board press conference regarding NTSB’s determination of the causes of five accidents on Metro-North Railway (MNR). To reiterate, I’m going through the video second by second just so I can set the record straight, or at least correct some of the more egregious errors presented as facts by NSTB Acting Chairman Christopher A. Hart, and Senators Schumer, Blumenthal, and Murphy.
Friday, 31 October 2014 05:51

Why NTSB got it wrong

I forced myself to review every miserable second of the Oct. 28, 2014 NTSB press conference regarding NTSB’s determination of the causes of five accidents on Metro-North Railway (MNR), for a couple of reasons: 1) I couldn’t believe what was being said; and  2) I couldn’t believe what was being said. I mean, come on: FRA as a “lawless, rogue agency”?

I never thought I would find myself in the position of defending the Federal Railroad Administration, at least from anyone other than the Ayn Rand-Alan Greenspan-Phil Gramm-Rush Limbaugh types out there, but life is a funny thing.

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