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Train Accident Reconstruction

Railroad, Train, and Railcar Crash Analysis

Veritech engineers have substantial experience with the reconstruction of railroad crossing (otherwise known as “level crossing”) accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians. Our engineers provide detailed analyses of:

  • Train Event Data Recorder (EDR) data reports

  • Speed calculations

  • Physical evidence evaluations

  • Line-of-sight and visibility issues

  • Accident sequence time-space relationships

  • Technical analysis of video and audio transmission records

Train and Automobile Crash

Veritech engineers have experience working with a team of additional experts in a train accident evaluation and can provide your train-handling, civil engineering and biomechanical engineering experts with the technical information they need in forming their opinions.

Train Event Data Recorder and Black Box Data Reports

Trains are often equipped with the ability to log data as they are moving. These event recorders, while similar to event recorders (also known as black boxes) found on automobiles and large trucks, have a few differences that make them unique to locomotive operations. Items such as the following are typically recorded every second for a minute or more before the point of locomotive stop:

  • Time and Date

  • Distance Traveled (based on drive wheel diameter)

  • Speed

  • Horn sounding (at 10 samples per second)

  • Electronic Air Brake (EAB) activation

  • Electronic Air Brake – Emergency Brake activation (if activated by engineer)

  • Throttle level

  • Bell activation

These items aid in determining the events surrounding an incident with a train. Typically, due to the mass of a train, there may only be minimal deceleration due to impact with a pedestrian, vehicle, or even a semi tractor-trailer. Because of this, a drop in train speed may not be recorded by the train’s event data recorder, or may not be readily identifiable in the data. Therefore, other methods to determine point of impact must be used when reconstructing the accident.

Train Crash Sequence

Sometimes, information on the train’s point of rest can be used to calculate the location, speed, and position of the train at the point of impact. This type of information may rely on proper record of the train at its point of rest, which can be very far from the point of impact. Trains can take a mile of distance to come to rest if traveling at highway speeds. Photogrammetry of a train’s point of rest and analysis of the train’s event data recorder can help determine events such as point of impact and impact speed.

Train Mounted Video Analysis

Front facing video cameras found in locomotives are common in today’s trains. This is because these video cameras can record incidents that occur during a train’s movement, and in many cases can help identify the cause of an accident. One such system is made by General Electric, named the LocoCAM. This camera system, and others similar to it, can record the view out of the front of the train along with audio recording capability. Veritech has analyzed rail way impacts based upon the recordings from these videos. Scientific processes such as photogrammetry and videogrammetry are used by Veritech to extract data about the impact such as speeds, time and space relationships, and visibility issues.

Please contact one of our licensed professional engineers at 303-660-4395 to discuss your case and receive a free initial consultation with honest and candid comments.

Mark Kittel, PE expert witness

Mark Kittel, P.E., D.F.E

Principal Engineer

Joe Tremblay, PE expert witness

Joe Tremblay, P.E., D.F.E.

Principal Engineer

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