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Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by railohio, Oct 7, 2008.
Hey, Brakie, since this forum is so dead lately how 'bout we talk about track warrant operations?
Hey Rail, where in Ohio are you?
I was up in Brakie's neighborhood last weekend and think I found his favorite train watching place.
I'll be watching for the warrant discussion - I'd like to learn more. Don't let me down! :mrgreen:
Here is a sample Track Warrant from a Major Class 1 Railroad.
Pretty Simple really, I actually prefer Track Warrant operation over CTC. (But that is just *me*).
This is what the General Code of Operating Rules says in regards to Track Warrant Operation:
(A little "light reading") :mrgreen:
Matt,Next time you're in the area drop me a e-mail or pm..We get together and have a cup of java.
I guess I'll have to dig out my rule books and get this party started...
Track warrant operation is different from train order operation in that train order operation you give authority over the whole trip and then modify where the train waits or meets other trains while in track warrants you give authority from location to location. If you are operating cabooseless, in dark territory, you can only put one train in the limits of a warrant, unless you make the warrant "joint" and then everybody runs at restricted speed. The other caveat is that you always have to have a warrant under a train, the ENTIRE train, while its on the main track. So if you give a train a warrant from A to mp 12 and then another from mp12 to B, the ENTIRE train has to to be by mp12 before it can release the first warrant (a smart dispatcher might give the second warrant from the mp behind the train to B, ie from mp11 to B, so the train can immediately give up its first warrant.)
And Track Warrants simplified Railroading?
Yes. If you look at the number of rules it takes to operate by track warrants and the number of rules it takes to operate by timetable and train orders, its no comparison. With train orders the crews had to make decisions and navigate themselves across the railroad using the timetable and their orders. With track warrants the trains are told exactly what to do and where to do it.
Track warrants may be more work for the dispatcher, but they are about as simple as you can get (DTC may be even simpler).
Dumb question for the sake of discussion: Are railroads required to use some kind of track posession system?
Warrants, TOs, timetables, CTC are all great and make sense where you have multiple movements contending for the same section of track. As a counterexample, consider a shortline with a single engine and a handful of employees. There's only one train at a time, and everone's going to know that maintenance is happening today on the switch to the Feed and Seed. Even if the shortline has 2 engines and runs two trains, why not use a couple of radios or cell phones to coordinate movement amongst themselves?
I would say yes, that the FRA would require them to have operating rules.
You are confusing authority and systems. There has to be some form of authorizing the use of the main track. It can be as simple as "yard limits" or operation on restricted speed. But someplace you have to define what that is. If you don't, I guarantee that there will be some sort of collision.
My envision my example as a 5 mile short line. If I were the Head Robber Baron In Charge, the entire 5 miles would be Yard Limits.
My not-so-imaginary inspiration for the question is the original Progress Rail operation in Minnesota, where 2 engines switched a large industrial park and all movement coordination was done unit-to-unit via cellphone.
I agree completely that there has to be some way to authorize the use of the track. However, can an operation be small enough that the authority is granted by an informal system developed by the management, and not some bureaucratic paperfest dictated by the FRA and/or AAR?
Once again you are confusing "system" and authority. If you are operating under yard limits then you operate under yard limits. By the way, yard limits does not involve cell phones. Yard limits requires a main track. I don't think the Progressive Rail operation with 2 switch engines that seems so popular even involves a main track.
It probably operates as track other than a main track at restricted speed (which also doesn't involve a cell phone).
The verbage used under both yard limits and track other than a main track is "operation at a speed which will permit stopping within half the range of vision of a train, engine, obstruction or switch not properly lined." (verbage may vary slightly). All it says is you to operate at a speed that will permit stopping within half the range of vision of anything. Not that somebody calls you about it, but you have to actually watch out for it.
The kicker here is that even with the Progressive Rail operation, they come out on the main track of the class 1 or short line, which means thay have to be qualified on the short line's or class 1's rules.
White Knuckle Railroading
I know some former class I employees whom switched to a short line in the mid 80's who used cell phones to check up on each others location.
With up to 100 miles of continuous yard limits he called it white knuckle railroading the idea that around every corner could be another movement.
Students of railway incidents will immediately identify the danger of operations in this fashion. After prolonged periods experienced train crews become less diligent in expecting the unusual movement such as a work train operating on "their branch".
Even Class I's have loosened up the rules to provide a higher potential for safety compromise.
Getting back to your question of providing train separation by the use of cell phones between two engines, in a contemporary setting I'd feel comfortable in it's validity if not safety.
I think there is room for comparison. My rulebook has expanded extraordinarily since the implementation of OCS (a version of TWC). The General Operating Instructions have also evolved from a small pocketbook to two encyclopedic volumes during the same period. Train dispatcher manual same ratio too.
In fairness not all of the changes involve TWC rules. It may be only coincidental that TWC was unleashed during a period of general dumbing down at the railroad.:roll:
It's too bad Radio Train Orders didn't evolve to a computer interfaced model. Many train dispatchers preferred them and it would have made interesting comparison to both TWC and DTC. It's hard to argue it's efficiency or safety without it. It's kind of like comparing the modern whaling industry by 18th century techniques.
That's not always entirely true. Some railroads operated by fixed meets.
Mine often annulled timefreights in one direction (usually inferior) running trains on wait orders in multiple sections and extras in the opposite direction only.
The Train Dispatcher was ultimately responsible to supervise traffic conditions to avoid such things as overlength trains meeting unexpectedly. Train crews were often also aided by ABS signals in making decisions.
Even after implementation of TWC type rules train crews were not relieved from applying rule 5 (where time applies) in Yard Limits, Double Track and many terminal stations. They still had to be cognizant of timetable rules for timed trains (i.e. Passenger).
Until schedule times became only informational (which varied by railroad), it was arguably unfair to subject the crews to yet another overlap of governance.
Complexity of Train Orders
Although we used to have prescribed train order forms I've never seen a train order as complex as the TWC example found near the top of this thread. We used to combine two maybe three forms of train orders at most, never 18!
Keep it Brief and Clear was the maxim of that day.
Its just a form. Normally only 2 or 3 boxes are checked. The instructions are very brief and clear and explicit on what to do.
Proceed on the main track from Anna to Bess.
Hold main track at last named point.
Pretty darned clear.
A perfect example of the crews having to figure where to meet the opposing trains.
ABS signasl in anything but rule 251 territory didn't give any authority to go, the warrant, train orders, block authority or schedule was the authority. If the crew is making a decision on whether or not to go based on the ABS signals, there is probably going to be a life or death rules violation about to happen.
Rule 5 applied anyplace that a time was stated, so it could be at a siding, a milepost, a station, pretty much anywhere. On GCOR territories (the western railroads) when they implemented TWc that eliminated superiority of trains and operation by timetable schedules, so there were no timetable times to clear.
Now that's dramatic:shock: Maybe without the existence of intermediate block signals, or an Absolute Permissive Block System (since about1906).
It must have been quite terrifying to management types to think how many times a yard crew with the protection of ABS stole an extra five minutes (or more) clearing a PSGR trains time.
Sometimes one has to read through the lines when reading a story about railroading in the old days. When they say something like "we arrived at the siding switch to find #1 waiting on the main for us", does one ever think they might really mean "we should have been there in the clear before it arrived"? #1 can't go because it has an absolute stop signal facing it due to the some block(s) ahead being occupied by our opposing movement.
People who believe the railroad operates strictly according to the rulebook need to realize that it's a workplace much like any other where employees look for corners to cut, even to their long term detriment.