Detectors

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Detectors
Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, November 04, 2017 11:03 PM

I have a video of an early high speed Amtrak run from Dwight to Pontiac.  I have watched it more times than I can count.

At one point a message from a UP detector announces the train speed, temperature, and number of axles.  Best of all, I suppose, it says that there are no defects.
 
How do detectors work?
 

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Saturday, November 04, 2017 11:42 PM

A regular detector, officially called a Wayside Inspection System (WIS) in Canada detects hot bearings, hot wheels and dragging equipment. 

It is composed of a infrared scanner to monitor the wheel & bearing temperatures, and a paddle on the track which extends up to the same height as the rail.  Anything impacting this paddle will generate a dragging equipment alarm.  I have always assumed that they use a radar beam to count axles, but am not entirely certain. 

Some also have a WILD (wheel impact load detector), which is used to pick out wheels with flat spots or other tread defects.  There are multiple other kinds of specialized detectors or trackside monitoring systems, including wind detectors and slide detector fences, but all normally broadcast their results and/or warning messages on the local standby radio channel, which is specified in the timetable. 

A regular detector will wait a set time (around 15 seconds on CN) after the last axle passes before generating a broadcast.  If a train stops while on the detector or pulls across it very slowly the detector will give multiple broadcasts, one for each individual portion of the train.  Our detectors tend to give inaccurate axle counts in this situation, the axle counting feature does not work properly below a certain speed.

Sometimes if a detector picks up a minor problem, such as an elevated but not extreme wheel temperature, it will broadcast "no alarms" on the radio but send a notification to the Dispatching centre, where a manager/techician will review it and contact the train if deemed appropriate.  Sticking air brakes are commonly found this way, and the train crew will then be instructed to set a moderate air brake, wait for it to set completely and then release it again.  This usually solves the problem. 

They have certainly come a long way from the first generation of hot-box detectors, which did not broadcast on the radio, instead they had a large light board beside the track for the caboose crew to observe when the tail end passed it:

http://tracksidetreasure.blogspot.ca/2009/10/hot-box-detectors.html

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by jeffhergert on Sunday, November 05, 2017 2:37 AM

Our detectors on the exCNW side used to give an entrance and exit message.  Most of the detectors just gave no defects (or if a defect, the type, axle count location and side of train) and temperature.  Some newer ones also gave a total axle count.

On the original UP side in my area, the detectors are talk on defect only and tied into the signal system.  A defect or detector integrity failure will be announced and a controlled signal will be held against the train.  There have been times when a detector fails to announce a defect.  A detector alarm also appears to the dispatcher, on both types of detectors.

Lately, our talking detectors have been changed to entrance message-talk on defect only.  Starting over the detector it gives you the entrance message, but only talks again if it finds a defect or has an integrity failure. They are not tied into the signal system.  No one likes this change.  I feel it's a mistake, that the exit message is more important.  15000 ft trains, a weak or bad radio, either on the engine or in the detector and being conditioned to not expect a defect message.  What could possibly go wrong with that?

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, November 05, 2017 7:14 AM

CSX detectors announce a greeting over the Road Radio Channel.  They will announce an Exit Report, also over the Road Radio Channel.  The Exit Report will announce any defects by axle number and side of train or NO DEFECTS - the reports will also contain number of axles.  Some detectors will announce train speed, others will announce length of train in feet.  If train goes too slow or stops on the detector it will announce Detector Malfunction.

CSX Rules require a walking inspectin of the entire train if there is a Greeting message, but no defect report message or if there is a Detector Malfunction message.

The Detectors provide data associated with the train's passing to the Mechanical Dept. Computer System in Jacksonville.  This computer system performs additional anylasis to the data and the trending data from the train's data accumulated from prior Detectors and, if warranted, it will generate a defect message to the Mechanical Dept personnel as well as a exception message to the Dispatchers CADS system identifying the specific car(s) that have triggered the Alert and what defect the car(s) are to be inspected for by the crew.  Upon reciept of the Alert the Dispatcher instructs the train to make a normal stop at a location where they can inspect the train without blocking highway or railroad crossings, to perform the inspection.  After the car(s) are inspected an action plan will be developed based on the results of the inspection.

Individual Detector sites may have detectors that inspect for multiple functions beyond the normal Hot Box and Dragging Equipment.  Some Clearance critical locations, but not all, have height and width detectors.

Defect Detector Rules use over 7 pages in the Rule Book, I have only scratched the surface in this explanation.

         

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, November 05, 2017 10:37 AM

jeffhergert
Lately, our talking detectors have been changed to entrance message-talk on defect only.  Starting over the detector it gives you the entrance message, but only talks again if it finds a defect or has an integrity failure. They are not tied into the signal system.  No one likes this change.  I feel it's a mistake, that the exit message is more important. 

From the standpoint of IxD you are completely correct - if there is to be “only one message” over the radio it should be verbal acknowledgement of ‘no defects’.  Amusing that CSX trains would have to stop if all they got was your now-default message.

 Management needs to stop talking to groups of kiddeez from Bangalore on how to implement safety information.  

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Posted by xtrack42 on Tuesday, November 07, 2017 4:56 PM

Axle count, direction and speed are all determined by rail mounted transducers, which generate an electrical pulse as the wheel passes over it. 

On CN, the earliest detectors transmitted the train data over the telegraph network, into the dispatching office, where it would print out a graph of the axles. This graph had to be visually inspected for every train, and the person monitoring them would alert the train dispatcher if he saw any abnormal reading that could indicate that the axle was running hot. The dispatcher would then contact the train for a visual inspection of that axle. With the advancement in technology, the detector can analyze the heat readings and make the determination of a hot axle, wheel or dragging equipment and will announce  a defect to the crew immediately.

If no defects found, it will only announce after the entire train has passed. This eliminated the need to have a graph printed and the person to monitor these graphs, although the data is still transmitted to a central computer server where it can be recalled by technicians and maintenance personnel. Should a defect be found, it will also notify the dispatcher. 

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Posted by desertdog on Tuesday, November 07, 2017 6:22 PM

The UP detectors here in Arizona (and I assume in other hot weather climates) announce the temperature. As I recall, a speed limit goes into effect at 90+ degrees.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, November 07, 2017 6:58 PM

Each carrier has its own rules and procedures concerning the multiplicity of detectors that inspect passing trains.

When I broke in as a Dispatcher (1969-70) on the B&O, the desks that had Defect Detectors had the read out graphing machines directly being the Dispatchers chair.  Upon hearing the machine activate, when possible, the Dispatcher would watch the graph needles do their dance and observe for those that were at variance to the norm of the balance of the train.  Every graph was reviewed, some more timely than others.  Since there weren't radios at the time, the Dispatcher would OK the Operator on the departing side to line the signal as necessary.  If a defect was found the Operator was instructed to hold the signal at STOP and when the train contacted the Operator on the 'block phone' the information would be communicated to the train for their on the ground inspection.

         

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:32 PM

How does the average compensation package for a dispatcher on a Class 1 compare to those for an engineer and conductor?  I am not looking for amounts or any personal information. Somewhat below, about the same, somewhat above, etc. would be a satisfactory answer.  

Also, what are the education requirements for someone who would like to be a dispatcher?  This question probably has been addressed on another thread, but I don't remember the answer.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:51 PM

JPS1
How does the average compensation package for a dispatcher on a Class 1 compare to those for an engineer and conductor?  I am not looking for amounts or any personal information. Somewhat below, about the same, somewhat above, etc. would be a satisfactory answer.  

Also, what are the education requirements for someone who would like to be a dispatcher?  This question probably has been addressed on another thread, but I don't remember the answer.

On my former carrier the Train Dispatcher craft was the highest daily rated of all contract covered employees.  There were two basic Dispatcher rates, one that applied to historical CSX Dispatchers and a lower rate that appliced to historical CR Dispatchers.  In the couple of instances where a CR rated Dispatcher followed their transferred work to a CSX dispatching office, they were paid at the CSX rate.

Some in other crafts may have earned more over the course of a year account overtime, contract penalty payments and other particular payments that specific contracts may require account a defined set of circumstance.

         

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, November 09, 2017 3:58 PM

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/train-dispatcher-salary-SRCH_KO0,16.htm

The number for the UP is about what I've heard ($80K) for a dispatcher.  We've had 3 (1 engineer 2 conductors) from my seniority district transfer over.  On the UP, dispatchers are managment.  (The SP dispatchers were union but I think they no longer are.)  The ATDA has tried to organize the UP dispatchers but so far hasn't been successful.  With a recent reorganization whereby many managers, dispatchers included, have been changed to "supervisors" future attempts might have a different outcome.  

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Posted by JPS1 on Thursday, November 09, 2017 6:39 PM

jeffhergert

https://www.glassdoor.com/Salaries/train-dispatcher-salary-SRCH_KO0,16.htm

The number for the UP is about what I've heard ($80K) for a dispatcher.  We've had 3 (1 engineer 2 conductors) from my seniority district transfer over.  On the UP, dispatchers are managment.  (The SP dispatchers were union but I think they no longer are.)  The ATDA has tried to organize the UP dispatchers but so far hasn't been successful.  With a recent reorganization whereby many managers, dispatchers included, have been changed to "supervisors" future attempts might have a different outcome.  Jeff  

Thanks for the insights.  The second question was about the educational qualifications to become a dispatcher.  Oh, its not about me.  I am 78 and happily retired.

Rio Grande Valley, CFI,CFII

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, November 09, 2017 8:34 PM

JPS1

 

 

Thanks for the insights.  The second question was about the educational qualifications to become about a dispatcher.  Oh, its not about me.  I am 78 and happily retired.

 

That's too bad.  The Iowa Interstate has an opening for a Customer Service Rep/Relief Train Dispatcher.

https://iaisrr.com/contact/careers/  (You may have to click on the individual openings.  They may only be available as long as the opening is active.)

Educational requirements vary.  The IAIS and other railroads, even some class 1's only require being a high school graduate or equivalent.  Even prior experience isn't absolutely necessary.  Others, like the UP, require a college degree.  But then, some on the UP look at a dispatcher's position as "only" an entry level managment job.  They don't expect you to stay in that for your entire career.

https://up.jobs/apprentice-train-dispatcher.html   

Jeff 

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 10, 2017 6:11 PM

When it comes to hiring off the street, CSX would like to see a college degree, however military air traffic controllers will have a leg up, no matter their education.  Company employees seeking to change crafts are accepted with whatever education they were hired on with as well as company supported education they have taken while employeed.  Among the Dispatchers that were hired and trained when CSX decentralised their offices in 2008 at the Baltimore office we had a couple of former locomotive engineers, quite a number of former trainmen/brakeman, a former carman, a former signalman, several former military ATC's and about half a dozen that were 'off the street'.

Once the initial 'appication' is accepted, the applicants take a number of standardized appititude tests in an attempt to measure their ability to think under stress and under a hostile enviornment.  Those that have been deemed to have 'passed' then go through a inteview process with the Chief Dispatcher's that will be selecting dispatchers from this specific training class.  It is possible to be 'washed out' during this interview.  

After getting through all the preliminaries the candidates then begin classroom training at CSX's REDI Center, where initial training is done for all CSX Craft hires.  The REDI training is approximately two months long and deals with how to manipulate the CADS system as well as the Book of Rules and how the CADS system is integrated with the rule book..  There are numerous tests that are performed during the training program.  90% is the passing grade.  Fail too many tests (and it isn't that many) and you will be dropped from training to either look for another job or to return to your previous craft.  While training at REDI they will be paid at a training rate for those off the street or at the rate of their previous craft job for employees changing crafts.

Upon successful completion of the REDI Training Course, the Chief Dispatchers that have vacancies to fill will select from the passing candidates those they want working in their office.  With that selection, the trainees report to that office to begin the OJT phase of their training.  They are to become 'qualified' on two individual dispatching desks before being permitted to WORK a day and thereby establish their seniority date on the Seniority Roster.  During the qualifying period the trainees will work with and be supervised by the dispatchers that work the individual job daily, they will learn the operations on all tricks and all days.  At a minimum they will spend two working weeks per trick per job, so at a minimum 12 weeks - however, very few develop the skills and confidence within this amount of time.  Trying to push a individual to working a Train Dispatcher's job before they FEEL CONFIDENT of their ability to successfully discharge the duties and responsibilities of the job is a recipie for disaster.  

Once a extra dispatcher has established their seniority they will be paid at 75% of the established Dispatcher rate.  Over a five year period, on the anniversary of their seniority date they will receive a 5% increase until they reach the full dispatchers rate.  Qualified Dispatchers that came to CSX from other carriers, after establishing seniority are paid at the full dispatchers rate.  Dispatchers on CSX are represented by the ATDA with two different contracts.  When CSX centralized their existing dispatcher offices to Jacksonville in the 1988-1992 period there was a Master CSX contract that was negotiated that 'smoothed' the relocation heartache of the centralization with money. As a result, CSX train dispatcher offices paid higher daily rates than did the former ConRail offices after the ConRail acquisition became fact on June 1, 1999.  In several cases former CR dispatchers had the opportunity to 'follow their work' and transfer to a CSX office when the territory involved was transfered.  Those individuals were paid at the prevaling CSX rate upon arrival at the CSX office.

The company views Train Dispatcher's as entry level positions.

         

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Posted by zardoz on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:01 PM

BaltACD

The company views Train Dispatcher's as entry level positions.

 

Now THAT is quite absurd.

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Posted by Deggesty on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:05 PM

zardoz
Well, you just no longer have the multitude of operators who might be promotable.

 

 
BaltACD

The company views Train Dispatcher's as entry level positions.

 

 

 

Now THAT is quite absurd.

 

 

Johnny

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, November 10, 2017 9:15 PM

Deggesty
 
zardoz
Well, you just no longer have the multitude of operators who might be promotable. 
BaltACD

The company views Train Dispatcher's as entry level positions. 

Now THAT is quite absurd.

Unfortunately there are no 'apprentice' type positions that give anyone any real insight to the Train Dispatchers position.  Hiring people off the street makes it a entry level position.  Now you aren't drawing these people off the day laborer hiring hall, but no matter how well educated, it is still a entry level position.

         

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Posted by SD70M-2Dude on Friday, November 10, 2017 10:45 PM

BaltACD

Unfortunately there are no 'apprentice' type positions that give anyone any real insight to the Train Dispatchers position.  Hiring people off the street makes it a entry level position.  Now you aren't drawing these people off the day laborer hiring hall, but no matter how well educated, it is still a entry level position.

Exactly.  Conductors are the same way.  The only way to get real railroad experience is to work for a railroad. 

On CN our RTCs are unionized, and are hired & trained in the same way that Balt describes. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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