Trains without crews

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 7:15 AM

Ulrich

More recently we've got automated self checkout machines.. yup.. they're supposed to get rid of those high priced minimum wage cashiers. So about 10 or 15 years later, we've got many stores that have automated self checkouts AND cashiers.. and supervisors who ensure that customers don't cheat the automated checkouts..

I don't know about elsewhere, but at least one grocery chain in the Chicago area (Jewel Food Stores) has phased out its self-checkout machines in favor of manned short order (10 items or less) lines.  Apparently, the reason was for more human interaction with customers and better customer service.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 7:24 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
Apparently, the reason was for more human interaction with customers and better customer service.

I also suspect you'll see that in areas where theft is a greater problem.  The single staffer watching a half dozen self checkouts can only be so observant.

Of course, we recently had an incident here involving a couple of women who filled a cart full of cosmetics, threw their coats over it, and tried to walk out of the store.  They didn't make it...

LarryWhistling
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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 8:52 AM

I am frankly astounded that the last Administration, with its vast knowledge of community organizing, did not take a leaf from the 55mph speed limit boondoggle.  Bet your bottom dollar that every little burg along the way would happily use a subsidized laser gun to track trains going through town, with a nice TCP/IP connection more or less straight to corporate.  A whole nation full of weed weasels, encouraged by appeals to civic duty... or worse.  And then there is the automated-camera-on-a-pole adjunct to impromptu banner tests everywhere and often... and all of it justified by expedient national policy or whatever.

Of course I shouldn't give anyone ideas, because sooner rather than later the party of coercion will be back in authority, now more motivated than ever.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 9:10 AM

Norm48327

 

 
Fred M Cain
Perhaps we could then turn the highways back over to the family car.

 

That's likely to be a "cold day". Trucks will always be needed to get the merchandise from railroad yards to the stores.

While I agree that cross country trucking can generally beat the time it takes on the rails. OTOH, there are high priority trains such as "The Salad Shooter" that make the trip in sufficient time for the produce to still be fresh on arrival. Socal to NY in forty eight hours (I believe) speaks well for the railroads. Well, perhaps make that seventy two hours.

 

The Salad Shooter doesn't run on it's own too often anymore.  The reefers seem to be moved on K and Z trains now.  Met a K-train last night that had one 5-pack double stack.  The rest of the train was reefers and box cars.

UP bought RailEx.  The Salad Shooter Z's started carrying some box car traffic, mostly foodstuffs when I looked when it first started doing so, shortly thereafter.  Until recently, it was still possible to see solid reefer consists both ways.  They had been combining the two sections eastward making a 9000+ ft reefer train at times.  Even with DPU it seemed to have a higher rate of train separations.

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 9:15 AM

jeffhergert
 
Norm48327
 
Fred M Cain
Perhaps we could then turn the highways back over to the family car. 

That's likely to be a "cold day". Trucks will always be needed to get the merchandise from railroad yards to the stores.

While I agree that cross country trucking can generally beat the time it takes on the rails. OTOH, there are high priority trains such as "The Salad Shooter" that make the trip in sufficient time for the produce to still be fresh on arrival. Socal to NY in forty eight hours (I believe) speaks well for the railroads. Well, perhaps make that seventy two hours. 

The Salad Shooter doesn't run on it's own too often anymore.  The reefers seem to be moved on K and Z trains now.  Met a K-train last night that had one 5-pack double stack.  The rest of the train was reefers and box cars.

UP bought RailEx.  The Salad Shooter Z's started carrying some box car traffic, mostly foodstuffs when I looked when it first started doing so, shortly thereafter.  Until recently, it was still possible to see solid reefer consists both ways.  They had been combining the two sections eastward making a 9000+ ft reefer train at times.  Even with DPU it seemed to have a higher rate of train separations.

Jeff

The longer the car, the more 'Rube Goldberg' the air hose couplings as they have to account for the wide swings of the end of the car when negotiating curvature - Rube Goldberg 'inventions' were never known for their reliability.

         

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 4:31 PM

Overmod
I am frankly astounded that the last Administration, with its vast knowledge of community organizing, did not take a leaf from the 55mph speed limit boondoggle. Bet your bottom dollar that every little burg along the way would happily use a subsidized laser gun to track trains going through town, with a nice TCP/IP connection more or less straight to corporate. A whole nation full of weed weasels, encouraged by appeals to civic duty... or worse. And then there is the automated-camera-on-a-pole adjunct to impromptu banner tests everywhere and often... and all of it justified by expedient national policy or whatever.

Political ranting aside,

Our engines already have satellite tracking (much of it real time).  And people still do call the police all the time when they think trains are going "too fast".  Police happily take the reports and then ask them "uhh.. and what do you want us to do?"

 

 

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by M636C on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 5:35 PM

 

Trains without Crews January Issue - Rio Tinto believe ECP Brakes are required

 

It seems pretty clear That Justin Franz hasn’t been to Western Australia, nor has he been to the Pilbara. Not even to the picturesque and readily accessible parts like Harding Dam, the bottom photo on page 31 of January Trains.

 

He spoke to a former NYAB engineer who had worked on the Autohaul system sometime between 2013 and 2016….

 

Rio Tinto already have a fixed block system which dates back more than a decade. The existing system combines the features of PTC and Leader. I was invited into a locomotive stopped at a siding in mid-2006. The system displayed where we were, what the aspect of the (imaginary) signal ahead of us was (Stop), the distance we could move forward (400 metres) and a recommended train speed (0 km/h). The signal post was still there, with the name of the siding on it, but it had no lamps. All indications were displayed on the two screens in the Dash 9-44CW, one of two on the train. In 2006, the train still had Westinghouse brakes.

 

Rio may go to a moving block system, but they don’t need to, the existing fixed bock system will do the job.

 

While Rio Tinto’s operation and the planned introduction of Driverless trains was mentioned, the extent of work required and the timescale indicated suggested neither that the author nor his technical source were really familiar with this operation.

 

There were trains fitted with test Autohaul units in 2006. I have photos of them. The whole system fitted into a box that sat in the walkway connection between the handrails on the locomotive nose, about six inches thick and as high and wide as the gap in the handrails. A separate antenna fixed to the locomotive nose was used. The Autohaul unit connected to the locomotive in the simplest way possible, having a cable and plug that connected to the nose MU socket.

 

I’ve seen a photo taken at GE Erie around 2006 that clearly shows the same driverless test equipment attached to a Union Pacific AC4400CW.

 

This equipment is the result of more than forty years of testing and trials. I myself carried out coupler force measurements on what was then the Hamersley Iron railway in 1977 and 1978, and two Professors of Mechanical Engineering from the University of Western Australia were working on recording and analysing train dynamics at that time.

 

In 1984, I was shown the cab of a newly rebuilt Alco C636, Hamersley Iron 3008, which included a dual screen display that already included much of the data shown on the “Leader” screen on page 31. It was displayed on black and white cathode ray tube displays, of course, which were all that was available 34 years ago.

 

As I understand it, Rio are only currently considering driverless operation of trains with the standard pairs of ECP braked cars, running on the former Hamersley line and its major branches. Rio use only the direct ECP system, with no provision for operation in Westinghouse braked trains. I believe this simplification is what has provided Australian operators with much greater reliability than the dual system tested in the USA.

 

Some history of the Rio Tinto operation is needed here:

 

The Rio Tinto system is the combination of two lines built independently, the Hamersley Iron line from Dampier to Mount Tom Price and Paraburdoo, and the Robe River line from Cape Lambert to Pannawonica. These two lines crossed at Western Creek, forming an irregular “X” shape.

 

In the late 1990s, Robe River wanted to exploit some ore reserves at West Angelas, which was relatively close to the Hamersley line, but would require construction of a new line by Robe River. The two companies merged, becoming Pilbara Iron, and a new junction was built at Western Creek.

 

The West Angelas mine used Hamersley Iron type ore cars and a second dumper to suit these was installed at Cape Lambert. Later, the track from Western Junction to Cape Lambert was duplicated (just visible in the photo on page 31) and a third dumper installed.

 

The editors slipped up in their illustration, too. While I can’t argue with the location, Harding Dam  (about half way from Cape Lambert to Western Creek) being one of the best locations on the entire line, and I try to go there every trip I make to the area, the train is a Pannawonica train made up of J type cars, which still have Westinghouse brakes. I don’t think these trains will be converted to driverless operation in the near future, since the Pannawonica line is not equipped with the in cab signalling system and Westinghouse brakes are not regarded as reliable enough for driverless operation.

 

The J cars were named after the mine in use at the time classifications were thought necessary, (called Mesa J). They are now mining Mesa A much further West. These mines have only primary crushing, and large lumps of ore can find their way into the J cars which are bit stronger(heavier beams and thicker plate) than the other types of car. I’ve seen lumps the size of a Volkswagen Golf weighing in excess of ten tonnes, some balanced on the top of a heap in the car.

 

Rio Tinto have been saying that driverless operation will start next year for at least ten years now. It might happen in 2018. But they have been running with one person crews for more than ten years and the existing system has all the safety features projected for driverless operation. The savings may not be as great as expected as the whole operation in pretty lean anyway.

 

And as the railway manager said in 1973, the cost of running the railway is significantly less than the cost of running the conveyer belts at the two ports anyway….

 

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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, December 06, 2017 11:21 PM

zugmann

 

 
Overmod
I am frankly astounded that the last Administration, with its vast knowledge of community organizing, did not take a leaf from the 55mph speed limit boondoggle. Bet your bottom dollar that every little burg along the way would happily use a subsidized laser gun to track trains going through town, with a nice TCP/IP connection more or less straight to corporate. A whole nation full of weed weasels, encouraged by appeals to civic duty... or worse. And then there is the automated-camera-on-a-pole adjunct to impromptu banner tests everywhere and often... and all of it justified by expedient national policy or whatever.

 

Political ranting aside,

Our engines already have satellite tracking (much of it real time).  And people still do call the police all the time when they think trains are going "too fast".  Police happily take the reports and then ask them "uhh.. and what do you want us to do?"

 

 

 

"Hey, You in the locomotive!  Pull over to the side."

Jeff

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Posted by M636C on Thursday, December 07, 2017 5:51 AM

jeffhergert

 

 
zugmann

 

Political ranting aside,

Our engines already have satellite tracking (much of it real time).  And people still do call the police all the time when they think trains are going "too fast".  Police happily take the reports and then ask them "uhh.. and what do you want us to do?" 

"Hey, You in the locomotive!  Pull over to the side."

Jeff

 

Trains on the ARTC network in Australia all report their speed to a system called 4Trak, which shows the location of all trains on the network about a minute delayed. It is really great for railfans.

I've seen passenger trains displaying speeds up to 154 km/h.

Apparently trains are supposed to slow to 120 km/h at grade crossings to reduce the chances of motorists misjudging their speed.

In the 1980s, the then new XPT trains made some high speed runs for PR purposes. it was arranged for the highway patrol to track them on their radar guns which gave a speed of 193 km/h, around 120 mph.

Peter

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Posted by Fred M Cain on Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:40 AM

quote user="zugmann"]

Overmod

I am frankly astounded that the last Administration, with its vast knowledge of community organizing, did not take a leaf from the 55mph speed limit boondoggle. Bet your bottom dollar that every little burg along the way would happily use a subsidized laser gun to track trains going through town, with a nice TCP/IP connection more or less straight to corporate. A whole nation full of weed weasels, encouraged by appeals to civic duty... or worse. And then there is the automated-camera-on-a-pole adjunct to impromptu banner tests everywhere and often... and all of it justified by expedient national policy or whatever.

Our engines already have satellite tracking (much of it real time).  And people still do call the police all the time when they think trains are going "too fast".  Police happily take the reports and then ask them "uhh.. and what do you want us to do?"

 [/quote]

 

Near where I live, the Goshen, Indiana police were attempting to ticket NS crews for a while for blocked crossings.  Right after the split-up of Conrail it was particulary bad.  The Elkhart yard was filling up and there was no track space to bring in road crews so they were backing up on the main and blocking crossings.

I have always wondered about how this was resolved.  Do local authorities actually have the authority to do this?  I somehow thought that local authorities have no or little jurisdiction when it comes to interstate traffic.  Probably in the interest of good community relations, NS just paid the tickets but I don't know that either.

Another question is that usually when someone gets a ticket in Indiana they get negative "points" agains their drivers license.  So, how is this gonna work with a train since that is not a motor vehicle to used on the highways?

 

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

[

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:50 AM

Fred M Cain
Another question is that usually when someone gets a ticket in Indiana they get negative "points" agains their drivers license.  So, how is this gonna work with a train since that is not a motor vehicle to used on the highways?

Regards,

Fred M. Cain

Crews are cautioned to never show their Drivers License to local authorities - only their Railroad Certification cards.  Locals are all too willing to apply Driver License points to incidents involving trains.

         

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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, December 07, 2017 10:54 AM

BaltACD
Crews are cautioned to never show their Drivers License to local authorities - only their Railroad Certification cards. Locals are all too willing to apply Driver License points to incidents involving trains.

"uhh.. what's the license plate number on this train?"  -- officer to one of our crews after they hit a truck at a crossing.

I always thought RRs should provide training to trackside police jurisdictions.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:00 AM

BaltACD
Crews are cautioned to never show their Drivers License to local authorities - only their Railroad Certification cards.  Locals are all too willing to apply Driver License points to incidents involving trains.

I carry my RR cards in my grip.  There are those who don't even carry their wallet (and thus their DLIC) when they're working.

 

LarryWhistling
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Posted by zugmann on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:05 AM

tree68
I carry my RR cards in my grip. There are those who don't even carry their wallet (and thus their DLIC) when they're working.

I was always told you need to carry your certification (conductor, RCO, engineer) on your person.  So if I'm outside throwing switches, the FRA can walk up to me and I must have my certs on me. Not in my grip or on the engine (or locker room).

 

Maybe I'm wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.

The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:32 AM

zugmann
Maybe I'm wrong.  Wouldn't be the first time.

You may be right.  Unfortunately, after a couple of years in their wallet, some folk's cards are illegible.  Makes it hard to sign them after check rides, etc.  We haven't gotten to nice plastic IDs with your picture, yet.

At least I know that if I have my grip, I've got all my documentation.  

LarryWhistling
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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, December 07, 2017 11:50 AM

The picture on my railroad issued ID, not my railroad issued Engineer's license, is fading fast.  (Still, an above average likeness.Laugh)  I only use the plain ID to check into the motel.  Others use their license certificate.  I only take it out when requested by management (haven't been asked by the FRA yet) and then back into the wallet.  There have been times when the desk clerk at motels have mixed up the IDs when returning them.

Which reminds me I need a new plain ID.  I need to have my picture taken at a camera (kind of like the kind at the DMV) in the terminal office.  The problem is only one manager knows how to run it.  Finding any manager actually being in the office is hard enough, let alone the specific one.

Jeff   

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, December 07, 2017 12:32 PM

Not sure if a passport photo would work, but the post office, CVS, walgreen's, walmart and others can do it for around $10.

 

also the new DL's are differnt now .. need everything including a note from your mother ..

 

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, December 07, 2017 1:23 PM

rdamon
Not sure if a passport photo would work, but the post office, CVS, walgreen's, walmart and others can do it for around $10. 

also the new DL's are differnt now .. need everything including a note from your mother .. 

https://www.dhs.gov/real-id

All in the name of security.  Real or illusory?

         

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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, December 07, 2017 3:26 PM

I think you know that answer ... ;)

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