How specific is a slow order?

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How specific is a slow order?
Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:05 PM

     Since last fall. the trains going by near my office have been putt-putting along at maybe 10 mph. Those have always been long trains traversing what I figure is a slow ordered section of track to the north. On my way home tonight I saw a train of about 10 tank cars and 2 locomotives. Being a gorgeous day out, I took a gravel road home and paced the train. It moved right along, and then slowed way down to tippy-toe past a spot. After that it tool off like someone was late for dinner. Could a slow order be put on a very specific spot only?

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Posted by cx500 on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:47 PM

The length of the slow order can be of any length, although some rules may require it be at least a tenth of a mile.  It will apply until the entire train has passed over the trouble spot.  Obviously a short train will be completely clear and resuming speed sooner than a 200 car land barge.

One time it will be a specific spot is if the problem is with the crossing warning system.  Then as soon as the crosssing is occupied the train can start accelerating.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 6:51 PM

Murphy Siding
     Since last fall. the trains going by near my office have been putt-putting along at maybe 10 mph. Those have always been long trains traversing what I figure is a slow ordered section of track to the north. On my way home tonight I saw a train of about 10 tank cars and 2 locomotives. Being a gorgeous day out, I took a gravel road home and paced the train. It moved right along, and then slowed way down to tippy-toe past a spot. After that it tool off like someone was late for dinner. Could a slow order be put on a very specific spot only?

Can't speak to your particular carrier or location.

NORMALLY, with CSX the minimum slow order distance is 1/10 of a mile.  That being the case, with a 10000 foot train, braking has to start so the the head end of the train is at the slow order speed at the specified start MP of the slow order.  Then the ENTIRE TRAIN must get past the spcified ending MP before the train can be accelerated back to track speed.  The bigger the train, the more the delay account of the slow order.

In another thread I mentioned a head of train only slow order, these are normally in the TTSI accout of local towns believing their citizens aren't sufficiently competent to be clear of a train approaching at track speed.

         

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 8:07 AM

     Are there mile markers on the road marked out in 1/10 miles so you can tell when you're at mile 98.6?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 8:52 AM

Murphy Siding
     Are there mile markers on the road marked out in 1/10 miles so you can tell when you're at mile 98.6?

I believe, only whole mileposts are staked into the ground.

In days gone by, the telephone/telegraph poles (at least on the B&O) were marked with a form of mile post location.  Additionally intermediate signals that have a number board have the milepost designation stated in that number borad.

Part of the qualification procedure for Engineers in particular as well as to a lesser extent for Conductors is that they be intimately qualified on the territory they operate.  Secondarily, on todays locomotive there are distance counters that can be activated by the engineer to detirmine the exact distance from a point of the engineers designation.

         

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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:08 AM

The UP tracks I'm familiar with are marked in quarter-miles.  In addition, there will be a red board at the beginning of the slow order, and a yellow-red board two miles ahead of that.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:26 AM

CShaveRR
The UP tracks I'm familiar with are marked in quarter-miles.  In addition, there will be a red board at the beginning of the slow order, and a yellow-red board two miles ahead of that.  

While it is not the preferred method - slow orders can be issued WITHOUT boards being in place.  (Track Inspectors making their routine inspections MAY discover more defective locations than they have temporary boards for - they will have the Dispatcher issue the slow order with the notation that boards ARE NOT displayed.  When possible they will obtain boards and come back and install them and they will then notifiy the Dispatcher that the boards are in place and the notation can be changed.)

         

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Posted by traisessive1 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:48 AM

On CN in Canada they will be very specific about the mile point. The slow could be at mile 14.5. Just that single spot. 

When flags are up, a yellow flag marks two miles to the start of the slow and the slow has green flags on either end of it - only a single flag if the slow is a single point like at 14.5 for example. Often flags don't ever get put up so our GBO for the slow will tell us that. 

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 10:43 AM

Murphy Siding

     Are there mile markers on the road marked out in 1/10 miles so you can tell when you're at mile 98.6?

 

They mark most bridges around here.  So even though there are only milepost signs, underpasses and overpasses usually are marked.   On amtrak, they have many of the cat poles marked.  That's nice.

 

Our RR doesn't use board for slow orders.   NORAC roads do, though.

But many of our miles aren't 5280'.  There are places with 2000' miles, and others with 7000' miles.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:27 AM

zugmann
But many of our miles aren't 5280'.  There are places with 2000' miles, and others with 7000' miles.

There are many locations where miles aren't 5280 feet - this happens mostly with minor line relocations over the years - a washout here, a land slide there, a public works project over there.  On CSX such anomilies get listed in the employee timetable.

         

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 11:49 AM

Whether we see signs or not is often a matter of how long the slow order will be in place.  If it's just going to be a day or so until MOW can deal with the issue, it usually just gets a mention in Form D's.

If we do post signs, a sign a mile out will indicate the required speed, followed by yellow, then green at the end.  And, it'll get mention in a bulletin order.

Temporary slow orders are often from full mile to full mile, since we don't have intermediate references.

Our permanent slow orders (a couple of bridges) have no signs.  They are listed in the ETT.

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 12:59 PM

zugmann

But many of our miles aren't 5280'.  There are places with 2000' miles, and others with 7000' miles.

 

Must be metric. Hmm

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Posted by diningcar on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 1:39 PM

Murphy Siding
zugmann But many of our miles aren't 5280'. There are places with 2000' miles, and others with 7000' miles.

When first constructed RR's took the easiest and least expensive routes because of the construction tools available, to get done quickly and to make the money go as far as possibe. Later there were many line changes to achieve -higher speed- less grade- avoid high water situations and even later because government wanted to build dams or other projects. The milepost located just before the line change was used to establish new MP's along the relocated alinement. Then at the end of the line change an equation was established to thus continue using the old MP's beyond the line change. This resulted in there being either a 'long or short mile" at the end of the line change. 

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Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 4:52 PM

OK. there is a line relocation for whatever reason.  Is the chnage first issued to crews in a Track Bulletin, General Order or crew breifing prior to departure from their initial terminal ?

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 5:27 PM

diningcar

 

 

 

When first constructed RR's took the easiest and least expensive routes because of the construction tools available, to get done quickly and to make the money go as far as possibe. Later there were many line changes to achieve -higher speed- less grade- avoid high water situations and even later because government wanted to build dams or other projects. The milepost located just before the line change was used to establish new MP's along the relocated alinement. Then at the end of the line change an equation was established to thus continue using the old MP's beyond the line change. This resulted in there being either a 'long or short mile" at the end of the line change. 

 

How are milepost miles altered when there is a major line change, like the Lucin Cut-off of some of the Rocky Mountain passes?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 5:33 PM

caldreamer
OK. there is a line relocation for whatever reason.  Is the chnage first issued to crews in a Track Bulletin, General Order or crew breifing prior to departure from their initial terminal ?

It is normally announced on whatever kind of bulletin system the carrier uses.  For the most part, crews are aware that the changes will be coming since many of them will have worked on Work Train under the authority of the MofW Department on the new 'dead' track.  These kind of changes do not happen overnight, they are generally several months in construction.  When the track is ready for use, a Bulletin will be issued putting it in service and specifying any restrictions that may be necessary - slow orders, close clearances, debris along right of way etc.

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 7:55 PM

Different roads have different ways of noting changes in the ETT. SP would have the old and new distances at points where changes had been made. SFe and BN would show the new distances between stations--yet keep the mileposts in the same locations. Some roads, such as ACL and D&RGW (e.g., it is shown that it is 0.7 miles between MP 393 and 395), would have notes indicating the new distance between two certain mileposts in the ETT.

As to the Lucin cutoff, the miles from San Francisco continued; I have not seen any ETT which showed both the route over Promontory Summit and through Promontory Point (which is right on the lake).

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Posted by zardoz on Wednesday, April 11, 2018 8:02 PM

Murphy Siding

 

 
zugmann

But many of our miles aren't 5280'.  There are places with 2000' miles, and others with 7000' miles.

 

 

 

Must be metric. Hmm

 

 

Or Imperial.

   

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:08 AM

CShaveRR

The UP tracks I'm familiar with are marked in quarter-miles.  In addition, there will be a red board at the beginning of the slow order, and a yellow-red board two miles ahead of that.  

 

Carl's thinking of a Form B with the red and yellow-red boards.  The speed restrictions get a yellow board two miles (If a shorter distance, must be in writing on the bulletin.) in advance and a green board at the end.  Or sometimes no boards displayed and that fact will be listed in the bulletins.  Once in a while a slow is listed with no flags displayed and then they do put out flags.  You come across it without being told about the change and what you have is an unannounced yellow board situation.  

Miliage changes appear in the time table, for example MP 211.06 = MP 214.  I did notice today that the example equation I used now has a sign in the field for it.  Those miliage equations usually are reserved for major line changes where you lose a few miles.  Minor ones result in long or short miles.  Even where there haven't been changes made, most miles aren't exact 5280 feet.  Most have a give or take of up to a couple hundred feet.

Jeff

    

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:45 AM

jeffhergert
Even where there haven't been changes made, most miles aren't exact 5280 feet.  Most have a give or take of up to a couple hundred feet.

Jeff

As do Mileposts that exist on the Interstate Highways.  Sometimes I will use my stop watch to time my speeds between MP.  With cruise control holding steady, time variances highlight the long and short miles.

         

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Posted by diningcar on Thursday, April 12, 2018 11:53 AM

Murphy Siding
How are milepost miles altered when there is a major line change, like the Lucin Cut-off of some of the Rocky Mountain passes?

The Lucin Cut-off is interesting, first because when the two lines met at Promintory there were MP's from Omaha and from Sacremento that were so divergent some adjustment or explanation would be needed 'if indeed MP's were utilized in operations' at that time'. 

I presume that each RR created a solution to the given situation when new routes were created which diverted from and then rejoined an existing or a different route; with the objective to minimize confusion and to make the adjustment as inexpensive aspossible.

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Posted by mudchicken on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:06 PM

Equations or short/long miles and a timetable change.

Line changes don't happen overnight, you've got time to plan how to cover the change. Mileposts in the field are just signs and they tend to wander. (The true location of the milepost is a theoretical location on a map - really confused? call out da mudchickens to mark the exact spot.)

Sat in more than one investigation where operating people argued semantics over position of Slow orders and Form B boards ... kinda weird and wonky discussions. Dunce

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, April 12, 2018 1:30 PM

Regarding slow order flags, if there are no flags in place and the area is not outlined by some other identifiable location (mileposts etc) we are expected to use the locomotive's distance counter to find the start/end points.  0.1 miles = 528 feet, right?

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 3:15 PM

SD70Dude
 0.1 miles = 528 feet, right?

Sure!  Unless it's more - or less...  Smile, Wink & Grin

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:01 PM

SD70Dude

Regarding slow order flags, if there are no flags in place and the area is not outlined by some other identifiable location (mileposts etc) we are expected to use the locomotive's distance counter to find the start/end points.  0.1 miles = 528 feet, right?

 

Actual location for board placement seems to be up to a lot of discretion and interpretation.  For example, a board that needs to be placed at MP 100.1 is only 50 feet beyond the actual mile post.  That creative placement happens quite often.  Unless the board location is an actual mile post or quarter post location, I'll allow a little lee way for placement.  If it's too much of a stretch, it's an unannounced yellow board.

We have about three large line changes on the west end of my working district.  Only one was enough to require the mileage equation.  The others were handled through longer or shorter miles.  One of those resulted in a mile that's about 3/4 of a fegular mile.  Once as a conductor, I had student conductor doing his ojt.  One feature most modern locomotives have is a "measured mile" timing feature.  It's a timer that calculates your average speed between mile posts.  It's used to check your speedometer.  I decided to show this student how to use this feature on this short mile.  Of course, the student didn't know it wasn't a short mile.  We were just under our maximum speed when we timed the mile.  I had the student concerned a bit when the feature said our speed was about 15 or so mph above what the speedometer was reading.

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Posted by Paul_D_North_Jr on Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:45 PM

jeffhergert
CShaveRR

The UP tracks I'm familiar with are marked in quarter-miles.  In addition, there will be a red board at the beginning of the slow order, and a yellow-red board two miles ahead of that.   

Jeff

Then there's the story in the anthology A Treasury of Railroad Folklore, by Botkin and Harlow: A track foreman was ordered to build a section house halfway between 2 mileposts.  He built it, but then a few days later an official came along and measured the distances between the mileposts and the section house, and found that it was a couple of hundred feet closer to one milepost than the other.  So he ordered the foreman to locate the section house exactly halfway between the mileposts.  

A few days said worthy official came by again, and asked the foreman if the section house was exactly halfway between the mileposts, and the foreman said that it was.  So the official then asked if he's taken the section house apart, moved it, and then rebuilt it?  The foreman said no, he wouldn't waste the time to do all that work - he just moved one of the mileposts instead!

- PDN. 

"This Fascinating Railroad Business" (title of 1943 book by Robert Selph Henry of the AAR)

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