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Nasty wreck

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Nasty wreck
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, September 2, 2021 5:33 PM

Still in training.


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Posted by rdamon on Thursday, September 2, 2021 6:55 PM
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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, September 2, 2021 7:42 PM

It appears to have been head-on. Does Canada have PTC on primary main lines?

Still in training.


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Posted by beaulieu on Thursday, September 2, 2021 9:32 PM

Lithonia Operator

It appears to have been head-on. Does Canada have PTC on primary main lines?

 
No PTC in Canada anywhere.
 
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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, September 2, 2021 9:36 PM

Not far from me, but on the other side of the river.  Looks like a mess.

They had a big tire fire up that way yesterday.  I doubt the two are related.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, September 3, 2021 2:24 AM

No PTC in Canada, and depending on what happened here it might not have been any help.  Or it could have prevented this.   

The trains involved are westbound intermodal Z14921 02 and eastbound local switcher L53231 02.  149 is a priority Montreal to Chicago train, and on this day it was over 12,000' and nearly 15,000 tons, conventional, and had two ET44ACs for power (3046 and 3102).  532 originated in Brockville, not far to the west, and had a pair of GP38-2s (CN 4799 and IC 9629).

This part of the Kingston Subdivision is double track CTC, with a unsignalled industrial track to the north of the two main tracks.  There is a hand operated crossover between the north main track and the industrial lead immediately east of the Edward Street overpass.  One photo appears to show underailed intermodal cars occupying part of this crossover, with the crash occurring immediately to the west of the overpass.  

The fact that those few cars are not derailed indicates that the switch was lined away from the north track and into the industrial lead when 149 arrived there.  

Also, I was told that the injury count is one serious (perhaps life threatening), one in shock, and two with relatively minor injuries.  

The Kingston Sub sees more VIA trains than freights, and P42s with LRC coaches are allowed 100 mph over much of the line.  Lucky that none of them were involved here.

As I write this the Kingston Sub is still shut down in the area.  VIA has chosen to reroute its Montreal-Toronto trains through Ottawa, one westbound that was nearing the crash site had its passengers transferred to buses for the remainder of their journey to Toronto.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 5:27 PM

I've heard a bit more information about what happened here, and the aftermath.

532's engineer suffered the worst physical injuries, his surgery went well and he is recovering at home.  The others are alright physically but how bad their mental scars are remains to be seen.  I hope they are all able to get whatever help they need and eventually recover.  

The RTC gave 532 permission (a track warrant) to enter the north main track at a hand operated switch in front of 149, erroneously believing that 149 had already passed the location of the switch.  When the computer started giving alarms/warnings that there was another train already in the block the RTC ignored/overrode them and issued the authority anyway.  

532's crew lined the switch after 149 had already entered the block on a permissive signal indication, but they had not yet pulled out onto the north main track when the collision occurred.  

As they were approaching the spur at close to track speed (50 to 60 mph) one of 149's crew called 532 to warn them that they would be passing right beside them at speed, this is a common courtesy between crews but is not required by the rulebook or operating manual.  It is only at this point that the crews realized a mistake had been made and a crash was imminent.  149's crew started braking and as a result were only doing about 30 mph upon impact.  

This was very, very bad, but it could have been a lot worse.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 6:17 PM

Is the territory truly DARK or is it Track Warrants in conjunction with a Automatic Block Signal System?

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 7:22 PM

Double track CTC.  In Canada a written CTC authority is called a track warrant, our method of dark territory operation is called OCS (Occupancy Control System), and an authority to occupy the main track in OCS is called a clearance.  

In our CTC system it is possible for the RTC to give another train or foreman permission to occupy the main track immediately behind another train, even if the first train is still in the same block.

When giving such an authority the RTC is supposed to first obtain an o/s time from someone out in the field in order to ensure that the preceding train is indeed past the location.  I've done this a number of times over the years.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD60MAC9500 on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 8:10 PM
 

Appreciate the updates 70Dude. I figured this was a RTC error/miscommunication.

 
 
Rahhhhhhhhh!!!!
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Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 8:25 PM

Our dispatchers can also give authority to enter a CTC controlled track behind trains.  Before giving such authority, the person requesting must have verified that the train has passed the location where the main track will be entered.  The person must now determine this by contacting the train by radio, either directly or through the dispatcher.  It is no longer permitted to only use visual identification because of a mishap a few years ago.

MOW/Signal people also will notify the train once they've obtained authority that they'll be occupying the track behind them.  "Contact Foreman Smith before making any reverse moves."

Was the hand throw switch equipped with an electric lock or governing signal?  Our rules require one or the other for hand throw switches within CTC (depending on allowed speed on main tracks or controlled sidings, etc.) to allow a train or engine to clear the CTC controlled track in the first place.

Our (on the company I work for) current version of PTC wouldn't have prevented this.  Our hand throws aren't yet wired into the system.  Since the train on the main had already went past the last governing signal, PTC wouldn't have detected the open switch in that circumstance.  Similar to our incident at Stanwood, IA a couple of summers back.

Jeff 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 9:17 PM

jeffhergert

Was the hand throw switch equipped with an electric lock or governing signal?  Our rules require one or the other for hand throw switches within CTC (depending on allowed speed on main tracks or controlled sidings, etc.) to allow a train or engine to clear the CTC controlled track in the first place.

No idea if this switch had an electric lock or not, but it did not have a signal.  I've never actually seen an electric lock in person as CN doesn't have any left in western Canada, but it might be different down east.

I'm not aware of any such rule existing in Canada, I've cleared and re-entered the main track at plain old hand operated switches in 70 or 80 mph passenger territory before.  I've seen the "must not clear the main track" message in old timetables, but the current ones do not contain any such requirement.  

I've had foremen put on behind me without contacting us on a number of occasions, so I don't believe they are required to contact the train here.  They are required to make a radio broadcast stating their location, track and direction once they have put on.  

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, September 14, 2021 11:17 PM

SD70Dude
  
jeffhergert

Was the hand throw switch equipped with an electric lock or governing signal?  Our rules require one or the other for hand throw switches within CTC (depending on allowed speed on main tracks or controlled sidings, etc.) to allow a train or engine to clear the CTC controlled track in the first place.  

No idea if this switch had an electric lock or not, but it did not have a signal.  I've never actually seen an electric lock in person as CN doesn't have any left in western Canada, but it might be different down east. 

I'm not aware of any such rule existing in Canada, I've cleared and re-entered the main track at plain old hand operated switches in 70 or 80 mph passenger territory before.  I've seen the "must not clear the main track" message in old timetables, but the current ones do not contain any such requirement.   

I've had foremen put on behind me without contacting us on a number of occasions, so I don't believe they are required to contact the train here.  They are required to make a radio broadcast stating their location, track and direction once they have put on.  

On CSX (and where the FRA rules govern) a main track switch in signaled territory must be electrically locked IF 1. a train can clear in the track the switch governs and 2. the normal track speed for that territory is in excess of 20 MPH.

If a train clears in a non-electrically locked track - the Train Dispatcher 'is supposed to' put out a train message restricting that particular segment of track to a maximum speed of 20 MPH.

Any train entering a track from a non-electrically locked track is to 1. Obtain Train Dispatcher permission to open the swich and occupy the track. 2. Open the switch to the signaled track.  3. Wait 5 minutes to see if another train comes into view.  4. If the way is clear - enter the main track with the train

Rules are different between US and Canada.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 1:51 AM

The 5 minute rule is a holdover from the days of train orders and operating without onboard radios.  I think it's still in the CROR for ABS territory but it has been gone from the CTC rules for at least as long as I've been working.  Same goes for having to approach the next signal prepared to stop if you were delayed in the block. 

CN no longer has any ABS territory in Canada and that portion of the CROR is not in our rulebook, so newer employees have likely never heard of those concepts.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 7:03 AM

I recall reading years ago that some switches had a timer built in for that purpose.  I don't recall if the timer prevented the switch from being thrown or simply served as a reminder not to throw the switch until the timer ran out.

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 7:24 AM

"Rail Traffic Controller" seems like a modern term. Back in the day, did Canadian roads also use the term "dispatcher?"

In the case of this accident, will the RTC almost certainly get fired?

Still in training.


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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 8:39 AM

tree68
I recall reading years ago that some switches had a timer built in for that purpose.  I don't recall if the timer prevented the switch from being thrown or simply served as a reminder not to throw the switch until the timer ran out.

I believe Electric Lock switches create the 5 minute delay within their circuitry.  The electric lock circuitry is designed to distinguish track occupancy between the Main track and the 'other' track.

If track occupancy on the Main is detected when the attempt is made to operate the switch - the switch will operate immediately without any delay.

If track occupancy is on the 'other' track AND NOT on the Main Track, the circuitry will 'shunt' the Main Track to drop any signals that may have been lined to their most restrictive indication and also start a timer (nominally 5 minutes - the time can be set to different values), after the timer has run the switch can be manipulated as desired.

There is also a Electric Lock switch that the Train Dispatcher directly controls the locking mechanism from the Dispatchers model board.

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Posted by zugmann on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 9:07 AM

BaltACD
I believe Electric Lock switches create the 5 minute delay within their circuitry.  The electric lock circuitry is designed to distinguish track occupancy between the Main track and the 'other' track. If track occupancy on the Main is detected when the attempt is made to operate the switch - the switch will operate immediately without any delay.

Some do.  Others have a timer that has to run down if you're entering the main, regardless of track occupancy before the switch will allow you to throw it.  Those can be 5 minute timers - or I've used some that were almost 20 minutes.  Clearing the main, the switch should unlock right away. 

You remove the padlock, hit the foot pedal, and then wait the designated amount of time for the light to come on (or change colors) before the keeper unlocks so you can throw it. 

 

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

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Posted by dpeltier on Wednesday, September 15, 2021 10:51 PM

There have been a number of useful posts describing electric locks. I'm not sure I'm going to add anything that hasn't already been said, but I thought that for people not familiar with the concept a summary might be nice.

An electric lock is a device that is placed on a hand-throw switch for the sole and express purpose of preventing exactly the kind of incident described by SD70Dude, where a train enters main track at a hand-throw switch and collides with a train that was proceeding on the main line following signal indications. In the US they are required in the circumstances where that scenario is most likely to happen, namely when the hand-throw switch meets all of the following criteria:

1.) Switch is in CTC territory.

2.) Trains are allowed to clear mainline at this switch (as opposed to, say, a short setout track). If a train can't clear the main track at the switch, then generally there is no possibility of a train entering the main track here either.

3.) Main track speed is high enough that people wouldn't be able to see and react to the situation in time to prevent a collision. (FRA defimes "high enough" as > 20 MPH for a mainline track and > 30 MPH for a siding.)

An electric lock, as the name suggests, is a switch lock. It prevents the points of the switch from moving. To unlock the switch, one of two things has to happen. The simpler but less interesting case is when a train is on the mainline and wants to make a facing point move through the diverging route. In this situation, the crew must stop the train directly in front of the switch, and then turn a toggle to unlock the switch. There is a short (~200') track circuit in front of the switch point - if this circuit is shunted when the toggle is thrown, the machine will unlock immediately.

On the other hand, if there is nothing immediately in front of the switch when someone toggles the the toggle, the machine assumes that a train is seeking to ENTER the main line. So, the first thing it does is turn the status of the block to occupied - just like an actual open switch would. That sets the signals protecting the block to their most restrictive aspect (like STOP or RESTRICTING). But the switch point lock does not release immediately. Instead, it starts running a timer. Once the timer has run all the way down, THEN the switch unlocks.

The principle is that, if a train tries to enter the main line while another train has already been lined through on the main, that mainline train should show up BEFORE the switch unlocks; or, the mainline train should be far enough away that it can comply with the restrictive signals at either end of the block. In either event one or both crews have a chance to see that something is wrong, the trains can stop without colliding, and the trainmaster and chief dispatchers can start getting hold of the drug testing company.

The length of the timer is set based on the following: take the distance from the switch to the farthest signal that will display a non-CLEAR aspect when the timer starts. Remember, when the timer starts, the signals for the block that the switch is in turn "red". That's going to cause Approach and probably Advance Approach signals further out, so the distance can easily be almost 3 blocks long. Now, figure out the maximum length of time that a train can take to cover that distance without triggering the Delayed In Block rule. That time, probably with some adjustments or buffers, is how long the timer will run for to ensure that any other trains out there have either passed by or stopped at the red signals. My impression was that the timer is typically much longer than 5 minutes, with 10-20 minutes being the more common range.

The same principle applies at control points and interlockings, too. If a dispatcher has signals displayed for one route, and then he changes his mind and takes those signals away so that he can line a different route instead, that second route won't line until a timer has run. Any train that was already proceeding based on the first set of signals has either arrived at the control point and taken the original route (which was clear when it was lined and should still be safe now), or has stopped short of the control point, by the time the first route unlocks.

This is all part of the principle that says that the signal system should make it more or less impossible for dispatcher error alone to cause a train collision in CTC territory. The signal system is supposed to provide that protection autonomously.

Compliance with the Delayed In Block rule and the Restricted Speed rules are a critical part of that safety scheme, and are probably the part where there is the most room for human error. (Delayed In Block says - basically - that a train that takes a long time to get through a signal block has to proceed ready to stop at the next signal - just in case changes up ahead have made that signal more restrictive that they otherwise would have expected based on what they entered the block.)

Dan

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Posted by Lithonia Operator on Thursday, September 16, 2021 12:24 AM

Thanks, Dan! I learned a lot from your great explanations. Nicely written.

But I don't get why it's okay for a train in a controlled siding to go twice as fast as the train on the main? Could you give an example that illustrates why this is.

And what is a controlled siding? Any siding entered by a remotely-controlled switch?

Still in training.


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Posted by dpeltier on Thursday, September 16, 2021 6:52 AM

Lithonia Operator

But I don't get why it's okay for a train in a controlled siding to go twice as fast as the train on the main? Could you give an example that illustrates why this is.

No, I don't really know the answer to this one. It may be a cost / benefit calculation given that sidings have a higher density of hand-throw switches, and that it's still going to be safer to install CTC on that low-speed siding than to leave it "uncontrolled" (see below).

Lithonia Operator

And what is a controlled siding? Any siding entered by a remotely-controlled switch?

Traditionally, under T & TO operation, sidings were not under the dispatcher's control, i.e. a train didn't need to have any authority to be on a siding. The same is still true today in track warrant territory. But in CTC, sidings are usually operated just like the main track. Trains get authority to enter the siding from the controlled signals at either end; or, if they're entering via a hand-throw switch in the middle of the siding, they have to get verbal authority from the dispatcher.

The same rules apply to maintenance-of-way work groups. To work on a siding in track warranty territory, they must set up derails or line and lock switches away from their route, whereas in CTC territory they would need to get an autority from the dispatcher.

So generally speaking, a siding in CTC territory is  "controlled siding", while a siding in track warranty territory is not.

However, the rules books tend to use the phrase "controlled siding" rather than "CTC siding". I assume this is because it's always possible for the division timetable to designate a CTC siding to be uncontrolled, or for a track warrant siding to be controlled.

In the original ETMS (the predecessor to the PTC system used by all the big freight railroads), which was only ever deployed on a track warrant line, it was possible to designate sidings as being "controlled". But that appears to have gone away. Other than that I've never encountered sidings where "controlled" vs "uncontrolled" doesn't correspond to CTC vs track warrant, but it's a wide world out there.

I edited my previous post to remove the term "controlled siding" when discussing speeds and electric lock requirements, because it's redundant. The electric lock is only required if the switch is on a CTC track.

Dan

 

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 9:28 AM

I would opine that a controlled siding would be one that will be in regular use for things like meets and passes, whereas an uncontrolled siding would be one used to access industries, etc.

 

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Posted by adkrr64 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 10:18 AM

tree68
I would opine that a controlled siding would be one that will be in regular use for things like meets and passes, whereas an uncontrolled siding would be one used to access industries, etc.

Here is the definition of a controlled siding from NORAC. I suspect GCOR and Canadian rule books have similar defintions:

CONTROLLED SIDING (CS): A circuited siding in which both ends are controlled and governed by signals under the control of a Dispatcher or Operator.

If the siding is "circuited", I expect that means the dispatcher can see when the siding is occupied by equipment that can shunt the track circuit. An industry siding is unlikely to be circuited, and so once a train goes on one, it disappears off the dispatchers "radar". But whatever switch allows the train out of the uncontrolled siding and back onto controlled track will need to be tied into whatever signalling system exists. It is at those locations where I imagine the switch timers most often come into play.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, September 16, 2021 10:22 AM

tree68
I would opine that a controlled siding would be one that will be in regular use for things like meets and passes, whereas an uncontrolled siding would be one used to access industries, etc.

From the 2014 CSX Rule Book

503.3 Sidings are designated in special instructions and are used for the purpose of meeting and passing trains. The following siding designations apply:

a. Controlled Siding: A track designated in special instructions as a controlled siding. In signal territory, signals do not govern movement on the siding. Entrance and exit signals only authorize trains to enter or leave the siding, or

b. Signaled Siding: A track designated in special instructions as a signaled siding where movement on the siding is authorized by block signals and signal rules apply to movement on the siding.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, September 16, 2021 1:44 PM

Lithonia Operator

"Rail Traffic Controller" seems like a modern term. Back in the day, did Canadian roads also use the term "dispatcher?"

Yes.  I'm not sure when the change happened.  Probably around the time the UCOR was replaced with the CROR.

Lithonia Operator

In the case of this accident, will the RTC almost certainly get fired?

The RTC will almost certainly face severe discipline, but may or may not be dismissed.  This sort of error is akin to a train crew passing a stop signal or otherwise occupying the main track without proper authority.  These offences normally warrant a lengthy suspension and/or a lot of demerits, but whether or not you get fired depends on the particulars of the individual incident.

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, September 16, 2021 1:52 PM

We have a variation called Siding Control Territory in Canada, where the siding itself is dark (unbonded) but has power switches and signals at both ends.  The siding is to be considered "known to be clear" unless told otherwise, so trains can head in at the permissible speed (usually 15 or 25 mph) without needing to comply with the requirements of reduced or restricted speed. 

Verbal permission from the RTC is all that is required to occupy a SCT siding if you are entering somewhere along it, such as from a spur or a foreman putting on at a crossing.  

This arrangement also allows one train to follow another into the siding on signal indication without needing to copy a pass stop authority, in this case the RTC is required to inform the second train that the siding is not clear before requesting the signal into the siding.  

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, September 16, 2021 3:28 PM

dpeltier

 

 
Lithonia Operator

But I don't get why it's okay for a train in a controlled siding to go twice as fast as the train on the main? Could you give an example that illustrates why this is.

 

 

No, I don't really know the answer to this one. It may be a cost / benefit calculation given that sidings have a higher density of hand-throw switches, and that it's still going to be safer to install CTC on that low-speed siding than to leave it "uncontrolled" (see below).

 

 
Lithonia Operator

And what is a controlled siding? Any siding entered by a remotely-controlled switch?

 

 

Traditionally, under T & TO operation, sidings were not under the dispatcher's control, i.e. a train didn't need to have any authority to be on a siding. The same is still true today in track warrant territory. But in CTC, sidings are usually operated just like the main track. Trains get authority to enter the siding from the controlled signals at either end; or, if they're entering via a hand-throw switch in the middle of the siding, they have to get verbal authority from the dispatcher.

The same rules apply to maintenance-of-way work groups. To work on a siding in track warranty territory, they must set up derails or line and lock switches away from their route, whereas in CTC territory they would need to get an autority from the dispatcher.

So generally speaking, a siding in CTC territory is  "controlled siding", while a siding in track warranty territory is not.

However, the rules books tend to use the phrase "controlled siding" rather than "CTC siding". I assume this is because it's always possible for the division timetable to designate a CTC siding to be uncontrolled, or for a track warrant siding to be controlled.

In the original ETMS (the predecessor to the PTC system used by all the big freight railroads), which was only ever deployed on a track warrant line, it was possible to designate sidings as being "controlled". But that appears to have gone away. Other than that I've never encountered sidings where "controlled" vs "uncontrolled" doesn't correspond to CTC vs track warrant, but it's a wide world out there.

I edited my previous post to remove the term "controlled siding" when discussing speeds and electric lock requirements, because it's redundant. The electric lock is only required if the switch is on a CTC track.

Dan

 

 

Whether a CTC track is a main track or siding does come into play for whether a hand throw switch needs an electric lock/governing signal.  On a main track or siding equipped with an intermediate signal, the requirement kicks in for tracks allowed 20mph or more.  On a siding without the intermediate signal, the speed is 30mph or more.

We have had cases where an engine was set out in a track not properly equipped for allowing a train or engine to clear.  Instead of another train picking it up, it was decided to run it light power to another station where they were assembling a grain train.  The crew called for the move said they thought they couldn't "legally" enter the main track at this location.  It was decided they were right and another train was required to stop and "reach in" and pull the engine out.

BTW, Delayed in the Block in CTC territory doesn't require restricted speed.  Only that a train be prepared to stop at the next signal.

Jeff 

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:32 PM

I would expect that a lot of delayed in block trains would be oversized loads.  Observed one the other day doing just about 5 MPH with a 32 axel load.  Also could MOW equipment also be delayed in block ?

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Posted by dpeltier on Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:42 PM

Jeff - you corrected two things I said wrong (the speeds at which electric locks are required, and the DIB rule). Thanks you for that. I corrected my previous post.

Dan

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Posted by SD70Dude on Thursday, September 16, 2021 8:48 PM

Most MOW equipment does not operate on signal indications, most smaller equipment will not reliably shunt track circuits and a lot of equipment has insulated wheels/axles so they cannot activate crossings or the signal system.  

Such equipment normally operates under written work authorities from the RTC, in Canada it's called a Track Occupancy Permit (TOP) in CTC territory.  

Delayed in the block would more likely apply to trains that have stopped to perform switching or due to an emergency brake application (perhaps caused by a train separation).  

A speed restricted movement handling a dimensional load would easily be able to comply with this particular rule.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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