Ditch lights--steady or flashing?

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  • Member since
    June 2011
  • 12 posts
Posted by casey56 on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 2:33 AM

At a "Quiet" crossing where a horn or speaker on the crossbuck sounds L-L-S-L (coincedentally Morse Code "Q") at a lower Db level than what's mandated for a loco horn, it would good if the ditch lights flashed until loco passes crossing.  I don't know if this responsibility should be put on the engineer, although extra vigilence at a Quiet crossing would be good anyway.  It could be automated into the PTS or whatever but this would add one more headache to what already must be a complicated set-up.

Irv Smith

  • Member since
    April 2021
  • 14 posts
Posted by FanOfTheRail on Tuesday, April 13, 2021 1:59 PM

The Railwolf


Lithonia Operator


Max Karl
when the horn is blown, ditch lights automatically come on and then turn off.


Is there any kind of "continue period" after the horn is sounded? I'm thinking maybe 5-10 seconds. It seems like if you're gonna blow two longs, a short and a long, it doesn't make much sense to have the ditch lights quit flashing during the quiet intervals.




Down here on CSX, as far as I have ever seen, ditch lights are flashed at crossings for as long as the locomotive bell is ringing (i.e. several seconds before the horn sequence begins, and several seconds after the lead unit crosses the road). Parked units being started up usually turn their headlights from dim to bright, followed a second or two later by solid on ditch lights. The ditch lights stay solid on at all times over the road, excepting when the horn/bell are used.


The flashing ditch lights on CSX locomotives are not controlled by the bell, but rather the horn. They flash for about 30 seconds after the horn is blown, regardless of if the bell is on or off. This is also the case for Norfolk Southern. Some commuter railroads (and maybe a few shortlines) have bell-controlled ditch light flashing.


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