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Caltrain progress to EMU full operation

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Caltrain progress to EMU full operation
Posted by blue streak 1 on Friday, September 22, 2023 9:22 AM

Groud breaking for construction started mid 2017,  Final pole just installed.  Have to wonder if the persons overseeing the installation of the OCS (overhead contact system [CAT]) had any idea it would take so long to do all the potholing for the poles? 

Any electrification planned in future needs to remember this is a hard limitation.  Remember the New Haven - Boston electrification was also delayed for poles not installed.  Then time from first electric motor to final activation of both tracks came much later.

Caltrain completes installation of poles for electrification project - Trains

Electrification | Caltrain

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Posted by J. Bishop on Friday, September 22, 2023 11:10 AM

Does anyone know why they are limiting to 79 mph? Surely the track is good enough for 90.

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, September 22, 2023 11:57 AM

J. Bishop

Does anyone know why they are limiting to 79 mph? Surely the track is good enough for 90.

 
This is a suburban operation with a lot of stops not very far apart.  The Burlington Chicago-Aurora main was also limited to 79 MPH for a 38-mile suburban zone.
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, September 23, 2023 1:15 AM

Have wondered about the 79 MPH as well. Route has PTC so no constaint there.  Baby bullets have and probably will skip many stations so no 80+ problem there.  The only testing to 79 requires some independent testing to 10% of route's max authorized speed which would be 87 - 88 MPH.  Maybe tests at Pueblo satisfied that requirement?

Brightline and Amtrak's AX-2s were tested to 138 & 176 respectively on their own tracks.  Pueblo's tracks not capable of those speeds. 

Maybe Caltrain does not want to maintain tracks to the class 5  --  90 MPH standard  Now if the EMUs were tested to say 100 MPH at Pueblo then maybe 90 MPH down the road?  What speeds will be on those tracks when CA HSR operates on them is another question?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Saturday, September 23, 2023 10:03 AM

How much of a time difference can there be between 79 MPH and 90 MPH on a 47 mile (SF-San Jose) suburban 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 J. Bishop on Saturday, September 23, 2023 11:54 AM

I would not think maintaining to class 5 would be that big of a deal. The former Santa Fe line south of Santa Anna (or Fullerton) is 90 mph, and I understand (from Wiki) that large parts of former LA to Chicago are still maintaned for 90, even though the SW Chief is  the only passenger train on the route, and its pounded by lots of freight traffic. 

Of course, it may be that even for the baby bullets, the schedule difference would not be enough to be worth the trouble. It might allow flexibility to make up time from delays. Also, the faster accelleration from electric traction would make a higher speed limit more useful.

A larger question is why, more generally, with PTC installed on passenger routes, that did not result in kicking 79 limits up to 90.  

I admit I like trains to be fast!

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, September 23, 2023 12:49 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
How much of a time difference can there be between 79 MPH and 90 MPH on a 47 mile (SF-San Jose) suburban service?

Not the real concern.  The CAHSR trains serving San Francisco (which is one of the only real markets for end-to-end true HSR!) all will go up this corridor.  Presumably any upgrade or extra expense for higher-speed signaling would occur then... if we don't get pathetic excuses instead.

MARC regularly operates service on the Penn Line with at least comparable station spacing to Caltrain and they routinely reach 114mph (and then sometimes actually have to slow down a smidge to cut off the alarm) and NJT a half-century ago ran Silverliners between stations with a peak over 102mph, so unless California's consultants are more than expectedly asleep at the switch the operations are not the reason for the 79mph 'economizing'.

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Posted by daveklepper on Saturday, September 23, 2023 4:00 PM

I believe the trains themselves are 100mph-capable, and at the time testing begins for LA-SF through service, I expect the commuter-trains' top speed to be raised, probably to 100mph.

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Posted by MidlandMike on Saturday, September 23, 2023 9:35 PM

Do speeds over 79mph require in-cab signals?

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Sunday, September 24, 2023 9:56 AM

MidlandMike

Do speeds over 79mph require in-cab signals?

 
According to an ICC order from around 1949 or so, cab signals or automatic train stop were required for speeds in excess of 79 MPH.  The order also included speed limits for other situations.
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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, September 24, 2023 11:25 AM

CSSHEGEWISCH
According to an ICC order from around 1949 or so, cab signals or automatic train stop were required for speeds in excess of 79 MPH.  The order also included speed limits for other situations.

Just to be clear, the 'limits' in the ICC Order of 1947 are no different from those specified in the Esch Act legislation from the early Twenties that mandated progressive implementation of automatic train control.  The law specified ATC for passenger-train speed of 80mph or faster, and freight 60 or faster (which is where the "79mph" and "59mph" numbers come from -- 'speed not to exceed').

One could argue that PTC implicitly achieves the protection specified in the Esch Act, and therefore if properly implemented would allow higher speeds if the overlay signal system is improved to permit.  I personally think any signal improvement should be made directly to HSR standards (probably CBTC with in-cab indication) and I would prefer to 'wait' to achieve this rather than kludge the system for only moderate time reduction in the short term.

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, February 11, 2024 7:12 AM

The Feb 9th construction notice had no electrification CAT installation going on.  This may mean that all CAT installation is complete but have my doubts?  On a very funny note this same notice had for all stations the following quote. Tree watering???

"February 10 to February 16, Caltrain will be working during the day to perform tree watering."

 

San Francisco

February 10 to February 16, Caltrain will be working during the day to perform tree watering. Caltrain will be working during the night to perform bridge barrier work. Day work hours will be 

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Posted by Erik_Mag on Sunday, February 11, 2024 12:59 PM

Tree watering?????

Is Caltrains management so inflexible that they can't adapt to a deluge that should keep the trees happy for at least a couple of months.

Or to be more charitable, maybe modifying the official calendar is a royal painand the workers will not be watering the trees.

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Posted by timz on Sunday, February 11, 2024 5:00 PM

Overmod
the 'limits' in the ICC Order of 1947 are no different from those specified in the Esch Act legislation from the early Twenties

Then apparently railroads ignored the 1920s limits. Lots of ABS-only RRs had passenger limits of 80 mph and more in their employee timetables before 1947. (And some after 1947, for a few years anyway.)

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Posted by timz on Sunday, February 11, 2024 5:06 PM

CSSHEGEWISCH
How much of a time difference can there be between 79 MPH and 90 MPH on a 47 mile (SF-San Jose) suburban service?

As long as they're making 5 stops or more, 90 mph saves less than a minute.

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Posted by timz on Sunday, February 11, 2024 5:11 PM

J. Bishop
Does anyone know why they are limiting to 79 mph?

Does any US railroad do 80+ mph with signalling like Caltrain's? What do the allegedly-110-mph diesel lines have?

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 12, 2024 11:45 PM

timz
Overmod
the 'limits' in the ICC Order of 1947 are no different from those specified in the Esch Act legislation from the early Twenties

There is no 'apparently'.  The Esch Act specified a progressive transition to automatic train control, with the initial introduction of one division and then progressive expansion of at least one more division every 3 years.  IN THOSE DIVISIONS any passenger train operating at 80mph or over, or any freight train 60mph or over, would have to be equipped with functioning automatic train control (at a minimum, automatic train stop).
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Posted by timz on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 1:59 PM

In other words, the 1920s law only set speed limits on lines that had ATC or some such? Lines that just had ABS (or nothing) stayed unlimited until 1947?

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, February 15, 2024 11:56 AM

Yet speeds higher than 79 mph on the IC mainline in Illinois south of Kankakee (south of Champaign often >90 mph) were commonplace even in the 1960s. 

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Posted by rcdrye on Thursday, February 15, 2024 8:12 PM

IC main line had automatic train stop, similar to (but of course not identical to) C&NW's Chicago-Omaha line.  In the 1970s Amtrak had to be careful with locomotive assignments to match various ATC, ATS and Cab Signal installations.  Detour moves (Zephyr via C&NW) made things especially difficult. Eventually the "Cab Signal from Hell" allowed any Amtrak locomotive to operate just about anywhere.  Prior to its installation Amtrak either borrowed C&NW locomotives to lead detour moves or used ex-IC E9s.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, February 19, 2024 9:54 AM

timz
In other words, the 1920s law only set speed limits on lines that had ATC or some such? Lines that just had ABS (or nothing) stayed unlimited until 1947?

Remember that some of the provisions of the Esch Act were opportunistic -- the price railroads would be willing to pay to get rid of Federal Control.  Up to that point, the government only 'allowed itself' to regulate matters of safety, not including high speed in the 'traffic citation' sense; as I recall, a good part of the 80/60 metric came out of investigation of the increasingly alarming wrecks on the New Haven in the period just before and around WWI (the 'another wreck on the New Haven' line in Life With Father).  The intent was not so much to regulate speed as it was to assure that there would be a safe or penalty stop if any high-speed train ran past a restrictive signal... and the intent of the progressive three-year-plan rollout was that additional divisions, likely those involving highest-speed passenger train, would progressively acquire these protections.  One notes that as technical capability advanced, there was a further ICC requirement for operation over 90mph on some lines (continuous cab signal due to the increased braking distance in fixed block length being cheaper than lengthening all the ABS blocks just for a few high-speed trains).

Note that a return to this enforcement, enacted in Federal law right at the beginning of the '20s, was what the 1947 Order involved.  One of the reasons we can say the PRR-6100-on-Trail-Blazer "speed record" story is a crock is that the ICC did not issue 'citations' for high speed, only enforcement actions for violations of signal protection while engaged in high speed.  I took the trouble to confirm this in detail by consulting the ICC archives.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 3:22 AM

Thanks for doing the research.

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 11:16 AM

Overmod
I took the trouble to confirm this in detail by consulting the ICC archives.

You confirmed that in 1946 railroads were allowed 90 or 100 mph on ABS-only track?

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Posted by Overmod on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 12:08 PM

timz
 
Overmod
I took the trouble to confirm this in detail by consulting the ICC archives.

I confirmed that there was no record of enforcement action concerning locomotive 6100, or the Trail Blazer, for the entire period from about 1946 through to the full enforcement of the 1947 order.  No tickets, no cease-and-desist, no safety-related objections.  As expected, but it had to be confirmed.  (Similar to the other railfan tale about the ICC 'making Camelbacks illegal' in the late '20s)
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Posted by timz on Tuesday, February 20, 2024 1:47 PM

"You might benefit from reading ..."

You mean, it says

the 'limits' in the ICC Order of 1947 are no different from those specified in the Esch Act legislation from the early Twenties...

even tho Ann Henke probably knew that some ABS-only railroads allowed 80+ mph before 1947?

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Posted by JL Chicago on Sunday, March 24, 2024 11:15 AM

Indeed that is the case.  The UP line between Chicago and St. Louis is 110 mph with just PTC.  The UP dismantled its cab signals a couple years ago.  At first the FRA only authorized 90 mph but after about a year of satisfactory usage upped it to 110.  

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Posted by JL Chicago on Sunday, March 24, 2024 11:24 AM

Because most freight trackage in the US is class 4 track limited to 79/80.  Only the UP has a lot of class 5.  And class 6 CHI-STL.  BNSF class 5 is I think just the transcon and CSX has just a bit in GA and FL.  I don't think NS, CN, or CP have anything over class 4 in the US.  

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Posted by JL Chicago on Sunday, March 24, 2024 11:36 AM

I've never seen any speed limits imposed by the ICC prior to the 1947 order.  The ICC did require RRs to install ATC or ATS on two divisions per each RR in the 1920s as an experiment but set no limit on the other divisions.  Furthermore most of the 20s installations were removed during the depression or the war.  

Go to wx4.org and look at the numerous UP, CBQ, Milw, ATSF, CNW, SP, etc. employee timetables from the 30s and 40s and there are lots of 90s and even some 100s with just ABS.  

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, March 25, 2024 11:20 AM

JL Chicago
I've never seen any speed limits imposed by the ICC prior to the 1947 order.  The ICC did require RRs to install ATC or ATS on two divisions per each RR in the 1920s as an experiment but set no limit on the other divisions.

The 'speed limits' of 60 freight and 80 passenger were set in the original order imposing automatic train control.  This was 'one division within three years, and then one additional every following three years', with the very clear notation in the rule that the expectation was that all passenger miles would eventually be equipped.  (Notably this included a careful rationale about how this timetable would stimulate private development of the most effective kinds of automatic train control/.ATS over the years, with a guaranteed market.)

The ICC revised its safety emphasis in 1928 (toward grade-crossing abatement, a much more important source of damage and death) and the Depression put the cherry on top of limited funds strictly for ATC.

It pays to read the actual ICC order 29543, about which so much has been written and relatively so little actually understood.  Now that the Federal Register has been digitized (so far only in PDF, but that's sufficient for our purposes) you can find it online... but sloppy scholarship has made the actual text like pulling teeth to find.

The 'common' date of June 17, 1947 is not the date of the Order; it's the date the Commission held its hearing on the subject.  The actual order was filed July 14 (at 8:48am if anyone is curious) and is at 12 FR 4983, July 15, 1947 (the digitized version is indexed by date).

Interestingly, this calls for ATC/ATS or continuous cab signals in addition to a functional block system for trains 80mph or over.  You'll see a number of opinions from 'heard parties' about what constitutes 'high speed' (one consensus being 70mph) which is why I think it's important to see where the 60mph/80mph language stems from.

Continuous cab signals were still essentially science fiction even in 1928.  Note that none of the intermittent cab-signal systems qualifies as a replacement for ATC/ATS that will reliably stop the train.

Also interesting, and I hadn't realized this was in there, is the formal definition of both 'medium speed' and 'restricted speed' as of the date the Order becomes effective.  The former is 'half permitted speed but not to exceed 30mph' (and their rationale in arriving at this is carefully noted).  But more interestingly, especially since this is a hot topic in at least one other thread, is their definition of restricted speed, which does NOT contain any requirement to stop in 'half the distance to an obstruction'.  The Order's final definition reads:

"Low (restricted) speed:  A speed that will permit stopping short of another train or an obstruction, but not exceeding 15 miles per hour"

That is more or less what I understood 'restricted speed' to involve when I was growing up, and it would be interesting for someone with the time and patience to see exactly when somebody decided that 'short of another train' also involved trains moving the other way also at restricted speed...

Go to wx4.org and look at the numerous UP, CBQ, Milw, ATSF, CNW, SP, etc. employee timetables from the 30s and 40s and there are lots of 90s and even some 100s with just ABS.

And it is that practice that the 'automatic train control' provision was intended to address.

 Meanwhile, 'common railfan wisdom' is that the 1946 Naperville wreck (which involved barely 80mph speed) was the impetus behind the Order, much as Glendale in 2008 was for mandated PTC.  The actual text of the Order does not mention this accident by name, or cite the ICC accident report other than circumstantially.  However it seems more than strange, concerning the business with engineer veracity and 'rehearsed' testimony (etc.) that the ICC would give the Q of all railroads blanket permission to flout the Order as late as 1956, or conveniently 'not notice' a violation of Federal law actually printed in a company document...

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Posted by timz on Monday, March 25, 2024 12:54 PM

JL Chicago
Go to wx4.org and look at the numerous UP, CBQ, Milw, ATSF, CNW, SP, etc. employee timetables from the 30s and 40s and there are lots of 90s and even some 100s with just ABS.

A puzzle for you: look at the CB&Q Chicago-Aurora 4/56 timetable, in page 2 of the timetable section. Still allows 90 mph Rochelle to Savanna, with no cab signals.

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