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eaglestar

Timers: Methods and Malfunctions

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I understand the purpose and basic principle behind timers. But what is the method they use to compute train speed? Are there "transponders" of sorts at each signal (independent of the shunting of the track), or do they work off of timing block occupancy through track shunting (just like the automatics?) 

 

Also, has there ever been an instance of a timer failing to clear, even though the T/O was operating at the proper speed? If so, and the trip-bar stopped the train, what recourse would the T/O have to prove their innocence? Do the NTT's have event recorders or anything similar?

 

Thanks

Edited by eaglestar

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It's based on the track circuitry (the shunting). Once you enter a block, a signal can be rigged to begin a countdown of when to clear, which will force you to go at a particular speed or less, for it to clear in time.

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21 hours ago, Eric B said:

It's based on the track circuitry (the shunting). Once you enter a block, a signal can be rigged to begin a countdown of when to clear, which will force you to go at a particular speed or less, for it to clear in time.

Sorry. Just had to throw in a pun

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On 12/29/2017 at 9:15 PM, eaglestar said:

 

 

Also, has there ever been an instance of a timer failing to clear, even though the T/O was operating at the proper speed? If so, and the trip-bar stopped the train, what recourse would the T/O have to prove their innocence? Do the NTT's have event recorders or anything similar?

 

Thanks

Eric B described exactly how timers are supposed to work. Of course that's the theory but in practice things don't always work as designed. The NTT's do have event recorders which can help or hurt a T/O in certain situations. Suppose a section of track has a time posted 20 before the signal. Let's say the T/O slows down to 15 and the signal does not clear and the train is tripped and goes B.I.E.. After an investigation it's determined that the T/O approached the signal at the proper speed before the emergency brakes were activated. I'd bet that at least 98% of your fellow posters would absolve the T/O of any wrongdoing. I'd also bet that SubwayGuy, RTOman, Shondrae, and a few others know what I'm going to say next. On old time SMEE equipment, if the consist wasn't moved, one could measure the distance from the trip arm to where the train finally stopped. I, personally, wouldn't come down on the T/O but during the course of any investigation someone from supervision will point out that the T/O did not have his/her train under control which caused the emergency brake application. I've seen timed sections on the IRT posted for 20 where the signal cleared at less than 10 mph. I've seen a train of school car students on a train operated by their instructor hit that same signal hours after two road trains hit that signal before the signal maintainers and a road TSS actually came onsite to investigate. It's gonna come down to which department, RTO or Signals, is scheduled to take the blame. Sometimes it doesn't boil down to right or wrong in transit. I know it wasn't fair back then to put an incident in some innocent person's file but that's the way it happened sometimes. I've seen a signal clear( green) and two seconds later go back to danger (red). The saying was "you hit it you bought it". Maybe things have changed for the better. I don't know the answer in 2017-18. Maybe some active RTO folks can clear it up for us. Just my experience talking. Carry on.

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In most cases, it is working as I described, but the issue is whether the posted speed matches what it's actually calibrated for. In many cases, it seems to be set to clear when it's under you at the right speed, but of course, that leaves no margin for error (And is thus called "challenging" the signal), so what they teach is to let it clear ahead of you, and have enough space to stop if it doesn't. Usually, about five mph under will be enough for it to clear safely ahead, for two-shot timers, and then you watch the stop arm, which starts to go down first, which buys you a couple more seconds. (One-shots, it's safer to just begin braking, like you're preparing to stop, and then whenever it clears, all well in good).

A timer going back to danger is always a malfunction. Usually, when the signal maintainers come to look at it, they'll find the problem (usually a "track circuit", and then the T/O will be entirely cleared.

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Thanks, all, for the insight. As a class 1 railroad engineer (Amtrak), it sure would seem nerve-wracking to play "chicken" with a red signal. My hat's off to all y'all who run in the transit world. 

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On 12/30/2017 at 11:38 PM, Trainmaster5 said:

Eric B described exactly how timers are supposed to work. Of course that's the theory but in practice things don't always work as designed. The NTT's do have event recorders which can help or hurt a T/O in certain situations. Suppose a section of track has a time posted 20 before the signal. Let's say the T/O slows down to 15 and the signal does not clear and the train is tripped and goes B.I.E.. After an investigation it's determined that the T/O approached the signal at the proper speed before the emergency brakes were activated. I'd bet that at least 98% of your fellow posters would absolve the T/O of any wrongdoing. I'd also bet that SubwayGuy, RTOman, Shondrae, and a few others know what I'm going to say next. On old time SMEE equipment, if the consist wasn't moved, one could measure the distance from the trip arm to where the train finally stopped. I, personally, wouldn't come down on the T/O but during the course of any investigation someone from supervision will point out that the T/O did not have his/her train under control which caused the emergency brake application. I've seen timed sections on the IRT posted for 20 where the signal cleared at less than 10 mph. I've seen a train of school car students on a train operated by their instructor hit that same signal hours after two road trains hit that signal before the signal maintainers and a road TSS actually came onsite to investigate. It's gonna come down to which department, RTO or Signals, is scheduled to take the blame. Sometimes it doesn't boil down to right or wrong in transit. I know it wasn't fair back then to put an incident in some innocent person's file but that's the way it happened sometimes. I've seen a signal clear( green) and two seconds later go back to danger (red). The saying was "you hit it you bought it". Maybe things have changed for the better. I don't know the answer in 2017-18. Maybe some active RTO folks can clear it up for us. Just my experience talking. Carry on.

I Just say don't trust timers! Treat the all like Red Lights until they clear.....

When i go down the joralemon tub, I leave the station at 5-8 miles an hour and let the train roll. I believe its about 5 timers down there as soon as you leave bowling green. i let the train coast and pick up its own speed, by time i get to the 3rd timer i wrap it up because the 4th and 5th one will be cleared. 

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On 12/30/2017 at 11:38 PM, Trainmaster5 said:

Eric B described exactly how timers are supposed to work. Of course that's the theory but in practice things don't always work as designed. The NTT's do have event recorders which can help or hurt a T/O in certain situations. Suppose a section of track has a time posted 20 before the signal. Let's say the T/O slows down to 15 and the signal does not clear and the train is tripped and goes B.I.E.. After an investigation it's determined that the T/O approached the signal at the proper speed before the emergency brakes were activated. I'd bet that at least 98% of your fellow posters would absolve the T/O of any wrongdoing. I'd also bet that SubwayGuy, RTOman, Shondrae, and a few others know what I'm going to say next. On old time SMEE equipment, if the consist wasn't moved, one could measure the distance from the trip arm to where the train finally stopped. I, personally, wouldn't come down on the T/O but during the course of any investigation someone from supervision will point out that the T/O did not have his/her train under control which caused the emergency brake application. I've seen timed sections on the IRT posted for 20 where the signal cleared at less than 10 mph. I've seen a train of school car students on a train operated by their instructor hit that same signal hours after two road trains hit that signal before the signal maintainers and a road TSS actually came onsite to investigate. It's gonna come down to which department, RTO or Signals, is scheduled to take the blame. Sometimes it doesn't boil down to right or wrong in transit. I know it wasn't fair back then to put an incident in some innocent person's file but that's the way it happened sometimes. I've seen a signal clear( green) and two seconds later go back to danger (red). The saying was "you hit it you bought it". Maybe things have changed for the better. I don't know the answer in 2017-18. Maybe some active RTO folks can clear it up for us. Just my experience talking. Carry on.

Oh! and that is gonna fall on the T/O sadly.. Everything is on us when when RCC and the Towers mess up, Its the train operators fault because they just gonna say the train should have been under control regardless if signals went and change the timers and didn't say anything!

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2 minutes ago, Shondrae said:

Oh! and that is gonna fall on the T/O sadly.. Everything is on us when when RCC and the Towers mess up, Its the train operators fault because they just gonna say the train should have been under control regardless if signals went and change the timers and didn't say anything!

Seems like nothing has really changed in the past seven years or so. Even though you or I can explain it until we’re blue in the face some armchair T/Os will complain about train speeds in timed areas. When a T/O gets time in the street or demoted for hitting a signal not one of them will understand what happened. I’m amazed that so many people utilizing technology and electronics to post seem to believe that technology is infallible and that the T/O , C/R , or B/O is automatically at fault. When the ATS system was introduced in the IRT , along with the NTT, I complained daily that the new system was making me 8 minutes late between Dyre and Bowling Green. Every day. Someone who knew me who worked at RCC took my side. Every day I gave radio checks at Gun Hill , Morris Park, Tremont, Simpson, and Jackson. Every thing was timed and recorded. Train on time entering the loop at Mott . ATS system takes over and I’m five minutes late at 125th St. BTW a TSS and a Supt. have been in my cab since East 180th. Reach the junction south of Franklin and the million dollar ATS system says that I’m a (4)  train to Utica instead of a (5) to the ‘ Bush. I get a lineup for Utica instead of Flatbush. A human dispatcher and tower operator take charge and a proper lineup is established. Every day we’re told to announce the usual. President Street, Church Avenue, and Flatbush. Think about what I’m saying to our fellow posters. Timers, interlockings, radio checks, supervisors, and the computerized ATS system , 5 days a week it failed me, my C/R, and our regular riders. Yet you and I know that if I relied solely on the signal system suspension, demotion and termination were the only clear signals down that route.Things got so bad that my rabbi, an Operations and Planning Supt. wrote a work program for us that the (5) line superintendent and his deputies didn’t have any understanding of for almost two months. Imagine a job where we signed in and our closest dispatcher was either 3 stops away , 2 stops away ( in another borough) or 2 blocks away in another division. I used to jokingly tell people at RCC that I trusted them even less than I trusted the signal system. Today when I read posts about T/Os slowly traversing areas with timers and/or interlockings I understand and sympathize with them. Nobody wants to lose money or their livelihood because a railfan thinks Lightning McQueen is up front. Just my take. Carry on.

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4 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

Seems like nothing has really changed in the past seven years or so. Even though you or I can explain it until we’re blue in the face some armchair T/Os will complain about train speeds in timed areas. When a T/O gets time in the street or demoted for hitting a signal not one of them will understand what happened. I’m amazed that so many people utilizing technology and electronics to post seem to believe that technology is infallible and that the T/O , C/R , or B/O is automatically at fault. When the ATS system was introduced in the IRT , along with the NTT, I complained daily that the new system was making me 8 minutes late between Dyre and Bowling Green. Every day. Someone who knew me who worked at RCC took my side. Every day I gave radio checks at Gun Hill , Morris Park, Tremont, Simpson, and Jackson. Every thing was timed and recorded. Train on time entering the loop at Mott . ATS system takes over and I’m five minutes late at 125th St. BTW a TSS and a Supt. have been in my cab since East 180th. Reach the junction south of Franklin and the million dollar ATS system says that I’m a (4)  train to Utica instead of a (5) to the ‘ Bush. I get a lineup for Utica instead of Flatbush. A human dispatcher and tower operator take charge and a proper lineup is established. Every day we’re told to announce the usual. President Street, Church Avenue, and Flatbush. Think about what I’m saying to our fellow posters. Timers, interlockings, radio checks, supervisors, and the computerized ATS system , 5 days a week it failed me, my C/R, and our regular riders. Yet you and I know that if I relied solely on the signal system suspension, demotion and termination were the only clear signals down that route.Things got so bad that my rabbi, an Operations and Planning Supt. wrote a work program for us that the (5) line superintendent and his deputies didn’t have any understanding of for almost two months. Imagine a job where we signed in and our closest dispatcher was either 3 stops away , 2 stops away ( in another borough) or 2 blocks away in another division. I used to jokingly tell people at RCC that I trusted them even less than I trusted the signal system. Today when I read posts about T/Os slowly traversing areas with timers and/or interlockings I understand and sympathize with them. Nobody wants to lose money or their livelihood because a railfan thinks Lightning McQueen is up front. Just my take. Carry on.

EXACTLY!!!!!! I had a situation where i hit a Homeball at Franklin Juction going South! i was a (5). I left Franklin on a yellow and I'm moving at less that 10Mph because im about to stop, but it cleared. Same followed for the next signal. The following signal was Red over Red and i braked with more than time and space and the brake kicked in with a serious delay and i Hit the Home ball.

You know they treated me like a criminal, but i demanded to see the recording from the train. and when the report came back, come to fine out the train been having all types of problems for almost 3 years and they kept burying the train in the conductors position! smh

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IF a timer fails to clear and causes your train to go BIE, they can hang you for not having your train under control. Under control is a broad term and can be twisted in many ways to work against the T/O. They will say that you should give enough distance for the signal to clears or be able to stop before you might pass it if it fails to clear. I have trained several student switchman who came from the TA and their operation flecks the fear of discipline if something doesn’t go the right ways.

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On 1/1/2018 at 1:02 AM, eaglestar said:

Thanks, all, for the insight. As a class 1 railroad engineer (Amtrak), it sure would seem nerve-wracking to play "chicken" with a red signal. My hat's off to all y'all who run in the transit world. 

There are also "2-shot" GT signals which are a little more merciful since you're playing chicken with a yellow signal instead of a red one. 

Not sure how to eloquently explain the operation here. It's basically the same thing as a regular grade timer but it operates over an additional control length - so if you're at the right speed the signal goes from yellow to clear right as you're passing them. one of the pros can probably explain it better. I think the 2 shot gt has illuminated "S" at the bottom whereas oneshot is the 'lunar white'

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On 1/1/2018 at 10:45 PM, Trainmaster5 said:

Seems like nothing has really changed in the past seven years or so. Even though you or I can explain it until we’re blue in the face some armchair T/Os will complain about train speeds in timed areas. When a T/O gets time in the street or demoted for hitting a signal not one of them will understand what happened. I’m amazed that so many people utilizing technology and electronics to post seem to believe that technology is infallible and that the T/O , C/R , or B/O is automatically at fault. When the ATS system was introduced in the IRT , along with the NTT, I complained daily that the new system was making me 8 minutes late between Dyre and Bowling Green. Every day. Someone who knew me who worked at RCC took my side. Every day I gave radio checks at Gun Hill , Morris Park, Tremont, Simpson, and Jackson. Every thing was timed and recorded. Train on time entering the loop at Mott . ATS system takes over and I’m five minutes late at 125th St. BTW a TSS and a Supt. have been in my cab since East 180th. Reach the junction south of Franklin and the million dollar ATS system says that I’m a (4)  train to Utica instead of a (5) to the ‘ Bush. I get a lineup for Utica instead of Flatbush. A human dispatcher and tower operator take charge and a proper lineup is established. Every day we’re told to announce the usual. President Street, Church Avenue, and Flatbush. Think about what I’m saying to our fellow posters. Timers, interlockings, radio checks, supervisors, and the computerized ATS system , 5 days a week it failed me, my C/R, and our regular riders. Yet you and I know that if I relied solely on the signal system suspension, demotion and termination were the only clear signals down that route.Things got so bad that my rabbi, an Operations and Planning Supt. wrote a work program for us that the (5) line superintendent and his deputies didn’t have any understanding of for almost two months. Imagine a job where we signed in and our closest dispatcher was either 3 stops away , 2 stops away ( in another borough) or 2 blocks away in another division. I used to jokingly tell people at RCC that I trusted them even less than I trusted the signal system. Today when I read posts about T/Os slowly traversing areas with timers and/or interlockings I understand and sympathize with them. Nobody wants to lose money or their livelihood because a railfan thinks Lightning McQueen is up front. Just my take. Carry on.

I let railfans think whatever..

I will say those "railfans" who have come down here with that "Im gonna move the train fast" mentality..

Are no longer working down here..

RTO Labor Relations CURES ALL FOAMING..

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On 1/1/2018 at 10:58 PM, I Run Trains said:

EXACTLY!!!!!! I had a situation where i hit a Homeball at Franklin Juction going South! i was a (5). I left Franklin on a yellow and I'm moving at less that 10Mph because im about to stop, but it cleared. Same followed for the next signal. The following signal was Red over Red and i braked with more than time and space and the brake kicked in with a serious delay and i Hit the Home ball.

You know they treated me like a criminal, but i demanded to see the recording from the train. and when the report came back, come to fine out the train been having all types of problems for almost 3 years and they kept burying the train in the conductors position! smh

Im sure car equipment didnt like the taste of that charge they had to eat lol...

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On 12/31/2017 at 7:50 PM, Eric B said:

In most cases, it is working as I described, but the issue is whether the posted speed matches what it's actually calibrated for. In many cases, it seems to be set to clear when it's under you at the right speed, but of course, that leaves no margin for error (And is thus called "challenging" the signal), so what they teach is to let it clear ahead of you, and have enough space to stop if it doesn't. Usually, about five mph under will be enough for it to clear safely ahead, for two-shot timers, and then you watch the stop arm, which starts to go down first, which buys you a couple more seconds. (One-shots, it's safer to just begin braking, like you're preparing to stop, and then whenever it clears, all well in good).

A timer going back to danger is always a malfunction. Usually, when the signal maintainers come to look at it, they'll find the problem (usually a "track circuit", and then the T/O will be entirely cleared.

This makes me think of the story where it turned out signal maintainers were falsifying their inspections. If I was a T/O i'd be pissed.

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On 12/31/2017 at 7:50 PM, Eric B said:

In most cases, it is working as I described, but the issue is whether the posted speed matches what it's actually calibrated for. In many cases, it seems to be set to clear when it's under you at the right speed, but of course, that leaves no margin for error (And is thus called "challenging" the signal), so what they teach is to let it clear ahead of you, and have enough space to stop if it doesn't. Usually, about five mph under will be enough for it to clear safely ahead, for two-shot timers, and then you watch the stop arm, which starts to go down first, which buys you a couple more seconds. (One-shots, it's safer to just begin braking, like you're preparing to stop, and then whenever it clears, all well in good).

A timer going back to danger is always a malfunction. Usually, when the signal maintainers come to look at it, they'll find the problem (usually a "track circuit", and then the T/O will be entirely cleared.

How often do these things happen - signal issues getting blamed on TOs?

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On 1/10/2018 at 8:01 PM, N6 Limited said:

This makes me think of the story where it turned out signal maintainers were falsifying their inspections. If I was a T/O i'd be pissed.

One thing that is really sad down here is, The whole signal department look out for each other where in RTO they basically train you to RAT on each other!.. sad but True!

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On 1/10/2018 at 8:16 PM, Deucey said:

How often do these things happen - signal issues getting blamed on TOs?

EVERYDAY B!!!!!

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On December 30, 2017 at 11:38 PM, Trainmaster5 said:

I've seen timed sections on the IRT posted for 20 where the signal cleared at less than 10 mph. 

Why is this the case? Were the timers just installed incorrectly or is it just natural wear with age? What is the physical timing mechanism which determines when the signal clears? Is it gears like a watch? Would fixing the timer clearance time just require a readjustment like you would with a watch? Or would it be much more work? And for the timers the MTA has installed in the last 20 years or so - do they use different and newer technology? Do they suffer from the same problems?

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On 1/15/2018 at 3:37 AM, Maserati7200 said:

Why is this the case? Were the timers just installed incorrectly or is it just natural wear with age? What is the physical timing mechanism which determines when the signal clears? Is it gears like a watch? Would fixing the timer clearance time just require a readjustment like you would with a watch? Or would it be much more work? And for the timers the MTA has installed in the last 20 years or so - do they use different and newer technology? Do they suffer from the same problems?

The Signal Department just like messing with things to make us get into more trouble! LoL.. y'all think I'm Joking but I'm not! If the change the timers they suppose to report it. Sometimes they don't. But at the end of the day, If we Hit that signal, its still gonna fall on the train operator because all upper management is gonna say is "you should of had you train under control" or "Treat all yellows as a red until they clear......" aka Keep your Train Under control!

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9.02(b) THEY MUST TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION FOR THE SAFETY OF THEIR TRAINS AND CUSTOMERS. WHEN A TRAIN IS IN MOTION THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFE RUNNING RESTS ENTIRELY UPON THE TRAIN OPERATOR.

This is how they can hang a T/O for almost anything.

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5 hours ago, N6 Limited said:

Are T/Os going to need dash cams now to combat signals? lol

This is one of the reason I've been for forward-facing cameras in the cabs. You'll see more T/Os get exonerated.

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17 hours ago, INDman said:

9.02(b) THEY MUST TAKE EVERY PRECAUTION FOR THE SAFETY OF THEIR TRAINS AND CUSTOMERS. WHEN A TRAIN IS IN MOTION THE RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFE RUNNING RESTS ENTIRELY UPON THE TRAIN OPERATOR.

This is how they can hang a T/O for almost anything.

Perhaps this should be brought up to the new president

 

12 hours ago, mediccjh said:

This is one of the reason I've been for forward-facing cameras in the cabs. You'll see more T/Os get exonerated.

Right, put the blame where the blame is due

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Sometime ago, a Train Operator on here said to NEVER trust the fixed miscellaneous signals preceding timers, e.g., a "GT 10" sign right before entering a timer's control length. He mentioned that he would ALWAYS approach timers at less than half the speed they could be safely crossed at.

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