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Union Tpke

Why Your Subway Train Might Start Moving Faster

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1 minute ago, Union Tpke said:

Supposed to. There has been no update.

Looks like the (N) won't be express until Thanksgiving then...

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2 hours ago, R68OnBroadway said:

Looks like the (N) won't be express until Thanksgiving then...

Don't even start. The (N) merge has been the worst thing to happen to 4 Av Local service.

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6 hours ago, RR503 said:

The one that stood out to me the most was the (R), actually: despite peak congestion because of the (N)'s temporary merge at 36, it still posted a 3% runtime gain. I'm impressed

The speed limit increases and more aggressive operation are making a noticeable impact from a rider perspective. Moreso in Manhattan than Queens (as the (R) was already relatively fast before a few tweaks there) but hey I'll take it. 

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"the TWU's response of having the operators drive slower than the posted speed limit is understandable but highly counterproductive..."


I'm noticing a lot of irresponsible, unsourced claims that just float into opinion statements that get quoted in news articles and therefore are easily misconstrued as fact. This is one such example, the TWU cannot issue this directive to its member's as that would be a (potentially) illegal work slow down. People make a lot of claims that just don't stand up to rational scrutiny, he compares a stop signal violation to a speeding ticket. I'm sure if there was a speed camera in his neighborhood that went off at the posted limit the vast majority of people would do under the speed limit. It's a completely rational reaction from anyone with baseline intelligence to hold the job, it doesn't require any conspiracy. 

As far as MNRR/LIRR speed restrictions, a lot of the places where speed restrictions are in place are the result of Federal technicalities and ASC overlays in anticipation of PTC. The fact this person think this can be done in months is very interesting and indicates a lack of familiarity with the processes involved. 

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On 6/24/2019 at 8:08 PM, Union Tpke said:

Supposed to. There has been no update.

The work on the street level grates and tunnel roof is pretty much completed, however they've opened a huge pit in 59th Street for the elevator installation and I have no idea when they're closing that back up.

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2 hours ago, RR503 said:

I — 

...have lost all faith

Politico just posted a full length article about this, apparently the task force would also look at speed limits at LIRR/MNCR, not just at NYCT

 

https://www.politico.com/states/new-york/albany/story/2019/06/26/cuomo-to-tackle-speeds-on-subways-and-commuter-rails-1074967

 

Still needlessly redundant, IMO

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I am not on the Hillside Avenue Line too often, but since I was on it today, I was at the front of the train to look out the front. There were newspapers covering 99% of the window, so I had to go on my tippy-toes to look over. The T/O, noticing what I was doing, at a station, pulled them off. Kind gestures like that really make my day. To get on topic, I saw that the train was going 40 approaching Union Tpke and stayed at that speed right until the first car entered the station. I see trains going fast into the station, but didn't realized they went that fast. I went up to the cab window, and raised my hand to thank the T/O, who raised their hand back.

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20 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

I am not on the Hillside Avenue Line too often, but since I was on it today, I was at the front of the train to look out the front. There were newspapers covering 99% of the window, so I had to go on my tippy-toes to look over. The T/O, noticing what I was doing, at a station, pulled them off. Kind gestures like that really make my day. To get on topic, I saw that the train was going 40 approaching Union Tpke and stayed at that speed right until the first car entered the station. I see trains going fast into the station, but didn't realized they went that fast. I went up to the cab window, and raised my hand to thank the T/O, who raised their hand back.

Good to hear on all counts. Fast station entrances is one of the more unsung improvements that seems to be in the works these days. A great (and common) way to gum up a corridor is to put a TO who spends 5-10 seconds longer than peers entering stations through at rush hour. Those delays build fast, and do so at the places that limit capacity (stations). Important, of course, to keep in mind that many such delays are caused by crappy equipment, but also that many aren't, and are just functions of RTO fear culture. 

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I've also. been noticing the faster station entries and faster operation in general along the (R) on Broadway and QBL. Runtimes have marginally been improving with the signal and ops improvements

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I was on a northbound (F) that went into 71st Ave at full speed, it's been a while for me since that has happened.

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5 hours ago, N6 Limited said:

I was on a northbound (F) that went into 71st Ave at full speed, it's been a while for me since that has happened.

That can happen during the off-peak on occasion, but never happens during rush hours as there is always an (E) or another (F) right in front.

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5 hours ago, RedLine said:

There are more updated areas.

Where did you hear this?

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@RR503 I haven't looked out the front of an uptown train on Lex express in some time and realized how infuriatingly slow service goes before 42nd. Our train crawled well below the GT25 and GT15 limits. Express trains are lower at 33rd to allow for faster service, but it seems like NYCT has neutered the benefit of this genius design. In addition, I love how fast trains go on the curves at Spring Street (to accommodate the fifth track that used to be in the station), with the civil speed limit for the area being 35. In some areas of the system that would easily be 15 or 20. 

In addition, the timer after 57th heading downtown on the (F) is annoying me. T/Os go below the 25 limit.

Edited by Union Tpke

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24 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

@RR503 I haven't looked out the front of an uptown train on Lex express in some time and realized how infuriatingly slow service goes before 42nd. Our train crawled well below the GT25 and GT15 limits. Express trains are lower at 33rd to allow for faster service, but it seems like NYCT has neutered the benefit of this genius design. In addition, I love how fast trains go on the curves at Spring Street (to accommodate the fifth track that used to be in the station), with the civil speed limit for the area being 35. In some areas of the system that would easily be 15 or 20. 

In addition, the timer after 57th heading downtown on the (F) is annoying me. T/Os go below the 25 limit. 

The last couple of times I have been on the (4) and (5) trains going express towards Brooklyn, the speed has been faster. Going to the Bronx, its been better. I don't really think anything's changed much on the (1) train with the Bronx bound Times Square merge.

Edited by 4 via Mosholu

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11 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

@RR503 I haven't looked out the front of an uptown train on Lex express in some time and realized how infuriatingly slow service goes before 42nd. Our train crawled well below the GT25 and GT15 limits. Express trains are lower at 33rd to allow for faster service, but it seems like NYCT has neutered the benefit of this genius design. In addition, I love how fast trains go on the curves at Spring Street (to accommodate the fifth track that used to be in the station), with the civil speed limit for the area being 35. In some areas of the system that would easily be 15 or 20. 

In addition, the timer after 57th heading downtown on the (F) is annoying me. T/Os go below the 25 limit.

Some TOs seem to either not understand how timing sections work, or are too afraid (of the equipment, of supervision, of their ability to estimate braking distances) to operate per design. Whenever I go up Lex, that seems to be the issue around GC. If I'm remembering correctly, it's 35/30/25/20, but the beginning of the timing section for the GT35 isn't until a good bit after the little jog into the bored tunnel (where the sign is). A good op will run up at speed, and brake so the train only gets down to time speed at the sign, but there are many who do differently. A shame. 

There's a good bit of a rules angle here, to be fair. Timers are designed so that they time to the speeds they're posted at; ie if you pass a GT35 at 35 it'll clear essentially as you pass it. Issue is that years of unreliable timers and poor instruction have made it so that operators think they must see the signal clear before they pass it, so beyond any signal-specific unreliability, the general practice is operating a good bit below the limit. That, I believe, is also what's afflicting the GT25 into 47-50 -- especially since it's a one shot sans countdown aspect. 

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52 minutes ago, Union Tpke said:

@RR503 I haven't looked out the front of an uptown train on Lex express in some time and realized how infuriatingly slow service goes before 42nd. Our train crawled well below the GT25 and GT15 limits. Express trains are lower at 33rd to allow for faster service, but it seems like NYCT has neutered the benefit of this genius design. In addition, I love how fast trains go on the curves at Spring Street (to accommodate the fifth track that used to be in the station), with the civil speed limit for the area being 35. In some areas of the system that would easily be 15 or 20. 

In addition, the timer after 57th heading downtown on the (F) is annoying me. T/Os go below the 25 limit.

Were those lex timers GTs or STs? I go uptown on the express there from time to time and it has definitely gotten better over the past year in regard to trains crawling 28th to 42nd. 

The timers on the uptown (F) from 47-50th to Lex/63rd are more annoying than that one shot on the downtown side IMO. Theres a civil speed restriction just before 57th, then GT20 (or 25) 2 shots from the curve after 57th, and a one shot timer that has an ST20 indication at the interlocking before lex (regardless if the station is occupied or not)  

The uptown (Q) has a similar setup along the 63rd st connector. 

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57 minutes ago, RestrictOnTheHanger said:

Were those lex timers GTs or STs? I go uptown on the express there from time to time and it has definitely gotten better over the past year in regard to trains crawling 28th to 42nd. 

The timers on the uptown (F) from 47-50th to Lex/63rd are more annoying than that one shot on the downtown side IMO. Theres a civil speed restriction just before 57th, then GT20 (or 25) 2 shots from the curve after 57th, and a one shot timer that has an ST20 indication at the interlocking before lex (regardless if the station is occupied or not)  

The uptown (Q) has a similar setup along the 63rd st connector. 

Those GTs into Lex 63 are annoying, yes. On the home signal with the ST20 aspect, though, I think that it clears if you clear the 2 shot before it. It’s just there to indicate that an overshot 2 shot will require you to go at 20 to clear the home. There’s a signal on the northbound local south of Bergen that has a similar arrangement. 

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2 hours ago, RR503 said:

Some TOs seem to either not understand how timing sections work, or are too afraid (of the equipment, of supervision, of their ability to estimate braking distances) to operate per design. Whenever I go up Lex, that seems to be the issue around GC. If I'm remembering correctly, it's 35/30/25/20, but the beginning of the timing section for the GT35 isn't until a good bit after the little jog into the bored tunnel (where the sign is). A good op will run up at speed, and brake so the train only gets down to time speed at the sign, but there are many who do differently. A shame. 

There's a good bit of a rules angle here, to be fair. Timers are designed so that they time to the speeds they're posted at; ie if you pass a GT35 at 35 it'll clear essentially as you pass it. Issue is that years of unreliable timers and poor instruction have made it so that operators think they must see the signal clear before they pass it, so beyond any signal-specific unreliability, the general practice is operating a good bit below the limit. That, I believe, is also what's afflicting the GT25 into 47-50 -- especially since it's a one shot sans countdown aspect. 

In the IRT I can almost guarantee which generation of school car instructors taught a T/O by how they operate a N/B express train from 33rd St into Grand Central. My class of M/M, T/O s were taught to knock off the controller just north of 33rd St and let the timers clear just before you passed them. The idea drummed into our heads was that a yellow signal, whether timed or not, is a restrictive signal with no guarantee that the following signal is going to clear for you. If you operate SMEE equipment vs NTT there's a slight difference because the vantage point on SMEE equipment is not the same as NTT. The cab window/ trip cock metric are not the same. You want the yellow signal to start to clear as you pass it and if you timed it right each following signal will (should) clear as you enter the curve into the station.. S/B  from 51st or 59th st (4) ,(5), and (6) M/M/ T/O s were taught a different procedure especially when ST was activated. Basic school car instruction said to use the ST signals to close in on the train ahead of you. The  big exception was on the Lex corridor traveling s/b north of Grand Central. The fly in the ointment there was the location of the home signals and the switches. We were taught to never close in on a train at that location unless you were following that train for some distance, say 125th on down, so you had a feel for the movement of your leader. That location, GC s/b in the rush was notorious for creating major delays. The main reason was that as the follower you had no idea of what your leader was doing. The ST would be lit up, you would cross the interlocking and the switches and whammo. Your leader had a pulled cord, brake pipe rupture, or a 12-9. I've listed the problems from bad to the worst. By closing in on your leader, an accepted practice, you have locked out either the local or express track. You have followed a general practice but it backfired because the M/M, T/O, had no way of knowing if his/her leader was actually moving. GC , aka, the Diagonal station, is located on a curve and the signal system doesn't account for that location. We were taught to hang back at the interlocking signals north of the station leaving ourselves, the Tw/O and the dispatcher the option to line up a route around the blockage. Don't forget that my school car instructors were M/M before 59th St became an express stop, so any trouble at GC jammed up express trains from 86th St on down. When I was on work trains I used to hang out with the midnight Tw/O and he used to ask us why everyone wasn't taught the way we were and we couldn't answer it. He, in turn, became the PM GC dispatcher, and finally the (4) line Supt. so when something would go wrong myself and a few others would tell him that we had stopped and stayed at a particular interlocking so he could either re-route us or turn us back from whence we came. Makes me wonder what's going to happen when there's more service added to the Lex with nowhere to go to relieve the inevitable jams. Carry on.

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19 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

In the IRT I can almost guarantee which generation of school car instructors taught a T/O by how they operate a N/B express train from 33rd St into Grand Central. My class of M/M, T/O s were taught to knock off the controller just north of 33rd St and let the timers clear just before you passed them. The idea drummed into our heads was that a yellow signal, whether timed or not, is a restrictive signal with no guarantee that the following signal is going to clear for you. If you operate SMEE equipment vs NTT there's a slight difference because the vantage point on SMEE equipment is not the same as NTT. The cab window/ trip cock metric are not the same. You want the yellow signal to start to clear as you pass it and if you timed it right each following signal will (should) clear as you enter the curve into the station..

If only we could get that consistency these days! 

Curious now: since they were installed in the 70s (?), have the GT speeds changed on Lex? I know that before the GTs, the curve into GC was a sign speed of 18 -- wondering if the GTs were ever anything but what is present today. Also would love to know how the actual control lines of the signals have evolved over the years, but the effect of signal mods on Lex capacity is truly a topic for another day...

As for the actual mechanics of operation, I was told that these days, they really want operators to approach both 2 shots and 1 shots with confidence, ie as if they are gonna clear at posted speed. As I'm sure you know, they've been adding all sorts of fun hardware to the one shots (countdowns) to aid in that, but the degree to which TOs trust them seems quite variable. I even hear that there's even some bulletin out saying operators following all applicable rules should not be disciplined if they hit some signal, but with RTO culture being as impermeable as it is....well, at least the thought is there.

24 minutes ago, Trainmaster5 said:

S/B  from 51st or 59th st (4) ,(5), and (6) M/M/ T/O s were taught a different procedure especially when ST was activated. Basic school car instruction said to use the ST signals to close in on the train ahead of you. The  big exception was on the Lex corridor traveling s/b north of Grand Central. The fly in the ointment there was the location of the home signals and the switches. We were taught to never close in on a train at that location unless you were following that train for some distance, say 125th on down, so you had a feel for the movement of your leader. That location, GC s/b in the rush was notorious for creating major delays. The main reason was that as the follower you had no idea of what your leader was doing. The ST would be lit up, you would cross the interlocking and the switches and whammo. Your leader had a pulled cord, brake pipe rupture, or a 12-9. I've listed the problems from bad to the worst. By closing in on your leader, an accepted practice, you have locked out either the local or express track. You have followed a general practice but it backfired because the M/M, T/O, had no way of knowing if his/her leader was actually moving. GC , aka, the Diagonal station, is located on a curve and the signal system doesn't account for that location. We were taught to hang back at the interlocking signals north of the station leaving ourselves, the Tw/O and the dispatcher the option to line up a route around the blockage. Don't forget that my school car instructors were M/M before 59th St became an express stop, so any trouble at GC jammed up express trains from 86th St on down. When I was on work trains I used to hang out with the midnight Tw/O and he used to ask us why everyone wasn't taught the way we were and we couldn't answer it. He, in turn, became the PM GC dispatcher, and finally the (4) line Supt. so when something would go wrong myself and a few others would tell him that we had stopped and stayed at a particular interlocking so he could either re-route us or turn us back from whence we came. Makes me wonder what's going to happen when there's more service added to the Lex with nowhere to go to relieve the inevitable jams. Carry on.

This is really interesting. I can't say I know whether they still do this, but would certainly be interesting to know. The capacity man in me, of course, doesn't like the misuse of ST capability at such a high dwell station for the sake of (relatively speaking) rare issues, but I can also totally see how, especially with the subway environment of that era, holding back would make sense. 

I too am interested to see how the signal architecture of Lex will change. If I'm remembering correctly, contracts have already been let for interlocking designs in support of Lex CBTC. With the signals of today being such crap, we don't really have much to lose, but all the same, it'd be great if we don't get another Forest Hills...or at least if the final CBTC product is good at balancing that area's needs. I'd at least love it if they worked with some of the switchwork on Lex. There are a lot of opportunities to smooth diversion operations within the confines of current tunnels (around Brooklyn Bridge and 14 St, for example), and it'd be a real shame if those opportunities were just let be. 

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1 hour ago, Trainmaster5 said:

 Basic school car instruction said to use the ST signals to close in on the train ahead of you. The  big exception was on the Lex corridor traveling s/b north of Grand Central. The fly in the ointment there was the location of the home signals and the switches. We were taught to never close in on a train at that location unless you were following that train for some distance, say 125th on down, so you had a feel for the movement of your leader. That location, GC s/b in the rush was notorious for creating major delays. The main reason was that as the follower you had no idea of what your leader was doing. The ST would be lit up, you would cross the interlocking and the switches and whammo. Your leader had a pulled cord, brake pipe rupture, or a 12-9. I've listed the problems from bad to the worst. By closing in on your leader, an accepted practice, you have locked out either the local or express track. You have followed a general practice but it backfired because the M/M, T/O, had no way of knowing if his/her leader was actually moving. GC , aka, the Diagonal station, is located on a curve and the signal system doesn't account for that location. We were taught to hang back at the interlocking signals north of the station leaving ourselves, the Tw/O and the dispatcher the option to line up a route around the blockage.

I just want to say this is absolutely fascinating...

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22 hours ago, RR503 said:

 I even hear that there's even some bulletin out saying operators following all applicable rules should not be disciplined if they hit some signal, but with RTO culture being as impermeable as it is....well, at least the thought is there.


You have to read the fine print, it also includes caveats about being deemed unfit for duty, if the act is viewed as incompetence or negligence or a history of similar infractions. Lots of room for doubt when you're in the department where no one is on your side. Lots of people have gone through the nice (MTA) press release cycle, the fact that the same entity asking for that trust leaks selective info to paint a negative narrative of the front line Operators as lazy, fraudulent, OT hungry and worthless probably doesn't help engender confidence. Just a totally baseless, outside speculation.

 

22 hours ago, RR503 said:

The capacity man in me, of course, doesn't like the misuse of ST capability at such a high dwell station for the sake of (relatively speaking) rare issues, but I can also totally see how, especially with the subway environment of that era, holding back would make sense. 

I wouldn't be so quick to call it rare, Lexington specifically has 4 of the top 10 customer injury locations. Quick glance shows 77th, Canal, 59th in a 90 minute period all had (passenger related) disruptions that required reroutes around the time of writing, and this is the standard practice from the Glory Days of TA which are the nominal capacity numbers we hope to achieve. I can't say whether or not the Subway environment is any more or less disrupted these days than in the past since there are no reliable records for much of anything pre-2000s, I have a suspicion that things are more or less the same on-balance. As for the specific area you can see the STs turning into solid yellows to confirm that your leader is moving and given the slow speed in the area inching up to an ST and going at full speed knowing where the next signal is balance out.

It's hard to explain until you've done it but there are a number of circumstances where going fast actually slows things down. As for holding out for a few seconds I can think of 3 times just this week where not running at the signal and slowing down when I heard problems on the radio kept my train from being trapped.

Edited by Jsunflyguy
typo

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27 minutes ago, Jsunflyguy said:

You have to read the fine print, it also includes caveats about being deemed unfit for duty, if the act is viewed as incompetence or negligence or a history of similar infractions. Lots of room for doubt when you're in the department where no one is on your side. Lots of people have gone through the nice (MTA) press release cycle, the fact that the same entity asking for that trust leaks selective info to paint a negative narrative of the front line Operators as lazy, fraudulent, OT hungry and worthless probably doesn't help engender confidence. Just a totally baseless, outside speculation.

I read the bulletin. I know what it states. While I get that it's contract time and that NYCT is under the gun to maximize positive press, it nevertheless marks a departure from anything resembling past practice. Do we have to moderate any faith we have in its power with knowledge of how things are on the front line? Yes, absolutely, but I don't think I suggested anything to the contrary...

30 minutes ago, Jsunflyguy said:

I wouldn't be so quick to call it rare, Lexington specifically has 4 of the top 10 customer injury locations. Quick glance shows 77th, Canal, 59th in a 90 minute period all had (passenger related) disruptions that required reroutes around the time of writing, and this is the standard practice from the Glory Days of TA which are the nominal capacity numbers we hope to achieve. I can't say whether or not the Subway environment is any more or less disrupted these days than in the past since there are no reliable records for much of anything pre-2000s, I have a suspicion that things are more or less the same on-balance. As for the specific area you can see the STs turning into solid yellows to confirm that your leader is moving and given the slow speed in the area inching up to an ST and going at full speed knowing where the next signal is balance out.

It's hard to explain until you've done it but there are a number of circumstances where going fast actually slows things down. As for holding out for a few seconds I can think of 3 times just this week where not running at the signal and slowing down when I heard problems on the radio kept my train from being trapped.

FWIW, those Glory Days also saw somewhat reasonable dwell times, better train acceleration, more consistent high quality train operation, well designed signals and the like. Many of those positive inputs to the capacity equation have been diminished or eliminated outright, making it all the more critical that what's left is operated well. Does that mean operators shouldn't exercise discretion in the situations you describe in your last sentence? No, but I think we shouldn't lay blanket rules either way.

On the issue of fast versus slow, that's a lot more fraught than "it balances out." At stations that have restricted exit speeds like GC, capacity preservation is predicated on a following train following at something pretty close to braking distance into the station, so that the extended exit time is somewhat mitigated by having a follower enter close behind. So running in on yellows may feel faster, but nine times out of ten you'll have just netted a capacity loss. Equally important is being cognizant of what's going on behind you. Close signal spacing with ST cutbacks usually extends only far enough down the tunnel that one train can close in. On a line like the Lex, it's quite likely you'll have someone on your tail; waiting to close will -- and this is very much contingent on signal system intracacies -- likely mean they have to slow earlier, which in creates a cascading speed effect that reduces line capacity. Again, I'm not saying that this should always be done, but there are certainly losses to be had. 

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6 minutes ago, RR503 said:

..I don't think I suggested anything to the contrary...

 

You seem miffed by why T/Os wouldn't take a statement like that seriously during PR spin season, while simultaneously lamenting Operators for not essentially running at the same signals that have been burning people for...at this point literally a generation on blind faith. Doesn't strike me as moderate to think that Operators  will change on a dime.

 

 

25 minutes ago, RR503 said:

FWIW, those Glory Days also saw somewhat reasonable dwell times [...] more consistent high quality train operation,[...]. 

Source?

One could point to a large portion of the rule book that was written in lawsuits, close calls and blood from the good ole days. I'd be careful calling it quality operation considering the positive benefits were obtained under circumstances that no longer extant so assigning a comparison 'good operations' between then and now won't lead to a fair or accurate discussion. As to individual quality amongst peers that again goes back to what you could get away with rather than individual skill, in the good ole days pulling a door panel off wasn't a 5 minute ordeal now, so the same minor infractions get amplified making quality appear lower (as well as the IND operating underlength trains for a portion of that time making said overruns less likely to begin with). 

 

1 hour ago, RR503 said:

On the issue of fast versus slow, that's a lot more fraught than "it balances out." At stations that have restricted exit speeds like GC, capacity preservation is predicated on a following train following at something pretty close to braking distance into the station, so that the extended exit time is somewhat mitigated by having a follower enter close behind. So running in on yellows may feel faster, but nine times out of ten you'll have just netted a capacity loss. Equally important is being cognizant of what's going on behind you. Close signal spacing with ST cutbacks usually extends only far enough down the tunnel that one train can close in. On a line like the Lex, it's quite likely you'll have someone on your tail; waiting to close will -- and this is very much contingent on signal system intracacies -- likely mean they have to slow earlier, which in creates a cascading speed effect that reduces line capacity. Again, I'm not saying that this should always be done, but there are certainly losses to be had. 


I'll assume you're explaining you're explaining STs and Control lines for the sake of the audience. The best practice at 42nd is predicated on waiting for the first of several STs to turn yellow before running into the station when you've just caught up to someone out of nowhere in this instance odds are low that there is a train behind you as you'll have had a clear run up until that point. So this would be the 1/10 circumstance we're encountering. Waiting for the first yellow before wrapping it up towards the rest of the STs may cost a few seconds, but likely there's no one close behind you for the reasons previously stated and if the ST is taking longer than usual to clear still boils down to the train ahead having a higher than normal dwell which is a possible indication of a problem which is very reasonable since the station in question is the sight of the majority of customer injuries/incidents/accidents in the entire system, the wisdom of taking the first ST for a +3 second advantage balanced against tanking the entire local line isn't a good trade.

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