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General railway discussions

I foresee endless signalling issues. Didn't a recent plan for VIA to reactivate a route using the old Budd self-propelled cars fail because single cars weren't reliably tripping the crossing gates during testing?
No, it failed because they couldn't get their hands on the RDCs that were coming available.

In the early testing there were intermittent problems with the cars activating the signalling system - which was fully expected and foreseen. as it had been a problem in the past - but they were solvable and not felt to be a game-stopper.

Dan
 
I wonder how the energy efficiency of these "freight EMUs" compares to traditional mile long trains with electric locos.

It's like the old joke about not being able to outrun a bear: it's not a problem so long as you can outrun your companions.... Steel wheel on steel rail is so much more energy efficient than rubber tyre on ashphalt. A short autonomous train will outperform a truck even if it's less efficient than a super long freight train.

The bigger issue is how to interface that freight EMU train with a railway infrastructure that requires human translation of signals, switches, etc. The big investment required would not be the train.... it would be an intelligent track system. And enough track capacity to manage a significant flow of such short trains.

- Paul
 



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My understanding is that unlike in Europe, where cars usually get stuck between the barriers (by drivers unaware that they will fold away when you drive against them), the main issue in North America are drivers who decide to cross the tracks lomg after the warning devices have activated (as they are used to very long delays before the train finally shows up). No amount of technology will bring a train to a timely standstill when an idiot driver suddenly appears on the level crossing…

Given that the Germans equipped steam locomotives with an early version of the PZB/Indusi (installed at the O-Train in Ottawa) back in the 1930s, this sounds about right…
 
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My understanding is that unlike in Europe, where cars getting stuck between the barriers (by drivers unaware that they will fold away when you drive against them), the issue in North America are drivers who decide to cross the tracks lomg after the warning devices have activated (as they are used to very long delays before the train finally shows up). No amount of technology will bring a train to a timely standstill when an idiot driver suddenly appears on the level crossing…

Indeed - however the automated systems may be able to shave a second or three off the reaction time, and trigger a brake application sooner, which may mitigate (but not prevent) some of the force of the collision.
The quandry for the engineer when a car crosses at last minute is whether to "soak it" ie apply a full emergency brake application, which has a number of consequences and implications, one being the train will make a painful, risky stop and the recovery process for the braking system then takes time.
Many idiot drivers do manage to clear the crossing without contacting the train (too often by a centimeter or so).
It takes time for the brakes to apply, and some railroaders operate on a "don't soak it unless you make contact" philosophy. I don't know if high speed operators eg Amtrak, Brightline condone this.
I wonder if the automated system would be smart enough to predict whether the vehicle can clear.... or decide to first make only a full service reduction, which can be cancelled more easily, sooner, if there is no contact.

Given that the Germans equipped steam locomotives with an early version of the PZB/Indusi (installed at the O-Train in Ottawa) back in the 1930s, this sounds about right…

I was riding at a UK heritage railroad a week ago, and happened to observe the crew opening the electronics cabinet on the footplate of the locomotive (which was mainline-equipped for UK signalling). There was an impressive number of glowing LED's in the cabinet. Wiring steam engines for various modern functions is pretty commonplace.

- Paul
 
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I read this article, an opinion piece, in The Guardian newspaper the other day and found it interesting and relevant to discussions that have been ongoing about improving VIA services through HFR or HSR rail in Canada.

Titled: Spain’s high-speed trains aren’t just efficient, they have transformed people’s lives , the article begins with the following paragraphs:

“When I was a child, in the 1980s, it was almost inconceivable to take the train to travel between most cities in Spain. The default was a car or a bus. And well into the 1990s a rail journey involved an old, decrepit and congested train. Now it’s almost inconceivable not to take the train if you want to get from Madrid to Barcelona, Seville or Valencia.

The country has managed to build itself the longest high-speed rail networkin Europe and the second longest in the world, now spanning approximately 2,500 miles (4,000km) (and still expanding). By way of comparison, France has built 1,740 miles (2,800km), and Britain – still coming to terms with its latest high-speed fiasco – 68 (110km).

It is worth reflecting on Spain’s experience and whether there are lessons for other countries. By any standard, the extent of the network in Spain is an achievement that can be traced directly to a combination of unusual political consensus and EU funding. But it is a transformation that has also changed people’s lives – trains are increasingly the fastest and cheapest way to travel around the country. More than 300 high-speed trains operate daily. They are almost always on time. (If a Renfe high-speed train is delayed by more than 15 minutes, you get a 50% refund of the cost of your ticket. If the delay exceeds 30 minutes, you get a full refund.)”

The balance of the article is here and it is worth reading. https://www.theguardian.com/comment...efficient-they-have-transformed-peoples-lives
 
I read this article, an opinion piece, in The Guardian newspaper the other day and found it interesting and relevant to discussions that have been ongoing about improving VIA services through HFR or HSR rail in Canada.

Titled: Spain’s high-speed trains aren’t just efficient, they have transformed people’s lives , the article begins with the following paragraphs:

“When I was a child, in the 1980s, it was almost inconceivable to take the train to travel between most cities in Spain. The default was a car or a bus. And well into the 1990s a rail journey involved an old, decrepit and congested train. Now it’s almost inconceivable not to take the train if you want to get from Madrid to Barcelona, Seville or Valencia.

The country has managed to build itself the longest high-speed rail networkin Europe and the second longest in the world, now spanning approximately 2,500 miles (4,000km) (and still expanding). By way of comparison, France has built 1,740 miles (2,800km), and Britain – still coming to terms with its latest high-speed fiasco – 68 (110km).

It is worth reflecting on Spain’s experience and whether there are lessons for other countries. By any standard, the extent of the network in Spain is an achievement that can be traced directly to a combination of unusual political consensus and EU funding. But it is a transformation that has also changed people’s lives – trains are increasingly the fastest and cheapest way to travel around the country. More than 300 high-speed trains operate daily. They are almost always on time. (If a Renfe high-speed train is delayed by more than 15 minutes, you get a 50% refund of the cost of your ticket. If the delay exceeds 30 minutes, you get a full refund.)”

The balance of the article is here and it is worth reading. https://www.theguardian.com/comment...efficient-they-have-transformed-peoples-lives
There is a cheap and efficient way of building rail ridership (building frequent and convenient regional networks to support the intercity swevices) and an expensive and wasteful approach (build HSR like there is no tomorrow). Spain chose the second approach, whereas many other European countries (BeNeLux, Scandinavia, Czechia, Austria or Switzerland) chose the first approach.

Choose where you would prefer to be a taxpayer:
 

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