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GO Transit: Service thread (including extensions)

crs1026

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^ Signalled territory ends at Clifton, which is the wye just west of the power canal.at Whirlpool Road. East of there, trains fall off the dispatcher’s console. (there may be a text tag on the screen reminding the RTC that the train went there, but the RTC no longer has any means of controlling or watching movements. Nor is there any mechanical means (ie signals) to control routing or keep trains separated. Nor will the RTC see a westbound train such as the Maple Leaf coming across from the east).
Trains in that zone proceed according to CROR Rule 105…which says that trains proceed prepared to stop within half the distance that they can see. In other words, watch carefully and if you have two trains on one track, sort it out for yourselves.
It would not be super expensive to signalise this short stretch, but it speaks to why ML can’t just wave a magic wand to add new services on short notice.

- Paul
 
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crs1026

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PPS - it also speaks to the priority and level of attention that the CN RTC center gives to passenger. CN‘s RTCs have lots of territory to cover and they won’t be attending to everything at once. You can be sure that if the RTC was expecting a westbound hot intermodal train, somebody would be worrying about how the two trains’ meet would be arranged. But because it’s only the Maple Leaf, whose time of arrival is uncertain and variable, and which can accept any amount of delay if its route isn’t clear, the RTC just lets whatever happens happen.
The situation is not a rule violation, and so long as everybody does their job properly and stays awake (as the GO crew clearly did) it’s not unsafe by traditional railroad standards. But it speaks to the level of attention to detail that passenger trains are given when on somebody else’s railroad. And it speaks to how the safety standards have indeed risen in recent years…. the whole idea of running heavily loaded passenger trains under Rule 105 principles, which was quite common in 1920, seems hard to accept any more.
I would also point out that thanks to the PTC push in the USA, the Maple Leaf’s locomotive would be equipped with loads of modern technology to keep its train within its route authority and separated from other trains. All that technology ceases to matter when the Maple Leaf enters the “dark” territory at the Falls.

- Paul

PPPS - removing the derail is not an option so long as the territory remains as is. It is a safety feature that has to be there by design, as under past/current operations that siding may be used to store cars or equipment. However, providing the proper keys so crews can operate it might be another possibility.
 
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Bordercollie

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PPS - it also speaks to the priority and level of attention that the CN RTC center gives to passenger. CN‘s RTCs have lots of territory to cover and they won’t be attending to everything at once. You can be sure that if the RTC was expecting a westbound hot intermodal train, somebody would be worrying about how the two trains’ meet would be arranged. But because it’s only the Maple Leaf, whose time of arrival is uncertain and variable, and which can accept any amount of delay if its route isn’t clear, the RTC just lets whatever happens happen.
The situation is not a rule violation, and so long as everybody does their job properly and stays awake (as the GO crew clearly did) it’s not unsafe by traditional railroad standards. But it speaks to the level of attention to detail that passenger trains are given when on somebody else’s railroad.
I would also point out that thanks to the PTC push in the USA, the Maple Leaf’s locomotive would be equipped with loads of modern technology to keep its train within its route authority and separated from other trains. All that technology ceases to matter when the Maple Leaf enters the “dark” territory at the Falls.

- Paul
Since the Maple Leaf is crewed by VIA could they not warn the GO train that they are occupying the station track? It would be a courtesy.

I guess part of what they need to do to bring all day service to Niagara would be to improve the signalling in this area.
 

smallspy

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PPS - it also speaks to the priority and level of attention that the CN RTC center gives to passenger. CN‘s RTCs have lots of territory to cover and they won’t be attending to everything at once. You can be sure that if the RTC was expecting a westbound hot intermodal train, somebody would be worrying about how the two trains’ meet would be arranged. But because it’s only the Maple Leaf, whose time of arrival is uncertain and variable, and which can accept any amount of delay if its route isn’t clear, the RTC just lets whatever happens happen.
The situation is not a rule violation, and so long as everybody does their job properly and stays awake (as the GO crew clearly did) it’s not unsafe by traditional railroad standards. But it speaks to the level of attention to detail that passenger trains are given when on somebody else’s railroad. And it speaks to how the safety standards have indeed risen in recent years…. the whole idea of running heavily loaded passenger trains under Rule 105 principles, which was quite common in 1920, seems hard to accept any more.
I would also point out that thanks to the PTC push in the USA, the Maple Leaf’s locomotive would be equipped with loads of modern technology to keep its train within its route authority and separated from other trains. All that technology ceases to matter when the Maple Leaf enters the “dark” territory at the Falls.

- Paul

To be honest, I don't think that this is specifically a situation where the RTCs "ignore" passenger trains.

Many RTCs are frankly overwhelmed, as every couple of years the territories that they cover grow - and thus, along with it, a corresponding number of train movements that they have to have an eye on.

In the past year, many train crews have noted that as a general rule they don't get as much warning from the RTCs of what they consider "departures to the norm of operating the train" - things that change up the progression of operating a train on greens, like taking a siding for a meet, or sitting in the hole for 2 or 3 trains to be fleeted by them. This is likely due to the fact that RTCs just have too many trains to deal with simultaneously to be able to give them these warnings.

It doesn't help that the attitude in many RTC centres is "sink or swim" - you either do the job that is given to you, or you get out on the streets. Turnover is pretty high, and it's not unheard of to put RTCs into difficult situations right out of training to see if they can handle the stress.

Dan
 

crs1026

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To be honest, I don't think that this is specifically a situation where the RTCs "ignore" passenger trains.


Dan

Very well put. I was not meaning to criticise the RTC’s performance, who likely had many other things on their plate. But as I say, a hot intermodal would have had people leaning into the RTC’s cubicle and ”assisting”.

Whether that’s indifference, or conscious prioritization, or just not noticing, it’s an operating glitch that could have been foreseen and forestalled. You say potato, I say poutine.

- Paul
 

Northern Light

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I'm not obtuse about how much 'dark territory' still exists; though in my head, that belongs to remote track, spurs, and short-lines.

I'm not shocked, but am somewhat surprised to see dark territory in a location like this; I assume a push for PTC in Canada, as a requirement will be coming, and with that, I imagine a push to phase out dark territory on any tracks with higher speeds or volumes. Then again...........maybe not.

Thanks Paul and Dan for your input!
 

reaperexpress

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Crazy Niagara train ride today, as we were rounding the curve on the final approach to Niagara they had to stop as a late Amtrak Maple Leaf was still doing customs, and a 6 car Maple Leaf and 14 car GO train (locomotives included) can’t fit on the same platform.
The length of the trains is besides the point - you had a westbound train east of an eastbound train on a single track! Clearly nobody's going anywhere in that situation.
 

crs1026

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Since the Maple Leaf is crewed by VIA could they not warn the GO train that they are occupying the station track? It would be a courtesy.

It's not about courtesy. It's about recognizing information that needs to be passed to others so everyone does their job effectively and safely. That's an obligation, not being polite.

I have to assume that the Maple Leaf crew was likely not aware that another train was in the area, until it arrived.

There are two schools of thought about whether RTC's should give heads-ups to crews. One is that it creates a mental conflict that tempts the crew to make assumptions or disregard other information (an example being when a signal indication or field condition changes, and differs from what the RTC told them) - plus, it may overload the crew with information they don't really need. The other is that it arms the crew with information that they might use constructively.

In this case, if someone somewhere had said, "Hey, isn't the Maple Leaf running again?" someone else might have said "Ummmm....."

But IMHO far better if the RTC had attempted to line the GO train into the platform and it was a buzzer and a panel light that said, "Ummm....."

- Paul

PS - the RTC who was controlling the GO train was likely located in Edmonton. The RTC who was controlling the approaching Maple Leaf up to the border was likely in Jacksonville Florida. What could go wrong?
 

Bureaucromancer

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PPPS - removing the derail is not an option so long as the territory remains as is. It is a safety feature that has to be there by design, as under past/current operations that siding may be used to store cars or equipment. However, providing the proper keys so crews can operate it might be another possibility.

That someone went and put a special lock on the derail without something else that ought to prevent use is honestly the wildest part of this thing. It really SHOULD just be on a switch lock.

As far as amount of dark territory, don't forget that the entire north mainline was dark until Metrolinx got involved. Without the PTC mandate the class 1s really aren't shy about doing this way.
 

Bordercollie

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That someone went and put a special lock on the derail without something else that ought to prevent use is honestly the wildest part of this thing. It really SHOULD just be on a switch lock.

As far as amount of dark territory, don't forget that the entire north mainline was dark until Metrolinx got involved. Without the PTC mandate the class 1s really aren't shy about doing this way.
Who else would use that siding? You think CN would store cars on the station siding? Wouldn't they need permission?

There is no second platform there so even if they could use the second track they would need to backup again and then enter the station track after the Maple Leaf left.
 

Northern Light

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Who else would use that siding? You think CN would store cars on the station siding? Wouldn't they need permission?

Why would CN need permission to store cars on the track it owns? This is CN trackage, not ML trackage.

They certainly wouldn't store cars in the mainline, or a regularly used siding, but this is not that.
 

crs1026

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They would store cars in a station sliding?

Well, that's what a siding is for. As noted, this siding is likely there for that purpose, and not as a passing point.

One might use it if, say, there were a VIA or GO train that lays over for the evening at Niagara Falls.

And then, railways are famous for taking extreme measures after the horses have left the barn

Changes made after runaway rail car crossed border


- Paul
 

Willybru21

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The length of the trains is besides the point - you had a westbound train east of an eastbound train on a single track! Clearly nobody's going anywhere in that situation.
Yeah but if either the trains were shorter or the platform was longer, GO could’ve unloaded, reloaded, and went back to Toronto in just over 10 minutes, instead of a 40 minute delay trying to find keys and finding a siding for GO to reverse back to.
 

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