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June 5th- SIGNALS ON THE SUE LINE by Dillon Stokes

posted Jun 5, 2018, 11:04 AM by Sue Line RailRoad
This posting is about signals, and your authority on the track. What they are called, what they mean, and how to operate on them. This article is by Sue Line Crew member Dillon Stokes, who's day job is locomotive engineer for The Union Pacific Railroad.

We will start with signals.

Block signals are used to protect trains from running into one another by using colored lights to tell trains the conditions of tracks ahead. There are many variations of colored signals used around the world, but the Sue Line Railroad Company uses a vary basic version of signal system used across the US.

Those signals include:
Clear
Advanced Approach
Approach Diverging
Approach
Diverging Advanced Approach
Diverging Approach
Restricting
Restricted Proceed
Stop

The Sue Line Railroad uses CTC, Centralized Traffic Control, to route trains on the mainline.

Centralized traffic control (CTC) is a form of railway signalling that originated in North America. CTC consolidates train routing decisions that were previously carried out by local signal operators or the train crews themselves. The system consists of a centralized train dispatcher's office that controls railroad interlockings and traffic flows in portions of the rail system designated as CTC territory. One hallmark of CTC is a control panel with a graphical depiction of the railroad. On this panel, the dispatcher can keep track of trains' locations across the territory that the dispatcher controls. Larger railroads may have multiple dispatcher's offices and even multiple dispatchers for each operating division. These offices are usually located near the busiest yards or stations, and their operational qualities can be compared to air traffic towers.

Sue Line Railroad is controlled by a single mainline dispatcher between the limits of Ashby Jct (northern most mainline point of the railroad), and Richardson (Southern most mainline point on the Railroad)

Before leaving any Yard, (Riverfront, Ginnings, USY, Shreveport), or entering the main track at any town, (Morgan, Brandon, Robinson, Sue City, RCX, Leming, Maryville, Pinecrest, Northpark, Sherwood, Jeauxville), you need to contact the Sue Line Dispatcher to get authority out onto the mainline.

The Dispatcher needs to know your Train Number, what direction your headed, and where you need to go before you enter a mainline. With this information, the dispatcher can route you to where you need to go and route you and other trains around each other to minimize train delay and keep trains moving.

After talking to the dispatcher, you will usually hear the phrase “Signal Indication.” What this phrase means is the dispatcher knows who you are and where you need to go, and will allow you out onto the mainline via a colored signal. Once you get a light, you can proceed out onto the main.

Now lets break down the signals.

Clear: (Green) Proceed

A green signal is known as a “Clear.”
This signals tells you to proceed at track speed.
This signal can be displayed as a single green light or if the signal has more than one light, it will be a green light over a red light.

Advanced Approach: (Flashing Yellow) Slow your train and be prepared to stop at the second signal.

A flashing yellow signal is known as an Advanced Approach. This signal tells you that there is potentially a situation ahead that will cause you to stop your train, like a train ahead that you are following for example. If you encounter an Advanced Approach, you must be prepared to stop in two signals. This gives the engineer enough time to slow the train and stop for a stop signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop in two signals, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a flashing yellow signal, or a flashing yellow over a red.

Approach Diverging: (Yellow over Yellow) Be prepared to take diverging route at the next signal.

This signal tells you that at the next signal, be prepared to take the diverging route. The dispatcher could be routing you onto another mainline, a siding, or off the mainline. Be prepared for a speed change depending on your route.
This signal will be displayed as a Solid (non flashing) Yellow over a yellow signal.

Approach: (Solid Yellow) Slow your train and be prepared to stop at the next signal.

This signal tells you that the next signal could stop your train. Engineers must have their trains under control and be prepared to stop at the next signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop at the next signal, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.”
This signal will be displayed as a solid (non flashing) yellow light, or a solid yellow over a red.

Diverging Advanced Approach: (Red over Flashing Yellow) Proceeded on diverging route prepred to stop at second signal.

This signal tells you two things. The first is that at the signal, you will be changing tracks. Usually to another main or into a siding. The second is that you need to be prepared to stop in two signals. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop in two signals, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a Red over a Flashing Yellow light.

Diverging Approach: (Red over Yellow) Proceed on the diverging route prepared to stop at the next signal.

This signal tells you two things. The first is that at the signal, you will be changing tracks. Usually to another main or into a siding. The second is that you need to be prepared to stop at the next signal. Note, signals will change as trains move around the railroad so you may not have to stop at the next signal, hence the phrase “be prepared to stop.” This signal will be displayed as a Red over a Yellow light.

Restricting: (Flashing Red) Proceed at Restricted speed.

This signal tells you to proceed at restricted speed looking out for anything ahead that could stop your train. This could include another train or an open switch. Note, while at restricted speed, be prepared to stop at anything obstructing your trains movement. This signal will be displayed as a flashing red light.

Restricted Proceed: (Solid Red, not at a switch) Proceed at restricted speed.

This signal tells you to proceed at restricted speed looking out for anything ahead that could stop your train. This could include another train or an open switch. Note, while at restricted speed, be prepared to stop at anything obstructing your trains movement. THIS SIGNAL WILL ONLY BE IN BETWEEN TOWNS. If this signal is at a switch, stop all movement and comply with a stop signal as explained below. This signal will be displayed as a red light, NOT AT A SWITCH.

Stop: (Red) Stop

This signal tells you to stop your train before any part of your train goes past the signal. This signal will be at switches and at OS’s on the outside limits of towns. This signal will be displayed as a solid red signal, AT A SWITCH OR OS. If you encounter a red signal, wait a few minutes to see if there is opposing traffic or a train ahead. If nothing is evident, call the dispatcher and call out that you are stopped at a red signal at _ location. DO NOT GO PAST THE SIGNAL WITHOUT DISPATCHER AUTHORITY.

Following these signals will help you get your train over the road and make train movements safe over our mainline.

Now lets discuss your track authority.

There are 4 types of track authority used on the Sue Line Railroad: CTC, Track and Time, Yard Limits, and 6.28.

CTC: (see above)
Track and Time: Authority to work between two points
Yard Limits: Non Dispatcher Authority
6.28: Other Than Main Track

Track and time is used for trains working a town and the train needs to work industries off the mainline. This is only used on mainline or sidings controlled by the dispatcher. When issued track and time, the dispatcher will keep other trains from your location so you can work your industries. The dispatcher will issue you track and time until a certain time, or until called. If your issued to a time, you must be in the clear by that time, or get your time extended. If you get track and time until called, you can work until the dispatcher calls you. Dispatcher will also unlock all main track switches in the area you are working so you can throw mainline switches on your own. If you encounter a Stop Signal in your track and time limits, you treat it as a restricted proceed (see above.)

Yard Limits is mainly used by the Sue City operator, Maryville, and the Northpark operator.
When operating in Yard Limits, proceed at restricted speed when given permission by the town operator. YARD LIMITS IS NOT IN EFFECT ON ANY MAINLINE ON THE SUE LINE RAILROAD, ONLY IN THE TOWNS LISTED ABOVE.

6.28 is used on all other tracks that are not mainline, sidings, or under Yard Limits. For example, a track leading into an industry or a yard track. When operating under 6.28, proceed at restricted speed.

A firm understanding of these rules and signals will make our railroad a safer place and keep train on train accidents to a minimum.

Many thanks to Dillon Stokes for his review of signals as used on the Sue Line Railroad. This material, by Dillon Stokes, was originally posted on Sue Line Railroad on Facebook.
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