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The End of the Train

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Old 31st August 2019, 08:10
aussiesteve's Avatar
aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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The End of the Train

Having squizzed a recent image by Chris, and made a comment about it, I am pondering the UK situation.
Freight trains and Driver Only Operations.
I have just snavelled the RSSB Gort 3056, aka working manual for freight trains.
And, will peruse it in detail later off line.
I have squizzed mention of the Tail Light.
But, have not noticed any mention of a so called End of Train monitor unit.
For DOO here and in Kiwiland, there must be a working ETU at the rear of the train.
This provides various information on the lead loco display monitor panel.
Including brake pipe pressure at the rear of the train.
The ETU being connected to the rear wagon brake pipe hose.
And communication with the lead loco via radio.
There is also a version of such now in use with ECP brake system freight trains.
But, normal two man freight trains operating here do not require the ETU, merely the ubiquitous red flashing tail light.
Or Battery Operated Guard, as we dubbed it when freight trains went to WB (without brakevan) working.
The ETU is mandated on ALL USRR freight trains operating on a main line regardless of crew numbers.
The FRA mandating this subsequent to an incident involving a freighter possessing mid train helpers.
The train became divided at the Mid Train Helpers SUSPICIOUSLY while the train was stopped.
Due to more weight trailing the mid train helpers, when the train took off, the two halves got further apart.
The brake pipe taps had been closed between the front portion rear wagon and lead mid train helper unit.
Hence NO air leak to the brake pipe to apply the rear portion train brakes.
Then SUSPICIOUSLY, the auto knuckle pin was raised to uncouple.
The train departed and continued merrily on it's way with the crew unaware that they were now being chased by their second section.
This event becoming public after a motorist whinged to the coppers that while stopped at a level crossing, a train rattled past with NO head lights or honking hooters.
Was the crew asleep ?
NO, they were then miles away ahead of the second portion.
The crew were able to eventually halt the rampaging second section by radio control of the mid train helper throttle and engine brakes.
The FRA quickly mandated the ETU which would display both the rear brake pipe pressure plus ALSO permit an emergency application of the brakes from the ETU.
After squizzing the system in Kiwiland in 1999, I was impressed by the equipment.
At home, I recommended to management plus the union that such a system be employed here.
Alas, management whinged about the cost, and the union whinged that DOO would quickly occur if the system was adopted.
Sadly, our NSW normal air brake freighters continue to rattle today with just a BOG.
Has the system ever been trialed in the UK ?

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Old 31st August 2019, 21:41
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Beeyar Wunby Beeyar Wunby is offline  
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Yo Steve.

Our freight trains are teeny-weeny compared with places like Oz or USA. And there aren't really that many movements taking place. It's a scandal that the government does little to support the private freight train companies, who have a very difficult time competing with road freight over distances of just a few hundred miles.

AFAIAA we don't have an 'end of unit monitor' on our trains. I guess we just rely on the auto brake to stop both parts of the train if it comes apart.

All safety-critical rail staff are required by the rulebook to watch every train which passes them, and ensure that it has an operating tail light on it. If not, call the signaller immediately on a Signal Post Phone. But nowadays alot of staff don't seem to do this, I don't know whether this is because they haven't been trained, or don't care.

Because much of the UK is Track Circuit Block, the signalling would eventually recognise that a train had come apart, and the stranded portion of the train would be protected by signals. (In case anyone wonders, the same applies when axle-counters are used).

The bottom line is that we haven't had many problems with runaway trains killing people - so no incentive to spend money on technology which monitors the tail end.

Last edited by Beeyar Wunby; 31st August 2019 at 21:51.
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Old 1st September 2019, 06:59
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aussiesteve aussiesteve is offline
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G'day BW,
Ah yes, the old wait until the wheels fall off and then ponder alternatives scenario seems to pervade most rail operations.
Once radio communication became more available here, passing trains would comment about the other train going past.
All OK, train complete "so and so".
And, yes all signallers were supposed to provide a train roll by inspection from their box if possible.
However, that started to dwindle when "foreigners" started belting around the network.
They now being the COMPETITION pinching work off you.
The Roll By became mandatory under capitalised private mobs during train crew relief.
But, that only affected that train and crew, not the opposition slinking past.
I was always of the opinion that any infrastructure that improved operational aspects was worthwhile.
The ETU providing info to assist with situations that might arise.
If the air goes, YES, you are aware of it on the footplate.
But, the BOG don't tell you if it is a burst hose or the train has divided.
The ETU distance counter will give an indication that the rear end is getting further away if the train has divided.
The old rule of thumb still kinda applying when going down hill and the air goes.
Depress the independent handle to release the loco brakes and power before the PCS cuts the throttle out.
If the train has divided, the rear half could run into you with a big THUMP if the front portion stopped too quickly.
I did come apart once after departing Blayney yard.
Down hill and passing through a 25 kph turnout onto the main line, so you just let the thing roll with one notch of power applied.
Then rip em open at the bottom of the dip for the climb to Murrobo.
The auto knuckle behind the locos had apparently not fully locked when we coupled up and I gave it a test pull to check it.
It was like a Saturn V blast off.
Them locos went hurtling down the track until I shut off power and slammed on the independent brake.
Daytime, so I could squiz the train leaving us behind in the rear vision mirror.
After me assistant closed the rear loco brake pipe tap, I drove back to snag the train.
Gave it a real good nudge and drag to make certain that the auto knuckle was fully locked shut.
Not supposed to hit anything over 5 kph when hooking on.
I disobeyed that rule for the second attempt.
When you loose the air and you is SOLO in the cab, that can awaken you quickly.
Thankfully, that ETU gives you a bit of an idea of just what has occurred.
Plus, it also came handy when locos shut down inside Rhyndaston tunnel.
Provided that you still had one percolating, you could set back clear of the south portal.
Let em cool down and attempt to restart em and have another go at climbing the 1 in 40 through the 800 metre long tunnel.
But, due to a farm level crossing barely 1 km south of the tunnel, trains were not to set back beyond the south portal.
But, in the dark tunnel interior in the swirling exhaust fumes during the night time, just HOW do you know when you is about to pop out of the south portal.
Well, the ETU radio karks it upon entering the tunnel.
And, as you are sliding backwards, when the lead loco is almost near the south portal, that radio link comes alive again.
Slam on the brakes to stop the train.
I did notice when perusing yer Gort 3056, that you lot have got some wagons with the German style brake system.
P personenzug and G gueterzug valve settings.
That is an interesting system.
Though, I didn't espy the real high speed version though, R reisezug.
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