Time On The Commuter Rail

Discussion relating to commuter rail, light rail, and subway operations of the MBTA.

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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby sery2831 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:07 pm

butts260 wrote:
sery2831 wrote:As stated above, if you have a complaint, please address it directly to the MBTA or MBCR Customer Service. I will gladly provide you with the correct contact info in a PM. First off, most cell phones(my Verizon phone) and the station info boards display the incorrect time. My watch is set to the US Naval Clock and that the time I operate my train by.

I just compared my iPhone World Clock for Boston time with Canada's CHU radio time signals and they are synchronous to well within 1/25 second (I am so old that I used to use photo lenses with mechanical shutters so I know what a 1/25 of a second is like), and I am sure the difference between CHU time and US Naval Clock time is small enough for railroad work!


My personal iPhone(4S) is Verizon and it's slow by about 25 seconds. My Railroad issue Spring iPhone(4) is slow about 10 seconds. That being said, makes me believe that the phone cannot be used an accurate time piece.
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby agarturbo » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:44 pm

I can't speak for the clocks at North Station, but I can say that I place very little confidence in the clock on the electronic sign at Littleton. I take the 408 every day and it's departure time from Littleton is 7:00 AM. Well, the train is never in the station when the clock says 7:00. Ergo, that clock must be a few minutes fast :-)
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby sery2831 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:50 pm

The clocks outside of North/South and Back Bay Stations are the ones we are discussing.
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby sery2831 » Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:55 pm

NRGeep wrote:Mea culpa/my bad!!! Mod: please delete.


It's alright. This is turning out to be a good discussion. Just keep in mind we are a railfan forum. Serious complaints should be directed to management and not placed here because it gives the railfan community a bad rap in the railroader world. I try to prevent that and keep this forum railfan focused. There are all sorts of railroaders in here, from management to car cleaners... Most do not let you who they are though... So do not be afraid to ask technical questions!
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby ThinkNarrow » Tue Mar 19, 2013 9:02 pm

Back in 1968, I had a shiny new Bulova Accutron of which I was very proud. When I had a meeting with a High Mucky-Muck at the company, I made sure that I walked through his door at exactly the appointed time, 2:00 PM. As I sat down. I glanced at his watch. It said 2:05. According to his watch, I was five minutes late! I decided then and there that it does not matter what time you think it is; it only matters what time the rest of the world (including MBCR engineers) think it is.

-John
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby butts260 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 8:56 am

ThinkNarrow wrote:Back in 1968, I had a shiny new Bulova Accutron of which I was very proud. When I had a meeting with a High Mucky-Muck at the company, I made sure that I walked through his door at exactly the appointed time, 2:00 PM. As I sat down. I glanced at his watch. It said 2:05. According to his watch, I was five minutes late! I decided then and there that it does not matter what time you think it is; it only matters what time the rest of the world (including MBCR engineers) think it is.

-John

NORAC Operating Rules, Tenth Edition: Movement of Trains, Rule 92. Departure Time: A train must not leave a station where it is scheduled to receive passengers in advance of its scheduled leaving time unless authorized by the Dispatcher or by the Timetable.
I have never seen "the Timetable." Are there occasions for which it authorizes disregard of NORAC Rule 92?
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby AEM7AC920 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:13 am

There are L stops in the public schedule which designate that trains may leave ahead of schedule. On a normal basis no trains are not allowed to depart early unless the dispatcher authorizes it but that is very rare. Sery explained it well why he doesn't want certain things like this brought up here and I agree fully with his decision, it was probably just a harmless complaint however it's another one of those things that make railroads frown upon buffs. NORAC rules are just a very small guideline, they can be further revised or changed by a railroad of even the dispatcher can make minor amends.
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby Red Wing » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:25 am

I've read that back in the day train crews could only carry railroad approved watches and had to have them certified every x amount of days. Is this still a requirement?
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby sery2831 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 9:40 am

Sadly the day of "railroad approved" watches are gone. I wear one that's about 12 or 13 years old now and it's the only one I know that's still made. It's a Citizen. And there is no more time verification requirements by a Trainmaster. You are now required to phone a Dispatcher to check the time, that is the only official way to do a time check currently by rule.
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby boblothrope » Wed Mar 20, 2013 4:34 pm

Mcoov wrote:
NRGeep wrote:
AEM7AC920 wrote: The digital clocks in the stations are 15-30 seconds behind


Why?

For any number of reasons, mainly that they are neither atomic clocks nor are they synced to one, thus making it much easier to get behind by up to a minute. Be glad the MBTA pays attention and doesn't let their clocks fall way far behind.


That's just plain inexcusable.

Timekeeping is one of the most basic things involved with a running a railroad. Railroads *invented* standard time zones. What's the most prominent architectural feature on a classic train station? The clock.
"Waltham Watch Time" is in bigger text than "South Station": http://www.flickr.com/photos/mit-librar ... /lightbox/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mit-libraries/3442278492
http://www.flickr.com/photos/mit-libraries/3441463813
http://www.flickr.com/photos/boston_pub ... 008642527/

In this day and age, you can get a watch that syncs to the USNO Atomic Clock for less than $15. So there's no excuse for a train station clock being even 1 second off.
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Re: 10:35pm Lowell departure

Postby ExCon90 » Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:31 pm

butts260 wrote:
ThinkNarrow wrote:Back in 1968, I had a shiny new Bulova Accutron of which I was very proud. When I had a meeting with a High Mucky-Muck at the company, I made sure that I walked through his door at exactly the appointed time, 2:00 PM. As I sat down. I glanced at his watch. It said 2:05. According to his watch, I was five minutes late! I decided then and there that it does not matter what time you think it is; it only matters what time the rest of the world (including MBCR engineers) think it is.

-John

NORAC Operating Rules, Tenth Edition: Movement of Trains, Rule 92. Departure Time: A train must not leave a station where it is scheduled to receive passengers in advance of its scheduled leaving time unless authorized by the Dispatcher or by the Timetable.
I have never seen "the Timetable." Are there occasions for which it authorizes disregard of NORAC Rule 92?

One such example which existed for many years was the showing in PRR timetables of simultaneous arrival and departure times at Harrisburg, which in view of the engine change was an impossibility. The employee tt showed a departure time about 8 minutes later than the arrival time, with a reference mark stating that the train may leave at scheduled arrival time when station work is completed. The arrival time in the employee tt was shown as both the arrival and departure time in the public tt, thus providing a few minutes in hand if needed farther along the line.
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Re: Time On The Commuter Rail

Postby NRGeep » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:19 pm

In general, post Casey Jones/pre digital were the station clocks in sinc with the conductors? And for the record, next time I depart Lowell I WILL allow more time!
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Re: Time On The Commuter Rail

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 12:47 pm

The other way around; the conductors had to be in synch with the clocks. Every employee involved in train operations was required to compare his watch with a Standard Clock provided at every location where operating employees reported for work. The watch had to be made by an approved manufacturer to railroad specifications and had to be inspected monthly to ensure that it varied by no more than 30 seconds per month. After each monthly inspection, done by a local watchmaker accredited by the railroad and listed in the employee timetable (along with physicians accredited by the railroad) the watchmaker date-stamped the card required to be carried by the employee at all times and shown to a supervisor on demand. If the card showed that the latest inspection was done more than 30 days previously the employee was immediately removed from service until he had the watch inspected. This all dates from the era of timetables and train orders, which amounted to a time-interval system of train separation, in which if the timetable said a train was due to depart a station at 9.17 am, every watch on the division had better show 9.17 at the same time. Nowadays a space-interval system of train separation is used, based on whether a block is clear or not, regardless of what time it is.
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Re: Time On The Commuter Rail

Postby CSX Conductor » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:01 pm

I compare my watch (at every sign-up) by calling the Naval Observatory Master Clock. However, I have been told by some conductors that Amtrak allows using their E-Ticketing machines (I-Phones) for a time-piece. My argument was there is no seconds display. A conductor argued that there is a seconds display, but you have to go into a different menu. Simply put: How hard is it to wear a dam watch?!?
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Re: Time On The Commuter Rail

Postby wicked » Tue Mar 26, 2013 9:49 pm

This has been a fascinating conversation. I never gave much thought about railroads' adherence to the clock, but it makes tons of sense.
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