Red lights on the Green Line

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

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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby CRail » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:07 pm

deathtopumpkins wrote:Can you please tell me then why he isn't allowed to question why they are needed "for safety"?

The question has been allowed, asked, and answered. When one asks a question or makes a point, and doesn't like the answer or response they get, they often repeat the same argument over and over and over again. Mbta fan, like many of us, is growing weary of the same argument that the stops are uncomfortable and kill old ladies. They do have a negative impact on the ride, but so does what they exist to prevent (and to a much lesser degree). Some don't think that they're necessary, but the transit authority which owns and operates the trains does think they're necessary, and so they exist.

I'll quickly admit that the Authority does not operate at an ideal state of efficiency, as will probably most of the folks who run it. Sharing ideas and opinions is great, discussing them is great too. Beating dead horses is nonproductive and annoying.

When someone comes up with something other than, "we don't like them and someone could fall," share it. Otherwise, that argument has already been tried.

Thanks Mbta fan for doing the research and pulling up one of the responses, I didn't feel like doing that.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby MBTA1016 » Mon Jan 06, 2014 10:48 pm

Your welcome CRail. I couldn't have put that any better.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby bostontrainguy » Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:41 pm

Well, I just assumed people here wanted the facts and the truth but apparently not everyone appreciates it.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby TrainManTy » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:17 am

CRail wrote:Some don't think that they're [safety stops] necessary, but the transit authority which owns and operates the trains does think they're necessary, and so they exist.


Let's not get confused on this. We've established that the T has a motive to protect itself from a legal and PR standpoint and that knee-jerk responses aren't unheard of in this industry. (See the FRA's Emergency Order after Spuyten Duvyil.) The T has deemed them necessary...but we don't know that this is entirely for safety reasons. All I'm saying is that safety may not be the only, or even the primary, reason that these safety stops exist.

Are there safer alternatives to these signals? Probably, if you've got the dough.

Is removing the signals and NOT implementing alternatives safer than keeping said signals in place? I don't think anybody knows, including the T.

There are pros and cons to each method of operation, and I see truth in both sides of this argument. When I'm driving in black ice conditions I make test brake applications and (rolling) safety stops frequently when traffic permits; I've also fallen down the stairs in a Type 8 (not at one of these signals).

The T will never release data on passenger injuries from falling during these stops but do we have any data on incidents or collisions that would have been prevented by these signals? Legitimate question, I'm not asking to prove a point. I couldn't find any data previously in this thread.

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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby deathtopumpkins » Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:35 am

TrainManTy wrote:
CRail wrote:Some don't think that they're [safety stops] necessary, but the transit authority which owns and operates the trains does think they're necessary, and so they exist.


Let's not get confused on this. We've established that the T has a motive to protect itself from a legal and PR standpoint and that knee-jerk responses aren't unheard of in this industry. (See the FRA's Emergency Order after Spuyten Duvyil.) The T has deemed them necessary...but we don't know that this is entirely for safety reasons. All I'm saying is that safety may not be the only, or even the primary, reason that these safety stops exist.

Are there safer alternatives to these signals? Probably, if you've got the dough.

Is removing the signals and NOT implementing alternatives safer than keeping said signals in place? I don't think anybody knows, including the T.



This right here is exactly what I was getting at. Yes, we all already know that the T implemented them as a response to collisions. But why should we just accept the fact that that was their response as an indication that they do improve safety, or even that they are the most efficient way to improve safety? I think there should always be room to improve operating practices. And it doesn't have to be at the cost of safety. When it can be demonstrated that this is the ONLY way to prevent the collisions that occurred, I will happily agree that it is a good idea. Until then, I'm going to keep thinking that there is a better way. My apologies if that is "annoying" anyone.

And Mbta fan, yes, I know this is a very low priority overall in improving the T. But you can't deny that throwing riders around with sudden starts and stops certainly doesn't help their image. I guarantee if the ride was smoother more people would take the green line.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby djlong » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:40 am

Perhaps a better question to ask...

How many places in other systems can you name that have the same "all stop all the time" policy?

In other words, the "safety" argument would hold more water if there were other examples of this practice.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby MBTA1016 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:02 pm

I see ur point Connor but the green line has 3 branches meeting on one end of the central subway(kenmore) never mind the 4th branch meeting the subway at Copley. The busy stations like kenmore need the signals in the tunnel to keep what the T deems safe distances between trains in the subway. There are alternatives to the green line. You don't know for sure if removing these will get more people to ride the green line. There's no hard data to prove that assumption.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby TrainManTy » Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:35 pm

Mbta fan wrote:I see ur point Connor but the green line has 3 branches meeting on one end of the central subway(kenmore) never mind the 4th branch meeting the subway at Copley. The busy stations like kenmore need the signals in the tunnel to keep what the T deems safe distances between trains in the subway.


I thought these signals were brake checks? Plenty of transit systems operate busy junctions between multiple lines, and you won't find any extra stop signals at the (very busy) approach to North Station, for example. It's not the number of trains that's the problem, it's the tunnel conditions (blind curves, grades) and the way the signal system is set up.

Mbta fan wrote:You don't know for sure if removing these will get more people to ride the green line. There's no hard data to prove that assumption.


I'd ride more often. And I think it's a reasonable assumption to make that I'm not the only one who currently avoids the Green Line due to its speed and ride quality.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby MBTA1016 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 4:32 pm

Yeah but, how can someone assume that if they get rid of these more people will ride the greenline. There's people out there that have never ridden the green line. The only time I did was for the redsox rally. All the times we stopped in the tunnel was due to a trolley in front of us. Not these red signals. The T has no problem with these so the people proposing to remove take it up with T management
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby sery2831 » Tue Jan 07, 2014 6:29 pm

TrainManTy wrote:
Mbta fan wrote:I see ur point Connor but the green line has 3 branches meeting on one end of the central subway(kenmore) never mind the 4th branch meeting the subway at Copley. The busy stations like kenmore need the signals in the tunnel to keep what the T deems safe distances between trains in the subway.


I thought these signals were brake checks? Plenty of transit systems operate busy junctions between multiple lines, and you won't find any extra stop signals at the (very busy) approach to North Station, for example. It's not the number of trains that's the problem, it's the tunnel conditions (blind curves, grades) and the way the signal system is set up.


It's not honestly to check brakes as more to control speed. Until money is in place to put a system in to prevent collisions this is how it's going to be. If they did not use this CYA policy, the next accident will just be a open case to send money out the door. The MBTA is demonstrating it acknowledges an issue and this is the reaction. Right or wrong, this is how they choose to deal with issue.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby TrainManTy » Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:20 pm

sery2831 wrote:It's not honestly to check brakes as more to control speed.


In absence of a positive speed control system (including timers with trips) this makes sense. It shouldn't be necessary, but I understand and accept the T's decision to do things this way.

Earlier in this discussion someone referred to the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) banning the use of stop signs as speed control devices. While I recognize that light rail vehicles are more similar to road vehicles than full-size trains in terms of braking distance, it should be noted that the NORAC rulebook requires a full stop before coupling to passenger equipment (Rule 100). Clearly, this stop is used for speed control.

---

Another question: my understanding is that overspeed past these signals would lead to collisions with a stopped train ahead by passing the next signal at stop. Would it be possible to set the signal at the top of the hill to stop only when there's a train two blocks ahead? (Or however far the collision is feared). Almost like an Advanced Approach signal. In rush hour conditions it would likely stop every train, but at other times trains could receive a clear signal down the hill and into the station.

If breaking the signal architecture in this way isn't permissible, what about removing the signal that the T fears trains will overrun and make this signal at the top of the grade protect the station below? If they're this worried about trains passing a stop signal, does said signal still have a purpose?
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby Patrick Boylan » Wed Jan 08, 2014 8:15 am

If they're this worried about trains passing a stop signal, does having a stop signal of any kind serve a purpose?
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby nomis » Wed Jan 08, 2014 9:10 am

Patrick Boylan wrote:If they're this worried about trains passing a stop signal, does having a stop signal of any kind serve a purpose?

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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby CRail » Wed Jan 08, 2014 12:41 pm

Patrick Boylan wrote:If they're this worried about trains passing a stop signal, does having a stop signal of any kind serve a purpose?

If people are capable of lying, is there even a point of us being able to talk? Why do we bother having 65mph speed limits if people are just going to do 70 or 80 anyway? (Actually, that's arguable... but not here. Anyway...)

It's not that there's an issue of compliance, as though they just can't get people to obey those things. The concern is on the rare occasion that, for whatever reason, a red signal is ignored, the consequences have the potential to be severe and deadly. There is no reason that a train should derail on straight track, yet they still put guard rails in at bridges and underpasses in case the unlikely is to happen. What we're talking about here is redundant safety features (regardless of why they might be there, that's what they are). Despite being primarily on one side of the discussion throughout, I will say that both arguments hold clout. I don't particularly like the status quo myself, but I recognize its purpose and its justification. I also, as I've said, fear automation. I suspect it's coming anyways, but I'm sure you'll have a lot more to complain about once that time arrives.
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Re: Red lights on the Green Line

Postby Patrick Boylan » Wed Jan 08, 2014 1:27 pm

One of the "won't somebody think of the children" excuses I've read here is that they need safety stops before blind curves. Has anybody ever thought of putting up mirrors? They're not unheard of on our nation's highways, I've seen them once in a while near "hidden driveway" signs, and I think I remember one ages ago just before Philadelphia's green line's Juniper station.

Philadelphia, by the way, has long had a rule that trolleys must stop before all facing point switches, as well as before entering each of their 2 green line subway portals and before the junction. At least one of those spots had a smashboard coupled with a derailing device, I'm not sure if that still exists, or if it was set to derail even if the offending operator ignored the stop whether there was a trolley on the converging track or not.
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