Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Discussion relating to the operations of MTA MetroNorth Railroad including west of Hudson operations and discussion of CtDOT sponsored rail operations such as Shore Line East and the Springfield to New Haven Hartford Line

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brettj22
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Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by brettj22 » Mon Jan 17, 2011 3:29 pm

Will power outages in areas that MNCR runs through stop all train service? Is it possible to run the bomb trains, or do all operations stop when there's an outage?

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by DutchRailnut » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:06 pm

During a power outage the signals will fail, communications will fail etc.
Even cellphones go dead due to computers and cellphone towers loosing power.
So how would a crew get authority to run the train????
If Conductors are in charge, why are they promoted to be Engineer???

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by Clean Cab » Mon Jan 17, 2011 6:41 pm

During the blackout of August 2004, trains did run using radios which had battery backups, and cell phones were used. Keep in mind however, the trains that were operating were all rescue moves and all regular operations were suspened for over 24 hours. Funny how trains ran for over 100 years without radios and cell phones. All they had back then was the telegragh and a lot of people at many outlying points.
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by Jeff Smith » Tue Jan 18, 2011 10:24 am

Two words: Cos Cob.

With mostly commercial power used now (if not all), if a utility goes down. there's no back up. Unless you want to buy a whole MESS of Honda diesel generators at Home Depot ;-)
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powerdirector99
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by powerdirector99 » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:25 pm

Jeff Smith wrote:Two words: Cos Cob.

With mostly commercial power used now (if not all), if a utility goes down. there's no back up. Unless you want to buy a whole MESS of Honda diesel generators at Home Depot ;-)
All power is supplied from utility companies. If a feeder goes down there is a backup feeder to supply power. MNRR is supplied by designated feeders, only a few feeders are shared with public feeders. So when a local town outage happens it normally does not effect the RR. If it does effect the RR the power director will use an alternate feed. During the black out of 2004 it was not possible to use an alternate feed simply because the outage was a catastrophically huge outage.

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by litz » Tue Jan 18, 2011 2:39 pm

Which is, essentially, how CSX and FEC operate in Florida after hurricanes roll through ...

There's no other way to keep the signals and crossing gates functioning.

This is especially important as moving supplies into the region by rail is an essential part of their disaster recovery plans.

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by R36 Combine Coach » Tue Jan 18, 2011 4:03 pm

During the 2003 blackout MNCR did use diesels for emergency moves at GCT.
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by kitn1mcc » Tue Jan 18, 2011 7:23 pm

yeah there is a Designated feeder from the Water street Sub in new haven to yard and it did fault a few weeks ago
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Tommy Meehan
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by Tommy Meehan » Tue Jan 18, 2011 11:50 pm

For whatever it's worth, in the 2004 blackout I was at Tarrytown station watching a crew on a GP35M couple up to a train of about 8 dead MUs. They said they were going to Yonkers next, couple onto another dead MU train, then haul the whole thing back to C-H.

People on the platform trying to get to Yonkers pleaded to be able to board the train. The guy in charge told them, the MUs had no brakes. They were going to be hauled dead by the locomotive which was also going to be the only source of braking.

The Boss told the people he was sorry, he understood how badly they wanted to get home (he said he wanted to get home too) but there was no way he was going to carry riders in cars with no brakes. Just no way.

Hard to argue with that.

powerdirector99
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by powerdirector99 » Fri Jan 21, 2011 3:06 pm

kitn1mcc wrote:yeah there is a Designated feeder from the Water street Sub in new haven to yard and it did fault a few weeks ago
This is true. But the backup feeder was used to feed the shops until the fault on the utility end was repaired.

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by kitn1mcc » Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:38 pm

I remember hearing the switching on the Company radio before and after the fault happened. also i do belive amtrak uses commercial mains.
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by MNCRR9000 » Wed Feb 09, 2011 4:23 pm

Clean Cab wrote:During the blackout of August 2004, trains did run using radios which had battery backups, and cell phones were used. Keep in mind however, the trains that were operating were all rescue moves and all regular operations were suspened for over 24 hours. Funny how trains ran for over 100 years without radios and cell phones. All they had back then was the telegragh and a lot of people at many outlying points.

Since the radios have battery backups do the signals and communications have either diesel generators or battery backups at the interlockings?

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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by kitn1mcc » Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:57 pm

MNCRR9000 wrote:
Clean Cab wrote:During the blackout of August 2004, trains did run using radios which had battery backups, and cell phones were used. Keep in mind however, the trains that were operating were all rescue moves and all regular operations were suspened for over 24 hours. Funny how trains ran for over 100 years without radios and cell phones. All they had back then was the telegragh and a lot of people at many outlying points.

Since the radios have battery backups do the signals and communications have either diesel generators or battery backups at the interlockings?
most do have batteries All Crossing signals do
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roee
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by roee » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:28 am

MNCRR9000 wrote:Since the radios have battery backups do the signals and communications have either diesel generators or battery backups at the interlockings?
Every signal location that I have ever seen has batteries. Actually they typically run off of the batteries with rectifiers charging the batteries so that when commercial AC is lost the locations don't miss a beat. Some older crossings have their lights AC lit, and when the power goes off a relay drops and then the lights run off of DC, but either way, they are protected with batteries. A crossing and a control point/interlocker should last for several hours to cover a power outage. After 5-8 hours is when you'll start having major problems.

Also remember that crossings are held up with power, so if the batteries die the gates will drop. Fail Safe.
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Tommy Meehan
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Re: Does a power outage stop all train operations?

Post by Tommy Meehan » Tue Feb 15, 2011 8:25 pm

This is an interesting thread, though we seem to be getting a little mixed up between grade crossing protection and wayside signals.

As for wayside signals, they seem to have routinely gone dark in a number of instances including during widespread blackouts. Maybe they have batteries to power the lamps but how about the input? I don't know enough about the specifics but if the RTC center goes down how can the signals stay lit unless they all display stop?

Other examples of signals going dark despite their having batteries:

I was on a Harlem Line train at Bronxville about twenty years ago when a tree came down across the right of way and knocked out the signals. The third rail still had power but the signals stayed knocked out for several hours. And train service stayed knocked out for several hours too!

Last summer when power was lost on the New Haven Line east of New Rochelle the signals also went down I think. At least someone wrote on here that when their train finally got rolling (behind a rescue diesel) it was at restricted speed (with a stop at each signal too, I think) because the signals were all dark. What happened to the batteries?

Can anyone with knowledge of the technology explain a bit more?

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