Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by HammerJack
 
Hi all!
I was recently riding on the MD-W train 2235 (5.05 out of CUS). I boarded the train at River Grove and was heading for Downtown Elgin. For some reason, we didn't stop at Mannheim station, even though it was not a flag stop. We slowed down, but did not actually stop. I'm not sure why we treated it as a flag stop, but that is aside the point of this post. Anyway, the train travelled at line speed until Itasca, where we had to slow down for an inbound to clear the station before we could pass. I assumed this was an application of GCOR Rule 6.30. Later, we switched to the south track because we almost caught up to 2233, which was running a bit late. At Bartlett, which is not a stop for 2235, we had to make a full stop to allow 2233 to clear the station. Once it left, we continued along. Again, I assumed this was another application of Rule 6.30. However, out of curiosity, I looked up the actual definition of the rule. It states " When a passenger train is receiving or discharging traffic, a train, engine, or piece of equipment must not pass between it and the station platform being used unless safeguards are provided". That is the pure GCOR definition. However, this does not describe what happened at Itasca and Bartlett. Both of these stations have two side platforms, each serving a main track. 2235 did not pass "between it [the stopped train] and the station platform being used". 2235 simply passed on a adjacent track with a completely separate platform. Rule 6.30 is referring to stations like Prairie St. and Blue Island- Vermont St. (both on the RI) which have two tracks served by only one side platform. However, Bartlett and Itasca have two side platforms, so Rule 6.30 does not apply. So why was Rule 6.30 enforced at Bartlett and Itasca when the rule does not apply to the situations I experienced on 2235 (according to the definition of the rule)? On the BNSF line, express trains commonly overtake local trains that are stopped at stations. The expresses do not stop, or even slow down as they overtake the stopped trains. This is basically the same situation as what happened with 2235, so why was rule 6.30 enforced differently on the MD-W vs. the BNSF?
  by justalurker66
 
HammerJack wrote:"When a passenger train is receiving or discharging traffic, a train, engine, or piece of equipment must not pass between it and the station platform being used unless safeguards are provided". That is the pure GCOR definition.
The abundance of caution stops traffic on all tracks. It is a good idea ... and unless the tracks are completely uncrossable by pedestrians (a fence between tracks with no gaps) a stop could be a life saver if someone walks around the end of a train ... even if they are crossing the tracks illegally.
HammerJack wrote:On the BNSF line, express trains commonly overtake local trains that are stopped at stations. The expresses do not stop, or even slow down as they overtake the stopped trains. This is basically the same situation as what happened with 2235, so why was rule 6.30 enforced differently on the MD-W vs. the BNSF?
The difference may be the underlying railroad that owns the track.

BNSF says (from CORA):
Rule 6.30 Receiving or Discharging Passengers is changed in its entirety to read:
A. Passenger Crew Responsibilities
When approaching a station to receive or discharge passengers, determine if the train is routed on the track nearest the station platform. If other trains could pass on a main track or controlled siding between the passenger train and the station platform:
• Communicate with the train dispatcher to determine whether any trains are approaching between the train and the station platform.
• Do not make the station stop until assured that trains will not pass between the train and the station platform.
If unable to communicate with the train dispatcher, the station stop may be made after the crew determines that no trains are approaching on the track between the train and the station platform. Before making the station stop, the conductor must assign crew member responsibilities to ensure passenger safety. If during the station stop a train is seen or heard approaching, crew members must take action to keep passengers from fouling the affected track.
B. Responsibilities of Approaching Movements
When notified that a passenger train will be at a station, do not pass between station platform and a passenger train until assured that all passengers and employees have cleared the track between the passenger train and the station platform. Movement may then pass when preceded by an employee walking ahead of the movement.
C. Other than Main Track Movements
A movement must not pass between a passenger train and the station platform being used unless safeguards are provided.
CN says (from CORA):
531. RECEIVING OR DISCHARGING PASSENGERS.
A train or engine must proceed with extreme care when moving alongside a passenger train receiving or discharging passengers. Before allowing passengers to entrain or detrain, crews of passenger trains must ascertain the location of other trains that could pass either side of their train while stopped unless tracks are separated by a physical barrier.
The CN rule (applicable to your MD-W example) is more strict. The most extreme care to take is not to proceed.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
The freight traffic on MD-W is CP rather than CN, but Metra owns the tracks all the way to Big Timber Road and runs the trains itself (unlike on the BNSF or UP lines), so wouldn't they set the policy? I thought Metra made some changes to how trains under its control pass each other in boarding areas after someone getting off a train got run over about ten years ago.
  by justalurker66
 
I looked too quickly ... you are correct, it is CP not CN for Milwaukee District:
Rule 6.30 Receiving or discharging passengers – is changed to read as follows:
When a passenger train is receiving or discharging traffic the following will apply:
• Train, engine, or on-track equipment must not pass between the standing train and the station platform being used.

A passenger train that will make a station stop that will result in receiving or discharging passengers across a main track or controlled siding intervening between train and the station platform will make radio announcement as follows:
“(Train) approaching (station) will be making passenger stop on (track)”

The train will be required to make a radio announcement to advise other movements when it begins leaving the passenger station stop.

• Train, engine, or on-track equipment approaching on an adjacent track must not pass that train, unless one of the safe guards is established:
1. Intertrack fencing is provided and affected pedestrian crossings are blocked,
or
2. A crew member is stationed at the rear of stopped passenger train to prevent pedestrians from crossing and pedestrian crossings are blocked.

• A passenger train must not depart a station when a train or engine is seen approaching until leading end of approaching train has passed rear of standing train, unless communication has been established to ensure safe guards.

• At initial stations trains that are standing near crosswalks, must have crew member in position to protect passengers against approaching movements on adjacent tracks.

Train or engine on an adjacent track must ring bell approaching and passing a passenger train at a station and sounding whistle, as necessary.
No passing between train and platform. No passing on adjacent tracks without safeguards.

Metra's Rule (on tracks they control) is:
6.30 RECEIVING OR DISCHARGING PASSENGERS Addition:
When a passenger train is receiving or discharging passengers, a freight train must not pass on an adjacent track.
It seems that Metra's rule would be the most strict. No passing on an adjacent track. So if it is Metra controlled track it would fall under the simple no passing rule ... if it is CP controlled track the similar CP rules would apply ... on BNSF the BNSF rules would apply.


BTW, UP has:
Freight trains must make every effort consistent with safety and efficient train handling:
a. To avoid passing a station at which a passenger train is stopped to receive passengers.
b. To avoid entering the platform area until the passenger train has departed the station and the platform can be plainly seen.
c. To control their speed to avoid entering a station during the time an on-time passenger train would normally be receiving and discharging passengers.
d. To communicate with passenger trains that may be met or passed to determine their locations.

Freight trains and engines MUST attempt to communicate by radio with scheduled passenger trains that may be met or passed prior to the scheduled time at stations to determine the location of the passenger train and plan location of meet or pass. Also attempt to contact train dispatcher to determine location if unable to contact passenger train by radio.

When a freight train cannot avoid passing a station after a passenger train has entered, the whistle must be sounded until the front of the freight train has passed through the platform area.
  by lstone19
 
I'm a near daily rider of 2235 from CUS to Roselle. Others have talked about how Metra handles passing through a station when other trains are there so no need to go further into that.
Mannheim: Yes, it gets treated like a flag stop. Since it's a one-car platform, passengers are advised to be on the rear car. If there's no one waiting to get off and no one on the platform, why stop. From experience on other trains scheduled for Mannheim, they all treat it as a flag stop. Perhaps Metra has a special instruction saying they can.
Itasca: Inbound train 2246 is an issue but sometimes, we're just running on 2233's yellows at that point. A couple of times in the last month, we've had to almost stop at Rohlwing Rd. waiting for the signal to come up.
Track 1 and Bartlett: Track 1 Roselle West to B-35 is normal for this train since it makes no stops in that territory. Doing so lets 2237 close up the gap which helps keep it on time. On days when 2235 stays on 2, 2237 (which I usually see on the drive home after getting off 2235) is usually slowing to stop at Roselle West or at best proceed on an Approach. But even when 2235 is on 1, 2233 is going to go first at B-35 so there's no point in 2235 passing 2233 only to wait longer.
  by HammerJack
 
Thank you all for the detailed replies!
justalurker66 wrote:When a passenger train is receiving or discharging passengers, a freight train must not pass on an adjacent track.It seems that Metra's rule would be the most strict. No passing on an adjacent track. So if it is Metra controlled track it would fall under the simple no passing rule ...
What about the Metra Electric? This is Metra controlled track, but since it uses high-level platforms, does the rule still apply? It's kind of hard to get it by a train on a high-level platform.
lstone19 wrote:But even when 2235 is on 1, 2233 is going to go first at B-35 so there's no point in 2235 passing 2233 only to wait longer.
That is what happened at B-35. 2235 had to stop to allow 2233 to clear the single track bridge. It seems like the single track bridge at B-35 is a choke point on the route that causes some delays, doesn't it?
  by TrainManUPRR
 
I'm not completely sure how it works on the Electric, but I don't think 6.30 applies. 35th and Gresham on the Rock have high level platforms and 6.30 does not apply to either stop.
  by justalurker66
 
HammerJack wrote:
justalurker66 wrote:When a passenger train is receiving or discharging passengers, a freight train must not pass on an adjacent track.It seems that Metra's rule would be the most strict. No passing on an adjacent track. So if it is Metra controlled track it would fall under the simple no passing rule ...
What about the Metra Electric? This is Metra controlled track, but since it uses high-level platforms, does the rule still apply? It's kind of hard to get it by a train on a high-level platform.
I don't have anything specific to MED handy ... but the standard 6.30 is "do not pass between train and platform" - and Metra's addition quoted above is "When a passenger train is receiving or discharging passengers, a freight train must not pass on an adjacent track." (emphasis added) Freight trains do not run on MED.

With high level platforms and tunnels and stairs to get to and away from the platforms without crossing the tracks I do not see a problem with MED trains passing stopped trains at stations. 6.30 would apply in the rare situations where a train had to stop away from the platform.
  by ExCon90
 
Very likely there's a Special Instruction in the ETT covering those examples -- something like "In the application of Rule 6.30 at ... , etc."
  by lstone19
 
HammerJack wrote:
lstone19 wrote:But even when 2235 is on 1, 2233 is going to go first at B-35 so there's no point in 2235 passing 2233 only to wait longer.
That is what happened at B-35. 2235 had to stop to allow 2233 to clear the single track bridge. It seems like the single track bridge at B-35 is a choke point on the route that causes some delays, doesn't it?
Correction to earlier post: I flipped 1 and 2 in my earlier response. Track 1 is the nominal (right-hand running) westbound track with track 2 being the nominal eastbound track. 2235 normally crosses 1 to 2 at Roselle West.

There is a plan to replace that bridge with a double-track bridge. But given it's length, I doubt it causes that many problems. But both 2233 and 2235 need to be on 1 west of B-35 as both are heading into the river-side storage tracks between National Street and Elgin. The reason 2233 terminates at National Street is it goes on the track closest to the river with no platform while 2235 goes on the next track which does have a platform.

If 2233 could actually get over the railroad on-time, this wouldn't be an issue. But 2233 has such trouble keeping its schedule that as I mentioned earlier, it's not unusual for 2235 to have caught it by Itasca even though it's supposed to be 10 minutes ahead at Roselle.
  by MikeEspee
 
ExCon90 wrote:Very likely there's a Special Instruction in the ETT covering those examples -- something like "In the application of Rule 6.30 at ... , etc."

That is precisely the case for the application of rule 6.30. On CP property 6.30 has been expanded upon heavily in their special instructions to restrict trains meeting on station platforms only in certain situations to ensure safety of passengers in the platform area. There is a lot to it, but blocking (so-called "covering" by us) pedestrian crosswalks and road crossings connected to platforms and having inner-track fencing in the platform area are a big deal in the application of 6.30 on the CP.
  by HammerJack
 
Yesterday, I made my way out to Western Ave. to railfan the evening rush hour. It's a great place and I would highly recommend it. Last time I visited the MD-W, I took 2235 home, but this time, I decided to take 2237. Besides not being able to get a decent seat until Schaumburg, the ride was very enjoyable. However, I have another question about Rule 6.30. We were cruising along at track speed (70 I think) around Wood Dale. As we passed up the station, 2246 was making its scheduled stop. We did not stop or even slow down to let 2246 clear the station. I was a bit confused as of why Rule 6.30 was not applied in this scenario. As I mentioned in the first post of this thread, a similar situation occurred at Itasca, but 6.30 was applied, and 2235 (last time when I rode this train) slowed down to allow 2246 to clear the platforms. So long story short, why was 6.30 applied at Itasca but not Wood Dale, when the two instances were nearly identical (besides the station of course)?
lstone19 wrote: Track 1 Roselle West to B-35 is normal for this train since it makes no stops in that territory. Doing so lets 2237 close up the gap which helps keep it on time. On days when 2235 stays on 2, 2237 (which I usually see on the drive home after getting off 2235) is usually slowing to stop at Roselle West or at best proceed on an Approach. But even when 2235 is on 1, 2233 is going to go first at B-35 so there's no point in 2235 passing 2233 only to wait longer.
2237 had to slow down around Medinah due to yellow signals. I assume these were probably from 2235, which was probably running on 2233's yellows. This didn't surprise me, as 2233 left a couple minutes late out of Western Ave., and apparently has trouble running on-time. I could tell that 2235 switched to Track 2 at Roselle West, as 2237 had clears all the way to Elgin after passing Roselle station. I can see the snowball effect that 2233's late running can have on 2235 and 2237, especially when it is late. Pushing 2233's departure out of CUS up a few minutes wouldn't be a bad idea, expect it's probably already close enough to 2231.

And just as a side question (sorry I am drifting away from the thread topic!), why does 2235 use Track 3 at Western Ave.? It has to make a 3-2-1 crossover somewhere before Monte Clare, which causes a slight slow-down. Wouldn't it make more sense to run out of CUS/Western Ave. on 1, so it doesn't have to make the large movement later along the line? Is it because of the Amtrak train that departs around the same time as 2235 that uses 1?
  by justalurker66
 
HammerJack wrote:We were cruising along at track speed (70 I think) around Wood Dale. As we passed up the station, 2246 was making its scheduled stop. We did not stop or even slow down to let 2246 clear the station. I was a bit confused as of why Rule 6.30 was not applied in this scenario.
...
So long story short, why was 6.30 applied at Itasca but not Wood Dale, when the two instances were nearly identical (besides the station of course)?
Train, engine, or on-track equipment approaching on an adjacent track must not pass that train, unless one of the safe guards is established:
1. Intertrack fencing is provided and affected pedestrian crossings are blocked,
or
2. A crew member is stationed at the rear of stopped passenger train to prevent pedestrians from crossing and pedestrian crossings are blocked.


Without delving deep into the situation I'd say that safe guards had been established for your fly by train and not for the situation where your train stopped.
  by doepack
 
HammerJack wrote: Pushing 2233's departure out of CUS up a few minutes wouldn't be a bad idea, expect it's probably already close enough to 2231.
That's part of it. The other, more critical reason is between roughly 1600 and 1645, tracks 2 & 3 are needed for inbound revenue/deadhead traffic, which is quite heavy in that window. Right now, nothing needs track 3 westbound before 2231's departure at 4:50, as it should be. If 2233's schedule were to be pushed up, you'd have to do the same for 2231, which would be foolish, because there's nowhere to put that train if it left several minutes earlier...
HammerJack wrote:And just as a side question (sorry I am drifting away from the thread topic!), why does 2235 use Track 3 at Western Ave.? It has to make a 3-2-1 crossover somewhere before Monte Clare, which causes a slight slow-down. Wouldn't it make more sense to run out of CUS/Western Ave. on 1, so it doesn't have to make the large movement later along the line? Is it because of the Amtrak train that departs around the same time as 2235 that uses 1?
Bingo. Amtrak Hiawatha 339 leaves three minutes after 2235, and has track 1 all to itself heading out of CUS, a clear highball to the C&M. For the Amtrak passengers, that's a good thing...
  by EricL
 
It's a good thing for a lot of people. Every train from 2133 to 2141 has to run "more or less" on time, or else the whole railroad sort of goes to hell for the rest of the night. Sorry that the Elgin line is already horrendously slow (I know it is, I used to commute on it), but running those half-dozen outbounds out on 3 makes a lot of operational sense by enabling tight headways out of CUS somewhat reliably.

I do wish they would do something about 2133/2231 though. The latter leaves two minutes behind the former, both go out main 1, but 2133 almost always loses time getting out of the station (waiting for late pax... waiting for inbound DH equip... maybe they're blue flagged until the last minute? I dunno, it seems like it's always SOMETHING) and then so the first five minutes of 2231's trip pretty much just consists of creeping along/stopping