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 MetraBNSF
Here's a new one...this morning BNSF train 1204 (5:24am Aurora departure) was running late for unknown reasons and an automated announcement played that said "Conductor, please call the operations center at extension (5-digit number)". Never heard anything like that before.

  by MetraBNSF
Sometimes I don't get those automated announcements...

For as long as I remember a female voice would announce:
train number
departure time
intermediate stops

This would happen two minutes before a downtown or suburban departure.

Soon afterwards, another female voice would announce priority seating and bicycle guidelines.

Once on the road, a male voice would announce the emergency exits (near downtown) and "the next stop will be...now approaching...".

For a few weeks a particular BNSF trainset had it all reversed. I thought the flip-flop in voices was isolated to one particular cab car. The cab car was switched today and I was thinking that the voices would return to normal, but apparantly not.

When the conductor enters the train number into the GeoFocus system, can the voices be set/switched?

  by EricL
I remember when the voices first came out, the male voice was used for the long pre-departure announcement. At least on the Rock. I have no idea if there is an option on the terminal. I would think it would just be a car with out of date software. Keep in mind it doesn't necessarily have to be the cab car where the announcement is originating from; it could be any car in the consist with the computer installed.

  by F40CFan
I haven't noticed any variation on the MILW West Line. Just the same sing-song annoying voices day in, day out..........................

  by F40CFan
The programmers for this system must be real busy. Last Wednesday, November 21, I took the Milwaukee West 2:20pm Holiday extra express (MX1).

Once again, it called out all of the stations, including Hermosa and Cragin. It had a little challenge getting Galewood, Mars, and Mont Claire out as they are kind of close together.

  by F40CFan
Mr. Satellite was mute this morning on train 2220. It was nice to hear a human make the announcements again.

  by MetraBNSF
Here's one...for the past 2 days on a BNSF set the announcements would scroll on the LED displays in the cab cars but no announcement was made...either by the GeoFocus or a human. A passenger brought it to the attention of a conductor and a work order had been written up for it. So far, still trying to fix the bug.

  by MetraF40C607
Sunday on 2720, the inbound announcements were all said twice at every depot. It was quite funny. Then this occured from Mont Claire on:

Now approaching Mont Claire.
The next stop will be Mars.
Now approaching Mars.
Now approaching Galewood.
Now approaching Galewood.
(As the cab car pulls up to Narraggansett Ave) Now approaching Galewood.
(Engineer picks up PA mic after stopping) Now approaching Galewood.
(Engineer picks up PA mic after leaving) Now departing Galewood.
The next stop will be Hanson Park.
Now approaching Hanson Park.
The next stop will be Craigin.
Now approaching Craigin.
Now approaching Grand and Cicero.
The next stop will be Hermosa.
The next stop will be Western Ave.
Now approaching Hermosa.
The next stop will be Western Ave.
Now approaching Western Ave.

After passing A-2, it made both safety announcements at the same time. Made for an interesting ride indeed.
  by F40CFan
Mr. Satellite strikes again on 2227. For the past couple of weeks, it's getting nostalgic. It makes the correct announcements at CUS before departure. However, after leaving Western Ave., it announces that the next stop will be Hermosa. As we are rounding Pacific Jct., it says we are approaching Hermosa. As we pass Cicero/Grand it announces that the next stop is Cragin. Somewhere between Hanson Park and Galewood, it correctly announces that the next stop will be Franklin Park. Its kind of fun watching the tourists panic when it calls out Hermosa and Cragin. They search their timetables to try and figure out where the heck they are. Gotta love automation technology.
  by F40CFan
Here's a new twist, it decided to announce Cragin and Hermosa this morning (12/06/2010) on 2220.
  by metraRI
There have been rare occasions on RI when all branch stations have been announced on mainline trains, but I have not noticed this in quite some time. Metra's newer GPS annoucements at stations also seems to have minor flaws that need to be fixed. The estimated arrival of the next train seems to be off, when 8 minutes is said.. it turns out to be about 4. At Mokena, the annoucement for arriving inbound trains goes off after the train has already departed. On SWS, the accoucement for 179th Street being the next stop is made before arriving into Laraway Road. Even with the flaws, I think Metra is going in the right direction. Hopefully online tracking will be next, something VRE does.
  by F40CFan
Hermosa and Cragin were torn down a couple of years ago. You think it would be out of the database by now. If they want to use GPS to track the trains, fine. But leave the announcements up to someone with a brain instead of programming. It also lends a human touch, rather than a cold mechanical one.
  by metraRI
F40CFan wrote:If they want to use GPS to track the trains, fine. But leave the announcements up to someone with a brain instead of programming.
It is still up to conductors to announce flag stop information... more times than not, announcements for Robbins, Prairie St., and 123rd Street just get ignored. Metra still relies on fellow humans to post and announce information about service disruptions, but that information has become increasingly inaccurate. Human or not, there will always be flaws, but I'd take the pre-recorded announcements over a mumbling conductor any day.
  by F40CFan
metraRI wrote:Human or not, there will always be flaws, but I'd take the pre-recorded announcements over a mumbling conductor any day.
Sorry, I have to disagree. When I first started riding the Milwaukee Road commuter service the trainmen were required to make clear accurate announcements as part of their job and they did. The mumbling we may get now is the direct result of dumbing down the trainmen by implementing techno-crap.