NYC Paperwork from the Boston & Albany Railroad

BoxcabE50 Jul 20, 2021

  1. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Don't know what territory you are referring to - I am not NS knowledgeable.

    On CSX there are single track territories that are signaled with a automatic block signal system. The signals indicate 'track condition' but NOT the authority for movement. Authority for movement is conveyed by a Form EC-1 Track Warrant that specifies at start location and a end location and potentially instructions to take siding for a meet. There are a few areas of multiple track territories involved and for the most part those tracks are signaled for current of traffic operation.
     
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  2. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Then I wonder- What happens if it ever fails? We live in a world of stupidity, such as hackers... Or, somehow forbid it, war? Is there any backup to the present US and Canadian systems? Or are we living in a time of believing it can never be? The hard wired (telegraph/company phone) network is all but gone. Few are left who have any knowledge for advancing a train manually. We would be in a world of hurt. By the time anything could be cobbled together and people re-trained, the situation would be far gone..... :( Look at what happened to our (US) economy, so quickly with the recent brief pipeline shutdown incident. Sharp, fast price rises and the stock market also reacted poorly. Scary.
     
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  3. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    Your post more clearly states than mine what happens on NS as well. That's it exactly. The NS Dispatcher gives track authority using mileposts.
     
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  4. Hardcoaler

    Hardcoaler TrainBoard Member

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    I wonder about the same. Everything hinges on Global Positioning Satellites these days, including automobiles, trucks, maritime, aviation, Positive Train Control and even pizza delivery. I'm no expert in the matter, but it would seem necessary to switch these systems off if a military confrontation loomed. Our economy would seize within hours.
     
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  5. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Remember communications is a two way street. Somebody speaks, somebody else listens.

    In Track Warrant territory - if communication stops - trains stop.

    Dispatchers issue authorities, trains operate in accordance with the authorities they received. The issuance of authorities is not a one way street. Dispatchers issue the authority, the train crews must repeat the authority back to the Dispatcher verbatim and upon a successful repeat the Dispatcher will issue a Effective Time for implementation of the authority. With the CADS (Computer Aided Dispatching System) that virtually all Class 1's use - The authority is formulated and checked for conflicts by the computer and displayed for the Dispatcher to issue and then keep track of the crew's repeating it. In the case of CSX (and I suspect others) the authority will be displayed in a Temporary form on the Dispatchers model board (computer screen) of his territory - Upon the Dispatcher issuing the Effective Time and completing the authority in the CADS the authority be displayed in its completed form along with the train identity on the model board.

    When computerized applications are implemented in society and once they are working as intended and staffing levels have been adjusted to the 'new reality' of the computerized operation there is no going back to the old ways. For the most part, employees trained in the operation of the computer system and all it complexities, will have no idea how to create a 'analog' system to do what the computer system is doing ON THE FLY, as they never worked with the analog system in the past. With the passing of every year you have fewer and fewer people at any level of the organization that even knew what the analog system was and how it worked.
     
  6. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Please bear in mind here that I am not arguing with what you have explained. I do understand all of these things. But my question still remains- What if the system fails? What if someone hacks it? What if a satellite goes bad? What if weather knocks some chain link in the system down? Yes. Trains stop. I know this is true- S.O.P. But they cannot do so for any extended period, or there are nasty economic side effects, very quickly, in the world today.

    Is there a back up plan to get things rolling again, while the primary system is restored? (Not asking for any trade secrets here...) While such issues may be few and far between today, (thankfully), the concept of any failure proof system just does not sit well for me. All humans being fallible, everything they conceive and all they create are subject to possible attack or breakdown.
     
  7. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    Approximately 15-17 years ago the CSX CADS system got hit by a 'computer virus'. The CADS communicates with the Corporate Mainframe system - CADS receives such things as crew information, train and locomotive consist information from the Mainframe. CADS send information to the Mainframe such as completed Trainsheet information for trains as the move over the system and any number of other data elements including Train Messages to crews at their origin locations via the communication network of printers.

    CADS and the Mainframe are separate computers tied together by a communications link. The virus was something the attacked the Comm Links between the Mainframe and any systems that attached to the Mainframe via Comm links. The virus made the Comm link busy to the point that it would crash the CADS. The situation began during the 'wee hours' of the morning. When the CADS crashes - nothing in Dispatching works. Dispatchers cannot line signals in CTC territories and cannot issue Authorities in dark territory. Signals that have been previously lined before the crash will continue to be lined until the trains they were lined for knock them down. Authorities that have been issued will continue to be in effect until the train comes to the far limit of the authority.

    After the initial crash, the CADS was rebooted as the cause at that time was unknown. Once the CADS was rebooted the system came up normally and began operating for approximately 15 to 20 minutes at which time it crashed again. This scenario repeated itself through the balance of the wee hours until the 'heavy hitters' of both CADS and Mainframe IT got involved when they came into work at their normal times (some on each side had fielded emergency calls during the night). It did get to the point that Dispatchers could no longer track the trains on their territories and trains were stopped after their signals and/or authorities ran out. During the day the heavy hitters determined what was happening, but not why. Once it was determined that the Comm connection was the problem - the Comm connection was severed.

    With the Comm severed, CADS could function in lining signals and issuing authorities - HOWEVER CADS could not get Crew and Consist information to populate Trainsheets and Train Messages would have to be 'hand faxed' from the Dispatching Center to the appropriate crew rooms to be available for crews. A function of the CSX Rule Book states that if faxed Train Messages are not inscribed with 'Sent via CSX Technofax' the Train Messages must be verbally repeated to the Dispatcher. Dispatch Center management called in all the extra and posting Train Dispatchers to handle the faxing and repeating of the Train Messages as well as securing Train and locomotive consist information from the Mainframe system which continued to work.

    After two days the issues were resolved - I understand that someone (or group) in the Mainframe IT Department paid with their job for allowing the virus into the system.
     
  8. mmi16

    mmi16 TrainBoard Member

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    PTC as the Class 1 carriers have implemented it, is a Overlay system that has been integrated on top of the Carriers already existing signal and authority systems. While PTC in some instances may access elements of GPS, as a whole PTC is not dependent upon the operation of GPS. PTC as it has been implemented on the Class 1's is a enforcement agent for signal and authority compliance. GPS that exists in the civilian world does not have sufficient precision to be depended upon in separating/protecting trains where there are multiple parallel tracks.
     
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  9. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Thank you for this. I had not considered GPS' 50-foot civilian resolution from the parallel track perspective.
     

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