Anonymous asked in Cars & TransportationRail · 6 years ago

Another locomotive/ptc question?

Never been on a locomotive let alone operated one so go easy on me. I can only assume that especially on the newer loco's that every command given by the engineer is routed through the computer then on to servo motors, relays and all sorts of electrical components.

With that said is there any direct or mechanical means without electricity to stop the train. Like a valve to dump the air out of the brake pipe. Mabye that's what the e brake does. I really don't know? If not then I think who's awsome is 100% right in saying that crewless trains will come as a result of ptc. If everything is controlled electrically anyway with no mechanical fail safe then what's the sense of having a man on board. Dpu units are already man less. I see them go by my place sometimes and they look to operate fine. That raise's another question did all the guys on routine pusher units on grades get bumped after the railroads started using dpu? If the fra is making the railroads spend all this money on ptc and it enables them to run trains with no human input. Does anyone honestly think there not going to exploit it down the road. Yes the states could mandate crews but I would'nt trust the fra. Any federal agency and big bussiness is just a revolving door in today's world. Was surprised to see that BNSF reached an agreement with the union to go to one man crews already. That's not a good sign in my opinion. Well enough with my chatter. Any answers or comments are welcome.

2 Answers

  • Andy
    Lv 7
    6 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    Right now PTC will not run the train. It's purpose will be to stop the train in the event that the crew doesn't respond to signals telling them to slow down or to stop. We have another system called trip optimizer that can operate the train. It still requires an engineer when events like stopping or taking a siding are done. And it usually does a crappy job of train handling. And DPU units are controlled by the engineer on the lead unit. But the day is coming when they will want to run trains without input from crews. It's a terrible idea in my opinion. I don't care how safe they claim it will be. I'm glad I won't be around to see it happen. My time on the railroad is almost done and i'm glad. I like technology, but to me there's no automated system they can come up with that will ever have the skill to run a train as smoothly as a skilled engineer can. I'm sure they'll get close though. To answer your original question though all the brakes on all the newer locomotives are controlled through the computer from manual input from the engineer. The only totally manual brake valve in the cab is the emergency valve on the conductors side. He better not pop it without a really good reason though as bad things can happen when trains go into emergency. In my 38 years no conductor has ever had to pull the air on a train I was running because of something I was doing(or not doing) wrong.

    Source(s): UPRR engineer
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    • Lee6 years agoReport

      Then again you would never get the physical contact, intuition, skill set, etc that an onboard engineer has. Watching a computer screen would never account for all the real world variables. Yes, it's a very BAD idea!

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  • There are several ways to send a train into emergency:

    The automatic brake- there are two types of braking on a train. The independent is locomotive brakes and the automatic brake controls the air brakes to all the cars. If the engineer push this handle all the way forward it will go into emergency.

    The other way is the emergency handle, both the Conductor and Engineer have one. When engineers like Bob and Andy want to run hot (speeding) we conductors can throw this handle and send the train into emergency.

    If the train separates/breaks apart/problems with the air hoses it will go into emergency.

    If the alerter isn't pressed every 30 or so seconds the train will go into emergency.

    Once one man crews do come...and many of us know it eventually will. We will fight it though, it might be the next biggest strike in RR history, because once one Class 1 goes to one man, besides Amtrak, the rest will follow shortly.

    We still have pusher in some areas, though that job is rare to work.

    Source(s): BNSF Conductor The UTU, or whatever the hell it's called, voted down the new union agreement. Two man crews are still here, for now. A lot of what the engineer does invoices moving levers not pushing buttons on a computer screen. There's still more human input to running a train. Like I've mentioned before, I still say go for it. I'm in my mid 20s so I still have a long way to go.
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    • It was a combination of PTC, Trip Optimizer and some other crap. Here is an article on a RR forum I found real quick explaining what I described.,2982717

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