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Rail Traffic Control Operations (RTC)
A Guide for the Rail Traffic Controller (RTC) or Dispatcher and Engineers
This page was last updated on March 30th, 2013.
- where the mainline narrows from two to one track.
- where the inside main will be required for switching industries
- where branch lines begin
Over time, the RTC will understand the way different engineers operate their trains. This will help to keep the trains running smoothly.
See Yard Operations)
Large Schematic of the Layout (minimum 11 x 17) with
- clearly marked module names;
- clearly marked passenger stations, sidings, industries, junctions and crossovers, and
- clearly indicating directions for East and West
Set of 2 part magnetic counters with train numbers on both parts to indicate head and end of the train
These pictures illustrate a typical RTC operation.
To reflect prototypical operation, different trains have different priorities in completing their movements. The priority of trains is as follows:
Local / Commuter passenger
Work / Maintenance of Way
The RTC controls train movements following, whenever possible, these priorities although the RTC may need to vary this according to traffic demands.
The Rail Traffic Controller announces what channel will be used for communications and asks all engineers to equip themselves with operating radios and check in with RTC and advise of their train number. type of train, current location, and destination.
The radio is frequently very busy. Engineers must be patient and must not break into an existing conversation. Messages should be short and to the point with no extraneous comments.
http://www.hotrak.ca/Layouts/Layout_Mar2013.pdf. We will follow local freight train 550 (red marker) in its journey from Ottawa Yard to do work at Brantford then BDU and returning to the yard. We will concentrate on the radio traffic with 550 but 437 (blue marker) will also be involved. The Brantford Branch would not normally be controlled by the RTC but we have included it here for purposes of illustration. Not all conversations are shown, only those to illustrate a specific point or procedure.
Although these examples are given for freight trains, the conversation would be the same for passenger trains except that passenger station stops would be given instead of switching locations.
Communications must be briefThe most important thing to remember in using the radios is to keep communications short. The distances on our layout are short and we do not have the luxury of time in order to complete our communications. Only communicate what you have to. Just say who you are and specifically what you want to do or know. The engineer should not, for example, give the RTC the entire route and list of stops on the first contact. Don't tell the RTC the switching you need to do at BDU when you are still at Wilkes Crossing.
Repeat back clearancesThis does several things. Most importantly it confirms to the RTC that you heard what was said. It also reinforces in the mind what was said so that you are less likely to forget it. Finally, it informs other trains in the area as to what you are doing. The engineer must ensure that he has a clear understanding of the authority granted (e.g. from the above example "Train 303 is cleared to Wyecliffe"). Responses such as "Message received", "message understood", "Roger", "OK" and "10-4" are unacceptable because they do not indicate what authority the engineer understands he has. The RTC receiving such a response must require an engineer to answer correctly.
Always give the train number.This ensures that the RTC is hearing the right train. With our short time between transmissions we have a tendency to "double" (talk at the same time as another engineer). When you give your number the RTC will be sure of who he is hearing and will not give clearances to the wrong train. This also helps other engineers to know who is out there and what they are doing. Note in the examples above that it is only necessary to give your train number, not "this is passenger train number 432".
Give your location.Tell the RTC your location at the beginning of each exchange of communications. This will help him find you on the layout plan. On your very first contact remember to tell him that you are a new train so that he can find your numbered magnet and place it correctly on the layout plan.
Always listen first.Listen first to what is going on before transmitting. You do not want to interfere with a communication going on between the RTC and another engineer. Also, you can help the flow of traffic by keeping an ear on what is happening all the time. If you see that there is a traffic jam at one spot on the layout, then you may be able to hold off on your transmission for a minute to let that situation resolve itself.
If you run into problems.If there are problems with your train or the track let the RTC know and he will contact the Traffic Superintendent or the Road Master. They will then deal with the problem. This will also allow the RTC to route other trains around the problem. Ensure that you keep the conversation brief and on point.not divulge his plans to engineers. If an engineer requests details of his likely movements beyond his current clearance he should be told to wait for his instructions.
- to the end of the module named, or
- to the junction switch named
The RTC would designate someone to act as a foreman in designated limits. The foreman would be standing (or sitting) at the location. All trains would be advised that a rule 42 was in effect between the limits under Foreman xxx and they can only proceed through these limits under his instructions. The foreman would have a radio and use the same channel although if it became busy he could switch to another channel.
Example - A section of line between A, B, C and D with the choke points B to C. The RTC would give authority for a train to proceed between A and D (or vice versa) telling the engineer that he can only proceed between C and D under the instructions of Foreman xxx. The radio conversation would be something like this:
Engineer: "Calling Foreman xxx, this is 482 with authority to proceed from A to D. I am approaching your limits at B, what are your instructions please?"
Foreman:"482. This is Foreman xxx. You may proceed through my limits with no restrictions".
Foreman:"482. This is Foreman xxx. You may proceed as far as the road crossing at YY and wait for further instructions."
Rule 42s are protected with a red flag or light at each limit.
The foreman has complete control over all train movements within his limits. The person holding the rule 42 could be the engineer of the local freight that is switching the choke module. To keep things simple and to keep the airways clear, it could be a simple person-to-person conversation between the local freight engineer and the engineer seeking to pass through the Rule 42 limits. When giving a clearance from Point A to Point B, the RTC would simply tell the through engineer that there is a restriction at Module XYZ and to check in with Train #9999.
Although a Rule 42 would normally be set up under RTC control this could also be used when dispatching is not in operation and without the use of radios.