Keeping to the Timetable..

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dangie

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Another question from an amateur.
How do drivers keep to the timetable on long routes?
For example, the Virgin Euston-Glasgow service first stop is Warrington. This is timetabled for approx 1hr 45min. Does the drivers experience tell him that he should pass milepost 'x' at a certain time, or will running at linespeed keep him to the timetable?
Thank you.
 
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A-driver

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Depends on how the route is operated. Some TOCs have passing times on the drivers schedule cards-these are something like small print/italics etc so as not to be confused with booked stations and have a slash through the time-so it may say "some junction 12/32". The driver can then see how they are running between these points and adjust speed if running early to prevent getting stuck at signals further on.

They will know it takes so many minutes to get from these points so if they have longer than usual between points they will know to take it easy as they are probably booked to wait for something else at a junction.

Other companies (like FCC) leave passing points out of schedule cards as all their services are timed at maximum speed running. They don't have waiting times at junctions generally so a 45 min Cambridge cruiser is booked to run at line speed all the way, the driver gets no guide as to times they should pass places but experience will give them a guide.
 

142094

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Not 100% sure but I'd expect a driver to have a Working Time Table which has details of all the passing points.
 

D1009

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In my experience most drivers drive at the maximum speed that restrictions and signals allow, and if that means arriving early, they arrive early. Some TOCs are now introducing energy saving policies, TPE shutting down engines when going downhill for example.
 

DaveNewcastle

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A driver cheerfully told me that the job is a balancing act between maintaining the speeds that the company expects them to achieve (to keep to their working timetables), the Temporary Speeds Restrictions which NR impose (no sooner removing one in one place than imposing another somewhere else), and trying to keep the passengers comfortable (which was traditionally measured by the spillage of tea in the cab or similar complex instrumentation).
 

A-driver

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Not 100% sure but I'd expect a driver to have a Working Time Table which has details of all the passing points.

We don't have working timetables but schedule cards have WTT times on them. As I say, it depends on the company weather they provide passing times from the WTT on schedule cards. We don't actually carry a WTT (I don't think I have ever actually seen one infact!)
 
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I live in Warrington and have seen on quite a few occasions Pendolinos arriving early and being held until the booked departure time, sometimes on a Sunday I have seen a train from London wait 10 minutes for a green signal.
 

pendolino

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We don't actually carry a WTT (I don't think I have ever actually seen one infact!)

We had a couple kicking round the depot a while back, no idea why. They're the size and weight of phone books though so definitely wouldn't want to carry one of those around. And as you say, there's no need, all the information is on the diagram/workings/schedule card/call it what you will.
 

O L Leigh

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Not necessarily.

If you're booked to follow a certain train, you will still be following it whether you're running ahead of time or not. If that train is delayed for some reason, you will be delayed.

Running early also means you're more likely to encounter red lights protecting junctions or controlled crossings, which in turn increases the driver's workload because you have to keep stopping and restarting the train. If you're booked an extra couple of minutes between A and B, slow down and use them so that you get a clear run and don't have to work so hard.

When the Cl317s worked the StanEx service, I worked out a way of using the 2 extra minute between Harlow Town and Bishops Stortford. Many of my colleagues would give it the beans up to linespeed in notch 4 only to be checked down first for Sawbridgeworth and then Spellbrook crossings. Instead I'd make a leisurely get-away in notch 3 up to 65mph then back to notch 2 to cruise. I'd then shut off the power once over the river bridge beyond Sawbridgeworth station and coast the rest of the way. I'd get green lights the whole way, the speed would naturally bleed down to 45mph for the restriction past the carriage sidings and I would pass Bishops Stortford bang on time. And all with just three control inputs.

O L Leigh
 

Dr.iver

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Personally I use the diagram as a guide not to leave a platform early and that is all, I drive to the line speed where I can and other than that I pay no attention to my timings
 
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Ditto, I think I probably brake early for a lot of places, and allow boarding/departing pax rather a lot of time, but if I can keep safe I'm not going to worry about a minute or two here and there, just wish a lot of the passengers would relax a bit when they rant on twitter about our 'shoddy' service taking up 2 "extra" minutes of their time....
 

O L Leigh

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Passengers seem not to notice when you're using up the additional minutes. They only start to get antsy when the train is noticeably slowing from speed and then accelerating or when it stops often. It gives the impression that the service is delayed when in fact it isn't.

It's fine driving up to linespeed where a service is actually timed to run this way, but where you have fast and slow services sharing the same tracks it is often better to take notice of the additional time and use it all up. In the example I mentioned above it is the difference between a nice easy run on greens or encountering at least three red signals and the risks associated with that (every red signal is a potential SPAD).

O L Leigh
 

Shimbleshanks

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Changing the subject slightly, I've often wondered what the attitude to early running is among the different train operating companies, or indeed countries. Generally in the UK, it seems to be welcomed, guards often announcing: "We're expected to arrive XX minutes early" on the approach to a terminus. But I've noticed that French drivers slow down to a crawl on the approach to Paris if they're ahead of schedule and only ever arrive on time (or late).
 

LE Greys

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There used to be a strict rule that the Elizabethan must never run early. Chiefly because BR did their level best to run non-stop every day, so they tried to avoid catching up other trains. Many drivers would slow to a crawl if they encountered a distant signal on, minimising the chance of an actual stop. Delays could be very hard on the fireman, since making up time takes a lot of coal. Still, it was much more likely that an A4 could make up time by really digging into a bank or slightly liberal interpretation of the speed limit than something like a Deltic, booked to run flat-out for miles on end.

Presumably, there were fewer bridge bashes in the 1950s.
 

Dieseldriver

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There would have been fewer bridge bashes back then because the goods found in lorries on our roads today, would have been transported by rail... ;)
 

D1009

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Passengers seem not to notice when you're using up the additional minutes. They only start to get antsy when the train is noticeably slowing from speed and then accelerating or when it stops often. It gives the impression that the service is delayed when in fact it isn't.

It's fine driving up to linespeed where a service is actually timed to run this way, but where you have fast and slow services sharing the same tracks it is often better to take notice of the additional time and use it all up. In the example I mentioned above it is the difference between a nice easy run on greens or encountering at least three red signals and the risks associated with that (every red signal is a potential SPAD).

O L Leigh

There speaks a proper professional driver. any more like you ?
 

D1009

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Changing the subject slightly, I've often wondered what the attitude to early running is among the different train operating companies, or indeed countries. Generally in the UK, it seems to be welcomed, guards often announcing: "We're expected to arrive XX minutes early" on the approach to a terminus. But I've noticed that French drivers slow down to a crawl on the approach to Paris if they're ahead of schedule and only ever arrive on time (or late).

Cerainly years ago all SNCF trains (even steam) had a Flaman speed recorder known as l'espion or the spy, and arriving on time was a matter of pride, and any early or late running had to be explained to the powers that be, even obtaining signatures from the chef de Gare who controlled the signals.
 

Cherry_Picker

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There speaks a proper professional driver. any more like you ?

Most drivers are like that. Its route knowledge, isn't it? I always try to match my speed to the train in front. I tend to have a reasonable idea of what is in front of me just because I have been doing the job for a number of years and can make an assumption as to how fast he is going. I can then try to drive at the speed where I see yellows or double yellows turning into greens as I approach. I try not to go slower than that because then I am potentially causing problems for the guys behind me.
 

AlterEgo

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Cerainly years ago all SNCF trains (even steam) had a Flaman speed recorder known as l'espion or the spy, and arriving on time was a matter of pride, and any early or late running had to be explained to the powers that be, even obtaining signatures from the chef de Gare who controlled the signals.

Fascinating - thanks for that tidbit of information. It's finding out about things like this that make visiting this forum so worthwhile.

My father was until 1997 a driver on the Bakerloo (Stanmore man) and latterly Jubilee lines. He also explained to me that it was much better not to run as fast as was permitted if you were risking catching up the train in front. As O L Leigh explains, every red signal a driver approaches is a risk no matter how professional you are.

I've been privileged to do a few (legitimate and approved) cab rides on the mainline, and this is certainly the prevailing mentality.
 

notadriver

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Not necessarily.

If you're booked to follow a certain train, you will still be following it whether you're running ahead of time or not. If that train is delayed for some reason, you will be delayed.

Running early also means you're more likely to encounter red lights protecting junctions or controlled crossings, which in turn increases the driver's workload because you have to keep stopping and restarting the train. If you're booked an extra couple of minutes between A and B, slow down and use them so that you get a clear run and don't have to work so hard.

When the Cl317s worked the StanEx service, I worked out a way of using the 2 extra minute between Harlow Town and Bishops Stortford. Many of my colleagues would give it the beans up to linespeed in notch 4 only to be checked down first for Sawbridgeworth and then Spellbrook crossings. Instead I'd make a leisurely get-away in notch 3 up to 65mph then back to notch 2 to cruise. I'd then shut off the power once over the river bridge beyond Sawbridgeworth station and coast the rest of the way. I'd get green lights the whole way, the speed would naturally bleed down to 45mph for the restriction past the carriage sidings and I would pass Bishops Stortford bang on time. And all with just three control inputs.

O L Leigh

I tend to take full power and shut off as early as possible as this is the most energy efficient way of driving (a stopping service)
 

Mutant Lemming

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'Better to be bored than busy' means my job is going well... :D

Granted driving underground trains is a different 'science' and that it even differs between lines but I used to get a bit of a buzz from chasing the train ahead. Nothing like hammering in to a platform knowing the train ahead has just pulled out or running into Liverpool St. Outer rail as the draw ups clear and the preceding train just clears the platform.
Concentrating on judging the speed and clearing/not clearing signals keeps one alert and on the ball - preferred that to the hypnotic boredom of tunnel segments and greens. I never 'clobbered a stick' (hit a red) nor 'dropped the lot' (released the deadman) and always brought the train to a stand in off & release on the 'mark' (usually). So would say that driving techniques would differ considerably based on the what and where and when you are driving. A 'dawdler' on the tube would be a menace - with two minute headways you would soon cause overcrowding and blocking back.
 
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