Train Dispatching

PeterY

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2 Apr 2013
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I was out and about today and noticed 2 different ways that train dispatchers, dispatch trains. No doubt there are many ways of doing this and (Sorry,I'm not sure what they called) tokens that are waved to the guard or driver.
Shenfield. The dispatcher used a whistle and then inserted a key, which I assume lights up the RA sign for the driver.
Stratford. The dispatcher held a token with LED green light, for the driver to see.

It'd be interesting to know the various methods around the network that are used to dispatch trains.
 
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Dhassell

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Here is a video I found on youtube of the dispatch methods used by First Capital Connect back in the day. I expect many are still the same.
 

KAD

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22 Jan 2018
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If the train is DOO then the driver will dispatch the train alone, usually using platform monitors or sometimes mirrors. Some stations that have very busy platforms and/or platforms with poor visibility will provide dispatch staff who will either press a button or insert a key to illuminate the 'CD' and 'RA' signs. Alternatively the dispatcher will show either a white baton or white light to the driver to close the doors followed by either a green flag or green light to indicate that it is safe to depart. Trains that have conductors will have the conductor and driver communicating with bell codes for train dispatch. Every single station has a detailed dispatch plan which dictates which method of dispatch must be used, where each person involved must stand and what they must do and the alternative methods that are permitted on degraded working.
 

whhistle

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Yet many West Coast stations have different methods depending on stock too.

The 390s need two white batons, then the RA.
But the 350s, calling at the same station, need just two white batons, or more frequently in the summer, a hand wave to the guard.
 

K.o.R

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I know XC Voyagers use a variant of "ten bell" dispatch. Turning a key in the guard panel sends a 1-2 "close doors" beep code, then the guard--or whatever they are on XC--closes their door and signals 2 with a button.
 

Michael.Y

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There are at least three dispatch methods that I know of:

1) Driver + Guard + Dispatcher (dispatcher tells guard when to lock doors, and then when train is safe to depart. Guard then signals to driver to go (and with Voyagers, to close doors))
2) Driver + Dispatcher (dispatcher uses a panel to indicate to driver when to close doors and when he/she has the Right Away - at GWR stations like Reading this is by lighting up CD and RA indicators on the starting signal)
3) DOO - driver takes full responsibility, using mirrors, monitors and CCTV.

There is also the Lack Of Driver-Guard-Communication method where green flags / lights are still used - the dispatch procedure goes as normal up until the guard would normally give two-on-the-buzzer to the driver. However if they cannot do that, they hang a green flag out of their local window and then the driver acknowledges that flag with a single toot of his horn or the dispatcher gives a manual RA using his/her own green flag/light or the RA indicator.


In terms of staff positioning, that varies from TOC to TOC and from station to station. At Bristol Temple Meads for example, the lead dispatcher stands at the centre of the train and checks with his/her assistant dispatcher who is placed at the forward part of the train before giving the tip to the guard; whereas at Newport the lead dispatcher is placed at the front of the train and the assistant at midships.

There's also an additional step sometimes - some stations have to indicate to the bobby in the box that the train is ready to depart manually by pushing a button on the same panel as the RA button.
 

Mojo

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1) Driver + Guard + Dispatcher (dispatcher tells guard when to lock doors, and then when train is safe to depart. Guard then signals to driver to go (and with Voyagers, to close doors))
2) Driver + Dispatcher (dispatcher uses a panel to indicate to driver when to close doors and when he/she has the Right Away - at GWR stations like Reading this is by lighting up CD and RA indicators on the starting signal)
3) DOO - driver takes full responsibility, using mirrors, monitors and CCTV.
And of course with the above there are variants of all these. In particular the following spring to mind
1) some locations the guard might not signal to the driver that the train is ready to depart, it might be done by platform staff by the use of an RA indicator
2) on DOO trains with a dispatcher the platform staff might sometimes use a bat and flag (or white light and green light held steady), and I’m sure I’ve seen before a bat and then RA indicator used
3) another method of DOO dispatch is “look back;” quite as it sounds with the driver looking back out of the cab window!
 

Stampy

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At Peterborough it's normally a member of staff with a baton....
Platform 2 for the GN services, it's normally done with a key - so the driver gets a "CD" and then a "RA" indication.
 

muz379

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For anyone with that much of an interest all of the methods are listed in module ss1 of the rule book which is available on the rssb website

The token item you talk about is called a dispatch baton . They are white on one side and black on the rear . The white side is to be displayed to whoever the "tip" is being conveyed to be it another member of platform staff , a driver or a guard . The reason it is white/black is so that the platform staff can be clear who they are pointing it to . In some locations with through platforms you might have more than one train waiting to be dispatched in opposite directions and the platform staff need to be clear who they are displaying the tip to . Some TOC's use ones with LED's on the white side . Other tocs issue platform staff with railway hand lamps for dispatching during dark hours(a white light can be used) . All the locations I work through have unlit batons with hand lamps used during darkness .

As a guard I use 3 methods of dispatch

1)Dispatch from an unmanned station , Once the departure time is reached this involves me checking that any platform starting signal if provided is clear either by directly sighting the signal or looking at provided off indicators and then when it is safe to do so closing the doors , then carrying out the train safety check checking that all doors are closed with nothing or nobody trapped in them , nobody is in contact with the side of the train ,and it is otherwise safe to start the train . At this point it is prudent to check the signal/off indicator when provided again to ensure there has not been a reversion and that you have correctly identified it as off . After this you then get on through the local door close it and give the driver the RTS (2 on the buzzer)

2)Dispatch from a manned station but the guard still gives the RTS to the driver. The area I work we only have one dispatcher involved in dispatching our trains . Using this method the dispatcher will check depature time and signal , and that everyone is clear of the doors before giving me the first tip which is when I then close the doors . After this the dispatcher will also carry out the train safety check before giving me the second tip to board the train and give the RTS to the driver . Whilst the dispatcher is checking departure time / signal and carrying out the safety check it is prudent guarding and still in my TOC's instructions that the guard carries out these tasks as well at manned stations . The rulebook also says the guard should assist in this when possible . My view on this is that it is my train and so I am the ultimate authority on if it is safe to move when dispatching even at a manned station

3)Dispatch from a manned station with RTS given to the dispatcher . With this method the guard gives the RTS to the dispatcher by way of displaying a green flag/handlamp to the dispatcher after the second tip is received . The dispatcher then sets the RA for the driver by placing a key on a box on the platform which will then illuminate the RA on the platform starting signal .

At some self dispatch locations we do have to operate a TRTS(usually a box with a T key switch or button on it ) or ring the signaler to inform them that the train is ready to start so that any starting signal can be cleared .
 
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sw1ller

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There’s also dispatching from stations When the train hasn’t come to a stop. Request stops.

The guard needs to know if there is a stop signal at the end of a platform. If there is, and nobody wants to get off, they can’t give two bells until they know the signal is clear. As a driver, I think this should be solely my responsibility, it’s not fair to make a guard stick their head out the window of a moving train, just to keep it moving at a request stop. But that’s off topic slightly.

I think that’s why half the guards prefer to just pop into the cab and tell me where they’d like me to stop and where I can carry on if nobody’s waiting. No need to give two and risk doing so against a red then.
 

locomad46

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When I joined the railway as a Guard, I was always given Right Away at main stops by station/platform staff, but at minor stops as I will call them, I used my discretion. Then after electrification, the trains were soon DOO and I never had to bother because I was then transferred to Conductor role.

I may be in the minority here, so where there are No cameras at unmanned stations, or the drivers can't see round curves behind them, How do they deal with this what must be a minor problem, then again, IF they exist please?

Thank you.
 

tsr

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I may be in the minority here, so where there are No cameras at unmanned stations, or the drivers can't see round curves behind them, How do they deal with this what must be a minor problem, then again, IF they exist please?

Thank you.
Some routes are only cleared for DOO passenger services where the trains have onboard cameras, which view the side of each coach. It’s a very limited view but does allow a view around platform curvature.
 

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