What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

General discussion of passenger rail proposals and systems not otherwise covered in the specific forums in this category, including high speed rail.

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MattW
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What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by MattW »

In the UK, I know that many of their services using EMU or DMU equipment will link and separate mid-route. Why can't this be done here? Admittedly, most of the EMU routes we have run full trains end to end, and most of the DMU routes (all 1 of them?) are too short with no branches. But from an FRA and brake test, and inspection, etc. standards, why can't that be done here? Or at least what makes the process long enough and onerous enough for it to not be worth it here?

electricron
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by electricron »

Besides the rail corridors being owned and operated by freight railroad companies with little concerns about passenger rail in America, the distances involved are so much larger here than in Great Britian.
For example, England's proposed HSR2: the distance between London and Birmingham is approximately 120 miles, the distance between Birmingham and Liverpool is approximately 100 miles, and the distance between Birmingham and Manchester is approximately 90 miles.
Amtrak splits 3 long distance trains; the Lake Shore Limited, the Empire Builder, and the Sunset Limited with a name change on one split to the Texas Eagle. Here's their distances as America's examples:
Lake Shore > Chicago to Albany 820 miles, Albany to New York City is 150 miles, Albany to Boston is 170 miles.
Empire Builder > Chicago to Spokane is 1780 miles, Spokane to Seattle is 280 miles, Spokane to Portland is 350 miles.
Sunset > Los Angeles to San Antonio is 1350 miles, San Antonio to Chicago is 1240 miles, San Antonio to New Orleans is 540 miles.
Note the shortest distance leg for Amtrak's split trains is longer than the longest distance leg xfor England's HSR 2 proposal. The distances America's trains travel are much longer than England's trains. Longer distances means less reliability for the trains to arrive on time.

Patrick Boylan
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by Patrick Boylan »

Please take off those Amtrak long distance blinders.
Once upon a time, 1970's or maybe later, although perhaps different regs at the time but still on what I assume were FRA regulated operations, the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines and the Delaware Lackawanna and Western regularly split and combined Budd RDC's for Cape May and Wildwood at Tuckahoe Junction and electric MU's with trailers for Dover and Gladstone at Summit.

This forum does say "light rail". NJT's Riverline has its first weekday trip at Burlington South originate as a 2 car train, travels north 1 stop to Burlington Town Center. One car continues to Trenton, the other splits, changes ends and goes south to Camden. The dozen or so times I've gotten up early enough to ride it they made no announcements, and I've never seen anything in print from NJT that warns newbies to get into the correct car. The Riverline has an FRA arrangement that I assume imposes different rules than a regular railroad.

electricron
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by electricron »

Patrick Boylan wrote:Please take off those Amtrak long distance blinders.
Once upon a time, 1970's or maybe later, although perhaps different regs at the time but still on what I assume were FRA regulated operations, the Pennsylvania Reading Seashore Lines and the Delaware Lackawanna and Western regularly split and combined Budd RDC's for Cape May and Wildwood at Tuckahoe Junction and electric MU's with trailers for Dover and Gladstone at Summit.

This forum does say "light rail". NJT's Riverline has its first weekday trip at Burlington South originate as a 2 car train, travels north 1 stop to Burlington Town Center. One car continues to Trenton, the other splits, changes ends and goes south to Camden. The dozen or so times I've gotten up early enough to ride it they made no announcements, and I've never seen anything in print from NJT that warns newbies to get into the correct car. The Riverline has an FRA arrangement that I assume imposes different rules than a regular railroad.
In both of your examples, you're discussing DMUs. Multiple units have every car providing its own power and having its own cab. Which makes splitting trains far easier to do - assuming you have enough engineers/drivers/operators to pilot the trains. I suggest most of the trains being split in England are multiple unit trains, either EMUs or DMUs.

Here's a list of DMU trains in use today in Amercia.
*Alaska Railroad - with just one DMU.
CapMetro Metrorail - with 6 DMUs on just one corridor.
Denton County Transit Authority - with 11 DMUs on just one corridor.
New Jersey Transit Riverline - with 20 DMUs on just one corridor.
North County Transit District Sprinter - with 12 DMUs on just one corridor.
*TriMet WES - with 3 modern DMUs and 2 RDCs on just one corridor.
*TriRail = with 3 modern DMUs on just one corridor.
* = fully FRA compliant which are easier to use on additional corridors.
Having just one corridor or just one DMU makes it difficult to find a reason to split the trains - short of the example for the NJT Riverline stated before.

Additionally, there are EMU operations in America too.
Long Island Railroad - 836 M7 and 170 M3 on at least nine electric corridors
MERTA - 130 St.Louis, 35 Bombardier, and 25 Nippon-Sharyo on one electric corridor
Metro North Railroad - 380 M8, 336 M7, 46 M6, 53 M4, 142 M3, and 242 M2 on at least seven electric corridors.
New Jersey Transit - 430 Arrow III on at least seven electric corridors.
Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District South Shore - 68 single level and 14 bi-level Nippon-Sharyos on one electric corridor.
Southeast Pennsylvania Transportation Authority - 231 Silverliner IV and 120 Silverliner V on at least thirteen electric corridors.
I'm not aware of any of these EMU operators splitting trains or combining trains as part of their normal operations - although there appears plenty of opportunities to do so. There's apparently plenty of business to just run dedicated trains for each line. Or as in the case in the Chicago metro area, two different commuter rail agencies serving the same common electric line into downtown Chicago, but running on separate branches at the split.

25Hz
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by 25Hz »

SEPTA splits trains at end points and yards all the time, just not with passengers onboard. Often a 7 car silverliner train unloads at trenton, then splits into 3 and 4 car trains, and the front becomes the next departure, the one at the back is the departure after that one, or it is taken in the next open slot (not in revenue service) back to home territory. At Doylestown they often store cars from one train on different tracks, leaving a single or pair on the platform track, and moving the rest either to a yard track, or simply using the remaining cars as the next departure. Indeed on that last example you may see a single silverliner 4 by the bumper, a 3-4 car silverliner 5 parked just behind that, then at the far end of the platform you got 1-3 cars of whatever type as the next departure.

That all said, i don't remember ever riding on or seeing a revenue train split in the middle of its route.
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merrick1
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by merrick1 »

When the SPVs were new Amtrak would couple an SPV from Springfield to the back of a Washington-bound train at New Haven. This arrangement didn't last very long.

ExCon90
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by ExCon90 »

For the record, Mr. Boylan's DL&W example involved EMU's, not DMU's (as stated in the post). Back in the day, that maneuver at Summit was performed many times a day and took less than 2 minutes, including brake test. Since that time, the FRA has imposed mandatory procedures which take up much more time. Additionally, apart from the Summit situation, there may not be that many opportunities to split trains. I'm trying to imagine Metro North detaching the 2 rear cars from GCT at Stamford for New Canaan, and coupling a local from New Canaan at Stamford for GCT, and I can't. Many places just don't have the track layout to enable the operation to be done simply.

lirr42
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by lirr42 »

I can't speak for all railroads, but on many, there are operational constraints that make splitting trains impractical. On the LIRR, for instance, the M3 and M7 EMU's can be run in sets of no less than 6 and no more than 12, so the only possible split that can occur on the LIRR can be splitting one 12-car train into two equal six-car trains. The only places where this would be workable would be splitting trains to Huntington and Ronkonkoma at Hicksville or West Hempstead/Far Rockaway/Long Beach trains at Valley Stream. However, in that first example where trains would be split at Hicksville, 6 cars would not be enough for those runs as they are some of the heaviest on the system. In the second example, 12 car trains would be too long to platform at Atlantic Terminal and Valley Stream, so doing so would be logistically impractical.

FRA rules have made it very tough to perform engine changes and consist splits in a timely fashion while enroute, so its not likely that we will see too much more of it before rules are changed and/or new operations are started up with this in mind.

MattW
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by MattW »

ExCon90 wrote:For the record, Mr. Boylan's DL&W example involved EMU's, not DMU's (as stated in the post). Back in the day, that maneuver at Summit was performed many times a day and took less than 2 minutes, including brake test. Since that time, the FRA has imposed mandatory procedures which take up much more time. Additionally, apart from the Summit situation, there may not be that many opportunities to split trains. I'm trying to imagine Metro North detaching the 2 rear cars from GCT at Stamford for New Canaan, and coupling a local from New Canaan at Stamford for GCT, and I can't. Many places just don't have the track layout to enable the operation to be done simply.
That's sort of what I'm getting at, I'm wondering what has changed regulation wise that makes the process so long and infeasible now. Using your Summit example, let's say a 12 car train of Arrow-IIIs leaves NYP and arrives at Summit (platform and voltage(?) restrictions aside). The train splits, and 6 cars head for Gladstone, while the other 6 cars will head for Dover. What's the process involved? I knew a brake test was required, but like you say, doesn't (didn't?) take all that long.

ExCon90
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by ExCon90 »

A lot of changes were introduced after I retired; I'd rather see someone active today lay out the step-by-step process required under today's regulations -- I know it's complicated.

nomis
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by nomis »

25Hz wrote:SEPTA splits trains at end points and yards all the time, just not with passengers onboard. Often a 7 car silverliner train unloads at trenton, then splits into 3 and 4 car trains, and the front becomes the next departure, the one at the back is the departure after that one, or it is taken in the next open slot (not in revenue service) back to home territory. At Doylestown they often store cars from one train on different tracks, leaving a single or pair on the platform track, and moving the rest either to a yard track, or simply using the remaining cars as the next departure. Indeed on that last example you may see a single silverliner 4 by the bumper, a 3-4 car silverliner 5 parked just behind that, then at the far end of the platform you got 1-3 cars of whatever type as the next departure.

That all said, i don't remember ever riding on or seeing a revenue train split in the middle of its route.
I've had trains split within the middle of the run, as a train arrived at Suburban Station & also Wilmington which split to Newark & returning to Philly. Add about 5 mins for the lead cars.
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David Benton
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by David Benton »

electricron wrote: In both of your examples, you're discussing DMUs. Multiple units have every car providing its own power and having its own cab. Which makes splitting trains far easier to do - assuming you have enough engineers/drivers/operators to pilot the trains. I suggest most of the trains being split in England are multiple unit trains, either EMUs or DMUs.
I would say you are correct. I can only think of one example of a "carriage" train splitting in Britain in the 90's,(when I was there),and that was on the East Coast mainline at Carstairs. The front 1/2 of the train would continue on to Glasgow with the electric Loco, the back 1/2 would get a diesel loco to Edinburgh.
Since then, there has even more of a move to DMU/EMU.
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Station Aficionado
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by Station Aficionado »

There is, of course, one Amtrak route that still splits/joins in route--the EB at Spokane.

Another possibility is VIA's J-train (joined train). Essentially, two complete consists (loco + coaches) are combined into one a Toronto. The combined consist will run to, IIRC, Brockville, where it will separate, with one consist going to Montreal, the other to Ottawa. I don't believe they join consists heading west, however.

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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by David Benton »

And the Lake Shore Limited at Albany.
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Patrick Boylan
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Re: What's involved in joining/separating trains mid-route?

Post by Patrick Boylan »

Station Aficionado, David Benton, you're repeating 2 of the 3 examples electricron already mentioned
electricron wrote: Lake Shore > Chicago to Albany 820 miles, Albany to New York City is 150 miles, Albany to Boston is 170 miles.
Empire Builder > Chicago to Spokane is 1780 miles, Spokane to Seattle is 280 miles, Spokane to Portland is 350 miles.
Sunset > Los Angeles to San Antonio is 1350 miles, San Antonio to Chicago is 1240 miles, San Antonio to New Orleans is 540 miles.
in addition to repeating what he already said, your extra posts are also at the same time redundant :)

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