• Do crew members talk to dispatchers?

  • For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.
For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by Tdub
Just curious. Do crew members talk to dispatchers via phones, radio, or whatever or do they solely rely on line side signals and in cab signals? Also, do crew members talk to other trains in the are in which they are running to make sure there is not another train lurking around the next curve? I am new to rail fanning this question (most likely dumb) has always intrigued me. I live near the NS main in Sandusky, Ohio with plenty of action.

Thanks for any answers.
  by Rockingham Racer
Conversations over the radio and by PBX [especially the Western railroads], are a normal occurence. If you'd like to sample them, go to broadcastify.com.
  by Wayside
In territory with signal rules in effect (wayside, and/or cab), safe movement of trains is almost completely governed by signals that are automatically controlled by occupancy circuits in the track structures, so voice radio communication is minimally involved in controlling movements. This means that trains coming around the curve ahead are not a concern, since signals are protecting the traffic, both opposing and following. Train dispatchers orchestrate all movements from a central location.

Radio communication plays a critical role, though, in track warrant rules territory (non signaled), where authority to occupy track segments is communicated by voice transmissions in a very specific and controlled process that includes an accurate copying and read-back of this authority to ensure accuracy and safety of movements. However, automatic wayside block signals are often used in track warrant territory in order to expedite the following movements within track segments.
  by Tdub
Thanks Rockingham Racer and Wayside. Great answers. Wayside...you really explained it well. Thanks to you both. Cheers, Tom
  by MattW
There is sometimes occasions for trains to talk to each other. Usually this is in yard areas where multiple trains may be using the same or close by tracks. I can't speak to the terminology on other railroads, but on CSX, the dispatcher usually tells one crew to make sure they do a job briefing with the other. Additionally, if two trains are connecting on the mainline (happens in Austell, GA on NS with regularity) then the crews have to communicate with each other. In the case of NS at Austell, a local is coming out of the yard, connecting to the rear of a train, and pulling the rear X number of cars into the yard.
  by ExCon90
In the days before radio, a crew member would be stationed at the rear of a train (freight or passenger) when meeting an opposing train and give a hand signal to his counterpart on the other train that he had or had not observed any defects. Nowadays, with all sorts of wayside detectors, do conductors on the head end perform a similar eyeball inspection of opposing trains and report on the radio whether any defects were observed? I have heard comments such as "lookin' good" in radio transmissions.
  by Wayside
GCOR book requires head-end crewmembers of stopped trains to do a "roll-by" inspection of passing trains and to provide an "all good" radio message to the passing crew.