• How do Train Dispatchers track trains?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by hgondilon
I am wondering if any forum members who are or used to be train dispatchers could answer a couple of questions for me:
How do you track trains that are not in your territory?
How do you know which train is supposed to go where (At a station, for example) I assume that is part of the schedule and is kept as some sort of list, but how do dispatchers get that information? Is it memorized? is there a schedule they look at for reference?
What part of routing trains do you wish the computer could do for you?
  by mmi16
Train Dispatchers are required to KNOW the operation of the scheduled trains on their territory. In case of doubt, the schedule of trains can be referred to. Being a Train Dispatcher is not a 'closed book test', all manner of reference materials are available to assist Train Dispatchers in making the appropriate decisions concerning the operation of their territory.
  by ExCon90
It seems to me that one of the most taxing parts of a dispatcher's job is that not only does he have to know what's going on at this moment, he must constantly be thinking what the railroad will look like an hour from now, 4 hours from now, 8 hours from now, and if that is not to his liking, what he will need to do to prevent any bottleneck or choke point that seems to be shaping up based on what's happening now. If you go to the SEPTA forum under Passenger Rail, there's a thread entitled Progress that tells what some dispatchers think about computers.
  by BostonUrbEx
If the dispatcher has CTC territory, at best they can see which signal block a train is in, or at least see which two interlockings a train is in between. Computer-based systems will allow you to apply a label to a track circuit, which represents a train moving along through the signaled territory.

If the territory requires track warrants and has no signalling, the track warrants will tell you which stretches of track your trains are authorized to occupy.

These, combined with trains calling clear of a point, give you an idea of what stretch of train the train is occupying.

If the train is on a foreign railroad, and you don't have a screen displaying the other railroad's dispatching screen, then all you have to go on is communications from the train and/or other railroad.