Each railroad is different. I worked in the NJ Transit dispatch office during 2002. Obviously NJT's trains run on a published schedule at the same times everday. However we still needed to know what the train consists were, and who the crews were, each day. On the desk I worked (the Mainline) the conductor or engineer called us via telephone and 'marked up'. The 'mark up' consisted of engineer's name, conductor's name, train #, engine #, cab car #, and number of cars in the train. We would then advise them of the current bulletin orders in effect, whether or not there were any Form D's they would need to copy, and that they were clear to depart as scheduled (all other things being in order).
I didn't work on the NJT's M&E line but their desks were right next to the Mainline, so we could hear them. I do believe the crews would mark up via phone they same way they did on the Mainline, but then they would also do a radio check with the M&E dispatcher. During the radio check they would also give the loco #, cab car #, and number of cars in the train. Often the dispatcher would answer the radio check and end it with all the information that we would give over the phone.
The other desks in the office were the North Jersey Coast Line, Atlantic City Line, and the Raritan Valley Line. I believe they marked up the same way the Mainline did.
The freights and the NJT specials would also mark up via telephone. On the radio we would advise them when they would be moving and to look for a signal giving them that authority.
Obviously I've been out of NJT for a few years now, and maybe I don't have it remembered correctly. If anyone can update, correct it, or let me know I got it basically right I'd appreciate it. Old age is a bitch (40 is old?)!!
Joe P, KC2PJL
Charter Member of the Red Knights International Motorcycle Club, NJ Chapter 15
Amateur radio....the only REAL radio left in the world.
Emergency Services Dispatcher