• "Leaf Season"

  • 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 Tommy Meehan
[I moved this message from the thread about backing up trains as it really is a separate topic/question etc.]

I've ridden a lot of suburban trains (I never worked for a railroad) including many MU trains that have overrun stations during leaf season. So now, with the temperature in the 90s, the humidity the same and thunderstorms rumbling across the sky, when would be a better time to discuss Fall? Nice crisp cool Fall!! :-D

There was one incident in particular I've always wondered about. It was a station overrun on Septa, also involving a backup move with a loaded passenger train.

It was on a misty fall day on Septa's ex-Reading line to West Trenton. Once we got on the Trenton branch I could feel the train sliding when they tried to stop at stations. After the first couple stations it was obvious the engineer was braking sooner and more gradually than normal. The rail must've been very slippry. Then we missed a station by a good couple of train lengths. The engineer got almost zero braking judging by the way we rolled through the station. In fact, not being too familar with the W. Trenton line I wondered at first if this was a closed station or a flag stop. It seemed like the engineer wasn't tryng to stop, just rolling through at reduced speed. But the whole time I'm sure he was on the brake.

Anyway, we finally stopped and (riding in the front car) I could hear the engineer getting busy on the radio. Then the conductor came up shaking his head. I heard him tell the engineer that it was a tough break to work all day and "have this happen" on his last trip. "What did they say," the conductor asked? The engineer said 'nothing yet.' Then the conductor stepped into the head vestibule, the door closed and I couldn't hear anymore. After a few more minutes the conductor walked back through the train (it was only two cars), the brakes finally released and we began backing up. That's when I realized we had missed the station by a considerable distance. In fact I believe we even had to back across a grade crossing.

I've always wondered what the crew seemed so concerned about? What the procedure is on Septa. I got the feeling the engineer was......what? Maybe have to go see the trainmaster before going home? Only thing I can think of. As a working guy, I hope that was all there was to it anyway.
  by RearOfSignal
It could be a couple of things...

They could be asking for permission to make a reverse move(if written permission is needed that can take time).
Informing the dispatcher of the location of slippery rail area.
If a crossing was involved they would have to wait for it to reactivate if making a reverse move in close proximity.
Inspecting for any damage to wheels, flat spots.
  by Tommy Meehan
Thanks I 'm glad you seem to be saying they would not be subject for disciplinary action for something a crew cannot control. The conductor seemed very apprehensive about it, like Septa supervision maybe makes problems for the crews when this happens. Like many other roads that have an electric MU commuter service, a retired Reading man told me back in the day they used to have the early AM freights sand the spots that gave the MU trains trouble. Nowadays they use the rail washer train but they can't hit every line every night like the freights could.

Station overruns during leaf season seem to be a very common problem. Has it gotten worse? Years ago I don't recall hearing as much about it.

Septa has even had problems with locomotive-hauled Bomb trains when the cab car is leading. I live along Metro-North's Hudson Line but I don't recall hearing about Bomb trains having trouble in the morning when they come down from Poughkeepsie. Pretty damp along the Hudson, many trees and they run cab car first in the AM.
  by DutchRailnut
Years ago the cast metal brake shoes took care of leaf residue , the shoes roughened the wheels and scrapped of the oil.
Todays high friction composition shoes polish the wheels and do not burn of the leaf residue.
Add to that the higher braking rate and a lot of equipment that use Disk brakes in addition to tread brakes, plus Dynamic brake that lessens the force used on the airbrakes.