Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by doepack
 
All four cars of a Pink line train entering the Loop temporarily loses contact with the third rail. Doesn't happen too often, and can be a messy situation depending on the circumstances. But this one looked fairly tame as nearby CTA employees came to the rescue...
  by justalurker66
 
Can I borrow a jumper cable? Mind the gap ...
  by spRocket
 
That's the first time I've seen a stinger in use. Even though it's designed for that very purpose, it still looks scary as hell.

I'm not too keen on the workers stepping on railheads, though.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone:

Good video showing the proper use of the "stinger" cables to start up a train that has "gapped out"
first by putting one half of the stinger on the third rail shoe on the head truck and then the other
half on the live third rail on the nearby curve to get power back to the train. The train operator
moves the controller forward just enough for the train to roll onto contact with live third rail.

I also noticed that the two CTA employees were both careful with the arcs that result from the
stinger and they knew to turn away and not look directly at the flashes. Safety glasses could
offer added eye protection if it is necessary.

The parking garage at the SE corner of Lake and Wells Streets overlooking Tower 18 offers a good
view of CTA Loop L activity especially at busy times where it is constant...MACTRAXX
  by Tadman
 
spRocket wrote:
I'm not too keen on the workers stepping on railheads, though.
That messes with me, too. Especially on a wet day, up high, with hot rail nearby. No thanks.

Now what's really crazy, most countries (Germany and Austria for example) they step all over the railhead and they don't wear safety shoes. A few years back, I was waiting for a train in Innsbruck. A freight came through for a crew change. Dude walks out of a crew room in Chuck Taylors with no socks, scampers across the tracks all over the railheads, and climbs in. I about fell over. I figured in Germany, they'd have to get permission from the President of the railroad to do that.
  by ExCon90
 
Happens all the time there--with Sandals! Been going on for years. (Maybe they're issued safety socks?)
  by Nasadowsk
 
spRocket wrote:That's the first time I've seen a stinger in use. Even though it's designed for that very purpose, it still looks scary as hell.
The Long Island, back in the DD-1 days, used them to bump locomotives onto the third rail.

Some of the UK training videos of recent years show shorting out the third rail in an emergency...

I'm amazed in this case they didn't just have the next train bump them to power. It's not like it's a long wait, and it's probably safer.
  by doepack
 
Nasadowsk wrote:I'm amazed in this case they didn't just have the next train bump them to power. It's not like it's a long wait, and it's probably safer.
Agreed. Which reminds me of a time I saw this as a kid once on the Pink line (was called the Douglas "B" at the time) after a train stalled out at the Kostner grade crossing, tying up traffic on a hot summer day for at least 10 minutes while the gates stayed down as I looked on in wonder. Its follower eventually came up from behind and nudged it ever so gently onto the other side where it picked up power once again. This was during the era of 2-car off peak service, of course.

It would be several more years until I learned that stingers weren't only associated with bees...
  by justalurker66
 
It was probably easier to get the stinger out than to deal with modern day safety rules to allow one train to come into contact with another train. Especially within interlocking limits.
Sure, it would make sense to simply "bump" the train to get it started.
  by orangeline
 
I watched the video and was fascinated by it. I'm assuming there were CTA maintenance employees nearby who could do that particular job. But suppose there's no one around and a train gaps out. The operator can't get out of the cab to do it as he or she is the only crewmember on board. I guess that's when a following train would nudge the stalled one forward? I also assume that even though there's no power being received from the third rail radio communications are still possible?

I recall when I lived in NYC area I sometimes was on a subway train where the whole car would go dark (no lights, fans, ac, etc) when the third rail shoe wasn't in contact with its rail. That was back in the 1960's - early 1980's when things were more primitive.
  by R36 Combine Coach
 
orangeline wrote:I recall when I lived in NYC area I sometimes was on a subway train where the whole car would go dark (no lights, fans, ac, etc) when the third rail shoe wasn't in contact with its rail. That was back in the 1960's - early 1980's when things were more primitive.
That would be a R40 or older car. In 1969, the R42s introduced solid state low voltage converters with lighting inverters, which kept lights and heat on during gaps. Older cars used motor-generator with battery sets. Except for the R36s and single unit R33s on the 7 Line, all R26-R40 cars overhauled in the late 1980s and early 1990s were retrofitted with the new technology.
  by Milwaukee_F40C
 
The trolley museum uses stingers quite often, though on the trolley pole shoes, not the third rail shoes which are supposed to be disconnected. Also, similar grounding cables from the trolley wire to the bonded rail for different kinds of above ground work.

I was in NYC in August 2001 and was definitely in subway cars that had the lights go out and then on, then the same thing happening in the following car visible through the train doors. Though most of the time was spent on R40s on the N, at the time there was a cross platform transfer to the 7 at Queensboro due to maintenance, so it must have been those old Redbirds. Didn't know the classic light flickering was so fleeting at the time because that is a detail that has been used in movies and stuff and I thought all the older cars did it.
  by erie910
 
Why does CTA run trains with so few cars that the entire train can lose contact with the 3rd rail? I realize that it takes extra electricity to run additional cars, but is that not better than delaying many trains until maintenance personnel can arrive? Are there many places on the CTA where the gap between 3rd rail sections exceeds 4 car lengths?
  by Tadman
 
Of all the problems CTA has, this is quite low on the list. I've almost never heard of this before. Most trains run four cars minimum now other than Skokie, so it's exceedingly rare to have this problem.
  by Disney Guy
 
I think that, at section breaks (certain third rail gaps) a single car must not make contact with both third rail ends at the same time as this could cause undesirable and harmful current flow between two substations. But I would not expect a dead section of track to be long enough as to trap a two car train let alone a four car train without power.

One car at a time losing power over a third rail gap is normal and the same power surge occurs in the propulsion circuits with or without separate circuitry to keep the lights on.