Wednesday, December 28, 2011

90 minutes eh?

Ay yi yi!

Laskeshore East. Oh man. I heard. Read.

I guess GO couldn't convince any of their train staff to stand outside on the track in this feels like minus 20 degree weather and play signal man, huh? And all this to roll into work for 10:30 am?


For those who aren't on the LSE, pretty much every train leaving from Oshawa beginning with the first express train at 5:47 and ending with the last express train at 8:25, were affected by a signal issue near Ajax. One train was cancelled altogether.

I'm on holidays so I missed the fun but at least it's a short work week.


Anonymous said...

It was a fiasco at the Pickering station. Both the 7:06 & 7:21 trains were cancelled BUT they forgot to tell all the peeps waiting in feels like 20 below weather that those trains were cancelled and ya better get on the milk train run 7:23 leaving at 7:45on platform #3. RUN FORREST RUN. Oh yeah the two trains leaving Pickering at 7:04 and 7:10 were the 6:30 and 6:45 repectively. Nice message board in the terminal. Just for show eh! Throw in some snow, a holiday and probably a shortage of toilet paper in the restrooms and all hell breaks loose. I would hate to see these people worked under pressure. Probably throw their union hands skyward and yell...."STRESSED, we are taking the afternoon off" Rush hour? sorry not my problem.

C.J. Smith said...

I really feel for you guys.
A signal man would have been the easiest solution.
It's been done before but perhaps there's a clause in the union contract about the temperature.

Anonymous said...

The signals you see track side are controlled by a train dispatcher or what we call RTC (Rail Traffic Controller), they direct train traffic on a computer screen just by using a mouse. They can set up signals or line routes in the computer to get trains going in the right direction or track, sometimes a signal may malfunction causing the RTC to give the train crew a written authority called a pass stop, this allows crews to pass a stop signal and be governed onto the track in their written authority. Other times when they issue a pass stop to a train it's due to switches not responding or freezing up because of malfunctioned snow blowers and snow and ice build up in between the points not allowing the switch to properly close thus the system not allowing the RTC to light up a signal for the train to continue through.

FRED said...

CJ, I hate that you're on vacation.

And to the anonymous rail nerd aka GO employee, aren't these signals/switches/blowers routinely inspected? Weatherman said yesterday the bad weather was coming and how come only LSE? What's different say from the Stouffville corridor which also had same weather conditions?

I don't buy it. System malfunction should not be random. Y U NO FIX?

Anonymous said...

@ FRED : Signals, switches and snow blowers are routinely inspected but shit does happen and things are bound to fail, the Stouffville corridor is dark territory (OCS - Occupancy Control System in railroader terms). The RTC issues track warrant forms to govern train movements (to train crews) between two mileage points and or two station name signs along the track, there are no signals or power operated switches on that corridor (yet) therefor you won't hear much issue on the Stouffville Line, but of course you won't still buy it and for your information I'm a railway conductor for CN and not for GO.

C.J. Smith said...

You're gettin' schooled.

You know, I wonder why GO doesn't explain all this on their website? Customers need to understand rail operations, I think.

Taylor said...

Wait, doesn't GO own the tracks from Oshawa to Pickering? Can't the crews communicate ? "Hey I'm westbound on the north track at XX" instead of everything coming to a halt. Even after receiving the email stating the 5:47 was on the move, the 6:12 was still sitting in the station in Oshawa. We left at 6:49.

Anonymous said...


Railway operations are governed by rules called the Canadian Railway Operating Rules (CROR), as laid out by Transport Canada.

The CROR doesn't allow for such unorthodox, unsanctioned and incredibly dangerous operations such as rail movements based on "Hey, I'm westbound on the north track at XX" radio communications.

Railway rules are there for a reason. A delayed train, while inconvenient, is a lot preferable to an eastbound CN freight train tearing through a fully packed westbound GO train because the engineer didn't hear the GO crew say "Hey, I'm westbound on the north track at XX"

(From a former Canadian Pacific Rail Traffic Controller, who shall remain nameless)

FRED said...

1. I have great respect for what you do, sir, and appreciate you taking the time to school me and others on how rail operations work.

2. I wasn't looking to offend.

3. GO needs a lot more work in the communications department.

4. Please come back and give us your insight when the next delay hits as people really don't understand how these things happen, why we sit for 2 hours and why safety is so paramount.

Anonymous said...

The thing is Fred, when the shit hits the fan, it causes problems across the entire network. Railway officials, especially at GO Transit, don't take delight in watching people arrive late for work, or stand out in a cold waiting for a train.

The thing is, people seem to think that there is some sort of simple and obvious solution that they are choosing not to implement just to mess with their passengers.

If it were as simple as sending out 'signal men' (my last perusal through CP's collective agreement show no such occupation existing on the railroad since the early 1960s) to guide trains through frozen switches or dead signals, it would be done.

The railway signalling system is very complex, highly computerized and works quite well most of time. However, like any other highly complex and computerized system, it will fail -- especially in the winter. It's our society that teaches us that any personal inconvenience should be treated as a personal insult, but it just isn't the case.

The CN Conductor who posted earlier in this thread is correct: there are more to railway operations than the quick solutions invented by people no railway experience or knowledge. Breakdowns happen. Sometimes it will inconvenience you. My advice is to deal with it.

C.J. Smith said...

My bad. I was pretty sure I can recall a GO CSA saying someone was headed out onto a track to act as a "signal man" one morning when we had issues.

Anonymous said...

@ Taylor : GO Transit owns the majority of the tracks around the GTA now but CN does most of the dispatching on it, that will change in the near future with a new operations centre being built where GO dispatchers take control from CN and control all the signals and switches.

Bicky said...

I'm just happy I am on holidays this week so I miss all this fun!

Hope things are working better tomorrow.

MT said...

@Anonymous (ex-rail traffic controller) If there is a freight train on the GO tracks between Oshawa and Pickering, the person directing the traffic would have made a fatal mistake. Don't the freight trains and VIA travel on the CN tracks to the south of the GO tracks? Why is there such a bunch up when only GO trains run on these tracks? And CJ, I have seen the manual signal/switch person at work - while the train sits and waits to proceed, the guy leans in the structure housing the equipment to switch/signal, finishes his cigarette, puts it out, and then does whatever is required to allow the train to proceed. We were 20 minutes late while he enjoyed his smoke. I for one will be glad when they figure out that winter happens in Canada - EVERY year.

Skin Man said...

I understand that there are safety rules in place. What I am curious is the delay caused b/c of a an efficiently run, but safely run transportation system, or is the delay caused b/c of a safely run but inefficient system. Is corrective action delayed because of a collective agreement, not b/c of safety?

McDarver said...

@railway conductor for CN - thank you for coming online and giving us real information. Please continue to do this is. My issue is with GO transit communications. They always leave us hanging; in -20 deg. weather standing on platforms, telling us the train will be here in 5 minutes, then 5 minutes later, 5 minutes more, then 5 minutes later....until we have been standing there for 90 minutes. I appreciate you guys have a hard and thankless job and you're as cold as we are too. Our issue is with GO transit and their ineffective, useless communication and their 'GO transit apologizes for your 90 minute delay this morning', end of story.