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Trains and Bikes


serotta1972

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I ride south often from San Francisco to various destinations in the Peninsula going as far as Palo Alto then riding back with rides ranging from 20-50 miles depending how far south I ride.  Lately, I've been taking BART back to SF from the SFO BART Station saving me about 10 miles of riding and having to deal with the usual headwinds in the afternoon.  The new BART trains have cars with some nice bike racks.  We've been having the whole train car to ourselves as the airport is pretty empty.

 

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I grew up in Oakland when bart debuted and that sloped front edge was totally space aged on the prestressed concrete elevated Y piers. Just too cool!

 

jeff

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Wow, those new bart trains look pretty nice!  I love the classic styling of the older trains, but they were pretty worn out inside.  The bike racks are a pretty welcome addition, wish they had them when I was using the system.

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serotta1972

Visited a couple of locomotives foreign to the West Coast on my bike ride around San Francisco. They used to be fully covered but the tarp has been tearing away and now is fully exposed. They are Amtrak AEM7 and were used in the Northeast Corridor from DC to Boston. These will be used to test the new catenary system on Caltrain. 

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serotta1972
3 hours ago, disturbman said:

4 whites, 3 red, and 2 gyros? That’s a lot of lights for one front.

 I posted a question on the Amtrak FB group, there’s a gentleman there who used to work at the Amtrak Wilmington Shop and always so willing to share his knowledge and experience.

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serotta1972

@disturbman Here's a the response from the Amtrak Modeler FB Group Member, Douglas Allen: 

 

I will describe each of the lighting fixtures, as per your request, plus state their designed use, and FRA regulations mandating when they are used.

1) The 2 lights, in the center of the front nose, are the main Headlights. These are "sealed reflector lamps", rated for 32-VDC. 

They are always illuminated on the "Bright" selection, whenever the locomotive is moving. Headlights are dimmed, momentarily when another train approaches, to decrease the amount of light shinning in the on-coming engineer's eyes. While energized, and parked in a Yard, or Idling, the Headlights are displayed in the "Dim" selection. 

2) The other 2, what appears to be additional Headlights, are actually referred to as "Crossing Lights". Many model train manufacturers, and Modeler themselves, incorrectly call them "Ditch Lights". The proper terminology, as described in the "FRA's CFR-49 Manual", under "Definitions", is "Crossing Lights". 

To clarify, Ditch Lights were an experimental safety lighting system, developed by the FRA and 2 freight RR's, to reduce RR Grade Crossing accidents. The collected data from this trail was used to re-write the Locomotive Auxiliary Lighting article in the FRA CFR-49 Manual, mandating the installation of Crossing Lights for all Locomotives.

The are also illuminated whenever the locomotive is moving, and shine "steady on", forming an illuminated triangle with the Headlights, being 4 feet apart, as per FRA mandates. These lamps are also sealed reflector lamps, but are rated at 75-VDC. 

The Crossing Lights will start flashing, alternately, side-to-side, at the rate of 45-times/pre-minute, for a duration of 2 minutes, whenever the Horn is sounded. Then return automatically to steady illumination.

On the Engineman's console, is a Yellow, Mushroom shaped, Push-Button switch. When depressed, the Crossing Light will manually start their alternatively flashing cycle. 

As the Horn is required to be blown at Grade-Crossing, as outlined by the FRA, the horn automatically triggers the Crossing Bell to start sounding, & initiates the "Crossing Lights" flashing cycle.

3) The 2 Red lights, across from the Headlights, on either side are Marker Lights. Installed by EMD when the locomotives were built, these light were originally designed to be Classification Lights. They could be individually selected, with a small lever on the fixture, to illuminate: Red, Green, or white (clear). 

Classification Lights are/were used for freight operations. The displayed colors would signal Tower Operators, the "class" of an approaching train, such as: regularly schedule train, 1st, or 2nd, half of a regularly scheduled train, extra train, etc... 

Classification Lights are not used for Passenger Service, or by Amtrak. Working with a company called: Star Lantern & Light Co, a 2nd source, replacement red, Lexan, lens, was developed, to directly replace the OEM's clear plastic lenses. Additionally, the EMD lenses cracked easily with strikes. The new Lexan lenses are far more durable.

Amtrak uses the previous installed "Classification Lights", as "Marker Lights". As per FRA, they are illuminated only when the locomotive is making a "reverse-move", with the locomotive facing the rear of a train. All other lighting is dark, leaving only the Marker Lights to warn an on-coming train of its presence.

4) Above the Windshield are 2 illuminate Number Board fixtures, that illuminate to display the locomotives' Road Numbers. Originally illuminated by 3, 75-VDC incandescent, Edison-base lamps, Amtrak upgraded the illumination to be provided by LEDs.

5) The Head Headlight, located between the Number Board fixtures is the "Emergency Brake Flashing Light". This Red Lights is only illuminated when the locomotive is in the "Emergency Braking" mode.

An Emergency Braking mode can be initiated by the engineer moving the Brake Handle, to the "Emergency Brake" position.

Additionally, an Emergency Brake operation will automatically be initiated if the Engineman:

A.) failure to Acknowledge a Change of Cab Signal ASPECT position, by depressing the Red Mushroom-Head Push-Button on the Engineman's Console, and moves the Brake Handle to the Suppression position, slowing the train to the speed restriction of the new Signal.

B.) failure to apply the brakes, to slow the train down to the speed restriction of a change in speed displayed by the "Automatic Civil Signal Enforcement System" (ACSES). Examples of a Civil Signal are: a speed restriction set for a curve, a bridge, track interlocking ("switches" to non-RR'ers), etc...

C.) failure to Acknowledge the Electronic Deadman Monitor (Alertor), when sounding. The Alertor will time-out, and sound periodically (about every 20-seconds). The newer Deadman Systems time-out decreasingly-proportionate to increases in the locomotive's speeds.

A Emergency Brake application requires the Engineer, using the Brake Handle, to re-charge the trainsets' Braking Reservoirs, before the brakes can be released. This must be done before the locomotive starts to apply "Tractive Effort" to the Train. The Air Brake systems have a "Power Knock-out Relay", that prevents the Locomotive from taking power, if brakes are still applied. The threshold for the Power Knock-out Relay is adjustable, within just a few PSI of brake application.

6) The White Strobe Lights, located on the 4-corners of the Roof-tops, 2 for each Cab of the Locomotives. White Strobe Lights were previously the FRA Required "Auxiliary Lighting", as outlined in the FRA's CFR-49 Manual.

The White Strobe Lights replaced the previously required: MARS Lights, GYROLITES, Oscillating Headlights, etc., for Locomotives. The White Strobe Light were abandoned, and super-ceded by the most-recently required Crossing Lights.

Amtrak chose to retain & maintain, the roof-top mounted White Strobe Lights, and continue their use, in-addition-to, the Crossing Lights. Amtrak felt the White Strobe Lights provided an additional safety alert of the on-coming AEM-7 Electric Locomotive, when entering the Train Stations, due to Electric Locomotives' quieter operations, more so, than a diesel locomotive.

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disturbman

Very interesting to read that kind of detailed expose about the thought process that drove the adoption or keeping of safety features. From an European perspective, it all seem slightly exaggerated and unnecessary.

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railsquid

One of the downsides of Japan is not being able to take bikes on trains. It's theoretically possible if you can fold it up and put it in a carrying bag, but that's not really practical, especially for ad-hoc casual use.

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That is something I've been supprised about traveling internationally.  Seems the US is one of the only places where you can bring your bike on public transit regularly.  This may be due to many other places having better "last mile" connections, while in the US you often have to travel a fair distance from the closest station to your final destination.  Thanks for the photos JR!  Those AEM 7s look pretty tired but hopefully good for a few more years of service.  

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railsquid
10 minutes ago, Kiha66 said:

That is something I've been supprised about traveling internationally.  Seems the US is one of the only places where you can bring your bike on public transit regularly.  This may be due to many other places having better "last mile" connections, while in the US you often have to travel a fair distance from the closest station to your final destination. 

 

It is fairly common throughout large parts of Europe.

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serotta1972
22 hours ago, disturbman said:

Very interesting to read that kind of detailed expose about the thought process that drove the adoption or keeping of safety features. From an European perspective, it all seem slightly exaggerated and unnecessary.

 

That's just the lights - I think it's been discussed here but the usage of train horns and bells in the US can also seem excessive relative to other countries. 😀

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serotta1972
3 hours ago, railsquid said:

One of the downsides of Japan is not being able to take bikes on trains. It's theoretically possible if you can fold it up and put it in a carrying bag, but that's not really practical, especially for ad-hoc casual use.

 

I bought a Bike Friday folding bike a couple of years ago with the intent of using it when I travel abroad - right now it's only being used to ride with my daughter.  I plan to bring it on my next trip to Japan so I can do the Shimanami Kaido Bikeway and maybe ride up Mt. Norikura.  

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disturbman
4 hours ago, serotta1972 said:

 

That's just the lights - I think it's been discussed here but the usage of train horns and bells in the US can also seem excessive relative to other countries. 😀


Yes, I have seen. The horn on the roof of the AEM7 is pretty impressive. Almost looks like one of those emergency sirens you find on rooftops to sound alarms about impending catastrophes or nuclear war...

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The classification lights were used in passenger service, just as described for frieght.  Maybe Amtrak never did, because by the time Amtrak took over I can't think of any routes so popular additional trains were needed for a specific service.  Thier inclusion on these is probably someone at Amtrak having an overly optimistic view of what was coming.  

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serotta1972

Visited Historic Folsom District and their Railroad Museum on my bike ride along the American River Bike Trail (aka Jedediah Smith Memorial Trail).

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serotta1972

The next day rode to Old Sacramento and the bike trail went under a couple of trestles near Sacramento and saw UP Intermodal train go pass.  Highlight of the ride.

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