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Line Blockage Question

Current and future British signalling (UK except Northern Ireland)

Line Blockage Question

Unread postby Clouseau » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:54 pm

Hi All,

Hoping for some clarification if possible. Can A Line Blockage be taken to a distant signal if there is a control signal protecting? Is the exit of a line blockage just a geographical reference to say the block finishes there? We have always done it from a stop signal/points to another stop signal/points.

Thanks in advance!
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Tue Aug 29, 2017 3:41 pm

Stop signals and points only if as in the case given a distant signal was protected by a stop signal in rear then the possession would be taken from that stop signal.
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby Mike Hodgson » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:03 pm

Why would you want to take a blockage to a distant signal?
You can't run trains from the Distant to the Home anyway if the rest of the section is blocked.
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby Fast Line Floyd » Tue Aug 29, 2017 4:56 pm

I have a feeling some possession planner somewhere has not read their rule book!
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby Clouseau » Tue Aug 29, 2017 6:53 pm

Due to really bad planning recently our area has taken a zero tolerance policy to line blockages. If anything is wrong on the application then us signallers are to refuse the Blockage. One came through as a Line Blockage from a stop signal to a distant signal. The signaller refused as he, like the rest of us, believed you couldn't do that. The S&T manager, my LOM and the signalling inspector have all said you can take it to a distant signal. I can't find anywhere where it says you can't do it which is frustrating! Any ideas?
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby RDNA » Tue Aug 29, 2017 7:39 pm

I really do feel the greatest sympathy with you Clouseau!

Current line blockage rules give ample opportunity for the extremes of pedantry.

Thus a situation can easily arise where a COSS may have a worksite, for example, 1 mile in advance of the protecting signal - but cannot be given authority to work until a train which has passed him has cleared the block section, maybe 10 miles beyond!

Thankfully, as one who remembers the time when staff of departments who worked on or near the line were happy to look after themselves, I have now retired and no longer have to deal with this nonsense!

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby StevieG » Wed Aug 30, 2017 8:34 pm

Without knowledge of the current Rule Book Modules, related Handbooks (or any other relevant rule/guide instructions), I'm thinking that the words 'Grey area' come to mind on this : One of those things that I can well imagine most had never heard of being done; but not specifically precluded ?

If it's on a uni-directional line, and although the idea goes against conventions that I was used to, would there be a real problem with taking a LB in the direction of traffic, to finish at a Distant ?
Surely it wouldn't be the case that dangerous conditions could arise from some movement from a stop signal / points in advance back towards the Distant ? - Although if there were requests for LBs abutting to each other, end to end, misunderstanding might well be risky.

On the other hand if the Distant, maybe a not-too-modern one, has an identity of which most parts are the same as that of its stop signal, e.g. BS1R for BS1, NY30P for NY30, LJ1D for LJ1, etc. (or even instances of a stop signal being preceded by such independent inner and outer Distants), confusion / misunderstanding could creep in, even if possibly only theoretical rather than a practical risk, though that would still be undesirable.

I can well imagine that if anyone, anywhere, planning LBs in future proposes taking one to end at a Distant (or taking the idea even further, any other related item known or evident to track staff and whose location is also identifiable to a signaller, such as a Banner Repeater, or a PRI [a level crossing?] ), then I'd think that this sort of debate could keep cropping up, with any resulting doubt, disagreement, or potential misunderstanding, potentially being counter-productive to work and/or increasing risk.
BZOH

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby John Hinson » Thu Aug 31, 2017 1:06 am

StevieG wrote:If it's on a uni-directional line, and although the idea goes against conventions that I was used to, would there be a real problem with taking a LB in the direction of traffic, to finish at a Distant ?
Surely it wouldn't be the case that dangerous conditions could arise from some movement from a stop signal / points in advance back towards the Distant ?

As an one-time Engineering Planning Manager it was my job to correct daft applications like that from the engineers and from the information available I would say this would be both unacceptable and unnecessary. I cannot think of a single situation where circumstances wouldn't allow for a possession to be taken up to the stop signal ahead of said distant, but perhaps that is a rash comment without knowing the location concerned.

As with all of my comments on R&R, they come with a disclaimer of the possibility of rules having changed as I have been retired for over 15 years now . . . eek! But there was a good reason possessions were taken with a protecting signal at both the entry and exit.

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby RDNA » Thu Aug 31, 2017 7:32 am

As an one-time Engineering Planning Manager it was my job to correct daft applications like that from the engineers and from the information available I would say this would be both unacceptable and unnecessary. I cannot think of a single situation where circumstances wouldn't allow for a possession to be taken up to the stop signal ahead of said distant, but perhaps that is a rash comment without knowing the location concerned.

As with all of my comments on R&R, they come with a disclaimer of the possibility of rules having changed as I have been retired for over 15 years now . . . eek! But there was a good reason possessions were taken with a protecting signal at both the entry and exit.


You are, of course, totally correct about "Absolute Possessions" (old rule book section T part 111).

The O.P. was asking about what are now called "Line Blockages", T11s in old terminology. These are now typically used to protect staff working (and sometimes just walking) on or near the line. Great numbers of them are planned each day by "Green Zone Access Managers" and are generally regarded as a real distraction by signalmen(ers) trying to concentrate on running and regulating trains.

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby John Hinson » Thu Aug 31, 2017 8:16 am

RDNA wrote:The O.P. was asking about what are now called "Line Blockages", T11s in old terminology. These are now typically used to protect staff working (and sometimes just walking) on or near the line. Great numbers of them are planned each day by "Green Zone Access Managers" and are generally regarded as a real distraction by signalmen(ers) trying to concentrate on running and regulating trains.

Ah . . . my disclaimer was justified then. Never heard of those, so I shall return behind the wall and hide!

Best regards, and thanks for the clarification.

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby StevieG » Fri Sep 1, 2017 12:32 am

John Hinson wrote: " .... I cannot think of a single situation where circumstances wouldn't allow for a possession to be taken up to the stop signal ahead of said distant, but perhaps that is a rash comment without knowing the location concerned. ....
Appreciate your thoughts John : I had also meant to include virtually the same point in my post, but about Line Blockages rather than possessions; but that was also, in my case, as I said, similarly, without knowledge of the current Rule Book Modules, related Handbooks (or any other relevant rule/guide instructions) for these last four years.
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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby 31422 » Sat Sep 2, 2017 5:21 pm

We have this issue too. The current ruling is yes, a Line Block can be taken from any point to any point, provided the signaller established the correct protecting signals with the COSS/IWA to protect the work. Ideally the GZAC paperwork should show at least one protecting signal. The signaller then tells the person requesting the blockage of any other signal needed to protect the work.

I believe there are changes coming in December.

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Re: Line Blockage Question

Unread postby vic south » Tue Sep 5, 2017 10:07 am

This is officially prohibited where I work and always has been through all the various guises of 'Line Blockage' rules.

I struggle to see the advantages of blocking to a distant signal. Initial thoughts are that is saves time, i.e . you can retake the block more quickly after a train passes, but how does the Signalman know the train has passed the signal - not all lines are fully track circuited. If it's AB he's still at TOL for the train, so can't peg up for the LB.

Like others I despair at the loosely worded regulation but even more so at the lack of basic railway understanding amongst the staff involved. I've frequently had to explain to COSS's the difference between a home and a distant - isn't this part of the course to be come a COSS anymore?

In our area you have to have ALL your protecting signals listed too. ANY omission of ANY detail means no block. It may seem pedantic but if you take into consideration the lack of basic railway knowledge displayed by some of those involved then maybe it's not quite as much 'over kill' as it may appear at first glance. It may be the wrong cure but it probably keeps some people safe.

One last point, I share the concerns about workload this places on the Signalman. Out on the track on a wet dark night we are entirely reliant upon them protecting us. It puts us in a unique position to appreciate the stress which that responsibility must bring with it (doing nothing for our own stress levels into the bargain!).

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