Crewless trains on KCS

Discussion in 'Getting Started' started by jeffrey-wimberl, Dec 15, 2006.

  1. jeffrey-wimberl

    jeffrey-wimberl Active Member

    It's come to my attention that KCS is now running crewless trains. It started on the Meridian speed way. These trains are tracked by normal GPS and CTC systems but there is not an operator on board any of these trains. A system much like DCC is being used through the track and signals sent though the rail's are what control the trains. Now they have to remove all grade crossing's and either make them go over or under the track sense no one is there to control the train therefore no accidents can happen except out of stupidity of playing on the tracks. Does anyone else have any information on this?
  2. stripes

    stripes Member

    Ya, CN is doing that also. They are short runs in remote areas for the most part, and they also use remote control switch engines in yard areas.
  3. Dave Flinn

    Dave Flinn Member

    Interesting. I have, of course, heard about remote control locomotives for some time; but COMPLETELY CREWLESS -- Wow! Sure takes some of the romance out of railroading, doesn't it?
  4. jcoop1

    jcoop1 Member

    I know Roseville Ca UP Yard has several crewless switchers. Have not heard of anything outside the yard though
  5. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    Not to belittle the engineers, but honestly their role could have been replaced many years ago. There is not much need for human operators on trains. Trains are simple - they are one dimensional and there is little external force that can change their path. To look at the extreme, the airforce has airplanes that fly completely remotely, even autonomously, and they're dealing with THREE dimensions and extreme external forces.

    The problem I have with this is the replacement of human beings. I think it's great that we CAN do all these things remotely, I think we should have the ability to, but I think humans should be present on the trains. Replacing several thousand engineers with a multi-million dollar electronic system and the huge infrastructure to support it can't possibly be cost effective. Just leave the dudes on the trains.
  6. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Romance and reality... What we want as railfans and what we want for the industry can be different things. For me...

    As a railfan, I'm obviously pro-railroad. Politico-economically, I'm pro-railroad because it's the most energy-efficient way to travel over land.

    Though I find the modern high-speed passenger trains of Europe and Japan uninteresting as a railfan, I definitely think it would be good for North America to have more of them.

    I am a proponent of tighter air quality laws and independence from imported fuels. I generally favor big projects now if they'll save money in the long run. Thus, I support railroad electrification. I used to find electric locomotives unappealing as a railfan. Now, I like them... but mostly the older electrics.

    As a general believer in advanced technology, especially automation, I support entirely crewless trains. I do not romanticize the engineer's job; it's not one I would want. Still, as a railfan, eliminating it seems weird.

    I wonder how long it will be before robot trains become sufficiently common that dedicated locomotives are built new for them? That could mean the return of the cabless engine.
  7. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    The only way I can see totally robot-trains being practical is that they have to operate entirely in corridors where they are totally isolated from everything and everyone. The first time a little kid manages to get on the tracks and get hit by a rodot-train, they will probably be outlawed. The other qustion I have is concerning the point made in a previous post about engineers being replaceable because the trains only operate in one dimension. That may be true in the flatlands, I don't think it will work in the mountains. I can't see anyway a "model railroader" in a centralised traffic control office in Kansas can possibly get a train up or down Cajon Pass. Can they control slack in couplers remotely by looking at dots on a screen? I think attempting to control a train remotely on Cajon, Doner, between needles and Flagstaff,over Sherman Hill, or in the Canadian Rockies would be impossible with current technology. Until a computer can sense what every car in a train is doing and apply brakes or power or both as needed to keep slack out of the couplers on up hill, down grade sections of railroad, they must have engineers in the cabs doing what people do best.
  8. LoudMusic

    LoudMusic Member

    How does the engineer accomplish the same thing by being IN the locomotive?
  9. stripes

    stripes Member

    Unfortunatly, humans are not going to be a nessesity in the future. The world is changing to robotics and virtual reality! Has anyone seen the new robotic vacume cleaners or floor washers? Lets face it, George Orwell was right!
    A human engineer at the controls has little or no options if a vehicle or human runs onto the track in front of them. I do morn the loss of jobs, but the future is apon us gentlemen.
    The good news is I am getting old and will not have to cope with the brave new world!
  10. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    As far as I know, the operator in Kansas for the Cajon Pass just sees dots on a screen. The screen may show a map, but the people in Kansas won't be aware of the elevation changes as they happen like an experienced engineer would. They may be able to do it, but they would still need to isolate most of the trackage on Cajon to run by remote control. Of course if things get automated enough, we won't need trains because there won't be anyone with money to buy anything the train might haul.
  11. kitsune

    kitsune Member

    Before we get too worked up over this, might someone like to look into the actual accuracy of this report?

    RCL/RCO does NOT use rail infrastructure for control of remote locomotives. It is not reliable as a conductor. This is why many grade crossings fail each year -- bad conductivity, failure of shunts, and other malfunctions due to circuit disruption. RCO/RCL operates on, tada! Radio, which is what the R stands for.

    Second, RCO/RCL is as common as dirt. These are not "crewless" trains. These are "engineerless" trains. They usually operate with 2-3 man crews of GCOR (or other rule systems) certified conductors. The reason is simple: a shortage of engineers combined with a desire to reduce pay on yard crew jobs. RCO/RCL must operate within points where the area is designated as a "Remote Control Zone" with appropriate signage warning motorists at grade crossings that tell them that cabs may be unoccupied. Some operations do use 1 man crews, but these are rare. There are NO unmanned operations, save for industrial intra-plant movements. Even these are roughly similar to RCO/RCL.

    There are a thousand reasons why human crews will not be eliminated from service, ever. I don't need to or want to go into them here. Anyone who wants a brief look into the future need only look at the airline industry, which had the technology to go fully automated decades ago. And it's not a matter of human lives: UPS planes fly with pilots too.

    Don't underestimate the human element. And reasearch the facts before giving creedance to rumor. The net could use a good does of the latter.
  12. railohio

    railohio Active Member

    Boosh! Checkmate!

    There seems to be a serious lack of research done online anymore. It's interesting to see leaders of the railfan community, a model manufacturer and an NRHS regional officer, take stock in such a rumour.

    And where did Kansas come from in all of that, anyway? :rolleyes:
  13. hooknlad

    hooknlad Member

    My trains have been running crewless for years... i know i know, im of the topic...
    The Port Reading, NJ railyard by me, is completely remote. One must watch carefully while driving on this property..
  14. Illus

    Illus Member

    I personally don't like the idea of it, but all this can be done by computer. I work with robotics and computers, and it's ALL do-able, just as soon as somebody lays down the parameters for what they want, someone is on the ball writing the programs... All they need to do, and I am sure they have been doing it for some time, is pick the brains of the Engineers, and actually LISTEN (I know, most companies don't, but) to what the Engineers deal with and do, and they can, and probably have, the write a program to control the train. Look at the ETD. Doesn't it do more than just blink? read this:

    Look what they are doing with cars, distance sensing, auto-parallel parking, gps cruise control. Like LoudMusic said, you can't change course once the train is rolling, but a radar system could tell if something is in the way, and most of the time, the train can't stop anyways... More than likely, there will always be someone on the train just so that if something catastrophic does happen, they can't be uber-sued for having an unmanned train...
  15. Illus

    Illus Member

    By the way, they used remote-controlled trains at Rouge Steel where I used to work, but they were required to be ON-BOARD the train when it was moving.

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