Questions that you've always been too embarrassed to ask

 
  whatteaux Beginner

On the now-in-use ETTT, I've seen some bits & pieces that have me puzzled. Can someone explain the following?:

1. Especially near stations, there are some 2x2-squares blue-and-silver reflective patches attached to the side wall. What are these for?

2. At 2 or 3 places, there are lone always-lit white lights low down (about 1-2m high), with steps up to them, facing away from the oncoming trains (i.e. facing north). They look like they could be swivelled to face south. What are these for?

3. There are occasional white posts with small white 5-sided plates (like a baseball home plate) on top. What are these for? Seen them elsewhere but never thought about them.

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  Lockspike Deputy Commissioner

On the now-in-use ETTT, I've seen some bits & pieces that have me puzzled. Can someone explain the following?:

1. Especially near stations, there are some 2x2-squares blue-and-silver reflective patches attached to the side wall. What are these for?

2. At 2 or 3 places, there are lone always-lit white lights low down (about 1-2m high), with steps up to them, facing away from the oncoming trains (i.e. facing north). They look like they could be swivelled to face south. What are these for?

3. There are occasional white posts with small white 5-sided plates (like a baseball home plate) on top. What are these for? Seen them elsewhere but never thought about them.
whatteaux
1. Sounds like survey information, known as plaques. They give information for rail height, curve radius, superelevation and the design distance from the plaque to the track.

2. Dunno

3. Sounds like half kilometre posts. Interspersed at the mid point between kilometre posts, which themselves show the distance from the buffer stop of No.1 Platform Road, Sydney Station.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
On the now-in-use ETTT, I've seen some bits & pieces that have me puzzled. Can someone explain the following?:

1. Especially near stations, there are some 2x2-squares blue-and-silver reflective patches attached to the side wall. What are these for?

2. At 2 or 3 places, there are lone always-lit white lights low down (about 1-2m high), with steps up to them, facing away from the oncoming trains (i.e. facing north). They look like they could be swivelled to face south. What are these for?

3. There are occasional white posts with small white 5-sided plates (like a baseball home plate) on top. What are these for? Seen them elsewhere but never thought about them.
whatteaux
2. These are warning lights. Illuminated when there is no train approaching, they go out when a train is coming to allow workers sufficient time to go to, or remain in, a safe place. NSG604 describes their use

3. Agree with Lockspike. From your description they're the 1/2-Km pegs.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
On the now-in-use ETTT.
whatteaux
I have a question. What the heck is the ETTT?
  seb2351 Chief Commissioner

Location: Sydney
Thought I had a pretty good handle on railwayjl jargon. Then along comes ETTT.

Well played, I have no clue what you are.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
ETTT = Epping-Thornleigh Third Track.
  tazzer96 Deputy Commissioner

I am asking about the legality of exploring both closed and open but but underused railway lines.
I understand that trespassing on any "active" railway line is illegal, but i'm talking about lines that see trains very, very infrequently.  (pinkenba, qld southern line, the banks pocket line in gympie.  Would anyone care? especially for the banks pocket line.

Secondly I want to know the legality of exploring closed lines like the murwillumbah branch.  I get thats its government property but will anyone have any issue with it.  Kind of just want to bike my bike throigh the nice sections and see some of the tunnels.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
Its possible that the old 'Right of Way' MAY be leased to the landholder whose property the line passes through whether it still has track laid or not and no train has run for a 100 years but it still may belong to the  State, like Crown Land.
It could also be unfenced or gated  which is common in areas where trains ran infrequently or during daylight hours only.
Tarana to Oberon, NSW

Its also possible the 'Right of Way' could be leased to a preservation group giving them proprietary rights over who may access the area.
Zig Zag Tourist Railway, Lithgow NSW and the Tarana to Oberon branch, NSW

NSW has been very reticent in selling off any 'Right of Ways' partly due to electoral backlash from those against it who see this as a 'sell off' of 'Public Lands'.
Back in the 80's, The NSW Railways created a Real Estate Branch to investigate what they had and what Lands could be Leased/Rented or Sold Off and that was a major undertaking.

Each State may have a different attitude to their Right of Ways so I would suggest before you do any Pedaling to thoroughly check just where you can safely go and not be regarded as a Trespasser, a not too easy task I would think !!!
  whatteaux Beginner

On the now-in-use ETTT, I've seen some bits & pieces that have me puzzled. Can someone explain the following?:

1. Especially near stations, there are some 2x2-squares blue-and-silver reflective patches attached to the side wall. What are these for?

2. At 2 or 3 places, there are lone always-lit white lights low down (about 1-2m high), with steps up to them, facing away from the oncoming trains (i.e. facing north). They look like they could be swivelled to face south. What are these for?

3. There are occasional white posts with small white 5-sided plates (like a baseball home plate) on top. What are these for? Seen them elsewhere but never thought about them.
2. These are warning lights. Illuminated when there is no train approaching, they go out when a train is coming to allow workers sufficient time to go to, or remain in, a safe place. NSG604 describes their use

3. Agree with Lockspike. From your description they're the 1/2-Km pegs.
KRviator
Thanks, folks, for all the answers.

2. Ah, like the yellow/orange lights on tunnel walls. This masks sense, as they seem to be where the track is extra curvy, and a train might not be directly visible until quite close. (p.s., I had a closer look, and they don't swivel).
  tazzer96 Deputy Commissioner

For the qld guys.
Is the ICE still allowed to go 10% overspeed (where speed boards permit)?

Secondly, is loading gauge the sole reason for the tilt trains not being allowed to tilt and go a bit faster south of caboolture?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
My question - can coal wagons carry grain?

Ignore any loading gauge and axle weight limit issues.
  KRviator Moderator

Location: Up the front
Yes. At least some can. The NHGF grain wagons were converted NHHF coal hoppers with a roof and top loading door fitted.

So long as you can make a good seal on the bottom doors, and can manually trigger them - the 120T coal hoppers have mechanical overcentre locks that a person probably couldnt open manually - there is nothing stopping you.
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
I dont think the bottom doors would leak that much as some Coal is quite fine but fitting new seals would easily fix that if it was a problem.
The main concern I see would be ensuring the roof is watertight as you dont the grain getting wet.
  Graham4405 Minister for Railways

Location: Dalby Qld
In Queensland former coal wagons are in use carrying grain. In the past some carried apples too.
  Big J Deputy Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
In Queensland former coal wagons are in use carrying grain. In the past some carried apples too.
Graham4405
Are VASO (Sugar wagons) specially built or converted grain or coal wagons?
  james.au Minister for Railways

Location: Sydney, NSW
Thanks all for the answer.
  Sulla1 Chief Commissioner

The VASOs were built specifically for sugar traffic, although they were occasionally used for Central Queensland grain traffic during the eighties and nineties outside of the sugar season.
  Big J Deputy Commissioner

Location: In Paradise
The VASOs were built specifically for sugar traffic, although they were occasionally used for Central Queensland grain traffic during the eighties and nineties outside of the sugar season.
Sulla1
Ahhhhh......that was in the dark recesses of my mind. Thanks Sulla. I thought there was some connection.
  RobertJM Beginner

There is a problem restarting Explorer/Endeavour engines if the train is stabled at a platform because of under floor access issues, so in this situation, they will be left on even for long periods.
In the classic era, NSW tended to leave its diesel locos idling rather than turn them off; Victoria the opposite.  (Just as Victoria did (and still does) use dynamic braking frequently on pass trains- even coming into station stops); NSW tended to use it sparingly on pass trains- when it had loco-hauled pass trains.  And Victoria's loco-hauled pass practice was to keep the engine in a throttle position continually, whereas in NSW, in flat country, the practice was to throttle up to the max speed, say 70mph, then idle until the speed dropped to say 60mph, then throttle up again.    
Just some of the large number of state variations that made train watching even more interesting in the classic era.
Regarding the return current for electric trains through the rail:  Apparently the signal circuits, which were low voltage, high current, could distinguish from the return 1500v.  At the end of signal track circuits, there was an insulated joint but connected by a thick cable which could convey 1500v but not 14v (typical track circuit) to the next section of track; this technology is long superseded, but traction electricity still gets back to the power station by the rail, etc.    In the Sydney underground with its sharp curves, abrasive-resistant rails were used which had poor conductivity, so an extra old normal rail was laid and connected to the running rails at frequent intervals to achieve the necessary circuit.  And after long periods of no trains on a track (like the 1979 NSW strike) as well as the signals not working reliably, electric trains would not be able to get a circuit on the rusty rails so squads of diesel locos had to run to shine up the tracks.    And finally, there were special rules for rail welding personnel, as a 1500v return current can get very nasty if you break the rail without giving it a way home to the power station (normally by a cable around the planned break in the rail).
  gordon_s1942 Chief Commissioner

Location: Central Tablelands of NSW
It was common practice when the single decker Interurbans were introduced to lower the pantogrphs when the train was stabled. This meant the cleaners had to use the on board batteries to power up the lights at night.
It was soon found this flattened the batteries very quickly and with no battery power, the pantographs could not be raised forcing the driver to use the Hand air pump to raise them so they installed external power receptacles to enable the lights to be run of a power source and not the internal batteries.
When the double deckers were introduced, they too were to be stowed with the pantographs down but this apparently caused problems with the A/C units so they had to be left raised.

In the overhead electrified areas, to enable the rails to carry the return current of the trains and the signal voltages, a devise called an Impedance Bond was installed between the rails near a block joint. Today these are now located beside the running lines partly to allow track maintenance to be carried out without damaging them as well as not being damaged as before with a derailment.

The inside of these Impedance Bonds, nicknamed 'Turtles' because of their shape is filled with a thick copper bar wound in a coil.
The principle being it will allow the 1500 Volt DC to be passed from section to section but block or 'impede' that voltage going through to the signal relays.
During a 'Closedown' between Mt Victoria and Blackheath someone made a mistake and when the first Train entered the section, all the power was routed through the signal hut and basically blew the guts out of everything inside.
All the cables had melted and all the relays were a blackened melted mass of carbon.
The Hut itself survived although it blew out the fibro sheets on each end above the doors.
  jakar Assistant Commissioner

Location: Melbourne
I didn't want to start a new thread so I thought i'd ask here. I have just watched 'Modern Marvels Locomotives' on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYwUCumTb-0 and they mention and show a couple of times 'flange lube sticks' (@ 19:23 for example). My question is, do any loco's in Australia use this or a similar system and would this have helped with the recent Vlocity wheel wear issue?
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Dear RobertJM and others ,

The VR also kept diesels running until the 1974 energy crisis resulted in both soaring diesel price and therefore engines shut down to reduce consumption . There was an item in the Weekly Notice to the effect that diesel locos were to be shut down when stabled . Unfortunately , it was found the batteries could not handle the sudden increased demand for starting up , as locos were only shut down for maintenance at places like South Dynon Loco which had access to battery chargers and start up sets.

The problem was eventually overcome , and shut downs became the norm . I understood that continuous idling ensured that the Diesel engine was never cold, therefore rarely failed , and when diesel fuel was dirt cheap, it made sense . The oil crisis changed all that , and environmentally , probably for the better .

Best wishes and regards, Radioman.
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
I didn't want to start a new thread so I thought i'd ask here. I have just watched 'Modern Marvels Locomotives' on youtube

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aYwUCumTb-0 and they mention and show a couple of times 'flange lube sticks' (@ 19:23 for example). My question is, do any loco's in Australia use this or a similar system and would this have helped with the recent Vlocity wheel wear issue?
jakar
The NRs have/had flange lubrication (albeit of a different design).
  YM-Mundrabilla Minister for Railways

Location: Mundrabilla but I'd rather be in Narvik
Another question.

Why was the VR tram network BG rather than SG like the rest of the Melbourne tram network?

Seems crazy to me!
  Radioman Chief Train Controller

Dear YM Mundrbilla and others ,

The VR tram network was seperate from the MMTB and maintenance was done at both Newport and the local tram depots . Standard VR BG made sense from a non MMTB connected system .

Best wishes and regards, Radioman

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