When working as part of a team, communication is crucial. For those who have used our simulation Post T Arnhem 1965, know all too well how difficult it is to get a driver on the phone.
Getting the driver on the phone isn’t always possible, as drivers might not be in their cab when they are at the platform or are changing shifts and chatting outside. Don’t expect drivers to be in their cabs hours before their departure time. It’s normal for a driver to prepare his train and walk out of his cab to grab a cup of coffee from the nearby coffee stand on the platform, have a chat with the guards and walk leisurely back to his cab.
To accept a call
If someone wants to talk to you, their corresponding button will start flashing. Clicking on the button will result in the button being constantly lit and the button “Ende” will be lit. You now can talk in the conversation window. After you have finished, you can press “Ende” to disconnect the call. Both partner button and the disconnect button will extinguish.
To place a call
If you want to talk to someone, press their corresponding button. The button “Ende” will light up. If you want to disconnect, press the “Ende” again. If you want to call the partner, press the green button “Ruf” (= call). If your partner picks up, you can talk in the conversation window. To disconnect, press “End”. Both the partner button and the disconnect button will extinguish.
- ZBF is an operator and will help you to connect to trains in the yard. Just enter the train number when prompted.
- The blue buttons are your typically neighbours, outside of the yard.
- Some buttons are for areas close to your area, but have their own managers. These areas include freight or shunting yards. In Braunschweig, for example, Baf and Bao are areas within Braunschweig that have their own managers. You will need to communicate with them when moving traffic in and out of those areas.
- BASA is a communication line used exclusively by switch greasers. RF is used by shunt drivers.
- 112 is the emergency services hotline, i.e., Police and Ambulance.
- Notruf is to place a emergency call to all trains in your dispatching area, i.e. to ask train drivers to stop immediately.
- Sig is to call the technician, i.e. in case of signal failures
- Telefon is to call a dispatcher other than your direct neighbour ( More information in the Line Operations Manual)
The communication panel is an important part of the simulation. Much of the decision‐making is done via communication with other people in the rail yard. When you are being called all communication takes place in this window. In the Conversations window, click the button which states the answer you wish to say. Sometimes there is only one choice. It might take a few seconds for your partner to respond to a question or statement – be patient! The most recent statement appears above the conversation history.
In the above example, train 7928 has called to complain that he has been stopped for a while, waiting at a red signal. In this case, the only choice is to apologise and tell the driver to keep waiting while you set a route for him (or maybe not, depending on the situation).
To describe all possible combinations of communications would fill many pages. You can’t do much wrong; just read the questions or statements and choose the correct answer. Be friendly at all times. Upsetting your communication partner might not result in a speedy resolution of the problem!
Driver Calls From a Signal
If a driver is stopped at a signal for a long time, he might call to complain that he is waiting. He will tell you his train number, and the signal from which he is calling.
Neighbouring Dispatcher Calls
Neighbouring dispatchers will call for a variety of reasons. Often they will call to notify that a train is late, or out of order. He may request that he send a train on an alternative track – if you can accept the train, do so. If you have a blocking issue, he will not take it personally, and will be very patient with you.
Switches are critical parts of the infrastructure and must be well‐oiled if they are to operate as commanded. Some switches are greased 2 or 3 times a week. The maintenance worker will call when he is near a switch to request that it be thrown. If you can, throw the switch for him so he can grease it as it moves into position. He will then walk to the next switch in his list, and he will repeat the process until all the switches in his list are greased. If for some reason you cannot grease a switch, you can refuse and he will call again in a few minutes. If you are really busy, you can request that he stops greasing for the remainder of the day.
To ensure that the entire infrastructure is properly maintained, engineering work is often scheduled to replace small sections of track, or to service sections of the catenary. You have the benefit of knowing when engineering work is scheduled, so you can plan your dispatching accordingly.
When the engineering manager phones to request that work commence, be sure that it is safe to do so. You do not want to send trains to tracks that are being possessed by the workers, as this would be a serious violation of safety protocols. If the manager is requesting that catenary be earthed, make sure that if you are managing catenary operations (see Expert Options) you disable the affected catenary group, and you route electric trains around the powered down group, and non‐electric trains around the affected track.
Once you agree to begin engineering work, you have no more responsibility for the affected track. It could very well be that there are missing sections of railway track!
BEFORE you give authorization, place the required danger labels on the start and end buttons. You may also place danger labels on the affected switch keys as well. This is a simple action that helps remind you that there are people working on the track that could be killed if you make a mistake.
If you make the mistake of sending a train to a track where the catenary is earthed, you could damage the catenary. Additionally, there is the chance that the workers will be electrocuted. For this reason, it is necessary that you apply blue danger hooks to the affected end buttons.
Calling a Train
Reaching a train depends on what type of train it is and what mode it is currently in. If it is a shunt train, try calling via RF. If it is a train movement, attempt to contact via the operator (ZBF).
Remember to be patient. A driver, if he is going to answer, is likely busy with other things and might take a few seconds to answer.
Once you reach the driver, you have to option to give him instructions. The available options depend upon where he is, whether you have prepared orders for him, etc.
Issuing a Written Order to Pass a Signal at Stop (Train Movement)
Sometimes it is necessary to let a train driver know that he may proceed beyond a signal, even though the signal is showing a STOP aspect. This is done by issuing a written order. This provides a paper trail so that there is a physical record of the order being issued.
To issue such an order, call a train driver. When he answers, press the conversation button that says Here Dispatcher XYZ. I have a written order to pass a signal showing stop. You will then be presented with an piece of paper with some handwriting indicating the train for which order is intended, the date, time, the name of the driver, the name of the dispatcher, etc. In the middle is a table. This table is where signal names are written.
The signals must be written in the order that the driver will encounter them. To add a signal, move your mouse to the middle column. A text box will appear in the topmost empty row of the table. Begin typing the signal name. If the name exists, it will be suggested.
When you have typed the signal (or chosen from the suggestion list) the signal will appear written in ink.
Repeat for each signal you need to add to the list. Most of the time, you'll only need to write one signal. When you're sure the order is correct, press the 'Issue button, and complete the call.
Issuing an Oral Order to Pass a Signal at Stop (Shunt Movement)
Issuing an order to a shunt driver to pass a signal is much simpler - you need only tell the driver which signal you wish him to pass. To do this, you must first call the driver. Choose the conversation button that says XYZ, you have authority to pass signal 123. The driver of XYZ will repeat the order, to confirm.
Calling a Neighbour
The blue buttons are used to call neighbours. You must call neighbouring dispatchers to notify them that you can or cannot accept traffic on specific tracks. This is important if engineering works are under way and you cannot set routes around the work for trains coming from a neighbour.
Simply press the desired neighbour button, followed by the Ruf key. When your neighbour answers, you are able to choose what you want to request or inform from the given communication buttons.
When sending trains on a wrong line to a neighbour, you must communicate with your neighbour to set up wrong line working.
Neighbours can also manage and issue written orders to trains on your behalf – refer to the chapter on Written Orders.