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  2. The operation
  3. TRAFFIC (information)

(1) Modern railway is a huge and complex system. Few passengers realize that it has required the services of a small army of trained railroad employees to make their travel possible. Railway traffic operation must ensure a safe and efficient handling of trains at all stages including stations, freight terminals, marshalling yards, signal and control centres, etc.

(2) In spite of all the differences between freight and passenger train operation, the fundamental principles are the same: to make up a train; to load it with passengers or freight; to handle it through the intermediate stations or terminals with least possible delay; to rearrange the trains and cars as needed; to change the engine and the crew on the longer runs, and to break up the trains at the final destination.

(3) In order to facilitate the problem of train operation, all railroads, except the very short ones, are divided into sections or divisions operated just as a small railroad.

A railroad runs two principal kinds of trains: regular trains and extra trains. A regular train is a scheduled train. Regular trains are all numbered: the trains in one direction have even numbers, while the trains in the opposite direction have odd numbers. An extra train is not scheduled in the timetable; special trains, work trains and wreck trains1 are examples of extra trains.

(4) The list of times at which a regular train is to arrive at and leave a station is known as the train’s schedule. The printed schedules of the regular trains form the timetable. Compiling a timetable is, indeed, one of the most complicated jobs in the operation business. Dispatchers have to take into account a lot of things, namely, summer or winter service, weekday or weekend schedules, express or slow commuter trains, regular or extra service, freight or passenger trains, etc.

(5) The operation business also includes management of marshalling (classification) yard work. In classification yards loaded freight cars from all the country are sorted according to their final destination, and then joined to others to form a new train. Through the years this has been done manually. Modern yards use computers and Automatic Car Identification system (ACI) to speed the process of car classification. Electronic scanners read colour-coded identification labels on incoming cars and relay the information to yard computers that assign the cars to the proper track. Scanners do it three times faster than any car dispatcher.

(6) Automation has become an important factor in railroad operations. An impressive example is Centralized Traffic Control (CTC), a system in which trains are controlled entirely from a central point through remote operation of switches and signals. The operator sees each train on a large control panel and directs traffic on hundreds of miles of railroad track. There is a separate lever2 for each switch and signal. When a train enters the controlled section, a small light flashes on the panel. It is the business of the operator to keep the trains moving with as little delay as possible. From the terminal the operator pushes a button or moves a lever, actuating switches and signals miles away. The switches and signals are all operated electrically and interlocked3, so that it is impossible to admit two trains to the same track.

(7) The most recent system of automatic traffic operation has been developed in Japan. Autonomous Transport Operation Control System (ATOS) is designed specifically for lines with high-density traffic and utilizes the latest computer technology. A key concept in the development of ATOS is that the operational control should be transferred from the station to the train control dispatcher in the control centre. ATOS is totally different from CTC as it dispenses with the large wall-mounted train location panel4. ATOS displays a graphic real-time diagram of the operating status of a train on a computer screen. The schedule diagram can be changed with a click of a mouse, which automatically adjusts the operations of all trains. Under fully automatic operation the dispatcher needs exercise manual control only in unusual situation, all train movements being set by electronic machines.

(8) Telecommunications devices such as the telephone, radio and television are widely used in traffic operation. Thanks to the radio, the danger of train collisions has been greatly decreased. The locomotive drivers can communicate with wayside stations5 along the track or with other trains on the route. In case of an emergency the engine driver can radio a warning to other drivers or ask the dispatcher for help. The radio and TV have also proved very useful in the marshalling yards during the sorting and inspection of train consists.

(9) The age of computers and cyber information systems brings about a renewal6 of railway and its traditional forms of management. High technologies greatly contribute to the safety and efficiency, which are the priorities in traffic operation.

1 wreck trains – ремонтні потяги

2 a separate lever – окремий важіль

3 interlocked – зчеплені, замкнуті

4 the large wall-mounted train location panel – велика панель диспетчерської централізації, що монтується на стіні

5 wayside stations – проміжні станції

6 brings about a renewal – приводить до відновлення


Exercise 50 Check how well you remember the facts from the text while answering the questions.

1. What must railway traffic operation ensure? 2. What are the main stages in handling of freight and passenger trains? 3. How can railway operation be facilitated? 4. What kinds of trains do railways run? Is there a difference between regular and extra trains? 5. Why is making a timetable considered to be one of the most complicated jobs? 6. What are the marshalling yards intended for? 7. What are the latest improvements in the work of a modern classification yard? How do computers facilitate the work of marshalling yards? 8. What are the advantages of CTC? 9. How are train movements controlled under CTC? 10. Why is it impossible to admit two trains to the same track? 11. Where was the most recent system of automatic traffic operation designed? How does it differ from CTC? 12. Which devices help to decrease the danger of train collisions? 13. Where do radio devices find wide application? 14. What are the priorities in traffic operation?

Exercise 51 Work in pairs. Give the corresponding term from the text for the following definitions. Ask each other questions and answer them as in the model:

Student A: What do we call the stations for receiving, classifying and sorting out the trains?

Student B: We call them marshalling yards or sorting stations.

1. a railway section operated like a small railway; 2. a printed schedule of regular trains; 3. a list of times at which the regular trains arrive at or leave a station; 4. a train which is not scheduled in the timetable; 5. a scheduled train; 6. a local train which stops at each station; 7. tools for actuating switches and signals from the control centre; 8. a train used to carry freight; 9. a system for the automatic control of train movements from the central panel; 10. a computer system used to speed the process of cars classification; 11. the devices by means of which locomotive drivers can communicate with wayside stations or with other trains on the route; 12. devices for ‘reading’ colour-coded labels on cars.


Exercise 52 Translate the sentences paying attention to the italicised words.

1. Railways usually number all passenger trains in order to facilitate the problem of their operation. 2. All regular trains are numbered. 3. The number of the incoming train was announced over the radio. 4. A number of new devices have been recently introduced. 5. Thanks to the radio the car inspector can inform other inspectors in case of an emergency. 6. Railways make use of different forms of telecommunications. 7. The printed schedule of regular trains forms the timetable. 8. The scheduled trains are regular trains; extra trains are not scheduled in the timetable. 9. The long-distance train has to change both the locomotive and the crew several times during its run. 10. The trains run by railways are basically of two kinds: passenger trains and freight trains.


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