a little oil for thought

DMS dmschanoes at earthlink.net
Wed Aug 13 10:22:55 MDT 2003

Les wrote:

i assume train/track
management would be thought of as as much social as physical

To be honest, I haven't thought about it in those terms--
as train track management, or as social science, or as
physical science.

What I have thought about is a forumulation that says
"Every operating decision is a financial decision."  There
is a cost to every decision that is made regarding track,
equipment, crew utilization.  There are costs associated
with every attempt to improve on time performance, and
there are hard costs, usually greater costs, involved in
deferring maintenance of track, structures, and equipment.

The issue of capacity and maximum utilization of a terminal's
capacity is an area where any number of variables can be
introduced that change what used to be thought of as the
maximum capacity.  The elasticity of a place like Grand Central
Terminal is truly remarkable.

For example, in determining a value for every platform track
we tried to compare whether it had access to the loop, allowing
equipment to clear by pulling south, or whether the train had
to go straight north, thus conflicting with other trains.  We
considered tracks that had access to more than one "ladder" track, thus allowing more than one train to move at a time (the
famous "parallel move" capacity that high density passenger
railroads pay through the nose to get).

In the consideration of the speed of track turnover, the turn
around time of equipment can be improved by the use of alternate
relay crews to clear the equipment from the track rather than
wait for the inbound crew to walk the length of the train
(change ends) before moving.... But that has a cost as the
budgetary impact of X number of crews is a sensitive topic.

We also have to consider train length as the train must not only
reach the platform but must clear into it to allow for a
following movements on the same ladder track.

So it gets to be quite a calculus, and we really do approximate,
test, take another track out of service (in this specific case)
test again, take another track out of service, and then watch
all our good work crumble the first time a piece of equipment
breaks down on a track.


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