"Highball" - More terminology questions.

Help Support Amtrak Unlimited Discussion Forum:

Joined
May 27, 2021
Messages
8
Location
Fargo, ND
The term "Highball" has become synonymous with proceeding at maximum authorized speed. But I have noticed Amtrak crews using it as a term just to indicate station work complete. For example; crews will say highball then immediately announce TSR's / PSR's, or they will be sitting in the station, copy down a form B, then proceed with a "highball" from the Conductor / AC. They will obviously not proceed at maximum authorized speed when the Form B Limits are right past the depot. At first I thought Amtrak would have to have a different definition of "highball" than regular railroads. But in the Service Standards, it says: Highball: Conductor to the engineer, Proceed at MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED SPEED. They will also give highballs on proceed indications that are not clear. For example: Amtrak will not be able to proceed at maximum track speed with an approach medium up ahead! So what gives? Has the term "highball" lost its meaning?
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
2,354
Location
USA
Highball is a traffic sign. Long time ago it was a ball that would raise up on a pole to show trains that could proceed past the control point. Station, Tower, or junction.

Today it slang, like “Two to go”. Short words that mean something today if your in the business.

“Highball” clear to proceed.
“Two to go” Blow horn twice then proceed.
“Delay in Block” proceed but at a speed that you can stop at before next traffic light. (Traffic light may of change since you when past the last light, while waiting/stopped at a station.)
 

jis

Chief Dispatcher
AU Lifetime Supporter
Gathering Team Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2003
Messages
29,582
Location
Space Coast, Florida, Area code 3-2-1
Then there is "Highball on signal indication" or "Proceed on signal indication", something that came about after someone seriously highballed away while s/he did not have the signal allowing such.
 

Just-Thinking-51

Very bored and cranky pundit
AU Lifetime Supporter
AU Supporter
Joined
Sep 17, 2009
Messages
2,354
Location
USA
Highball the drink…

I know nothing, NOTHING about this.

Above phase should have a Sergeant Schultz accent.
 

Saddleshoes

Train Attendant
Joined
Jun 12, 2015
Messages
79
I thought a "high ball" was the opposite of a strike.
As in 4 "high balls" and you walk.
 

lstone19

Service Attendant
Joined
May 29, 2014
Messages
142
Location
Chicago area
The term "Highball" has become synonymous with proceeding at maximum authorized speed. But I have noticed Amtrak crews using it as a term just to indicate station work complete. For example; crews will say highball then immediately announce TSR's / PSR's, or they will be sitting in the station, copy down a form B, then proceed with a "highball" from the Conductor / AC. They will obviously not proceed at maximum authorized speed when the Form B Limits are right past the depot. At first I thought Amtrak would have to have a different definition of "highball" than regular railroads. But in the Service Standards, it says: Highball: Conductor to the engineer, Proceed at MAXIMUM AUTHORIZED SPEED. They will also give highballs on proceed indications that are not clear. For example: Amtrak will not be able to proceed at maximum track speed with an approach medium up ahead! So what gives? Has the term "highball" lost its meaning?
Maximum Authorized Speed is not the same Maximum Track Speed. Authorized is the lesser of track speed, speed restricted by order, bulletin, etc., and speed restricted by signal. I have never heard anyone think it's synonymous with maximum track speed. It's just long-time railroad slang (at least until Amtrak apparently tried to give it a formal definition) meaning, as others said, "Let's go".
 

neroden

Engineer
Joined
Feb 23, 2014
Messages
8,942
Location
Ithaca, NY
That's a really ancient piece of slang. The "high ball" signal system was first used to indicate whether trains were on time, seems to have only started being used for traffic control in 1852, and appears to have been mostly gone by the 1880s, as first Hall disc and then semaphore signals took over in the US. Many railroads *never* used the ball signals. But the term hung on, and spread to railroads which had never had ball signal systems. Quite curious.
 
Top