Train Dispatcher Simulation

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jis

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Thirdrail, as I recall the west end concourse at Secaucus across the lower level allows passengers to cross over from any LL platform to any other LL platform without crossing any barriers. Has that changed since I was last there? Of course a hapless new comer to the Secaucus labyrinth probably would not know to walk to the western end of the platform to find the escalators to that concourse.

On dispatching the High Line through Swift, Portal, Lack, Erie, Allied, Bergen and onto A, I have played around on a train dispatching simulator using then current timetable, and Thirdrail you are absolutely right. It is absolutely critical to run trains in timetable order that are within tolerance to avoid a complete unholy mess. If an overtake is in the timetable, that is what you do. If not you don't, unless something falls outside tolerance. At that point you play one of the alternate playbooks. You don;t just do what you think works for you locally.

To a casual observer it may appear weird that they are held at Swift while an MTD comes in ahead of you and that happens at times because of the timetable padding that exists in that area. Happens both ways, i.e. an NEC train held for an MTD or an MTD held for one or more NEC, and that inevitably leaves the folks in the train that is holding, fuming. Little do they realize some of the mess that will befall them if they were not held. The arrivals into Penn Station and routing to the correct platform track is carefully choreographed, and its effect stretches all the way back to Swift and even Dock and Rea. You cannot just change things because a train has shown up at a Home signal.

MODERATOR NOTE: This post discusses 2 different topics and, at the suggestion of the poster, discussions regarding Train Dispatching Simulators were moved from this thread in the Amtrak forum to the Railroad Simulation forum/Train Dispatcher Simulation. Rather than cut and paste this post, this moderator opted to copy the entire post and duplicate it so that the post will appear in 2 different threads.
 
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Seaboard92

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It’s funny that Jis mentioned that simulator I just bought the updated version with the Penn Station Territory. One small mistake in there can lead to a cascade of delays. I fleet the trains out of jersey into single track operation. One track lined southbound completely, and the other for all northbound.
 

jis

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It’s funny that Jis mentioned that simulator I just bought the updated version with the Penn Station Territory. One small mistake in there can lead to a cascade of delays. I fleet the trains out of jersey into single track operation. One track lined southbound completely, and the other for all northbound.
While that appears to be an easy strategy, it does not work to maintain timetable compliant operation because some of the "overtakes at Secaucus" are actually built into the timetable. Here is how I developed somewhat deep knowledge of the intricacies of the choreography on the High Line....

When Secaucus was being built I actually created a model for it based on documentation I got from the Citizens Committee meetings, and posed a few questions to Amtrak folks based on my random playing around with it. Specifically they were questions about the choreography that has to be in place for the whole darned thing to flow smoothly. Finally one of the Amtrak techies asked me, how I figured something out enough to ask a specific question. I showed him the results from playing with my little toy and he thought it was really cool. Trust me there are things that can be figured out only if you have played enough with a model to see what happens. The interconnections of events are not at all obvious prima facie.

After that I also modeled all kinds of alternatives that were proposed for ARC, the Secaucus loop, the absurd plan to send Midtown Directs out through Meadows and then up the Secaucus Loop and all sorts of things. Even modeled the crazy plan NJT had of putting bell mouths under the Palisades to bring out a branch through a separate pair of tunnels to connect to the Northern Branch. In one model I even threw in service from Scranton etc. It was all for fun, but in the process I came to appreciate in great depth the complexity of dispatching the Penn Station to NJ tracks.

I built a second model of all of NJT's M&E West of Kearny interlocking all the way to Hackettstown. That is relatively sedate compared to the High Line. I borrowed a model that someone else had done of EL from Hoboken to Scranton and sliced it down to paste the portion beyond Port Morris onto my M&E model to integrate Scranton into it.

Alas, when I tried to glue the two together at Swift, I crashed Train Dispatcher. It did not behave well when its apparent static array limits were hit.

I just got the 3.5 upgrade to Train Dispatcher. I also have Track Builder 3.15.

I just found those tracks I had built back then in my multi Terra bytes of backup and archives of everything from the last 30-something years. It is actually quite amazing some of the fun stuff siting hidden thereI have to see if they still work and have survived the upgrades in Train Dispatcher.

Anyway, it was good entertainment and heck of a learning experience. I learned to appreciate what Dispatchers face in real life, through my toy models.

The fact that I delved so deep into this should not surprise you since professionally that is what I did - system modeling tools and design of modeling systems. Even after retirement I carry on with some standardization work in that area as a matter of hobby.
 
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Seaboard92

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Who knows maybe you can teach me how to make my own territories in track builder. I’m eyeing a very complex station interlocking in Germany I want to attempt. I love the game but I struggle keeping up on some of the larger territories. Even though I’m doing great on the MD-West in Chicago I’ve only racked up a total of 8 minutes of delays. And most of those are from the diamonds I can’t control.
 
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jis

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Maybe we should gently request the Mods to move the Train Dispatcher simulation related posts to a new thread in the Simulation Applications Folder. Could this be done? I must admit I did run a bit amok completely outside the scope of this thread. But was all useful stuff related to how I came to some of the conclusions in the earlier part of the thread. But I think the simulation discussions has grown feet of its own and needs to move to a better home.
 

pennyk

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Maybe we should gently request the Mods to move the Train Dispatcher simulation related posts to a new thread in the Simulation Applications Folder. Could this be done? I must admit I did run a bit amok completely outside the scope of this thread. But was all useful stuff related to how I came to some of the conclusions in the earlier part of the thread. But I think the simulation discussions has grown feet of its own and needs to move to a better home.
I attempted to do as you suggested. Please message me if any additional changes and/or movements need to be made.
 

Seaboard92

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Maybe jis you can help me learn how to use the various functions. I’m struggling with merging trains for helpers, and such in V 3.5. Along with trying to figure out what to do with my lost territory passwords from when I had V2 in high school. On a laptop I no longer own.
 

Seaboard92

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Of course I never had version three and I want some of those pod territories. I wonder if they would still sell a password.
 

Acela150

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I just bought Train Dispatcher 3.5 on eBay. So I’ll give it a shot. Having been in T&E we’ll see if I can work at CTEC. Lol!
Ok.. So I messed around with it a little bit last night. It's not to bad. Of course I'd like it in more of a real time situation, instead of everything happening at once. But I'm enjoying it.
 

Seaboard92

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Wait till you try the CSX Cincinnati territory. If you can keep that fluid you might have found your new calling. I can’t keep things around queensgate moving
 

Acela150

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Wait till you try the CSX Cincinnati territory. If you can keep that fluid you might have found your new calling. I can’t keep things around queensgate moving
The one thing I can tell you is that the game is very fast paced. In real life everyday is different. Some days or nights you could be sitting waiting for someone to call you on the radio to give you something to do. Others you may be begging the Chief to let you go to the bathroom.
 

Thirdrail7

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It’s funny that Jis mentioned that simulator I just bought the updated version with the Penn Station Territory. One small mistake in there can lead to a cascade of delays. I fleet the trains out of jersey into single track operation. One track lined southbound completely, and the other for all northbound.
I would be interested in seeing this territory or simulation. Where might I find it?
 

jis

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Seaboard92

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Follow up question.. How does one install an additional package to one's PC?
As in the free library. It’s pretty easy download the territories from the website which will automatically download them all right now. Then select all and drag it to the train.2 file folder. And it should be playable. It might also need to be unzipped there.
 

jis

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Actually you can put any track package in any folder that you like. Just once use the Windows facility for associating App with extension to associate the .trk extension with the Train Dispatcher App, and just double click on any .trk file and that should start up Train Dispatcher for the territory contained in the .trk file you chose.

I actually have all my old TD2 stuff in a separate folder to keep them separate from the native TD3 stuff. There are some obscure differences between the two

All this for Windoze of course.
 

Seaboard92

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Jis, which custom made routes have you made yourself. I might have some interest in some of your homemade ones. As I’ve played all of the downloadable ones
 

jis

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Other than little ones for learning about Track Builder, the big ones that I have are (1) NJT M&E with some extensions like to Scranton, and (2) NEC in NJ with all sorts of weird extensions while I was teaching myself what is possible in terms of the then ARC extensions, none of which of course came to pass. This is all from memory. I need to open those up and see actually what still works, i.e. survived the change from 2 to 3, and then get the 3.5 Trackbuilder to fix things up to work on 3.5. Possibly quite an arduous process. Won't know until I get down into the trenches with it.

I guess, ideally this can be attacked while I am on some endless train trip for OTOL Fest or the Gathering. LOL!
 
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AmtrakMaineiac

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Just saw this thread. I have TD and track builder which were installed on my old win7 machine. I have yet to try to install on my new win10 system. A couple of years ago I built a simulation of the UKs London Tilbury and Southend portion between Barking and Pitsea which turned out to be quite complex due to many suburban trains taking 3 different routings plus short turns at peak hours, then add in freight traffic. Adding the 500 or so trains in the schedule was tedious to say the least.

Another simulation I did was Philadelphia's Broad St. Subway which has express and local service on 4 tracks for part of the line plus the Ridge Avenue branch and super expresses for sporting events. I only simulated a few hours around peak time as the number of trains to be entered gets excessive.

One of my favorite routes to dispatch was one I found of Amtrak's NEC from Boston to Kingston RI including all of the MBTA commuter traffic plus some local freight switching. Got challenging bringing those AM commuter trains into South Station on 3 tracks while keeping things clear for Antrak. Especially when some commuters need to make Ruggles which at that time had no platform on track 2 so required using track 1 against the westbound flow or the already busy track 3.
 
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