Trains can't leave before their departure time right?

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brianpmcdonnell17

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The Auto Train is an exception since every reservation must be associated with a vehicle and vehicles must be checked in at least 90 minutes before departure time. Therefore, in effect the true departure time is 2:30 since if you arrive any time after then you have missed the train.
 

railiner

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It's similar with flights...they "close" the flight several minutes before the "departure time", and if you are running late and still get there before the aircraft pushes back, they may still deny your boarding...
I have been on some lightly loaded flights, where all booked passengers were on board, and we pushed back five minutes before "departure time".

I have also been on cruises that have departed early if all booked passengers were aboard.

In the Northeast Corridor, trains that "discharge only", such as the northbound Silver Meteor, can leave early since no one can board them north of Alexandria.

And the Northeast Corridor does have a very peculiar 'L' designation for a few trains at certain stations, where you can board them, but the train "may leave up to three minutes early if all station work has been completed"....I have never understood the purpose of that🤔
 

John Bobinyec

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Also, the time on your timepiece might be a little different than that carried by the conductor.

jb
 

Lonestar648

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The last few stations before Emeryville on the CZ are drop only so lost time can be picked up quickly or arrive final early with ultra short stops departing as soon as the work has been completed. I don’t any reason why Amtrak should hold until departure time if all reservations have boarded. These days you have to have a reservation to board, even if you have to pay on board.
 
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Palmetto

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In the NEC Amtrak timetable, a few stops were "L" stops, allowing a train to leave the station earlier than what was shown in the schedule. I think those are gone now.
 

Devil's Advocate

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It's similar with flights...they "close" the flight several minutes before the "departure time", and if you are running late and still get there before the aircraft pushes back, they may still deny your boarding...I have been on some lightly loaded flights, where all booked passengers were on board, and we pushed back five minutes before "departure time".
I've seen Amtrak close up and move the train a few feet after telling dispatch they are ready to be cleared for the mainline. It's technically still at the station but closed to new pax. I guess that's their version of pushing back.


Also, the time on your timepiece might be a little different than that carried by the conductor.
I'd imagine they're going by whatever the phone that boards passengers thinks is the time.
 

Dutchrailnut

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crews have to check their watches every day and set them on railroad approved time . now question for accuser if for example the departure time is 01:34. with digital times is departure time 01:34 and zero seconds or is departure time 01: 34 and 59 seconds , asking for a friend .....
 

20th Century Rider

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If all have boarded an all reserved train, and if the policy is that all must be aboard [lets say] 5 minutes prior to departure, then that train can leave ahead of schedule. This would certainly apply to the Auto Train.

But I've never heard of a commuter train leaving early as most are unreserved.

Basically certain published conditions must be met for a train to leave before scheduled departure time.
 

niemi24s

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My clocks/watches are set to agree with the atomic time standards maintained by the NIST: The Official NIST US Time Widget - HTML5 for cross-platform devices

Anyone know with any certainty what standard the railroads use?

In regard to this...
. . .is departure time 01:34 and zero seconds or is departure time 01: 34 and 59 seconds. . .
...the customary convention in metrology is that the least significant digit in a stated measurement means nothing more than it's closer to that stated digit than either the next higher digit or next lower digit. With the least significant digit in timetables being one (1) minute it's an indication the railroads deal only with minutes (or bunches of minutes) and don't monkey around with seconds - except when setting timepieces.

Having said all the scientific gobbledegook, I've no real idea how the railroads handle rounding, as in Trainman74"s example. After all, is departure when the engineer releases the brakes, steps on the gas, the train actually begins to move or the time noted/entered by the conductor?

Tell you friend that splitting hairs like this will make for a missed train.
 

Cal

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It's similar with flights...they "close" the flight several minutes before the "departure time", and if you are running late and still get there before the aircraft pushes back, they may still deny your boarding...
I have been on some lightly loaded flights, where all booked passengers were on board, and we pushed back five minutes before "departure time".
Isn't the departure time different than the time boarding closes? Since if boarding closes at the same time as departure time, they will always end up departing late.

I always thought departure time was when they pushback or takeoff
 

WWW

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Some airlines use the closed cabin door as the time of departure -
But most use the time the plane is in movement away from the gate (block time) and the payroll clock starts ticking for the pilots and FAs.
In the old days of paper manifests - once the weight and balance data was given to the crew the door closed no additions were permitted
since an another W & B would be required perhaps delaying the flight. With today's planes not a significant issue unless exceeding Max Gross Take-Off !
When all the passengers and cargo is boarded and accounted for it serves no useful purpose to wait other than for the ATC clearance to be initiated
or acknowledged.
 
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RebelRider

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In the NEC Amtrak timetable, a few stops were "L" stops, allowing a train to leave the station earlier than what was shown in the schedule. I think those are gone now.
L - Stops to receive and discharge passengers; train may leave before time shown.

Williamsburg, VA is still an L stop eastbound. There are a couple stations on the Springfield and Empire lines that still have L designations, too.

01:34 and zero seconds.

(01:34 and 59 seconds would round to 01:35, one minute late.)
The National Train Activity Monitoring System (NTAMS), doesn't round up or down. It only goes by whole minutes. So if a train starts moving at 11:34:58am, then it shows the train as having departed at 11:34am.

With regards to L stops, Arrow and NTAMS don't recognize that designation. If a train leaves early it will not capture the departure time. It only does that for early trains at D stops. Check out Williamsburg on 125 today.
 

Willbridge

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When digital clocks were introduced in Denver commuter bus stations, passengers ran up to the gate and the departure was showing but the bus had pulled out. Then some operators would wait for "their" passengers, occupying the gate while the next bus for that gate tied up the driveway. The computer programs were then rewritten to show the public departure time as a minute earlier than what the actual time was.

So when light rail was introduced in the era of cellphones we went through the same controversy. However, as there were multiple downtown timepoints we couldn't cater to the runners. Eventually people got used to the idea of trains running on time. As the ridership figures showed, more people wanted a punctual operation than a folksy, personalized bus service.
 

railiner

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crews have to check their watches every day and set them on railroad approved time . now question for accuser if for example the departure time is 01:34. with digital times is departure time 01:34 and zero seconds or is departure time 01: 34 and 59 seconds , asking for a friend .....
01:34 and zero seconds.

(01:34 and 59 seconds would round to 01:35, one minute late.)
National Train Activity Monitoring System (NTAMS), doesn't round up or down. It only goes by whole minutes. So if a train starts moving at 11:34:58am, then it shows the train as having departed at 11:34am.

With regards to L stops, Arrow and NTAMS don't recognize that designation. If a train leaves early it will not capture the departure time. It only does that for early trains at D stops. Check out Williamsburg on 125 today.
When digital clocks were introduced in Denver commuter bus stations, passengers ran up to the gate and the departure was showing but the bus had pulled out. Then some operators would wait for "their" passengers, occupying the gate while the next bus for that gate tied up the driveway. The computer programs were then rewritten to show the public departure time as a minute earlier than what the actual time was.

So when light rail was introduced in the era of cellphones we went through the same controversy. However, as there were multiple downtown timepoints we couldn't cater to the runners. Eventually people got used to the idea of trains running on time. As the ridership figures showed, more people wanted a punctual operation than a folksy, personalized bus service.
This is an old problem...probably as old as the publication of "public timetables"....punctual people wanting trains to move as soon as the advertised minute was struck, tardy people expecting trains to be available to board, until the next minute came.
To solve this, one road, the New York Central's employee timetable showed departure a minute later than the public one. Hence, the Twentieth Century Limited's 6:00 P.M. departure in the employee TT was at 6:01 P.M....
 

railiner

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L - Stops to receive and discharge passengers; train may leave before time shown.

Williamsburg, VA is still an L stop eastbound. There are a couple stations on the Springfield and Empire lines that still have L designations, too.
Still can't understand the rhyme or reason for this odd practice...
 

RebelRider

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Still can't understand the rhyme or reason for this odd practice...
They always seem to be the last one or two stops just a short distance from the final destination. Williamsburg before Newport News. Windsor and Windsor Locks before Springfield. Buffalo Exchange and Depew before Niagara Falls. Probably very low ridership on these particular city pairs. Schedule padding is there in case the train is late, but don't hold up those onboard if we're a few minutes early.
 

Willbridge

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In the early days of railroading some timetables were written in quarter-hours. I suspect that's still too precise for some Class 1's.
 

RichardWSnow

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Take a look at the California Zephyr timetable. Train 5 from Chicago to Emeryville has a "D" designation for each stop from Sacramento to Richmond (the next-to-last stop). "D" is described as "Stops only to discharge passengers; train may leave before time shown". Since nobody can board the train at any of these stops, there is no reason to stay in the station after arriving passengers have exited the train. I've heard conductors refer to them as "discharge only" stops.
 

bratkinson

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Windsor and Windsor Locks before Springfield... Probably very low ridership on these particular city pairs. Schedule padding is there in case the train is late, but don't hold up those onboard if we're a few minutes early.
Being a very regular Windsor Locks passenger pre-Covid, coming home (northbound), perhaps 75-80% of the passengers get off at Hartford CT, regardless of whether it's a 2 car shuttle/flyer train or an 8 car train #148. After 6PM or so, perhaps 7-10 people get off at Windsor and about the same at Windsor Locks. The times I've had my car in Springfield instead, I've never seen more than perhaps a dozen get off in Springfield, and that's the last stop.
 

railiner

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Take a look at the California Zephyr timetable. Train 5 from Chicago to Emeryville has a "D" designation for each stop from Sacramento to Richmond (the next-to-last stop). "D" is described as "Stops only to discharge passengers; train may leave before time shown". Since nobody can board the train at any of these stops, there is no reason to stay in the station after arriving passengers have exited the train. I've heard conductors refer to them as "discharge only" stops.
Yes...the "D" use is understandable...the time is there mainly as a guide to let passenger's (and those meeting them) know about when they will arrive at their destination, so if it gets in early and leaves, it doesn't affect anyone.
 

railiner

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They always seem to be the last one or two stops just a short distance from the final destination. Williamsburg before Newport News. Windsor and Windsor Locks before Springfield. Buffalo Exchange and Depew before Niagara Falls. Probably very low ridership on these particular city pairs. Schedule padding is there in case the train is late, but don't hold up those onboard if we're a few minutes early.
But why the "L" designation? If it is to warn boarding passengers that the train may leave a little early, why not just move the departure time up to the earliest it can leave, so there is no guesswork? And if they want some padding, they can give the final arrival time at the terminus an extra few minutes, like is done on most of the rest of the system?
 
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