Montana Rail Link goes remotePractice makes perfect. At least for the sake of safety I hope it does. After a night of 18 below zero (F) it has warmed all the way up to minus 11 degrees this morning. I'll bet the engineer is just thrilled to be out on the ground throwing switches and pulling pins instead of being inside the 135's nice warm cab.
Three shots of the MRL's new radio control car/caboose in operation switching Laurel's "Top Yard" on December 16, 2000.
The headlight on the control car was on bright and the four yellow strobes on the corners were all flashing brightly. This thing is going to be hard to miss at night. I had expected the control car to be painted a bit fancier though. I figured they would have nice bright colors and lots of stripes instead of three shades of grey primer.
Warning signs have been placed next to all tracks that lead to areas of the yard where remote control will be used in blind operations. Other trains and engines cannot enter these blind zones until they contact the remote operator.
The far ends of the zones have TV cameras. The yardmaster can assist the remote crew by watching the TV monitor when a long cut requires that the remote be moved right up to the end of the zone.
The extreme ends of the zones are also protected by radio controlled talking derails.
"Bottom of the East derail is off".
"River Lead derail is on."
"Caution! Approaching Ladder Three derail".
UpdateBy May of 2001 the radio controlled switch engines were in regular use at Laurel. The MRL had converted a second radio control caboose and had painted both in MRL blue and white. Pretty snazzy.
The remote control cars (cabooses) act as a lead locomotive MU'd to the trailing switch engine. Of course the remote control car acts as a DEAD lead unit. Not having a prime mover nor traction motors it produces no tractive effort and gets its air supply from the trailing unit through normal MU connections. Thus it does not require any special locomotive to operate with so any loco can be used for power.
There is not much inside the radio control cars (cabooses). An electrical panel, a generator, and some air brake equipment.
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