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Charlotte's Light Rail: Lynx Blue Line

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25 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

If someone can point me to a document that shows the originally advertised times, I will have an opportunity this week to ask CATS directly. 

Here is an example of the PR promoting the line (this from the official UNCC account). The ‘official’ statement should be in the new starts grant document to the FTA, i can’t lay my hands on that at the moment but I will try again.

Trip times have been ranging from 29-27 minutes from 9th street departure to UNCC main arrival since early October.

 

 

Edited by kermit

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Would it make sense (and is it possible) for CATs to add line switches (no idea what the term is) to move the cars from the Southbound line to the Northbound line North of the city, and vis-versa South of the city?  Just thinking for major events like the RNC this might be an advantage.  Or are there so few times you would want to do this that it is not worth the money?

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8 minutes ago, pgsinger said:

Would it make sense (and is it possible) for CATs to add line switches (no idea what the term is) to move the cars from the Southbound line to the Northbound line North of the city, and vis-versa South of the city?  Just thinking for major events like the RNC this might be an advantage.  Or are there so few times you would want to do this that it is not worth the money?

They (crossovers) are there already, roughly every other station.

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Oh...I guess that makes sense.  That's how they accomplished running the trains when the tree fell over the lines in SE a few months back...duh.  

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They also have a hard stop when going under 277 southbound into uptown.  It must be related to the slide at Ricah Graphics during construction.  They literally hit the breaks while going past it and then speed up again going into 9th Street Station :silly:

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2 hours ago, kermit said:

Here is an example of the PR promoting the line (this from the official UNCC account). The ‘official’ statement should be in the new starts grant document to the FTA, i can’t lay my hands on that at the moment but I will try again.

Trip times have been ranging from 29-27 minutes from 9th street departure to UNCC main arrival since early October.

Thanks, I was able to search for the advertised time (22 minutes) on the city website and found a few presentations using that figure. 

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Maybe we expect too much of our city. That's only off by 30%! Much better than the cities greenway planning! Oh wait, in Japan I've been personally apologized to by the train conductors when it was over 30 seconds late.

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7 minutes ago, elrodvt said:

Maybe we expect too much of our city. That's only off by 30%! Much better than the cities greenway planning! Oh wait, in Japan I've been personally apologized to by the train conductors when it was over 30 seconds late.

I had been holding my tongue, giving CATS some allowance for "debugging" the new line, perhaps dealing with issues causing lower speeds. Well, it's been 10 months. Either they really screwed up their modeling or there's some significant design issue we don't know about. 

Does anyone have 2005-6 archives that could tell us if they got the ride-time correct for the original blue line? 

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32 minutes ago, tozmervo said:

I had been holding my tongue, giving CATS some allowance for "debugging" the new line, perhaps dealing with issues causing lower speeds. Well, it's been 10 months. Either they really screwed up their modeling or there's some significant design issue we don't know about. 

Does anyone have 2005-6 archives that could tell us if they got the ride-time correct for the original blue line? 

Personally I think 80% of the issue here is the train operator.  Some operators approach and go through crossings at decent speeds, others practically crawl through and begin that crawl so far in advance.  

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Just now, navigator319 said:

Personally I think 80% of the issue here is the train operator.  Some operators approach and go through crossings at decent speeds, others practically crawl through and begin that crawl so far in advance.  

That may be, but currently the time table is the overriding factor. Regardless of the operator, they shouldn't be ahead or behind schedule. For some reason CATS has set the schedule at 28 minutes.

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They had assumed South Corridor speeds on an extension built with far more at-grade crossings.  Then, the rail schedule grew during testing and opened with the longer run time.

Edited by southslider
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^Hi, where did you find that? Shouldn't that have been an obvious issue during the design phase?
Is it the crossing designs, meaning they can possibly be corrected as suggested by kermit, or just the concept of crossings in the median in general, meaning there is nothing that can be done? It does seem like an issue to me that the median gates are not four quadrant gates, and with the track circuits and indeed the left turn gates and pedestrian gates already in place it seems like it would be fairly simple to add an extra gate there to completely seal off the crossing itself.

Are there any flashing yellow or green ball phases for the left turn lanes that could be eliminated?

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7 hours ago, orulz said:

Is it the crossing designs, meaning they can possibly be corrected as suggested by kermit, or just the concept of crossings in the median in general, meaning there is nothing that can be done? It does seem like an issue to me that the median gates are not four quadrant gates, and with the track circuits and indeed the left turn gates and pedestrian gates already in place it seems like it would be fairly simple to add an extra gate there to completely seal off the crossing itself.

Are there any flashing yellow or green ball phases for the left turn lanes that could be eliminated?

With the amount of complex traffic signal preemption at each location, I would imagine redesigning each crossing location to add exit gates effectively “sealing” the corridor would be around 150k to 200k per crossing location including labor. 

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^Denver had a lot of problems with their commuter rail crossings even though they developed them to as you say "seal".

If they had issues I shudder to think....  That said, it has to be done. Was this cost cutting?

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2 minutes ago, elrodvt said:

^Denver had a lot of problems with their commuter rail crossings even though they developed them to as you say "seal".

If they had issues I shudder to think....  That said, it has to be done. Was this cost cutting?

I agree with you. There are many things to be learned from the issues that Denver’s A Line encountered. I couldn’t imagine having to pay two 24 hour Flagmen a day at each crossing for several months.  I remember calling my counterparts at UPRR as I rode the train to find out what the heck was going on. Those crossings also protect UPRR’s traffic on the affected portion which contributed to the problem. Fortunately Charlotte’s LRT doesn’t have that condition. 

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^gotcha. But it's still needed to fix the north bound LRT times being discussed right? Do you mean we could have a less expensive solution? 

Also, do you have any thoughts on how much we could speed up the line going south? Obviously you know a lot more about this than me. But that section seems very slow as well.

I usually use the 485 station these days and almost invariably the engineer is late entering the cab by 1-2 minutes - Even though the train had been sitting quite a while. I don't know if that is where they get breaks or they switch drivers or what.

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There are several potential factors that can be impacting speed on the blue line extension, I will ask my former colleague who was a part of the BLE construction if she knows the reason.

There could be an issue with the traffic signal preemption that has caused concern for local traffic engineers. CATS may be running at limited speeds through the affected crossings until this issue can be resolved for safety and liability reasons (see Denver). I don’t believe any significant improvements could be made to speed up the original blue line that local residents would have an appetite for as it would significantly impact the land use surrounding the line. I recommend talking to the operators if you ever get a chance, you’ll get honest feedback. 

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I've put the question out to my CATS contact. They acknowledged that they are not running as fast as they want, and they're waiting for someone in the rail division to respond

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Is it true or not that it was designed and built to be driverless/fully automated?

I know this has been discussed before but I don’t recall the “qualifying factors” that make the answer “Yes, but...”

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I don’t think automated trains can operate on systems that have grade crossings. The system would have to be fully grade seperated to run fully automated trains...however I could be wrong.

I know that the SF Muni LRT system runs automated trains in the underground subway portions of the system before switching to a manually operated system on surface level. 

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4 hours ago, Matthew.Brendan said:

Is it true or not that it was designed and built to be driverless/fully automated?

I know this has been discussed before but I don’t recall the “qualifying factors” that make the answer “Yes, but...”

I've never heard anything about the line have automation capability. Like @LKN704 said, I would think you'd have to have a totally enclosed system like an airport train or Dubai monorail. 

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Oh man I’m gonna have to go dig. I’m 90+ percent certain that the equipment that was ordered and installed is capabale of 100% automation. I’ve asked about it before and the answer I believe was something like “yes, but...” 

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I'm sure the trains themselves are either capable of automation or already are, but I don't think a system exists today that has automated trains running with grade crossings. 

On an unrelated note, last night I was in LA. Went out for drinks with some friends near Hollywood. Took the Red Line (heavy rail) from the bar to Union Station at around 10pm. Had to wait around 10 minutes for a train. Transferred to the Gold Line at Union and had to wait a whopping 23 minutes to catch the next eastbound train. I know LA has a car culture but damn the headways were horrible for a city that size. That said, the Gold Line (which is a LRT system) was consistently running 3-car trains which were packed...even around 10:45pm.

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