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Thread: Signals 101 - Choosing and Placement

  1. #1
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    Default Signals 101 - Choosing and Placement

    Hi all! While building routes, I often spend more time than I should agonizing over signal type selection and location. In Trainz, we seem to have 2 "options" in nomenclature - the 4/5/6/8, or random naming based on prototype means.

    Now, I understand the basics of the numbered series: 4 is stop/go; 5 is just a preview of 4 ahead; 6 is for switches/sidings/diverging; and 8 is for larger junctions. When it comes to the real deals though, things get more confusing. Whatever the signal type may be, one would place signals based on what is needed. But to those of us who don't railroad for real, what exactly does an "approach", "limited clear", or "restricting" signal mean? How do I know if I should be placing a 1, 2, or 3 head signal? Even then, if you look at modern safetran signals, how do I know if I need each head to have 1, 2, or 3 lights? Unless I'm modeling a real line and have pictures of each signal and can place them exactly as they appear, how do "I", just a trainzer/model railroader, know which signals/types I should be placing?

    If anyone knows of a good dummies/how too guide on signaling, especially when not using the 4/5/6/8 series signals, a link or explanation or any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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    Don't know anything about US signals, not my field of interest, but this may help you.

    http://www.railroadsignals.us/basics/basics4.htm
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    I don't know either, so I made my own. Long story short, you have two types of signals - Interlocking and Automatic. Interlocking signals are also absolute (meaning the most restrictive state is "stop" and stay where you are) because a train running through a signal can cause a collision. Automatic signals are usually permissive (most-restrictive indication is stop-and-proceed; some freight railroads even allow you to proceed through them slowly without stopping at all). The reason being, as long as you proceed slowly along a straight piece of track, you probably won't collide with anything. It's a different story if you drive into a crossing train.

    The speeds are a somewhat separate issue. You have Maximum Authorized Speed which is what you'll be allowed to do on a Clear signal (e.g. green light). Approach implies a slowdown to Medium Speed (30 MPH).

    At interlockings, the speed allowed depends on the switch(es) and what speed they'll allow, and also if there is a subsequent divergence at a following interlocking. Most in the U.S. allow Medium (i.e. Medium Clear/Medium Approach) but in some areas this may be higher or lower. On Amtrak, many of the interlockings are rated for Limited Speed (e.g. Limited Clear, usually, 45MPH for passenger, 40 for freight). On the other hand, in congested areas, they may be rated for Slow speed (usually 15MPH at interlockings, e.g. Slow Clear or Slow Approach). Railroads often want to keep things slow for safety reasons even if the physical infrastructure could allow higher speeds.

    Restricting (generally, a maximum of 15MPH, with the added rule that the train must proceed slow enough to stop within 1/2 range of vision and watch for obstructions, etc.) is a kind of catch-all. It most often means a train will be allowed to diverge onto unsignalled territory. But it can also be used to allow a train to follow another one i.e. into a block that's known to be occupied or fouled for whatever reason. When used that way, it often is effectively the same as stop-and-proceed, and most railroads use them somewhat interchangeably: Restricting is used at interlockings, since a red signal would mean absolute stop, and stop-and-proceed is used on automatics.
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    I was just going to start a new thread about signals

    I use Seniorchief PRR Dwarfs, and PLS gantry ... but I am learning the "SignalThingy R,L help coax AI into places, where they normaly do not want to go

    I found that if a signal shows "Slow" an AI train will do half speed ... but if you place a PRR Dwarf, then place 3 more SignalThingy R, @ a foot, 2 foot, and 3 foot, in close in back of the PRR Dwarf, so that it is a compact series of 4 slightly overlapping signals ... it now shows "Clear" to AI trains, and they drive at full speed

    I have yet to understand the difference between regular, converging, diverging signals ... and the difference between 0, 2, 2L, 4, 8, signals ... and exactly where to use them

    I am trying our several invisible signals, as most RR's do not have millions of signals, in every switch, yards or branch lines ... and wonder whether they are permissive, or regular

    Fooling AI seems to be the thing to do ... I still am unclear about how fake junction actually work

    I have read the Ocastch tutorial, but I am still confused
    Last edited by cascaderailroad; March 2nd, 2016 at 01:14 PM.

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    *Disclaimer: I'm not a railroader. I just enjoy studying signal systems and prototype operations.


    From my experience, Trainz doesn't handle signaling well, especially the AI. I usually just run by myself, but I know plenty of people who run into problems with how the AI trains obey signals. I wonder if it goes back to the fact that until we had scripted signals, the only indications were Clear, Approach, and Stop (well, stop and proceed from 05's...).


    So, just a general reply from here; study what railroad you want to model to learn their practices. Black watch had a good link for the basics, and I use this site for signal charts.


    Approach is shown before a stop signal, like RRSignal said, and tells the engineer to slow down because he must stop at the next signal (provided it is still red when he gets there). Limited clear is an indication used in speed signaling, where the signal aspect tells the engineer what speed to operate at (as opposed to most western roads which use route signaling, but that’s an entirely different topic). From NORAC’s rulebook: Rule 281-C, Limited Clear, Proceed at Limited Speed until entire train clears all interlocking or spring switches, then proceed at Normal Speed. Limited speed is usually 45mph, and normal speed is whatever the MAS is for the track operating on.


    As for the number of signal heads you need per signal, it depends on which aspects need to be displayed. Obviously in trainz, you could use all single head signals and call it a day if you wanted, but prototypically, those aspects are vital for safe operation. If you’re following NORAC practices (most eastern roads), signals typically break down to a single head for normal speeds, two heads when Limited or Medium speed is needed, and 3 heads for slow speed, but this is by no means a standard (take C&O for instance). The number of lenses per head also depends on what the signal needs to display. Be careful here though, because I’ve had TS not display proper indications before when I’ve used signals missing lenses despite being set up properly (but I can’t think of an example off the top of my head).


    Just a quick point that took me years to learn/figure out, Trainz treats a converging junction as straight through being the opposite of the way it’s aligned, so


    ———\
    ——a———-

    For a train traveling left to right, signal "a's" straight route is to the left, despite the junction actually being thrown to the right (or "normal").



    Cascade, I can't speak to the AI behavior, but as for the numbered signals, I believe 02’s are absolute signals (could be wrong, I haven’t used the ones you mentioned), 02L should be set up for a left diverging route, or it just plops down to the left side of the track, 04’s are 2-headed absolute signals for junctions, and 08’s are 3-headed absolute signals for multiple junctions in an interlocking (though Trainz doesn’t really do a true interlocking junction).

    I've been toying with the idea of coming up with a signaling primer for Trainz using the various sets of signals out there, but I don't use a lot of AI, so I'm sure the way I've been doing things won't work well for large sessions.
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    PRR dwarves should never show "Clear" or "full speed" since they always imply Slow, at best.

    http://signals.jovet.net/rules/PRR%20Signal%20Rules.pdf

    Virtually all mainline signals work on some kind of block indication i.e. will show if one block ahead is empty, if two or more blocks are empty, or no blocks are empty. Some work on a 3-block system e.g. a Clear signal will only be given if 3 blocks are clear, Advance Approach for 2, Approach for 1, and Stop-and-Proceed if no blocks ahead are fouled. Interlocking signals also reflect this, but give a speed and imply (usually) that a diverging route will be taken.

    Part of the problem with signalling in Trainz is that the default signalling system was only partially implemented. N3V defined 40 possible states (enough to cover just about every possible mainline aspect used in North America) but the default signalling system only understands 12 of them, and half of those are directional (left/right) states, which aren't used in North American railroading outside of a few transit systems. That's why I scripted my signals.

    Part of the problem is that a lot of users don't really understand how signals are used, and use them to "game" the AI, which is not how real trains work. On a mainline, you place signals at controlled junctions i.e. ones that are would be meant to be dispatcher-contolled if it were real-life. Meaning, not in yards, spurs, industrial tracks, etc. The signals are always placed before reaching a junction for each possible route to it. At a junction, usually a signal governs the straight ("Normal") and a turnout ("Reverse" or "Diverging") route. You'll usually get a normal-route indication (Clear, Approach or Advance Approach) when going straight, or some kind of diverging indication (Medium Clear, Medium Approach, Slow Clear, etc.) when diverging. That also applies when converging onto a track i.e. where another track joins a mainline. Most of the time, a line terminates at this junction so a diverging/converging signal aspect is the only one possible.

    At a junction where only a straight (Normal) route is possible e.g. where a route converges into a mainline, a single-head signal will suffice, since diverging routes are not possible from the direction you are going.

    There might be times you have to "game" the AI - especially with the default system - but you shouldn't have to, at least not very often.
    Last edited by RRSignal; March 2nd, 2016 at 01:55 PM.
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    Well the PRR dwarfs are capable of showing 3 aspects: STOP, SLOW, and PROCEED

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    Here's an explanation of each one's intended use, from 01 through 08. I've nothing going on this weekend so maybe I'll start some diagrams and try to correlate the signal types in Trainz to what is found in real life, as best I can...

    01: Not quite fully implemented, unscripted, 3-headed interlocking signal. The bottom head is always red in Trainz, other than that it's essentially an absolute signal that doesn't completely fit into the scheme of prototypical because of the bottom head not being properly programmed.
    02: Use facing right-handed diverges (facing meaning the train approaching said signal could go straight or to the right). Absolute signal, and in order to work in Trainz there can be no intervening switches between it and the one you intend. IIRC (If I remember correctly) there's something funky about having diverges off the divergence that cause it to go funky, but for all intents and purposes, it should show green or yellow over red for the straight (switch left) and red over green or yellow for the diverge (switch right).
    L02: Opposite the 02 - use facing left-handed diverges. everything I said for the 02, reverse right and left... Not to be confused with left-sided signals.
    03: Approach signal to an absolute - indicates to the engineer what to expect at the next absolute signal, in a sense. Trains passing these at anything other than clear are to begin slowing as soon as passing them so that they are at the appropriate speed to pass the absolute signal that follows (either to diverge or stop all together). This is typically a permissive signal (showing a nameplate) meaning they can stop and proceed at restricted speed if it is all red.
    04: A single-headed absolute signal (indicated by lack of a nameplate) - typically used on the "trailing" side of switches, ie the side that you don't have a choice of route - all you can do is go back to single track, whether you're on the siding or the main.
    05: A single-headed permissive signal (nameplate) used for automatic signal blocks - there's nothing to indicate except track occupancy -- no diverges, and no approach to an absolute signal.
    06: Scripted version of the 02/L02 - two heads, on the facing side of a switch. While some are pre-scripted for Left or Right diverges, these can typically still be changed in the properties window no matter which one you choose. Much more robust in options than the 02 series because most scripters give you the ability to program specific routes as main or diverges, so you can program multiple diverges on one signal (in some cases a left and a right in the same signal) - because of this it is more prototypical than an 02 because you can have one signal controlling a more complex interlocking of multiple diverges, as opposed to having to have one 02 signal per diverge. Having only two heads, you can basically only program full speed "thru" or "medium" speed routes.
    08: Scripted version of the 01 - three heads, on the facing side of a switch. As with the 06, you can typically program multiple routes, and because it has the third head, you can program both "medium" speed routes and "slow" speed routes, in addition to the all clear full speed "thru" route.

    I don't know as 06 and 08 were ever officially "approved" numbers by N3V, I believe they were numbers that were devised by the first creators to make scripted signals because they varied from the originals so much. They have come into more common use than their 01 and 02 counterparts because they're more prototypical and flexible.

    As I understand it, the US versions of the signals are meant to closely approximate NORAC rules, which is used predominately by Class I's in the northeast US. Other railroads in the US (including most Class II's) usually use GCOR rules which differ slightly in speeds allowed and aspects that can be shown, while Canadian roads use CROR, which again have other slight variations.

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    I have a Notepad copy of the above on my desktop for easy reference.
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    As far as Trainz goes, here is the best tutorial on signaling that I've read to date:

    http://trains.0catch.com/Tut4-IntroToSignaling.htm

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    A good day everyone,
    Forgive me breaking into this thread, I think this thread comes close to what I am looking for, although it is not about US signals but about the AI. European practice will be different from American, especially speed signalling. My point concerns the slowing down of trains on approaching a yellow signal. I refer to distant signals in route signalling, like we know them in the UK and in many other countries. A distant signal at caution (yellow) may be passed at line speed; it is up to the driver (engineer) when to start braking to make sure he/she will be able to stop if the next signal still shows red/danger. In Trainz however, the train will slow down immediately as soon as it detects that the next signal is yellow. This leads to very unprototypical behavior. Especially if the blocks are very long and the train slows down after passing the last green signal, the journey will take forever.
    An invisible signal can help, but it is not without problems when the signal behind it can show multiple aspects, and I have been experimenting with a signal script for specific situations. It would be much better if the standard behavior could be changed.
    Why was it implemented in Trainz this way? (I thought their signalling was based on British practice.) More important: is there a simple way of correcting this?

    Paul (from the Netherlands)

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    Try rrsignals for U.S.A. they are fully scripted.
    NSW Australia signals that are fully configable and colorlights that are target based
    UK since tc there is the target based sjgnal system that works well.
    France there is some freeware and payware from trainz france that work well.

    Think there is others too

    Hope this helps
    Tom
    Last edited by tdstead; April 28th, 2016 at 08:51 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdstead View Post
    Try rrsignals for U.S.A. they are fully scripted.
    NSW Australia signals that are fully configable and colorlights that are target based
    UK since tc there is the target based sjgnal system that works well.
    France there is some freeware and payware from trainz france that work well.

    Think there is others too

    Hope this helps
    Tom
    Thanks Tom for your reply, I see what you mean. Some of those signals are not just scripted to show various aspects, but they also control the speed. I cannot use those signals, because I must use the signals that I am making myself, and that is because they are unique as far as I know. They are Belgian semaphore signals, and they do not exist in Trainz. Now it would be a long way for me to make everything fully scripted, although I would like to be able to use various textures and coronas to make it more realistic. But that is not urgent. Furthermore, I do not need the speed signalling in itself, for the Belgian system is a route signalling system very much like the UK's. And the UK signals for Trainz that I know, do not affect speed behavior of the AI. The French signals: I think you refer to the payware signals from France en Trains. I have these. I justed tested it briefly and they do not override the built-in slowing down of the train on the approach of a yellow signal, even if you put the special speed markers that come with these signals on the track. And by the way, their scripts are encoded.
    I would like to know if and how it is possible to change the approach speed of a yellow signal when the standard state EX_CAUTION is used. That may not be possible, after all. The way to go then is probably to use one or more of the predefined speed states and use a modified version of signal.gs. That is something that I have already experimented with a little bit. What I still do not know is how to set the speed associated with each aspect, but the script of the rrsignals will hopefully teach me.

    Paul

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    If anyone still has TRS2004, in the Doc folder, there was a Signaling_Guide.PDF that went a long way to explain how signals work and how they are applied in Trainz. I don't recall seeing it in subsequent version TRS2006, TS2009 nor TS2010. A good reason to have picked up older copies when they were on sale. I don't see it on the old TRS2004 web site so I don't think it is a separate download. An old Trainzer from way back, Drucifer has what looks like a copy online. Unfortunately the images seem to be broken. Another useful link to Trainz Signaling by Chuck Brite. He has are many other tutorials that are useful, even if they were written for previous versions of Trainz, the logic is still good.


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    I thought there was a new one that came out after Trainz Classic came out that explained how the British semaphores and the color light with Feathers and other indicators. I do like this ysytem it works well and does not require over signalling that was required in the previous versions.

    we also have so many other nice signaling systems that have been released by various people that now work so well.

    Tom
    Last edited by tdstead; June 6th, 2017 at 05:03 PM.
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