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Thread: Why does Australia have a different train coupling system than America?

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    Question Why does Australia have a different train coupling system than America?

    Does each different coupling system have advantages and disadvantages?
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; February 15th, 2020 at 08:16 PM.
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    Because we are a different country! We also have our own minds, well I could go on. From the practical side, I have no idea, but then the coupling systems have also changed over the years. I dare say Britain is different too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JonMyrlennBailey View Post
    Does each different coupling system have advantages and disadvantaged?
    You should change the title of your post to the question you actually asked.

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    Basically it's because their railways were developed at different times. The early British influenced lines had buffers and chains just like that which is still used in the UK and Europe. Other lines had American or Canadian influence, thus the Janney couplers - the same ones we use on our railroads. The signaling system too is the same as we have if you haven't noticed with the big US&S and GRS signals.

    The advantages... I don't know. I would leave that up to the people that know more about that stuff than I do.
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    It's the same reason we adopted different track gauges - the six Australian states were originally seperate independent British colonies that had their own ways of doing things, which included coupler standards. As JCitron stated above, the early lines usually were originally planned and designed by British engineers who adpoted then contemporary British practices, including British style link-and-pin/chain couplers and double buffers. Only in later after Federation and the gradual shift in social attitude from 'Mother England' were other ideas (read: American) practices adopted, one of which was the adoption of automatic knuckle couplers (helped by the national track gauge 'Standardisation' project from the early/mid 60's onwards).

    As well, the narrow gauge systems were even more varied: Queensland and Tasmania originally used the double buffers and chain link couplings like the standard gauge NSW and broad gauge SA and Victorian systems, while WA and the SA/Commonwealth narrow gauge networks used the distinctive Norwegian 'chopper' couplings. Again this is no longer really the case and auto knuckle couplers are pretty much standard on all systems with only older legacy or heritage equipment still retaining older couplings.

    Another standard that was wildly different between state rail systems in Australia was braking systems: some states used the British vacuum braking system (Tasmania, Western Australia), and the others used the American Westinghouse air braking system. Only recently was air braking adopted as standard Australia wide. It's one of those weird quirks of a nation that was created from seperate colonies that never really fully saw eye to eye with each other prior to Federation. A lot of of it was just plain stubborness.
    Last edited by Enkidoh; February 15th, 2020 at 05:47 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Enkidoh View Post
    It's the same reason we adopted different track gauges - the six Australian states were originally seperate independent British colonies that had their own ways of doing things, which included coupler standards. As JCitron stated above, the early lines usually were originally planned and designed by British engineers who adpoted then contemporary British practices, including British style link-and-pin/chain couplers and double buffers. Only in later after Federation and the gradual shift in social attitude from 'Mother England' were other ideas (read: American) practices adopted, one of which was the adoption of automatic knuckle couplers (helped by the national track gauge 'Standardisation' project from the early/mid 60's onwards).

    As well, the narrow gauge systems were even more varied: Queensland and Tasmania originally used the double buffers and chain link couplings like the standard gauge NSW and broad gauge SA and Victorian systems, while WA and the SA/Commonwealth narrow gauge networks used the distinctive Norwegian 'chopper' couplings. Again this is no longer really the case and auto knuckle couplers are pretty much standard on all systems with only older legacy or heritage equipment still retaining older couplings.

    Another standard that was wildly different between state rail systems in Australia was braking systems: some states used the British vacuum braking system (Tasmania, Western Australia), and the others used the American Westinghouse air braking system. Only recently was air braking adopted as standard Australia wide. It's one of those weird quirks of a nation that was created from seperate colonies that never really fully saw eye to eye with each other prior to Federation. A lot of of it was just plain stubborness.
    The American couplers seem more logical and efficient by design. Probably much safer for RR personnel to handle. Automatic knuckle couplers were invented to improve safety. Being an American, buffer and chain couplers I no familiarity with. I only first became aware of them by playing the Trainz game which had some rolling stock that won't couple with American rolling stock. The first American couplers were very dangerous for RR personnel to deal with.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; February 15th, 2020 at 08:25 PM.
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    As it seems that you had your mind made up, and answered your own question, yourself deciding which one was safer, and better, why was the question posed the in the first place ?
    My apologies to all. I have decided that in these horrible current events, we all need to stick together as a Community

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    Quote Originally Posted by MP242 View Post
    As it seems that you had your mind made up, and answered your own question, yourself deciding which one was safer, and better, why was the question posed the in the first place ?
    Well, I just couldn't understand why so much Trainz rolling stock content has those seemingly old-fashioned double buffer things on them. It would seem that the whole world would have adopted the Janney ones by now.

    I compare the double buffer ones to the auto knuckle ones as I compare candle sticks with electric lighting. America uses mostly electric lighting in homes these days. Candles are sometimes reserved for blackouts. Is candlelight still common in other parts of the world?

    Internationally, the controls in automobiles are pretty much universal. Clutch pedal on the left, gas pedal on the right, brake pedal to the left of the gas pedal, gear shift lever in the middle, steering wheel below eye level and so on. I just couldn't understand the logic behind the international diversity in railway equipment. It sparked my curiosity enough to make a thread about it.
    Last edited by JonMyrlennBailey; February 15th, 2020 at 09:42 PM.
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    In a lot of other Countries loco's, cars, and trucks, have right hand drive steering wheels, and they drive on the opposite side of the road, and they even use table utensils oppositely than most US persons do. So things are not so universal, world wide. People on the lower hemisphere probably think that northern hemispherian's walk on the odd side up, and that our water oddly spirals down the drain in the opposite direction. In Ecuador does the water just go straight down the drain, and do they drive cars with the steering wheels sitting in the middle of the seat ?
    Last edited by MP242; February 15th, 2020 at 09:53 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonMyrlennBailey View Post
    Internationally, the controls in automobiles are pretty much universal. Clutch pedal on the left, gas pedal on the right, gear shift lever in the middle, steering wheel below eye level and so on. I just couldn't understand the international diversity in railway equipment. It sparked my curiosity enough to make a thread about it.
    Let's not also forget that in the UK, they drive on the left side of the road, and the driver of a UK car sits in what's the passenger's seat in a US car. Fun fact: US Post Office vans that deliver your mail all have the steering wheel where the passenger would sit, just like cars from the UK, so that the mailman won't have to reach as far to open a mailbox.
    Last edited by jordon412; February 15th, 2020 at 09:46 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jordon412 View Post
    Let's not also forget that in the UK, they drive on the left side of the road, and the driver of a UK car sits in what's the passenger's seat in a US car.
    I once went to Jamaica with my mother and a woman friend on vacation. I discovered that this island was in the West Indies because Columbus thought he had landed his three ships in India.
    They drive on the wrong side of the road in Jamaica following the English custom. The car rental bloke told us to remember to just stay left when we drove. The Japanese import had right-hand drive. Still, the pedals on the floor were still oriented the same. I used my left foot to rest and do nothing and my right foot for gas and brakes. I had to use my left hand to operate the parking brake, though. The car was an automatic so I don't know how driving a stick would have felt to me with right-hand drive. It seems as I would to have had to shifted with my left arm if it were a stick shift instead of a column shift.
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    Most of the reasons I'm aware of seem to have been covered here, however, don't discount the "that's how it's done" factor. That is the natural resistance to a new way of doing things and, if you haven't noticed railroads can be very traditional places and most resistant to change.

    As to the advantages, buffer coupler equipment can be shoved with out hitching together and can be made to control slack better, while automatic/Janey/AAR couplers do automatically hitch together. As to the disadvantages, there seem to be more with the buffer style; I will speak on my personal experience having switched standard gauge stock with both types of couplings (US with AAR type E & H and Swedish passenger cars with buffer and turnbuckle). In terms of ease of use I'll take the AAR every time, it lets you spend less time between the cars and normally takes less physical effort. In terms of safety I will prefer the AAR as well as it reduces the amount of time you are between cars as well as provides better egress from between the cars.

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    Ah, the good old link-and-pin days!

    I long to be a brakeman
    and on the footboard stand,
    With a star upon my bosom
    and a finger off each hand!

    Courtesy of my conductor granddad. His grandfather went back that far.

    Having ridden and observed Deutsches Bahn, JNR, Queensland Rail, NSW Rail, BritishRail pre-Maggie, along with Canadian, US and Mexican, it seems as though Janney gear is the coming thing most places, although the Euro auto-couplings are a contender. I'm not sure what couplings are used on the Shinkansen or Chunnel trains, I didn't really notice at the time, to my regret. Any observations on those?

    :B~)

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    An acquaintance of mine is a carpenter, he runs a table saw a lot, the nickname we refer to him as: "Fingerless Bill", he is about as bright as a Box "O" Rocks, never uses a "pusher stick" around revolving table saw blades. I myself, got myself out of the RR, before I got seriously kilt' ! I have met many a 9 finger employees who "got it" from goosing the knuckle pin, and a one arm hump tower operator who "got it" from pushing a boxcar plug door closed, and the dang thing fell off the sliding door track.

    Luckily this employee was not hurt
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_92JMNatv_8
    Last edited by MP242; February 16th, 2020 at 12:46 AM.
    My apologies to all. I have decided that in these horrible current events, we all need to stick together as a Community

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    They drive on the wrong side of the road in Jamaica following the English custom.
    Where I live we would call that the 'right' side of the road, as in the 'correct' side of the road. But let's not start a flame war over that.

    With the Uk system of two buffers and a chain and hook the forces on the buffers and the forces affecting the couplings are kept separate. Remember this system was devised in the early days of the railways when techniques for make good quality iron and steel are not as they are now. It seems to me that the Janey coupling by combining buffing and coupling together with automatically moving parts is very much dependent on being made from high quality steel forgings if it's not going to break in service.
    My grandad and uncles worked on the railways and I can certainly appreciate that a coupling that works without anybody having to step between railway wagons to hook anything up is going to be a whole lot safer.

    No one has mentioned the 'Norwegian' coupling which is what we used here in New Zealand for a very long time. I travelled to school by train when I was a lot younger than I am now and watching wagons being shunted in the goods yard was a highlight of waiting for the train each morning and evening.
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