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Active Metrolink Dispatcher Display

OK, you have an active display, but what does it say? (No display yet? Go back to the instructions you were following--something isn't finished yet).

Your dispatcher display should look something like this:;filename=MetrolinkShot.jpg

Here's the big picture of what's going on:

  1. This is the live dispatcher's display of Metrolink in Orange County, California, a commuter rail system that links the county with Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties. The display is "active," which means you are seeing up-to-the-minute positions of trains and the routes aligned for them.
  2. The green line is one of the two tracks. It is green here because the dispatcher has lined a route from right to left across the display. This control point (CP) is named College, which is displayed in red because ATCS Monitor is receiving active information from this CP. It's a control point because a line of the UP crosses here.
  3. The small green signal indicates that the real trackside signal along the railroad displays "proceed." It's up to the local interlocker to determine what level of "proceed" to display based on local conditions. For example, the real trackside signal here at Maple might be displaying "limited clear" because there are turnouts to be negotiated. Note the passenger station platform in the city of Orange and the milepost number.
  4. The red track is an occupied track. This train has been moving from right to left, which on the land is actually south to north in this region. It appears to be arriving at the passenger platform at Santa Ana. Note that it has a "proceed" signal ahead of it and the route is lined for it to La Palma, eight miles ahead. The La Palma control point is white, implying that, while it is part of this active display, reliable signals are not presently being received from it.
  5. The green line says the dispatcher has set up a right-to-left route for a train to follow the one now at Santa Ana. This is probably being done automatically since trains tend to follow one another on commuter railroads. There appears to be a break in this route at Avery, but that is probably because ATCS Monitor is not receiving signals from the Avery control point.

Now play a little! Move your cursor onto a track symbol and note the pop-up. This is the code assigned for that particular track or signal. It matches the codes that you see racing by in the message window behind your display.

Try clicking your mouse on a turnout in a section of the display where the track is white (not part of an aligned route). Notice that you can move the switch! Before you get worried that you could be messing things up, be assured that there is absolutely no way you can possibly influence the real railroad through ATCS Monitor. Read Dave Houy's An Open Letter to the Industry.

Volunteers have invested a lot of time, effort, and money into making these displays available to you. They provide the radio receivers, the links, and the servers. Thank them when you have the opportunity. (Thanks, Dave and Dave and Dave! And lots more folks!)

Now go back to the instructions you were following and learn to watch a different published layout.

-- Main.BillTheOther - 12 Dec 2008