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Old 05 February 2018, 05:44 PM
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Psihala Psihala is offline
 
Join Date: 28 February 2001
Location: Denver, CO
Posts: 8,193
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Chairman Sumwalt said in his press briefing that he saw a padlock on the switch, which would indicate a manual switch (automatic switch machines can be manually switched in case of a failure of the controlling equipment, but one usually has to remove a cover to do it).

On a manual switch, its just a lever attached to a metal stand or, if a tall, metal stand isn't practical for whatever reason, mounted on the end of a tie (or "sleeper" for those in the UK). A padlock goes through a hole drilled in both the stand and the lever and is meant to prevent the switch from being tampered with.

During switching operations, the brakeman/conductor will unlock the padlock, 'throw' the switch, wait for the train to enter the side track, and, if its a manual mainline switch, throw the switch back for the main, and then replace and lock the padlock.

~Psihala
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