European freight yard operations vs US Operations

I asked a question a while back that probably was too narrow to get a detailed answer. Basically the US and European coupler systems are
different. This has to lead to a difference in how yard operations, in assembling a freight train are performed. If I remember right from books I read many years ago in some US yards a box car could be pushed onto a slooped section and allowed to coast and automatically couple to the end of a freight. With the European coupler I would exoect you would "gently" move the new car to the end of the freight - perform the hookup and then back off the yard switcher engine. Where can I get details of this.
Val Kraut
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 09:08:22 -0400, "Val Kraut"

Yes, but not particularly gently. The buffers would be compressed so the chain had enough slack to hook it up.
Britain and (I think) the rest of Europe had what they called "hump" marshalling yards which sound a bit like the sloped section you talk about - the wagons were pushed over a small hill and then freewheeled through a fan of turnouts onto the right track. There were retarders to slow the wagons down to the right speed.The only real difference was that coupling up was done manually.
http://mikes.railhistory.railfan.net/r135.html

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"Christopher A. Lee"

1) The don't use a "chain" in Europe, it's "coupler", in Europe usually a "screw coupler" and in the UK they used three types. The "three link", the "instanter" and the "screw" coupler.
2) Europe and the UK are two different entities. I can only speak for the UK.
The three link coupler was only used on freight cars that had no automatic brake. The three link coupler leaves a gap between the buffers and thus an unfitted (Unbraked) freight has a fair bit of slack.
The instanter coupler was used on fitted (braked) freight cars and was cheaper than a screw coupler and was used to limit the amount of slack between freight cars.
The screw coupler was used on all passenger cars, though some used knuckle (Buckeye in UKese) couplers and on passenger rated freight cars. When coupling up screw couplers the cars are pushed together (gently) to compress the buffers and the screw coupler is tightened up so as to eliminate any slack between the vehicles. When the train loco couples up to a passenger train, the loco "sets back" so that the buffers between the loco and the first passenger car compress, the screw coupler is then tightened to eliminate slack. Unlike a North American passenger train, a UK passenger train has no slack, zero. It's one complete unit from nose to tail.

Almost all countries that had railways/railroads probably had hump yards. The still do in North America though they've all closed in the UK.
As with most hump yards the "bowl", all the yard tracks, were usually very gently sloped away from the hump and then level for something like 3/4s or 2/3rds of their final length. Something like that and it probably varied between gentle slope and no slope. Freight cars came over the hump and were braked by retarders, automatic in "modern" yards and manually operated in older yards. Once the car are sorted, they are (usually) moved over to a departure yard when the various blocks of cars are made up into a train, the caboose or these days the EOT is attached, the cars connected to yard air to charge the brake system and at some time before departure, the power is attached to the head end.
I think the original question asked if cars in North America were pushed and let to roll freely onto the rear of trains but were pushed onto trains in Europe.
The answer is "No", cars were never let to roll freely onto trains in North America. When attaching a block of cars to a train, they are always pushed by a locomotive and never let to free wheel onto the end of a train. You need to define "train" as a "train", contrary to what the media and the unwashed masses think, isn't a freight car.
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 09:05:37 -0700, "Roger T."

I know - I was trying to use simplified language because "Kraut: is not an English name.
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Niether's my last name. :-)
It's French in origin.
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 10:05:12 -0700, "Roger T."

There was also the "feel" of the question.
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Roger T. wrote: [...] Unlike a North American passenger train, a UK passenger

Erm, Roger, on our trip to Alberta with Via last year, I noticed no slack. Several times I didn't realise were moving until we hit a rail joint (the train took siding for almost every freight train, and in N. Ontario almost all sidings had jointed track.)
cheers, wolf k.
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"> [...] Unlike a North American passenger train, a UK passenger

Perhaps not on Via Wolf but I'm not sure about commuter trains. Besides, like the vast majority of North Americans, I don't travel by train. The last time I was on a train in North America was probably around 1975 and that was, IIRC, on the Turbo from Toronto to Dorval. :-)
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Hi,
Roger T. wrote: > (screw coupler)
It should be mentioned, that a screw coupler *has* to have buffers - in Europe they are roughly above the rails with the coupler in between. Without buffer, the screw coupler won't work... But this is just for completeness ;-)

Now, this is the idea, though it's far from usual practice.
First of all, when traveling on passenger trains labeled as "local" (still going 120 km/h, sometimes more) I do notice slack now and then. This may be due to personnel shortage (meaning less time to do more work), but none the less happens.
Second of all, the buffers are sprung (no matter whether by real springs or whatever). So, while the coupler being tightened means some compression, it is always possible to compress them further and thus relieve the coupler tension. Actually when the train goes around the bend, the inner coupler is compressed more, while the outer coupler releases some (but the compression is kept up).
So I guess the compression by the screw coupler is mostly to prevent the coupler from un-coupling at rough spots in the track and has less or nothing to do with yard operation ;-)
But anyway, a screw-coupled train is less of a complete unit than a train with center-couplers - because with center couplers there is a firm connection between two couplers. That does not mean that current center couplers are ideal - the Scharfenberg coupler is too complicated (expensive), the American couplers have too many extensions (shelves) by now to be considered "simple" and the Russian type probably has other deficiencies... There have been attempts at an "European center coupler" but they never went past some prototypes...

That is probably the important point - the type of coupler has some influence on the procedures in the arrival tracks and in the sorting tracks, but otherwise all yard operations are similar between Europe and North America.
Arrival track: - in America someone has to walk the train to close the brake valves at the wagons' ends and uncouple the brake lines. - in Europe someone has to walk the train, close the brake valves and uncouple the brake lines as well as uncouple the screw couplers.
Hump: - in America someone has to stand next to the track at the hump to open the couplers between cuts. This can probably be done while the train is driving slowly. - in Europe the cars are already uncoupled, so they'll roll by themselves.
Sorting track / departure track: - in America someone has to walk the train and couple the brake lines as well as check the couplers - in Europe again someone has to walk the train and couple brake lines as well as screw shut all the couplers
So I guess, the center couplers do have some advantage - coupling and uncoupling is faster, but as long as the brake lines have to be coupled by hand, the only difference in procedure is the time taken to actually work the couplers...
...

The "yard air" probably is a very good idea ;-)

As far as I recall - and you mention it above - there are hump yards in North America. That would mean, that cars are left to free-wheel onto the end of a "train" - which would not have an engine connected to it. But this is exclusively done with freight trains and even then there are cars that need to be shunted by a loco because they may contain fragile goods.
Anyway, modeling a hump yard is possible (there is an operational one at the DB-Museum in Nuremborough (Germany)). Still it is quite a major undertaking ;-) It might be much simpler to model a locomotive-shunted "flat" yard... But as far as procedural differenced between the continents are concerned I'd guess they are more of an administrative nature than of a technical one...
Ciao..
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"Bernhard Agthe">> The answer is "No", cars were never let to roll freely onto trains in North

That is not a "train". Rules are _very_ specific about what a train is.
And usually, in North America at least, trains (As defined in the rules) do not depart from the bowl tracks in the hump yard. After the cars are humped, and sorted out on the bowl or yard tracks, these blocks of cars are then transferred to an arrival/departure track where the consist of the train is made up. Before departure, the caboose (when they were used) is attached, the power added and in the days of cabooses the marker lights are add or these days the EOT is attached. Now you have a train but not until the marker lights or the EOT is added.
It is the presence of the marker lights and or the EOT that makes it a train.
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Roger T.
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On 8/29/2009 6:42 AM Christopher A. Lee spake thus:

I thought that coupling had/has to be done "manually" in any case: how else are the air hoses going to get connected? The couplers (at least in the US) will automatically couple when, say, a car is rolled down a "hump" (same here as in Yurp, apparently), but a trainman still has to come along and connect the trainline, right?
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Yes.
Cheers.
Roger T. See the GER at: - http://www.islandnet.com/~rogertra/
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 10:13:33 -0700, David Nebenzahl

What air hoses?
Most British steam era freight only had hand brakes on the wagons. The only brake force on a moving train was from the engine and tender, and the guard's hand brake at the back of the train.
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"Christopher A. Lee"

Not 100% true. It is true that a lot of UK freight, especially mineral traffic, moved in unfitted train but there were also freight trains the were fully fitted or partially fitted that ran with a fitted head and they used vacuum brakes and not air brakes. The vacuum brake hoses had to both manual connected and disconnected, unlike air brake hose which can pull apart without damage.
These days, since the early 1980s(?), all UK trains are air braked, except a few carriages that remain vacuum braked for use behind steam excursions.
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 12:58:15 -0700, "Roger T."

"Most"
I'm trying to give a simple explantion to a question whose phrasing suggested English might not be the poster's original language.

And they're fixed formation units, Or several fixed formation units joined together. Operation is completely different.
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Goes without saying. They use the same metal coupling or "gladhand" on the end of the airhose as we use in North America. It's a pretty universal fitting for not only for brake hoses but for all kinds of pneumatic hoses. Even the constructon crews with jack hammers use the same fitting.

You're talking passenger, I was discussing freight. And the UK is like much of the rest of the "modern" world when it comes to fixed formation trains aka "multiple unit" trains. They also use automatic air connections that are all part of the coupler. Not universally, unfortunately, which can create major problems when an m.u. (Fixed consist) train fails on the mainline and the following train has a completely incompatible coupler system so it cannot come up behind and push the failed train forward.
That's why they have or had "Thunderbird" diesels. Why "Thunderbird"? Google the TV show "Thunderbirds" and the answer becomes obvious. :-)
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 17:00:49 -0700, "Roger T."

No. I'm talking modern freight.

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I have video, supplied by a friend, of a long 30+ car or more intermodale train roaring through Winchester and that's not a fixed rake. :-)
I didn't know that modern UK freight ran in fixed rakes.
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On Sat, 29 Aug 2009 17:39:29 -0700, "Roger T."

I'll try and find some photos. But I've seen rakes of wagons with standard couplings on the outside and semi-permanent drawbar connection inside. Could have been wagons for ISO containers. It's been a while since I went back to the UK.
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"Christopher A. Lee

These are articulated freight cars and we have them in North America. It's not the "train" running in fixed rakes but articulated freight cars within the train. Like these http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Well_car . Not quite the same thing as an "fixed rake" freight train. Trains that run in (generally) fixed rakes are known as "unit trains" in North America or in the UK, "merry-go-round" or "mgr" trains and these will be made up of similar but individual cars that remain coupled together and run from source, usually a coal mine, to a customer, say a generating plant or perhaps a lake head or sea port. Try Google for "unit train", "merry-go-round train" or "mgr" train for a fuller explanation.
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