Thursday, February 5, 2009

VRE shows it's best side

Sometimes you wonder just what the hell goes on with this enterprise. This email details just how bad it can be. What I don't understand is why with 40 minutes delay they don't just cancel the train. And what the heck are we getting for our 7% fare increase? Longer schedules and poor service. But hey, just wait for the 6% they plan on tacking on this summer.

According to commuter connections calculator, even with parking, it is now cheaper to drive than take VRE. Figure auto costs are sunk costs (I'm not getting rid of the car by taking vre).

From: April Maguigad
Date: Thu, 5 Feb 2009 11:55:12 -0500 (EST)
To: ;
Subject: VRE 11:53 AM

VRE Locomotive

Train Talk
Explanation of Fredericksburg Line Delays

This Morning's Service

We sincerely apologize to everyone who was inconvenienced by our delays this morning. Nearly every Fredericksburg Line train was affected in one way or another. We wanted to give you a breakdown of what happened.

Train 300: Train 300 experienced problems with the brakes on one of the cars. To give you a little more background, most everything in the rail industry is designed to "fail safe," which means that if something breaks, it defaults to a place of safety. For instance, when a highway-rail crossing gate has an issue of any kind, the gates will be lowered until the problem can be fixed. This prevents motorists from driving onto the tracks and possibly being hit by an oncoming train. When it comes to brakes, if they malfunction, they are designed in a way that will not permit the train to move. Unfortunately, it took some time to correct the brake problem so the that the train could move again. Train 300 was 40 minutes late.

Train 302: Train 302 was delayed as a result of the problems with train 300. Train 302 was delayed about 30 minutes following train 300.

Train 304: Train 304 was slightly delayed after Alexandria after following the previously delayed trains. Train 304 was about 10 minutes late.

Train 306: Train 306's original equipment was swapped in the yard with train 308's set as the result of an HEP problem, which provides power to basic passenger comforts, like lighting and the HVAC system. By switching the equipment, the delay was minimized for train 306 and our mechanical crews were able to continue to work on the HEP problem. Train 306 was about 15 minutes late.

Train 308: Train 308 used train 306's original equipment, which had another locomotive added to it to take care of the HEP issues that had been encountered earlier in the morning. After departing our storage yard, it experienced problems with the cab signal system. This is a system that reads a message sent through the tracks and allows the engineer to "see" what the next signal is before it can be seen along the tracks. Because of the earlier problems, a mechanical team was riding the train. They were able to correct the problems. Train 308 was about 20 minutes late.

Train 310: Train 310 experienced problems with an air system on the locomotive that some water had gotten into. As a result of the cold, the water froze and caused problems with the locomotive. The problem was corrected. Train 310 was about 30 minutes late.

During the service issues this morning, we tried to keep our riders updated through our Train Talk e-news service. Unfortunately, there was a problem between the Internet Service Provider and a process called Reverse DNS. Reverse DNS is the computer equivalent of taking a phone number and seeing which name is associated with the number. Many mail servers perform this check to validate connections during mail delivery as a tactic to combat spam. With the Reverse DNS not working as intended, many of our emails were not being delivered. Some of our messages were getting through. Once the problem was identified, it was like unplugging a bathtub drain and they all started flowing.

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