Speed Signals, an Engineer's (graphic) Lament
Why rant at the moon, when you can produce a brochure instead?
Railroad engineers are a conservative sort when it comes to new technology. Legend has it that Billy Jones - the late, well-remembered Southern Pacific engineer - once threw a company vice-president off of the southbound Daylight's 4-8-4 at Burlingame after said official had the audacity to express his displeasure that Jones had failed to use the new electro-pneumatic (EP) brake when pulling into the stop. They ceased growing engineers like Billy before I was born, thus I tried to practice safer, subtler forms of insubordinate protest. The E-Z Guide to Speed Signals was one of these.
I could go on a lengthy technical rant about why I hate speed signal systems - about how consultants and appliance manufacturers make big bucks on the installation of these needlessly complex systems, which hinder, rather than enhance, the engineer's fundamental ability to safely and effectively do his/her job (as opposed to simple, tried-and-true route signals) - but I won't, because the objective here is to amuse, not confuse.
Just know that the E-Z Guide came along a few years ago, after many months of fuming over the deficiencies of a new speed signal system installed on my railroad. Because it was intended for local engineers and "trainpeople", you may experience a feeling of being left in the dark as you read it, but hey, it's just like operating a train under speed signaling: you often don't know where the darn thing is headed.
*Attention appliance manufacturers! If you haven't heard, CalTrak soon will order a new signaling system, because it's recently-installed, mega-million dollar speed signal system unfortunately is not compatible with pending electrification of the railroad (heck, nobody expected electrification, right?). Plus, the FRA and Congress think that everybody needs Positive Train Control, hopefully with a feature that would allow an assistant trainmaster to, from the convenience of his office, remotely override engineer actions on the locomotive. Ain't this great? We, at Wx4 anticipate that you guys soon will develop systems that will use a more complicated, and spendy, version of The Full Treatment signal in the Guide. Don't forget to add the extra charge options of eight-designer-color signal heads and masts shaped like trees - commute agencies will eat it up! Have a great day!