A. We know the length of our train based on the wheel we are given when we go on duty. All the sidings are of a known length, and we know long before we get there if we will fit or not. Generally the longer train (the one that won't fit in the siding) holds the main, and the shorter goes in the siding. But this isn't always the case, it's the dispatcher's decision.
How does a dispatcher know which train to put into a siding when two opposing trains need to avoid a meet?
A. Like I mentioned above, it doesn't really matter which goes in the siding. If the longer goes in the siding, the other will have to wait on the main until the longer one gets the signal out of the siding, and pulls his tail end clear of the mainline. At that time the shorter train will get a signal to proceed.
How do you deal with two opposing oversized trains when there is no place to put one of them to clear a path to move one of them forward?
A. Well, the dispatchers are supposed to know better than to let themselves get into this situation. They are given a markup of every train entering their territory, which includes the train length. Should they line two over sized trains toward the same meet point, there will be hell to pay on the morning conference call. But this has happened before. In the case I remember, from many years ago, the conductor of the train on the main, made a cut on the train in the siding, so they could pull into the clear. Then he moved the marker up from the cars left on the main, and put it on the rear the now shorter train in the siding. Then he pulled his train ahead, and tied onto those cars. Then he rode the point of those cars all the way to the next yard, where he could push them off the mainline.
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