ATCS Monitor



ATCS monitoring. What is it exactly? I'm willing to bet that a lot of people have started hearing about this technology but arn't sure exactly what it is or what it means to you as a railroad enthusiest.

ATCS stands for Advanced Train Control System. The software monitor allows you to monitor in a graphical form, the train movements on a particular section of railroad that has this system installed. You can view signal indications for absolute signals, switch alignment, and whether or not a train is occupying a section of track. This can help determine if multiple trains are coming to an interlocking, which one will proceed first allowing you the maximum amount of time to be in a prime location to see it. This page is devoted to helping you learn about this technology and how to get the maximum amount of use out of it. It also contains all the materials you will need to use this program as well as links to useful information and resources.

--Take me to the file & server info--

The ATCS Monitor Program

This is the program that runs on your Windows based PC. It has very minimum requirements, so just about anyone can use it no matter how old their PC is. It runs on Windows 95, 98, ME, NT 4.0, 2000 or XP. To use it away from an internet connection, you must have a sound card properly installed and working.

The program is basically two parts. One is the data program. This part gathers data from a source, either an internet server, or directly from the scanner, and puts it together into something that makes a little more sense than it did before.

The top window stretching the entire width contains in order of last transmission, the name of the station broadcasting the signal, followed by the information it sent out. The window under that one on the left shows a list of all the stations that have broadcast a signal since the program started running.. To the right of that is the technical data from the last transmission.


The second part is the "dispatcher" display, the most essential part of the program. This is the track diagram for a particular area of railroad. The data that is collected by the program is automatically displayed on this window for you to look at and instantly know whats going on.

The names that are highlighted in red, Hadley Mike and Piqua, are stations that have transmitted a signal in the past 2 minutes and are considered "active". From this menu we can see that the signal at Hadley is showing a clear for a train coming west on the Chicago District, switching to the main, and traveling to E Dunfee. We can also see that a train is occupying the PRR Ft Wayne line between Junction and Mike, indicated by the red track.

A capture from a few minutes later shows that the train that was previously on the PRR portion has moved, most likely into the Triple Crown Yard. There is now a train at Mike waiting to go east most likely. The Hadley station is no longer highlighted indicating it is no longer active. This means that the data may be outdate by now and that signal may no longer be displayed like it is. The train may be long gone by now. We can see Runnion now so we can watch this for the train to pass. Since Runnion is not displaying any signals, it's mostly likely that the train on the Chicago District has passed.

Now we see a signal indicating a clear on Track 2 (northern most track) for a Westbound on the Huntington District. No data has been received for Hadley so that indication is still standing on the screen. If you know a train has passed and that this is the incorrect indication you can click on the signal and it will turn to red. This can help eliminate some confusion and false hopes. Don't worry, anything you do on the screen WON'T happen in real life.

The train has now shown up and is in the Piqua block, soon to enter Mike.

Now the train has entered Mike. The cars of the train are still in the Piqua block.

Part II - Download and Installation





© Original Content Copyright 1999-2007 David Safdy
© Design and Updates Copyright 2005-2007 Greg Lavoie