Voice chat etiquette and protocol[edit | edit source]
Setup[edit | edit source]
Please ensure that all that Discord is transmitting is the beautiful sound of your voice when you're intending to speak to the channel.
Play with the voice-activation settings, or set a push-to-talk key, to keep out background noise, keyboard noise, etc. If necessary, use headphones to stop other people's talk from activating your mic - it's helpful if only the person who's talking has their name lit up in the Discord overlay.
When joining the session, it is advisable to rename your Discord nickname to your sim and workstation then your name in brackets, e.g. "KXC Palace (Claire)". If doing this, you must remember to update your Discord name if you change panels part way through a session, and when you leave the session, or it is over, that you return your username to what it was beforehand, as to keep the Discord server neat and tidy - it can get very confusing when someone has their name set to a panel they worked two weeks ago starts sending messages!
Remember to log into the Railway Operating Centre - this is the program which we use to communicate between signalboxes, and between signallers and controllers throughout the session. Make sure you pay attention to specific instructions on how to use ROC properly, as it continues to evolve. We request that all users read SimSig:Railway Operating Centre before joining to familiarise themselves with the changes made that week. Users should also pay attention during the setup in the lobby, as last minuite changes will be announced there.
The sessions start with a briefing, with a short debrief and rebrief at the start and end of the half-time break, and a debrief and handover at the end of the session. Please ensure that the only person transmitting during these periods are the hosts of the sessions unless you have been asked to speak, to ensure that the briefings take as little time as possible and that it is clear to all taking part as to what is going on during the session. Hosts have the ability to server mute people during these briefings if there's too many interruptions, and things begin to take too long. You should also ensure that handovers are undertaken smoothly without any interruption, to ensure that people are aware what is going on in panels.
Keywords and phraseology[edit | edit source]
Begin your message with the name of the panel whose attention you want to get. Then state your identity (the name of the panel you're calling from), so the listeners know who you are without needing to swivel their eyeballs all the way over to Discord or its overlay. Then the subject of your message, such as a train, line, and/or location. Finally any additional detail you think might be useful
For example, you're sending a train out of Kings Cross, and you've just read its timetable and have the relevant details in your mind. The Finsbury signaller hasn't set a route for it yet, and if they don't take action soon, the driver will see the Double Yellows of Confusion, and reach for the Brake Lever of Delay:
- "Finsbury, Cross, 1S69 approaching on Down Slow (the main point of your message), scheduled for Platform 5 then Fast to Potters Bar (the possibly useful extra detail)."
If however the next signaller has already set a route for the train you can assume they've seen it coming and you don't need to say anything.
If you can see confusion and delay about to unfold in front of you while everyone else is politely taking it in turns to provide the channel with uninterrupted natter, start your message with Break, break. Its meaning is "I have an urgent message and need to cut in now, shush for a moment and listen, else there'll be Double Yellows of Confusion, Brake Lever of Delay, etc…", but it's a bit briefer. For example:
- "Break, break: Hitchin, Welwyn, 1S69 approaching."
Safety critical communications should vocalise digits separately and letters using the phonetic alphabet. For example, 1S69 is read as "one sierra six nine", signal K300 is read as "signal kilo three zero zero", points 1479B are read as "points one four seven nine bravo". Train headcodes, signal identity numbers, point identity numbers and telephone numbers etc should always be vocalised in this way.
Communicating with Control[edit | edit source]
Let the channel know before you call Control. Make sure neighbouring signallers know you're aware of any approaching trains, or ask them to set routes within your area if they see a need while you're out of the channel. You should also inform neighbouring signallers of the reason why you are contacting control, if it is going to cause them a problem, and if a line is blocked due to a technical fault, to not send any trains into the failure to avoid them from getting trapped.
Control must be informed of any incident which has the possibility to cause delays to any train, including any technical fault, or a train which has stopped at a station and will be delayed at that station. You must also inform control of what impact this might have on other train running on nearby lines, so that control are aware and are able to take action to attempt to minimise delays to other services. Control must also be aware of any train running delay in excess of ten minutes, especially if it is a train which is contained within the session, either through a chain or as a result of rules in the timetable.
When you phone control to report an incident, you should try to give as much information as possible to the controller. For a signalling fault, you should give the nature of the fault (track circuit failure, signal failure, etc), what positions remain operable (no reverse detection, only a green aspect, etc), the precise location of the fault including the signal which has the fault, or is protecting the fault, and the first train which is to be affected by the fault. For an incident involving a train, you should give details of what train it is, where the train is and the nature of the fault. You should always tell the controller what impact it will have on train running, and whether any diversionary routes are available.
Be ready to write down detailed instructions from Control - on physical paper, Notepad, or a SimSig sticky note. Control is busy and it's very embarrassing to call back five minutes later to ask "was I meant to delay this train's departure along with the three you definitely mentioned".
When the call ends, let the channel know you're back, and pass on relevant information from Control. Even if it's not relevant information it's probably interesting.
Safety Critical Communications with Other Operational Staff / Roles[edit | edit source]
In an arranged session, there may be a need for other operational staff to communicate with you. For example, a driver of a train, a track worker, station managers, users of level crossings, etc. In each of these cases, the signaller should take the lead role in the call. If the caller starts with the phrase "This is an emergency call" or similar, you should immediately put all of your focus onto the call as (in real life) it could have immediate life threatening consequences not to. The caller should confirm they are communicating with the correct person. You should ensure that you know: who the caller is and their role, where they are calling from, how to contact them back, what the incident is, where the incident is, what action needs to be taken. You should repeat back what you have been told afterwards to ensure you have correctly understood the information given and that you and the caller have come to a correct understanding of what needs to be done.
When speaking, all digits should be individually spoken and letters given using the phonetic alphabet. In the event of an error being made during the read back, you should immediately interject with the word "Correction" and correct the other party.
Example Communication[edit | edit source]
Adam Adams: This is an emergency call. Is this the Chester signaller I am speaking to?
Chester Signaller: Yes, this is the Chester signaller.
AA: This is Adam Adams, Network Rail Chester MOM. I'm calling from signal post telephone Charlie Romeo Four One Six on the Up Birkenhead. There is a tree fallen across both lines between here and Charlie Romeo Four One Four Romeo signal. I need the Up and Down Birkenhead blocked to all traffic and the DC conductor rail isolated so that the tree may be removed.
CS: Hello Adam Adams, Network Rail Chester MOM at Charlie Romeo Four One Six. I have blocked the Up and Down Birkenhead to traffic from Charlie Romeo Four One Six signal on the Up and Charlie Romeo Four One Five signal on the Down line. There are no trains approaching. I will request an isolation from the Sandhills ECO, please await a call back from me to confirm that this is in place before approaching the tree.
AA: Up and Down Birkenhead is blocked between Charlie Romeo Four One Six and Charlie Romeo Four One Five. Awaiting a call back to confirm isolation arrangements.
Reminders (the signalling kind)[edit | edit source]
Be generous with using Reminders (on signals and controls in your own area) to embody decisions made by yourself, other signallers, and Control. For instance, if there's a train ready to start in one of your stations but Control has told you to keep it there, collar the departure signal. By doing this, Control can tell that you're applying their instructions, and also the other signallers on the panel can see it's sat in the bay with the TRTS light flashing because you've overlooked it but because of some good reason. If a route is shut, collar the signals leading into the route, and remove the reminders when you're told the route is available again.
When to Communicate[edit | edit source]
You should stay in constant communication with your colleagues. Neighbouring signallers need to know about what exactly is going on on your panel, even if it does not directly affect them, including notification of any signalling problems, as delays have the capability of spreading very quickly even onto unaffected lines. Signallers should have a good idea of what is occurring anywhere in any chain, especially with any failures, in case it has the capability to cause delays further across sims.
Signallers must also communicate clearly and frequently with controllers. Controllers must be made aware of any fault or failure of the signalling system as the signaller becomes aware of the situation - however in some instances it may be pertinent to inform neighbouring signallers of the failure and any immediate action which needs to be taken with regards to approaching trains, to ensure trains are not trapped by a failure before the controller is made aware, however the controller must be made aware as soon as practicable.
Controllers should also be made aware of any issues which affect train running which are not infrastructure related. This includes, but is not limited to, trains being delayed at stations, and trains entering the area late. Any train running delay of around ten minutes or more must be communicated to control at the earliest possible point, to allow for service recovery to be undertaken. Delays to trains can quickly spiral and start affecting more services, and a ten minute delay can end up causing a delay of over an hour further down the line. Similarly, any early running trains should be held in a loop or on a slower line where practicable to do so, unless it has been agreed with neighbouring signallers that the train can run early, to avoid any delays to services which are running to time.
You should also make sure to communicate with the controller should you begin to become overloaded or overworked whilst on a panel, as a signaller remaining overworked can cause additional, avoidable delays, and affect other signallers in a multiplayer chain. A controller will always be able to help ease the workload, whether by assisting themselves or finding an extra body to lend a helping hand to get train movements to a neater, more desirable state.
Leaving the sim[edit | edit source]
When leaving the sim, you should give Control as much notice as possible before you leave, so that if necessary, cover can be found for your area, or we can make preparations to end the sim early if it leaves us without enough players to continue, additionally if you have arranged with your controller at the start of the session that you will not be staying to the end you should remind them of your upcoming departure before you leave.
Before you leave, you should make sure that you have handed over your panel to whoever will be taking over the area. The handover should succinctly explain what is occurring on your panel, any failures, and where any trains which may not be known about are located. Once this has been done, and Control has been informed that you are leaving now, you should press the "Leave Call" button on the Railway Operating Centre, to ensure that none of the private call channels are being blocked up on the program.
The above should also be followed where possible when going AFK, or for a Personal Needs Break, although notice to Control is not required, unless you are the only person on your simulation. Make sure that neighbouring signallers are aware that you are leaving temporarily, and that they are aware who is taking over whilst you are not at your computer. Change your name on ROC to clearly say "AFK", and make sure that you have no pending calls before you leave. Before going AFK, you must ensure that you press the "Leave Call' button on the private call channels, as otherwise you could be unintentionally blocking up a call channel which means that communication between other signallers becomes much harder.