Trams with headlights off

 
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Sometimes I see Combinos being driven around the network with headlights off during sunny days, just like the road vehicles that share the road with them, but not most of the time. I have also seen A class trams in use without headlights. And I can still clearly see them, just as I can see any road vehicle under the same lighting conditions.

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  marvin Assistant Commissioner

Location: Mars... "The Earth? Oh, the Earth will be gone in just a few seconds!"
And your question is?

marvin
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  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
I wonder; is it beneficial to vision-impaired people to have tram headlights on during daylight?
  route14 Chief Commissioner

GORP mandates the use of exterior lighting during tram operation.  It mightn't really help the tram driver to see the road, but it signifies the tram's presence and identifies the leading end of the tram, since Melbourne trams are bidirectional and have identical exterior at both ends.  Some drivers are used to conserving power, perhaps that's what they do at home, and intend to switch off interior lighting in daylight especially when operating a non-service car, although the company never tells them to do so.  Since it's the same console switch that operates the interior and exterior lighting on A, B, Z class they would have turned off the exterior lighting by the same action.  (I'm not sure how it's done on a Combino)  It's possible to isolate the interior lighting while leaving exterior lighting on with the circuit breaking cupboard, but I don't think it's worthy of doing since the power consumption of lighting is trivial compared to that of traction.
  matthewg Train Controller

Isn't it far more likely that the trams seen without a headlight lit have simply popped a breaker or have a blown lamp and it's a low priority fault during daylight hours and a 'run to end diagram' fault?

I do note that in Sydney loss of one headlamp is a run to end of End Diagram fault, but the loss of both is a Remove from Service (detrain passengers at next station and return to depot) fault.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
GORP mandates the use of exterior lighting during tram operation.  It mightn't really help the tram driver to see the road, but it signifies the tram's presence and identifies the leading end of the tram, since Melbourne trams are bidirectional and have identical exterior at both ends.  Some drivers are used to conserving power, perhaps that's what they do at home, and intend to switch off interior lighting in daylight especially when operating a non-service car, although the company never tells them to do so.  Since it's the same console switch that operates the interior and exterior lighting on A, B, Z class they would have turned off the exterior lighting by the same action.  (I'm not sure how it's done on a Combino)  It's possible to isolate the interior lighting while leaving exterior lighting on with the circuit breaking cupboard, but I don't think it's worthy of doing since the power consumption of lighting is trivial compared to that of traction.
route14
Can anyone here explain GORP or link, say, to a thread about it? It obviously doesn't help a tram driver see the tracks ahead during daylight hours. Yes, having one control for interior and exterior lighting has been given as a reason before for why the headlights are on all the time, even when it's glary, and that raises the question of why there aren't separate controls for them in the first place.
And look at other vehicles sharing the road with trams, most only have headlights on when driven at night. Remember, daytime running lights, which many new cars have, are not headlights.
  emerald-a Locomotive Driver

I presume trams run with headlights on day or night generally as they are seen as small trains rather than big buses.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

I presume trams run with headlights on day or night generally as they are seen as small trains rather than big buses.
emerald-a
This is the correct answer, just as it was every previous time Myrtone raised the topic on Railpage and other fora for over a decade now.

Because it is expected that people get out of the way rather than rail vehicles braking for people, rail vehicles are required to be as visible as possible to all road users. Modern lighting does a better job than the yellow panels or tiger stripes of old, so the best practice has shifted accordingly.

It is good that the technology is improving and modern trams have lights with better directional optics. The next step will probably be to incorporate steered beams for sections of curved track, maybe have two lights on each side with one staying straight at all times and the other being steered automatically.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Because it is expected that people get out of the way rather than rail vehicles braking for people, rail vehicles are required to be as visible as possible to all road users. Modern lighting does a better job than the yellow panels or tiger stripes of old, so the best practice has shifted accordingly.
justapassenger
This depends on lighting conditions if there is ample natural daylight and the vehicles reflect ample light, then emitting light should either never make a difference or simply add frivolous glare, see drivers against daytime running lights.

It is good that the technology is improving and modern trams have lights with better directional optics. The next step will probably be to incorporate steered beams for sections of curved track, maybe have two lights on each side with one staying straight at all times and the other being steered automatically.
justapassenger
Directional headlights have existed for decades.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Because it is expected that people get out of the way rather than rail vehicles braking for people, rail vehicles are required to be as visible as possible to all road users. Modern lighting does a better job than the yellow panels or tiger stripes of old, so the best practice has shifted accordingly.
This depends on lighting conditions if there is ample natural daylight and the vehicles reflect ample light, then emitting light should either never make a difference or simply add frivolous glare, see drivers against daytime running lights.
Myrtone

In the outback everybody drives with their lights on - I wouldn't dream of not doing it. The visibility is a significant benefit - with no headlight cars disappear in the heat haze.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Headlights or parking lights? Parking lights are not headlights, the difference is brightness.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Headlights or parking lights? Parking lights are not headlights, the difference is brightness.
Myrtone
Headlights. Parking lights are not visible enough at any distance, in daylight.
There's a good reason why many Australian highways advise drivers to turn headlights on. So you can be seen.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Can't you clearly see a vehicle without headlights on the brightest days, like bright enough to be wearing sunglasses? Also, has anyone here check out that site opposing daytime running lights? And before anyone here claims it is a conspiracy or rhetoric type site, think about your personal experience and about whether there was a time when you have never heard of daytime headlight use.

EDIT: Daytime running rights, about the same brightness as parking lights, are, in fact, quite visible in cloudy weather, not so much on a clear day. But on the brightest daylight periods, headlights bright enough to be seen would just add frivolous glare.
  duttonbay Minister for Railways

Can't you clearly see a vehicle without headlights on the brightest days, like bright enough to be wearing sunglasses? Also, has anyone here check out that site opposing daytime running lights? And before anyone here claims it is a conspiracy or rhetoric type site, think about your personal experience and about whether there was a time when you have never heard of daytime headlight use.

EDIT: Daytime running rights, about the same brightness as parking lights, are, in fact, quite visible in cloudy weather, not so much on a clear day. But on the brightest daylight periods, headlights bright enough to be seen would just add frivolous glare.
Myrtone
No. A headlight on low beam is not frivolous glare. High beam is different, but a low-beam headlight in daylight will not appear as bright as it is at night. Parking lights are useless. In my experience day running lights are much brighter than parking lights, but low-beam headlights are much better for visibility. Have you not ever driven anywhere where vehicles simply disappear into heat haze? Take yourself on a trip around Australia and get back to me...
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
The difference between low beam and high beam, contrary to even what I used to think, is not brightness, it is that a low beam is deflected downward and towards the kerbside. A more appropriate question is if "heat haze" is a restriction on visibility, similar to fog.
But then again, there are no trams in the outback, our trams, like nearly all in the world, run only in urban areas, and the roads they share with manually steered vehicles are not highways. They are mostly suburban streets where "disappearing into heat haze" doesn't happen and anything not limited to tracks has headlights off when they aren't needed to see the road ahead. Some may have "driving" lights.
  justapassenger Chief Commissioner

But on the brightest daylight periods, headlights bright enough to be seen would just add frivolous glare.
Myrtone
Do you have a driver's licence?

If you do, and you are finding that you cannot see properly when headlights are used legally, I would strongly recommend that you cease driving immediately. Take your licence down to your nearest VicRoads Customer Service Centre and ask them to suspend it until you have been passed as fit to drive by your ophthalmologist.

To continue driving in this condition would be highly unethical at the least, and potentially criminal behaviour at the worst.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
It is not a case of not seeing properly when headlights are used in broad daylight if headlights aren't needed to see the road/footpath/track ahead, then they should not need to shine in the eyes of people facing the front of a vehicle, (or driven end of trams and trains). It is not a case of not seeing the vehicle, it is a case of the brightness of headlights discouraging people from facing the vehicle or encouraging them to wear sunglasses when they do.
And what about people who can't see properly when no exterior lights are used at all, even on the brightest days, don't they have a vision problem?
  route14 Chief Commissioner

You've just validated "Justapassenger"'s comment.
  BrentonGolding Chief Commissioner

Location: Maldon Junction
It is not a case of not seeing properly when headlights are used in broad daylight if headlights aren't needed to see the road/footpath/track ahead, then they should not need to shine in the eyes of people facing the front of a vehicle, (or driven end of trams and trains). It is not a case of not seeing the vehicle, it is a case of the brightness of headlights discouraging people from facing the vehicle or encouraging them to wear sunglasses when they do.
And what about people who can't see properly when no exterior lights are used at all, even on the brightest days, don't they have a vision problem?
Myrtone
These are the same sort of arguments that were used in the "compulsory lights on" debate around motorcycles years ago - oh but if I am driving into the Sun and a motorcycle with it's headlight on is riding towards me then I will have even less chance of seeing it.

But for most of the time the vehicle being driven with it's lights on is more visible.

And as for the vision impaired argument, are you serious? A person with a vision impairment may not be driving but they will still be crossing the street (maybe even heading to a tram stop). The more help they get to see an oncoming tram the better. And yes, I am speaking from experience. And I WILL be wearing sunglasses!

BG

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