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VTS San Francisco Training Union Pacific Railroad Bridge Communications Protocol Frequently Asked Questions

Revised 05/12/2005

The following frequently asked questions apply to the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge (UPRRB) Communications Protocol.
If you have additional questions donít hesitate to ask.
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When Iím a good distance out can I give the bridge tender a ďheads-upĒ that Iím approaching, and that Iíll need a lift sometime in the near future?

Yes. The ďheads-upĒ call is technically referred to as the Advance Call, and should be referred to as the ďAdvance CallĒ on the radio. When you make an Advance Call you should follow the radiotelephone procedures outlined in the Protocol and tell the lift tender precisely when you will require the bridge to start lifting. The most common error in Advance Calls happens when the vessel tells the lift tender their ETA to the bridge itself rather than the time that they will require the lift to start lifting. The Advance Call should be made at the following points.
If you are... Make your Advance call...
Underway going eastbound (up river) At the Carquinez Bridge
Underway going westbound (down river) Somewhere between New York Point and MOT Concord (former NWS) Pier 3óCCR 3
Moored between New York Point and the Carquinez Bridge Before getting underway

What should I do if the bridge tender asks me if itís okay to let trains across the bridge before lifting the bridge?

Consider this example. In your Advance Call you told the lift tender that you will call for a lift at 1335, (hypothetically) 45 minutes from now. The lift tender checked the status of the passenger train traffic and determined that an Amtrak train is due to be on the bridge at 1336. To avoid having to hold the Amtrak train for an extended time period, and based on the possibility that you are still far enough away from the bridge to take action to slightly modify your ETA, the lift tender might ask you the following question.Ē Can you delay your lift request time until 1340?Ē

At this point you should carefully consider your situation. If you are able and willing to accommodate the bridge tenderís request to delay your lift request time, you should advise the bridge tender of your new expected lift request time (refer to the protocol for precise verbiage). If you are uncomfortable modifying your plans, you are under no obligation to do so. In the end, it is critical that the Advance Call process ends with a firm understanding between vessel and bridge as to precisely what time the bridge will be expected to start lifting. With this firm understanding, you should experience no delays when you make your Lift Request call.

When should I contact the bridge to request a lift?

Short answer: You should request the bridge to lift immediately at the point that you require unobstructed passage underneath the drawbridge span. Donít wait until itís too late to safely abort your approach if something goes wrong to request the bridge to lift.

Longer answer: Consider the scenario in Question 2. In your Advance Call you gave the lift tender information that you would be calling for a lift at 1335. He asked if you could delay your request until 1340 to allow a passenger train to pass. For the purpose of this explanation, letís assume you agreed to delay your lift request time until 1340. The lift tender is not expecting your Lift Request call until 1340. If you make your Lift Request call at 1340 the lift tender should immediately engage the lift. There should be absolutely no obstructions.

Exactly what should I say to the bridge over the radio?

You must consult the Union Pacific Railroad Bridge Communications Protocol for details. In this guide you will find step-by-step procedures and example radiotelephone dialogue. You should follow these procedures and use the prescribed dialogue.

What do I do if my plans change after my Advance Call, and I no longer will require a bridge lift?

You should follow the Protocol and perform the Cancel Lift Request procedures.

Once you have given the bridge tender your lift request time, the bridge tender begins coordinating railroad traffic based on this information. If, for example, you told the bridge tender to expect a lift request call at 1340, the bridge tender may have had to hold trains in position away from the bridge to meet your needs. If the bridge tender is left holding trains in position, and your lift request call never comes, the railroad could incur costly delays and passengers may not reach their destination on time. Similarly, if your plans change and your lift request time is pushed into the future (perhaps your speed was slower than you expected), you should immediately advise the bridge tender and update your expected lift request time.

Last Modified 1/12/2016