Traffic Signals : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Am I correct in assuming that traffic lights and railroad crossings operate with embedded chips that may not respond to the rollover?

Please excuse a naive question, but I have no knowledge about the workings of electrical systems. I hope the techies out there can give me one less thing to fret over.

-- Mike (, November 14, 1999


From what I've read most traffic signals do. No real Idea about the railroad, but I don't see why it would need them. These days they seem to be everywhere, so I'm probably wrong on the railroad.

-- Goldbug (, November 14, 1999.

Good golly Miss Molly, we may have to revert to STOP, LOOK and LISTEN!

-- (city@New.Orleans), November 14, 1999.

Railroad crossing signals are old relay technology, no Y2K vulnerability there. The Y2K problem there will be if the power goes off. No power, no signals.

After Hurricane Hugo, the two railroads in South Carolina, CSX and Norfolk Southern set-up generators to run their trains control signals and grade crossing warning signals. How ever the generators didn't stay put for too long. So much for trying to safely run trains to bring in relief supplies or to preserve grade crossing safety for the public living in the stricken area.


-- Wildweasel (, November 14, 1999.


Hello. Sorry - I heard from Gartner Group last week that they're concerned about the railroad track switches being fixed on time. No substantive details, but this came directly from Gartner's Vice President, Mr. Hotle.

Mr. Hotle was also concerned about medium-sized trucking companies and their remediation efforts. He said the small "one-truck" sized companies don't rely on computers much, and that the largest trucking corporations have spent quite a bit of $$$ on remediation, but the medium sized ones, nobody knows for sure.

-- Deb M. (, November 14, 1999.


A good friend of mine is the CIO of a medium size city here in So Cal. I asked him about embedded chips in his city regarding Y2K.

He said the only problem that they had found was that the chips in the traffic lights would have failed at rollover and have defaulted to flashing red.

-- Dana (, November 14, 1999.

Yeah, Mike, the Traffic Signals have come a long way since each one contained it's very own Programmer (as in Drum Programmer).

Some months back, we had a poster who is a consultant who had examined the Y2K situation of some 50 cities...Traffic, Water, and Sewer were at the top of the bad embedded system list in almost all of them. Basically, if your Traffic Lights change with time of day, traffic volume and day of the week, it needs to be remediated. Period!

-- K. Stevens (kstevens@ It's ALL going away in, November 14, 1999.

Railroad switches [the kind that determine whether the train will go on track A or B or whichever] were mentioned in Bruce Beach's paper back in the spring.

I'm new here. Have most of you guys read Bruce Beach?

It is posted under Gary North's non-compliant chip category, dated April, referent something like "Best Papaer I've read on this" or "My most important posting today."

He points out that railroad officials have said those operations are event controlled, not time controlled. In other words, they say it doesn't switch the track at 7:14 p.m. but when it senses a train has passed a certain point.

Beach says, No, there is a little clock ticking in it telling it to check every 5 seconds or 15 seconds or whatever, to see if the event has ocurred. He says they may susceptible, at what rate I don't remember.

There was a lot of back and forth and Dr. North has the link to the controversy. If you want me to look it up I will.

-- Becky (, November 14, 1999.

Where are the embedded controls located in a traffic light system? I ask because I've noticed there seems to be an unusual amount of construction around traffic lights in my town lately. There are temporary signals being strung while the permanent signals are covered over and they're digging near the lights. I would think controllers would be located above ground for easier repair, but I don't know.

-- (, November 14, 1999.

If the traffic signals are all we lose, I believe we'll be able to cope quite handily. If power or water or the supply chain or the local petrochem plant or pipeline or air traffic control go down, then we can talk about problems.

-- Tom Carey (, November 15, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ