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Locomotive Assignments

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Locomotive Assignments
Posted by caldreamer on Friday, April 10, 2020 10:47 AM

How do the railroads determine where a locomotive will be assigned and which jobs they will be assigned to?

   Caldreamer

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  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Friday, April 10, 2020 4:09 PM

Riding herd on that was actually one of the jobs I had.

As with everything, it depends on the era, the railroad and the whim of the management at the time.

General concepts are they match the operating characteristics to the service the railroad provides.  That can be things like tractive effort, slow speed capability, gearing, etc.

Then there are the special add-on items that can tie a train to a specific location or service.  Those can be things like cab signals, hump/slow speed control, DPU, dynamic brakes, snowplows, etc.

Then beyond that they assign engines to shops or locations based on maintenance needs, and that can be by model or manufacturer. 

Generally a railroad has a person in charge of maintenance and then a person in charge of allocating engines.  Maintenance is the mechanical dept.  Allocation is operating department.  There is often a group on a system or dispatch office level that tracks and coordinates the flow of engines.  They generally decide on how many and what type of engines will be on trains.  They work with the general foremen or foremen at the service tracks to pick the specific engines that will go on a specific train.

The yards tell the dispatch office how big the train will be.  The operating and marketing department have a plan on how much horsepower per ton a train needs based on the route and the schedule/priority of the train.  The locomotive allocation team will take the tonnage estimate and compare it to the plan, then talk to the service track/engine facility to see what engines they will use.

Operations Control (OpCon) would call and tell the general foreman how many engines a train needed ("2 big and a little" = 2 SD40-2's and a GP38-2) and he would, in conjunction with the foreman tell them which three engines, or the yardmaster would give the tonnage and the gen foreman would figure it out and tell OpCon or the Dispatch office or OpCon would call and say to put an extra engine or set of engien on the train to go someplace else (originating train, train with an engine failure, swap out local power).

Some times railroads will just have "standard" set of power.  Coal trains on the UP had either a set of 3 C40-8's or 2 C40-8's if they were going to Chicago.  At one time the UP decied at all trains operating on the E-W transcontinental route would use sets of 3 SD60's or C40-8's with matched inspection dates.  That way it would minimize turn time, no adjusting consists.

Most railroads bought GP50's and GP60's to use on high speed intermodal service.  Within a decade or two most had been bumped to local service.

Cab signals are a real headache. On the UP and CNW the leader unit of a train had to have both UP CCS and CNW ATC.  If a train wasn't equipped there had to be an engine swap at Fremont to get an equipped engine on the point.  But wait, there's more!  On the northern commuter lines the CNW had ATS, another system incompatible with the other two.  And just to make things complicated, an engine equipped for cab signals back in the day generally has a signal pick up on the lead end only.  That means a single unit local had to have a pick up on both ends of the unit, those were called "double bars".

In summary there were :

  • UP CCS only
  • CNW ATC only
  • UP and CNW CCS and ATC
  • CNW ATC and ATS
  • UP double bar CCS
  • CNW double bar ATC
  • CNW ATS
  • Unequipped engines -Every other engine in the world

The absolute most specific assignment I ever saw was one CNW GP7 that was set up so the batteries coupld pwer the traction motors.  There was one spot where one engine had to work inside a large plant and they didn't wan the diesel engine running, so for the short move inside the building they ran the engine off batteries.   That engine worked that job  all the time and there was hell to pay if somebody ran that engine off on another train.

Back when the UP was short of power, they leased AMTK F40's, thinking they would be good for the high speed piggyback trains between Texas and Chicago.  oops.  The heavier intermodal trains consumed fuel faster than the short AMTK trains, so the engines couldn't make it between fuel stops, plus they had non-alignment drawbars which made them unsuitable for heavier trains.  They ended up being used on unit rock trains in Texas, they are short/light, their runs are short.

AMTK bought GE B-32-8's intending to use the on commuter trains on the NE corridor.  Oops.  They didn't take into consideration the width of the engines, therefore the pilot sheets and steps wouldn't clear some of the platforms in the passenger stations around New York.  They ended up in long distance service in the west.

 

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by caldreamer on Friday, April 10, 2020 4:40 PM

Thanks Dave, that was a great explaintaion.  Now I have to figure out which engines to assign to my two main terminals, Denver and Pueblo and which to leave for through trains.

   Caldreamer

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  • From: OH
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Posted by BRAKIE on Friday, April 10, 2020 7:23 PM

 

 

I recall on the Chessie (C&O)  they would asigned 4-5 GP9s on a 200 plus car coal drag and on other days would see three SD40s. I recall one Russell to South Shore rail/river transload tranfer  I was on we had 2 GP30s and a GP39 and IIRC 176 loaded coal hoppers. Those GP39s was assigned yard duty.  Why one was in our locomotive consist I have no idea.  

From my railroading experience on PRR  and Chessie (C&O) I notice some locomotive consist seem to be a grab any locomotive and place it in the  power consist. 

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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Posted by fwright on Sunday, April 12, 2020 1:32 PM

caldreamer

Thanks Dave, that was a great explaintaion.  Now I have to figure out which engines to assign to my two main terminals, Denver and Pueblo and which to leave for through trains.

   Caldreamer

Living in Colorado Springs and commuting to Denver or Pueblo most days, I get to watch the operations on the Front Range between Denver and Pueblo.  UP almost always has a standard 2 units pulling and 2 units pushing, no matter what the train or length.  Back when Powder River coal was operating, the loaded coal trains would have 6 units - 3 pulling and 3 pushing.

Since I model 1900, and I need to focus on driving, I didn't/don't observe as well as I could have.

Fred W

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Posted by caldreamer on Sunday, April 12, 2020 5:23 PM

 

Fred:

  That is the line that I model.  I model the BNSF and I am building a new layout since we recently moved into a new home.  It will be quite large  (878 square feet) since I have the entire basement for my layout.

   Caldreamer

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  • From: Omaha, NE
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Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 12, 2020 7:00 PM

Unit bulk trains tend to have standard set of power.

Manifest consists tend to be more varied.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Bayfield Transfer Railway on Sunday, April 12, 2020 7:28 PM

If you run Timetable and Train Order, here's a hint:

Have dedicated engines available for extras, and give the dispatcher this list at the beginning.

More than once I've had a layout ownere yelling "Why haven't you sent that extra out yet" when the answer was "BECAUSE I'VE BEEN ASKING YOU THE ENGINE NUMBER FOR THE LAST HALF HOUR OF REAL TIME!"

Disclaimer:  This post may contain humor, sarcasm, and/or flatulence.

Michael Mornard

Bringing the North Woods to South Dakota!

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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 1:44 PM

Before every session I produce a "line up" that is given to the yardmasters and dispatcher that lists all the trains expected to run during the session and their engine numbers, including extras.  I worked in real dispatching offices for years and they all used line ups to plan work. 

Sid enote on line ups.  Back prior to the 1990's MOW would be able to operate on the track in TT&TO territory using a "general line up".  It was a list of when trains were expected to depart various points and was re-issued every 3-4 hours.  The times were enforced by the dispatcher issueng time orders to the trains.  The MOW could use the line up to occupy the main track for travel, work and inspection based on the times on line up.

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

  • Member since
    October 2001
  • From: OH
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Posted by BRAKIE on Tuesday, April 14, 2020 5:20 PM

dehusman
Back prior to the 1990's MOW would be able to operate on the track in TT&TO territory using a "general line up".

Track speeders used the same method but, it was best to check both the TT and line up to see where  freight train #321 was at before setting your speeder on the main. There was locations where you could remove your speeder and clear for a train. Signals had a special light for speeders and a setoff point..

Even at that speeder operators had to pay close attention and look back to ensure there wasn't a train coming behind them.

Larry

Conductor.

Summerset Ry.


"Stay Alert, Don't get hurt  Safety First!"

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