Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

How many switchers per road loco?

1453 views
9 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    September 2019
  • From: The Nowhere between Ogden and Salt Lake
  • 18 posts
How many switchers per road loco?
Posted by Sodj on Sunday, April 26, 2020 9:19 PM

Hey everybody!

I'm in the planning stages of a logging-themed railroad set in the southeast in the interwar period, and I'm currently trying to figure out how many and what types of locos I would need. I have a list of 5 mainline locos (one for drag freight, one for logging, one for passenger, and two for local freights running opposite directions), but I'm at a loss for what would be an appropriate amount of switchers. I have two main yards set up in a point-to-point orientation, so I would guess at least two would be needed. The logging town is located between the two but is only serviced by the local freights and the logging trains, so maybe one would go there as well?

Anyway, the question is this: what's an appropriate ratio of road-to-switching locomotives? If there isn't one, then what do you like to use?

I guess I should also mention that one end interchanges with another railroad, and the other uses a car ferry as another sort of interchange.

Thanks!

Currently dreaming in the parents' basement...

  • Member since
    May 2010
  • 7,182 posts
Posted by mbinsewi on Sunday, April 26, 2020 9:56 PM

It would depend on how much rail traffic the logging town generates.  When logging in an area is done, sometimes, so is the town, unless it has industry that processes logs into wood products.

If it's just a logging town, I would think the local frieghts, from each direction, or the log train, would do what switching is needed.  There would probably still be a loco to haul the logs out from the logging camps, to an interchange track, and then take empties back to the camps.

If it does have the undustry, it would have workers, which would live in the town, and would also use the passenger service.

Mike.

PS. OK, that's what happened to my first, and much longer reply, Tom was in the process of moving the thread!  Laugh  Talk about timing. 

  • Member since
    April 2005
  • From: West Australia
  • 2,217 posts
Posted by John Busby on Sunday, April 26, 2020 10:24 PM

Hi Sodj

There isn't one on pick up freights (not sure what they call them in the US) the train locomotive does the switching.

I would say one switcher per major yard would be enough and posibly another with barrier car for the Ferry it really depends on yard size but for most major model rail yards one switcher would be enough

regards John

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,868 posts
Posted by dehusman on Sunday, April 26, 2020 10:47 PM

There is no ratio of switchers to road engines.  How many switchers do you need?  

The yards probably will have one each.  It depends on what is involved in the "logging town" and what you mean by the locals and logging train "servicing" the logging town.  The whole point of a local is it can do industry switching and build its own train.  Kinda the definition of a local.  Do you want the locals and logging train to NOT service the logging town, they just set out and pick up cars like a through freight and a dedicated switcher handles all the industry work or do you want the locals and logging trains to do the industry work and not have a switcher?  

Your choice, either way is prototypical.

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

  • Member since
    May 2002
  • From: Massachusetts
  • 2,753 posts
Posted by Paul3 on Sunday, April 26, 2020 11:16 PM

Here's a real world example:
The New Haven rostered roughly 983 steam engines in the 20th Century of all types.  This is not counting steam engines buit for predecessor railroads in the 1800's.

Of those 983 steamers, 196 were 0-6-0 (142) or 0-8-0 (54) switchers.  That means that the NH had ~20% of their total steam roster as switchers.

Please keep in the mind that the NH was considered a overbuilt with many yards...they probably had more yards per route mile than any other railroad in the USA.

 

  • Member since
    September 2019
  • From: The Nowhere between Ogden and Salt Lake
  • 18 posts
Posted by Sodj on Monday, April 27, 2020 6:53 AM

Thanks guys! The logging town does have a sawmill as well as some turpentine production, so it looks like I'd be running 3-5 switchers, depending on how much I decide to model local industries in the major yards. The locals would be switching the agricultural areas between major yards and some light coal mining just past the interchange.

Incidentally, I've started building the whole thing in trainz railroad simulator, just to get an idea of what I want to do since this project is a good 5-10 years in the future. (Hence the tagline...)

Currently dreaming in the parents' basement...

  • Member since
    February 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 11,746 posts
Posted by wjstix on Monday, April 27, 2020 4:28 PM

One of the reasons switchers were often the first diesels a railroad bought in the 1930's was because it could be available pretty much all the time, unlike steam switchers which could only work part of a day. That meant that a diesel might replace several steam switchers.

Stix
  • Member since
    July 2001
  • From: Shelbyville, Kentucky
  • 1,847 posts
Posted by SSW9389 on Friday, May 1, 2020 3:45 PM

dehusman

There is no ratio of switchers to road engines.  How many switchers do you need?  

The yards probably will have one each.  It depends on what is involved in the "logging town" and what you mean by the locals and logging train "servicing" the logging town.  The whole point of a local is it can do industry switching and build its own train.  Kinda the definition of a local.  Do you want the locals and logging train to NOT service the logging town, they just set out and pick up cars like a through freight and a dedicated switcher handles all the industry work or do you want the locals and logging trains to do the industry work and not have a switcher?  

Your choice, either way is prototypical.

 

David Morgan wrote about the ratio in his book Diesels West. The ratio Morgan quoted was 20% switcher, 60% freight and 20% passenger. And saying all that he was most likely refering to large Class 1 properties. 

 

Ed in Kentucky

COTTON BELT: Runs like a Blue Streak!
  • Member since
    April 2019
  • From: Pacific Northwest
  • 780 posts
Posted by SPSOT fan on Saturday, May 2, 2020 5:13 AM

I might think it may be a good idea to wait until some or most of the railroad is built to finalize your locomotive purchases! It may not be the best idea to buy an expensive locomotive (especially if it's a steamer!) and then find out you don't need it. I've seen a lot of model railroads with to many locomotives and freight cars but never one with too few!

If you are having too much fun planing your layout and don't wanna wait to buy loco's till you build, you could still test out the way your layout operates with a track plan program like XTrackCAD, which allows you to run trains on your track plan an test how the layout operates.

Regards, Isaac

I model my railroad and you model yours! I model my way and you model yours!

  • Member since
    September 2003
  • From: Omaha, NE
  • 9,868 posts
Posted by dehusman on Saturday, May 2, 2020 4:29 PM

SSW9389
The ratio Morgan quoted was 20% switcher, 60% freight and 20% passenger. And saying all that he was most likely refering to large Class 1 properties.

Probably true for a large class 1 in the 1950's.  Its probably the average across the US, but I'm sure it varies greatly by the era, size and location of the railroad.  Obviously after the 1970's the % of passenger engines on most railroads drops to zero because of Amtrak.

Generally the larger the railroad the smaller the percentage is of switchers.  The more industrial the larger, unless its a railroad that uses road engines as switchers.  

For example I worked on the MP in the Houston area, working at Lloyd Yard in Spring, and on the Baytown Sub where there were 3 yards (Market St, Durham, and Coady).  On an average day the MP had 22 traveling switch engine CREWS on duty between those yards.

How many switch ENGINES did they have?  Two, one pair of SW1500's on the south end of Lloyd.  All the other jobs used GP18's, GP15's and GP38's as power, which if you were counting engines on a roster would be ROAD engines (and indeed the MP powered lower priority road trains with sets of GP38's and GP18's).

The railroad I model, the W&N Branch in 1900, in 1895 when it was an independent short line had 31% switch, 28% freight, 28% passenger and 13% dual service freight and passenger. 

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

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!