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Freight car ordering?

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Freight car ordering?
Posted by DangerDad13 on Thursday, October 4, 2012 5:50 PM

I know the car order matters for a passenger train.  Is there a similar ordering on freight trains?  Do reefers come before boxcars, or tankers after flat cars?

Thanks.

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Posted by wp8thsub on Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:14 PM

Typically no.  There are trains where blocks of primarily one type of car are placed together (and may frequently appear in the same place when that particular train runs), but not due to any set rule about where cars go by type as with a passenger consist.  Certain cars (e.g. loaded tank cars placarded as hazardous, boxcar loads of explosives) must usually be spaced away from occupied locomotives or cabooses, but again that's not a passenger-style arrangement.

Rob Spangler

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Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:46 PM

Freight trains that stop at different yards block all of their cars for the various yarsd so that they can be quickly dropped off and if their is a block of cars to be moved to another yard furthur up the line, it will be placed on the train.  The types of cars in  block do not matter.  The only rule on the placement of cars are for those carrying hazardous materials.   

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Posted by MarkVIIIMarc on Thursday, October 4, 2012 7:53 PM
I believe I remember different rules on a consist like "do not hump" or "not to be placed near xxx" type railcar. Then again I sat in an office all day.
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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, October 4, 2012 8:02 PM

DangerDad13

I know the car order matters for a passenger train.  Is there a similar ordering on freight trains?  Do reefers come before boxcars, or tankers after flat cars?

Thanks.

There are rules such as hazmat cars must not be placed next to a occupied car or locomotive other then that trains are made up into destination blocks from front to rear..

 

Here's more information..

Enjoy!

http://www.sdrm.org/faqs/rulebook/toc.html

Larry

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Posted by g&gfan on Thursday, October 4, 2012 9:18 PM

When livestock was shipped by rail, loaded stock cars were to be marshalled next to the locomotive. This was to reduce the effect of coupler slack and run-in on the livestock. Any injury claims were the responsibility of the railways. 

When empty, the stock cars were treated as any other car. 

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Posted by cv_acr on Friday, October 5, 2012 9:45 AM

With some exceptions (like loaded stock cars mentioned above) car type does not matter.

Freight train handling is all about blocks, not individual car ordering. A block is a bunch of cars to be handled together, usually by destination (or, the next major yard it needs to be handled at on route to its destination). The ordering of cars within the block is not important (as long as hazmat placement rules are observed).

Blocks are defined by the operating department to support efficient operation. For example, a train that runs from A to D, with stops at B and C will likely handle blocks for B, C and D. Anything beyond D will be mixed into the D block, and resorted at D. Let's say that at C there are a couple of connecting lines or branches. This could connect to towns E,F,G,H,etc., but rather than having individual blocks for all those locations, the mainline train will just have it all mixed in a block for C. At C, the cars will be sorted for their next destination(s). And that's how car routing and classification works. Each yard has a specific set of blocks that gets made up there. A car in Detroit bound for Los Angeles wouldn't go in an LA block, since there's no train to there. It'd probably go in a Chicago block and get re-forwarded there.

In some cases, perishables will have their own block, so they're handled in a high priority train, or blocked together for servicing (icing or refueling depending on era/type of car).

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Posted by cuyama on Friday, October 5, 2012 10:12 AM

There's an excellent discussion of freight blocking in John Armstrong's Track Planning for Realistic Operation . This book also contains a lot of other information on real-life railroad operations that's very useful to modelers.

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, October 5, 2012 7:19 PM

Depending on railroad, there can be certain other train make-up rules besides those for hazardous materials.

Some examples are restrictions on Long (80 ft or longer) car/Short (45ft or less) combinations.  Load/empty placement.  Certain train placement locations for dimensional or high value loads, etc.

Some of these restrictions may depend on total trailing tonnage for a train.  What would be a placement error for 7500 ton train might not be for a 3500 ton train. 

Jeff

  

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Posted by dehusman on Friday, October 5, 2012 10:16 PM

Yes and no.

It is more by commodity than by car type. 

As previously mentioned, placarded loads of hazmat, particularly tank cars cannot be within 5 cars of an engine or caboose, plus some hazardous loads can't be next to other hazmat loads (e.g. you can't put a car of explosives next to a car of flamable gas.)   Typically livestock was near the head end. 

There are some rules on some roads where short cars (beer can tank car) can't be coupled to long cars (89 ft flatcar) and where you can't put blocks of empties ahead of blocks of loads or a certain tonnage.

The most common ordering of a train is by "block".  A block is a group of cars that will be handled together.  They will all be going to the same destination, the same interchange or the same yard to be switched.  Those blocks will be arranged in the same order in the same trains day after day.  So if a certain block tends to carry specific cars, then the train may appear to be blocked by car type.  I once told a switch crew to switch a track by car color, red, grey and black.  The red cars were all hoppers and gons going back to a mining area, the grey cars were all plastic pellet covered hoppers going to storage and the black cars were all tank cars going to an area with a lot of refineries.

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Posted by wjstix on Sunday, October 7, 2012 3:59 PM

Way freights or "peddlers" that set out and picked up cars often are set up so the first car (or cars) behind the engine would be the first one to be dropped off, the second car is the second one to be dropped off, etc.

There can be exceptions of course, sometimes an engine couldn't go say into a building to pick up and set out cars, so that car might be the last freight car in the train, so the train could serve as a "handle" to reach in and drop it off inside the building.

Stix
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Posted by riogrande5761 on Sunday, October 7, 2012 4:20 PM

DangerDad13

I know the car order matters for a passenger train.  Is there a similar ordering on freight trains?  Do reefers come before boxcars, or tankers after flat cars?

Thanks.

As others have noted, there is no rule, but I have noticed sometimes there were specific orders of freight cars for certain trains.  I have followed the D&RGW, mainly for the 1980's and I have noticed that there were hot shot TOFC trains which would block certain freight at the front, like the Coors beer PC&F 61' RBL's were blocked at the front and the TOFC behind.  I've seen blocks of cement hoppers at the front too, so there sometimes are an order or placement of blocks as others have commented.

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Posted by DSO17 on Sunday, October 7, 2012 6:56 PM

wjstix

Way freights or "peddlers" that set out and picked up cars often are set up so the first car (or cars) behind the engine would be the first one to be dropped off, the second car is the second one to be dropped off, etc.

There can be exceptions of course, sometimes an engine couldn't go say into a building to pick up and set out cars, so that car might be the last freight car in the train, so the train could serve as a "handle" to reach in and drop it off inside the building.

     Most of the locals I was familiar with were blocked with the cars for each location (station) in no particular order. The blocks in the train were usually in no particular order.

     In the case of a handle, if there weren't enough suitable cars on the train to use as a handle the yardmaster would have to add some extra cars (usually empties) if the restricted track was going to get shifted that day.

     Also, the YM would have to make sure the local could properly space dangerous cars, even if he had to add spacer cars to the train.

     There was a discussion a few years ago about the placement of livestock cars: http://cs.trains.com/mrr/f/13/p/130904/1471909.aspx#1471909

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Posted by DangerDad13 on Tuesday, October 9, 2012 1:32 PM

Thanks for all the replies!  This will help me organize my freight setup.

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Posted by Slowmodem on Sunday, November 3, 2019 7:41 PM

This has been a very interesting discussion.

Greg Whitehead

Ironically, I live in the only county in Tennessee with no railroad tracks.

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Posted by pennwest on Thursday, November 21, 2019 8:39 AM

In today's world of long trains, one concern is lots of empty cars up front and loaded cars in the back. Can stringline on sharp curves. Norfolk Southern particularly learned not to have many empty center-beam flats up front when ascending Horseshoe Curve. Two messy derailments.

 

Roger Thomas

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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, November 21, 2019 8:57 AM

Roger,Both NS and CSX still runs empty racks up front..

Its my understanding DPUs end stringlining because there's less stress on the lead cars.

I was watching the Fostoria railcams and notice several CSX trains had DPUs about midtrain.

Larry

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, November 21, 2019 10:34 AM

DPU's change the train make up, the positions of blocks of empties next to blocks of loads has to be looked at wherever there is a locomotive.  The special instructions for the Western roads have a several pages of instructions on where to place DPU's in the train and what the train makeup should look like.

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Posted by cv_acr on Thursday, November 21, 2019 11:37 AM

DSO17

In the case of a handle, if there weren't enough suitable cars on the train to use as a handle the yardmaster would have to add some extra cars (usually empties) if the restricted track was going to get shifted that day.

     Also, the YM would have to make sure the local could properly space dangerous cars, even if he had to add spacer cars to the train.

This can vary by era and location.

I believe the FRA requires spacer cars, so you see specific buffer cars on unit oil/ethanol/etc. trains, but Canadian rules have qualifications like "where train length permits" and "unless the entire train is made up of [said hazmats]", so adding spacers just to be spacers isn't required if the whole train is placarded tanks. Unit oil trains run without buffers here unless the equipment ran through from a US origin.

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Posted by cv_acr on Thursday, November 21, 2019 11:38 AM
Also remember that tank cars aren't necessarily dangerous - lots of non-hazardous liquid commodities like vegetable oil, tallow, corn syrup, etc. are shipped by rail.
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Posted by BRAKIE on Thursday, November 21, 2019 9:07 PM

dehusman

DPU's change the train make up, the positions of blocks of empties next to blocks of loads has to be looked at wherever there is a locomotive.  The special instructions for the Western roads have a several pages of instructions on where to place DPU's in the train and what the train makeup should look like.

 

I notice on RailStream's Rochelle railcam U.P usually places a unit or two about midtrain with one or two on the end. I've also seen two engines on point and one or two DPUs on the end.

Larry

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“Shut one’s eyes tight or open one’s arms wide, either way, one’s a fool.” Flemeth-the witch of the Wilds.
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Posted by Reynold on Thursday, November 21, 2019 9:14 PM

I have seen many instances of ballast cars at the front of Great Northern trains. I do not know if this was to keep obviously heavy cars at the front for train handling performance, but for certain it was for blocking. The ballast was low priority and was added at the last moment to quickly to fill out the tonnage rating desired for the locomotives and the train.

Also, I have heard of entire trains of empty cars routed as a drag freight. Another practice was to gather and then run empty boxcars to be delivered to each grain elevator along the line just as the grain harvest campaign was starting.

Reynold

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Posted by BRAKIE on Saturday, November 23, 2019 5:25 AM

Reynold
The ballast was low priority and was added at the last moment to quickly to fill out the tonnage rating desired for the locomotives and the train.

Another thought is those ballast cars could have been switchout enroute for a MOW project.. We did that several times on the Chessie..We usually dropped them in Limeville,Garrison or Maysville. We would pick up any empties and any outbound cars ending West and simply placed them behind the engines. 

Of course,our train was usually around 140-220 cars depending on the day of the week.. You see a lot of Cinncinati Division trains had been reroute by the early 80s.

Larry

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Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, November 23, 2019 10:02 PM

cv_acr
Also remember that tank cars aren't necessarily dangerous - lots of non-hazardous liquid commodities like vegetable oil, tallow, corn syrup, etc. are shipped by rail.
 

And some hazmat is not dangerous, as hazmat goes, and has no restrictions on placement.

Jeff

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Posted by BMMECNYC on Monday, December 30, 2019 9:16 PM

There were also railroad specific restrictions about placement of woodchip hoppers in trains, specifically, they went towards the front or in front of any coal hoppers to prevent coal contamination of the wood chips.

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