Crew size

3733 views
99 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Equestria
  • 7,393 posts
Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 8, 2020 3:50 PM

BaltACD
Restricted Speed is either 15 or 20 MPH depending upon the carrier - prepared to stop within 1/2 the range of vision for obstruction, broken rail or train ahead.

Sorry, I have to correct this.  It's looking out for broken rail, not stopping prior to.  You have to stop prior to other train, obstruction, or misaligned switch.

And I said it 1000x times before, but I alwyas repeat it:  restricted speed is not a speed, but a METHOD OF OPERATION.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,116 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:08 PM

zugmann
 
BaltACD
Restricted Speed is either 15 or 20 MPH depending upon the carrier - prepared to stop within 1/2 the range of vision for obstruction, broken rail or train ahead. 

Sorry, I have to correct this.  It's looking out for broken rail, not stopping prior to.  You have to stop prior to other train, obstruction, or misaligned switch.

And I said it 1000x times before, but I alwyas repeat it:  restricted speed is not a speed, but a METHOD OF OPERATION.

And if you 'get into' any to the things mentioned - you have exceeded Restricted Speed and generated EVIDENCE of the violation.

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Equestria
  • 7,393 posts
Posted by zugmann on Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:12 PM

Not the broken rail, though.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,231 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, February 8, 2020 4:23 PM

Broken rails are very difficult to spot from the engine.  In my experience you find most of them by feeling the 'bump'.

Here is the Canadian (CROR) definition.  Slow Speed is 15 mph.

RESTRICTED Speed
A speed that will permit stopping within one-half the range of vision of equipment, also prepared to stop short of a switch not properly lined and in no case exceeding SLOW speed.

When moving at RESTRICTED speed, be on the lookout for broken rails.

When a broken rail is detected, the movement must be stopped immediately and must not resume until permission is received from the RTC or signalman.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    March 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 5,230 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Saturday, February 8, 2020 5:41 PM

Both as an engineer and conductor, I've been able to spot a broken rail.  One time, when a conductor we got stopped with it under the lead engine.  Others we were able to stop before it.  Not being able to stop before it is not a violation.  Not stopping once you see it, or think you've been over one is.  That's why when a train runs over a suspected broken rail, it's reported as "rough track" to the dispatcher.  (A while back someone had the radio conversation of the CPRS train in the Quad Cities reporting their derailment to the CPRS dispatcher on another thread about that derailment.  The engineer actually said they went over a broken rail over the radio.  If you knew there was a broken rail, WHY DIDN"T YOU STOP?)

I've noticed it's easier for the engineer to spot a broken rail on the conductor's side rail, and vice-versa.  It's easier to spot one at night, the break is really shiny.  You also have to be going at a speed that would allow one to stop. 

Getting back to PTC.  PTC knows when a block is occuppied by the signal governing entrance to the block.  It doesn't know why the block is showing as occuppied.  It knows where hand throw switches are, but not how they're lined.  (PTC asks to verify how the switch is lined when closely apporaching them.)  If there is a train ahead, it doesn't know where the end of the train is.  If there is a broken rail, it doesn't know where it is.  

When operating at restricted speed, it's up to the crew to make sure they operate prepared to stop for potential obstructions.  Engineers now, I don't know if it's all PTC railroads, have to have an annual stop test under PTC restricted speed conditions because of this. 

Jeff

 

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: roundhouse
  • 2,700 posts
Posted by Randy Stahl on Sunday, February 9, 2020 5:41 PM

Lithonia Operator

 

 
Randy Stahl
I prefer being alone on a freight train... just sayin..
 

 

 

Randy, I conclude that you are an engineer. Does your run typically involve no enroute switching?

 

No switching enroute. I am still working for a railroad but not as an engineer currently. 

I've made at least a hundred 117 mile trips alone and crossed an international border to boot. My average trains were 9000 ton ( eastbound) and 8000 feet.

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 857 posts
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Sunday, February 9, 2020 10:00 PM

Did you just find most conductors too talky, and you personally didn't care to listen?

Or was it more that you found the distraction a significant safety compromise.

I have to admit, thinking back on my approximately 6-8 cab rides, I usually asked a lot of questions initially, but pretty quickly got the message that I should mostly keep my trap shut.

  • Member since
    June 2019
  • 18 posts
Posted by girarddepot on Sunday, February 9, 2020 10:43 PM
Has anyone figured out the labor cost per ton mile for a trtuck as opposed to rail? If not, someone ought to. Might enlighten a few perspectives.
  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 20,448 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, February 10, 2020 7:22 AM

Lithonia Operator
I have to admit, thinking back on my approximately 6-8 cab rides, I usually asked a lot of questions initially, but pretty quickly got the message that I should mostly keep my trap shut.

Non-crew in the cab can be a distraction.  I get them occasionally.  They're generally immensely grateful, but trying to balance hospitality with doing what I'm there for has to go to doing the job.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    October 2016
  • 185 posts
Posted by Saturnalia on Monday, February 10, 2020 11:36 AM

Erik_Mag

FWIW, FAA regulations on crew size are tied to the size and performance of the airplane being flown. Only the smallest of the business jets are legal to fly with one person in the cockpit.

I suspect that the true costs (e.g. counting full costs of delays) are taken into account, a crew of two is probably optimum for all but the smallest trains. Problem is that "true costs" are a bear to determine so are ignored in favor of an easily calculable "cost". Note this is true of almost all industries. This is not unique to railroads.

 

It would seem logical that such an agreement to go to one-man crews would include a provision for no intermediate work events - at least without localized help - and a set maximum train length. Railroads might bite on some one-man crews - say non-key trains shorter than 7500' in PTC territory. That would allow non-hazardous unit trains such as grain and coal to move with a single operator, while disallowing the sort of 12,000 foot land barges that are becoming more common. 

  • Member since
    December 2017
  • From: I've been everywhere, man
  • 2,231 posts
Posted by SD70Dude on Monday, February 10, 2020 11:56 AM

I prefer working with someone with common interests.  Talking helps me stay awake. 

It sucks to get a trip with someone who is having a bad time at home, or falls asleep in the chair, or just stays silent and stares out the window. 

Saturnalia - the railroads will soon find a way around any regulation like that.  And clauses like that in union contracts are not worth the paper they aren't written on anymore.  'Do it now, grieve it later'.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

  • Member since
    June 2009
  • From: Dallas, TX
  • 4,486 posts
Posted by CMStPnP on Monday, February 10, 2020 12:06 PM

SD70Dude
I prefer working with someone with common interests.  Talking helps me stay awake.  It sucks to get a trip with someone who is having a bad time at home, or falls asleep in the chair, or just stays silent and stares out the window.  Saturnalia - the railroads will soon find a way around any regulation like that.  And clauses like that in union contracts are not worth the paper they aren't written on anymore.  'Do it now, grieve it later'.

You know they have the technology and in fact the U.S. Army uses the technology to link together seperate vehicles miles apart using a virtual WAN so you can talk via intercom and keep off the radio.    Surprised the railroad industry does not use the technology.    Understood radio communications are needed for official and rules based communication.    However you should be able to chat with other railroad crews or trains within 10-20 miles from you using WAN based Voice over IP.

  • Member since
    October 2016
  • 185 posts
Posted by Saturnalia on Monday, February 10, 2020 5:37 PM

SD70Dude

Saturnalia - the railroads will soon find a way around any regulation like that.  And clauses like that in union contracts are not worth the paper they aren't written on anymore.  'Do it now, grieve it later'.

That may be the case. This is where the Railroads, Unions and FRA need to get together and figure out a good place to start. Begin with what there is now - limited one-man crews on waivers - and expand that out. What needs to be done to allow this, that or the other thing? FRA regulations have the force of law. 

The last thing anyone wants is a patchwork of state/local laws on the issue, or dragging this question out until the economic necessity slams home like it did decades ago when multi-man crews were terminated, often abruptly. It would be best to set up a system to transfer it over along known guidelines, which railroads and unions can work together on and maintain an understanding. 

  • Member since
    September 2010
  • 1,825 posts
Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Monday, February 10, 2020 5:45 PM

tree68

 Lithonia Operator

I have to admit, thinking back on my approximately 6-8 cab rides, I usually asked a lot of questions initially, but pretty quickly got the message that I should mostly keep my trap shut.

Non-crew in the cab can be a distraction.  I get them occasionally.  They're generally immensely grateful, but trying to balance hospitality with doing what I'm there for has to go to doing the job. 

I will always remember my first cab ride on the PRR in 1957 from Cincinnati to Richmond IN as a coop student working in the Signal & Communications dept. I requested and was granted a cab permit (alegedly to observe the wayside pole lines) which I did but it was not in my job description. Kept my mouth shut but the fireman had been to a union meeting the night before and was bitching the whole way to Richmond. To me, he was a distraction to the engineer and not calling signals or doing anything productive. All engine crew were hospitable to me. Only negative I had with my cab rides was that PRR only had two seats and I had to stand the whole time. 

  • Member since
    January 2002
  • From: Equestria
  • 7,393 posts
Posted by zugmann on Monday, February 10, 2020 7:01 PM

SD70Dude
I prefer working with someone with common interests. Talking helps me stay awake.

Yeah, seriously.  Doing nothing but talking signals or other purely work -related crap makes for a LOOOOOOOOOOOOOONG and boring trip.

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 20,448 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, February 10, 2020 7:02 PM

Electroliner 1935
Only negative I had with my cab rides was that PRR only had two seats and I had to stand the whole time.

We have three seats in our RS18u's, but if we're running long hood forward, the other crew member has to be in the "fireman's seat", leaving the rider to stare at the bulkhead...

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 857 posts
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Monday, February 10, 2020 9:42 PM

Running long hood forward for collision-safety reasons?

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,116 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Monday, February 10, 2020 10:05 PM

Lithonia Operator
Running long hood forward for collision-safety reasons?

Lack of turning facilities.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 20,448 posts
Posted by tree68 on Monday, February 10, 2020 10:46 PM

BaltACD
Lack of turning facilities.

Never mind that we don't have any turning facilities at all, this is very common for tourist operations - even the Strasburg and their steam engines.  

We can run around the trains, but the locos stay oriented as they are.  We do have locos facing both ways, and when they get used in pairs, we can keep a short hood in the lead.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    May 2019
  • 857 posts
Posted by Lithonia Operator on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 1:13 AM

BaltACD

 

 
Lithonia Operator
Running long hood forward for collision-safety reasons?

 

Lack of turning facilities.

 

My mistake. I had missed Larry saying "if." I thought he had stated flatly that they ran long hood forward, meaning always.

Yes, many tourist roads don't/can't turn engines. We rode the Stourbridge Line, and the train simply backed up for the return half of the trip; the engine did not switch ends; there was no siding to use.

  • Member since
    June 2002
  • 15,861 posts
Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 2:21 AM

To clafify Zugman's point.  To stop when viewing an obstruction, restricted speed will actually vary with circumstances, including grades, curves, weather, and visibilty.   Under some conditions, once when I rode B&M locomotives, it was walking speed, four miles-per-hour.

  • Member since
    August 2011
  • From: Rockford, Michigan
  • 19 posts
Posted by Doktor No on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 7:22 AM

 And what is the actual hours on duty of that engineer? Almost all Amtrak trains operate with a one man crew in the locomotive...then again they are on a less then 4to 5 hour run in most if not all instances and get rest at the other end of the road on a lot of runs. Freight jobs, here in the midwest operating into Chicago or Detroit are usually on the job for maximum 12 hours and run at all hours of the day. Try getting called at midnight for a 2am on duty and run 12 hours sometime. Then do it for many times a month and see where your mental alertness is at. Then run into the Chicago terminal over various routes.....not fun at all.

 Sleep deprivation is an evil thing and comparing Amtrak locomotive crews to freight crews is absurd at best.

  • Member since
    September 2014
  • 7 posts
Posted by DAVID GRIMM1 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 11:13 AM

daveklepper
Under some conditions, once when I rode B&M locomotives, it was walking speed, four miles-per-hour.

And I have pointed out (to the dismay of some dispatchers) that sometimes conditions (such as thick fog) are such that I don't move at all until the fog lifts at least a little.

  • Member since
    June 2004
  • From: roundhouse
  • 2,700 posts
Posted by Randy Stahl on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 3:06 PM

Lithonia Operator

Did you just find most conductors too talky, and you personally didn't care to listen?

Or was it more that you found the distraction a significant safety compromise.

I have to admit, thinking back on my approximately 6-8 cab rides, I usually asked a lot of questions initially, but pretty quickly got the message that I should mostly keep my trap shut.

 

Most of the time the cnductor was asleep 10 miles into the trip, he might as well not even be there. I was talking to the dispacth, throwing switches etc, while they were sound asleep.

There were a few individuals that I enjoyed having with me in the cab but for the most part not. 

 

I wasn't allowed to run long hood forward by myself so there were times I had no choice but to share the cab...

  • Member since
    November 2003
  • From: Tulsa, OK
  • 136 posts
Posted by joesap1 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 4:32 PM

Lithonia Operator

I just read this article: http://trn.trains.com/news/news-wire/2020/01/railroads-unions-butt-heads-on-crew-size-ahead-of-first-national-bargaining-meeting

Is this (any upcoming negotiations, whenever they might occur) solely about railroads wanting 1 person, and unions wanting 2? Or is it more complicated than that?

 

I can only speak from my own experience. I have operated many trains with just me for my 12 hour shift. One time the train went into emergency and wouldn't recover.         
    I had to leave the cab and hike back, looking for an air leak. I found one car just in front of a bridge blowing air. I cut out the car. If the leaking car had been past the bridge, I wouldn't have been able to locate it.

   One more thing, I had a friend whose engineer began to choke on his sandwich. If he had not been there to preform the heimlech maneuver, the engineer would have died. The train would have gone into emergency when the alerter kicked in.

 

Joe Sapwater
  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,116 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 6:20 PM

Randy Stahl
 
Lithonia Operator

Did you just find most conductors too talky, and you personally didn't care to listen?

Or was it more that you found the distraction a significant safety compromise.

I have to admit, thinking back on my approximately 6-8 cab rides, I usually asked a lot of questions initially, but pretty quickly got the message that I should mostly keep my trap shut. 

Most of the time the cnductor was asleep 10 miles into the trip, he might as well not even be there. I was talking to the dispacth, throwing switches etc, while they were sound asleep.

There were a few individuals that I enjoyed having with me in the cab but for the most part not.  

I wasn't allowed to run long hood forward by myself so there were times I had no choice but to share the cab...

You get the kind of Conductor you allow in YOUR cab.

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 2,952 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 6:48 PM

So Randy,  did you have veto power over which conductors were in the cab with you?  Or is Balt's remark factual?  Both are not correct.

  • Member since
    December 2001
  • From: Northern New York
  • 20,448 posts
Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 6:58 PM

charlie hebdo
Both are not correct.

I think they both have a valid point.  With a few exceptions, you get someone from the pool/rotation - whoever is up next.  Not a lot of options for choice there.

As for getting the conductor you allow in your cab - that's rather analogous to your kids: they behave the way you let them (for the most part).  

And conductors probably feel the same way about engineers...

With chiefly volunteer staffing, we're often stuck with whoever is available and chooses to run that day.  Some days you hit the jackpot, some days you wonder why you even came in.  I had one volunteer conductor who had gone to work for a short line.  Working with him was a dream.

He quit railroading and now plays steel guitar as a session musician around Nashville...

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
My Opinion. Standard Disclaimers Apply. No Expiration Date
Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

  • Member since
    September 2017
  • 2,952 posts
Posted by charlie hebdo on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 7:06 PM

Sorry,  Randy's statement and Balt's are largely mutually exclusive.  Let's hear from other engineers on the major rails such as Zugmann, Jeff,  etc.  

  • Member since
    May 2003
  • From: US
  • 18,116 posts
Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, February 11, 2020 9:15 PM

charlie hebdo
Sorry,  Randy's statement and Balt's are largely mutually exclusive.  Let's hear from other engineers on the major rails such as Zugmann, Jeff,  etc.  

If the engineer allows the conductor to slack off his duties and sleep - it is on the engineer.  Sometimes - in all professions, you have to be a badass and require those you work with to do what they are being paid to do.  You 'get' the level of employee you are willing to accept - no matter if they are a regular on the run or a person off the extra board.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy