Elephant style

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Elephant style
Posted by NareBNSF on Friday, March 31, 2017 11:15 AM

Why do they put trains in elephant style? I see this quite often on the NS Pittsburgh line, and I always wondered. Does it have to do with the speed of the train? Or just the way they were facing in the yard? Thanks!

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Posted by NP Eddie on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:22 PM

NareBNSF:

The various railroads do this so in case the lead locomotive has problems, the second one can be moved quickly to the front. Don't forget that most road locomotives have ditch lights only on the forward end of said locomotive. The Geeps on locals have ditch lights on both ends due to the expense of installation of those lights and local Geeps move both back and forth with their trains. See GCOR Rule 5.9.5 for further information.

Ed Burns

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RME
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Posted by RME on Friday, March 31, 2017 12:30 PM

Something you commonly see (or used to see) is pairs or sets of units operating 'cabs out' to give the effect of a single high-horsepower double-cab locomotive (this is similar to A-Bn-A sets of cab units).  On some railroads, NS on the ex-Southern main for example, there appears to be an effort to have the two 'leading' units on a directional consist of three be elephant-style, while the third is cabs-out to the second.  That's likely for the reason NP Eddie has given.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, March 31, 2017 3:33 PM

The reality in today's railroading - UNLESS - power is being ferried for use at a particular location - power that gets assigned to a train is 'luck of the draw' with enough HP or TE to handle the requirements of moving the train.

In many cases, power assigned to a train is JUST enough to move the train.  If an engine fails, the train is dead until another engine of similar characteristics can be obtained.

Power is most frequently operated back to back to facilitate the dispatchment of the next outboud train from the destination terminal.  Engine turning facilities are few and far between and getting scarcer all the time.

On every Class 1 there are specific trains that are used to ferry power to an from the major shops for the required 92 day inspections (known as a Q for quarterly) or for repair of defects that are beyond field locations to remedy.

         

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Posted by DSchmitt on Friday, March 31, 2017 3:34 PM

and sometimes that just happened to be the way the units were facing when they made up the consist.   

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Posted by D&HRetiree on Monday, April 10, 2017 7:36 PM

Sometimes units were operated elephant style on purpose and for operating convenience. An example would be the CN(VIA)/ONT "Northland" passsenger train operating between Toronto and Kapuskasing, Ontario. The "Northland" normally departed Toronto with two units both facing forwrd. At the crew change point of Englehart, Ontario, the lead unit was cut off and took the Rouyn/Noranda setion  of the train via Swastika Junction into Quebec Province while the second unit took the balance of the train to Kapuskasing via Cochrane. For this train the units would be ONT FT7s or CN(VIA) passenger cab units.

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Posted by Saturnalia on Monday, April 10, 2017 11:24 PM

Most Class I road train power assignments today are really just whatever is available with the least amount of effort required. Often the yardmaster will have a list of units sitting on the dispatch track(s) and simply assign whatever is there, within reason. Reason generally requires that the leader faces forward, and of course they have to match their tonnage ratings. 

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Posted by Kielbasa on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 1:58 PM

Saturnalia

Most Class I road train power assignments today are really just whatever is available with the least amount of effort required. Often the yardmaster will have a list of units sitting on the dispatch track(s) and simply assign whatever is there, within reason. Reason generally requires that the leader faces forward, and of course they have to match their tonnage ratings. 

 

Ha! He said match tonnage ratings... that's adorable!

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 5:56 PM

Kielbasa
Ha! He said match tonnage ratings... that's adorable!

Well, it matched.  When the engine rolled off the assembly floor.  Back in 1983.

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

I occasionally post off-topic remarks.  Adults can handle that.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, April 11, 2017 8:07 PM

zugmann
Kielbasa

Well, it matched.  When the engine rolled off the assembly floor.  Back in 1983.

You forget - engines are just like children - the older they get, the stronger they get! Wink

         

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, April 13, 2017 6:51 AM

D&HRetiree

Sometimes units were operated elephant style on purpose and for operating convenience. An example would be the CN(VIA)/ONT "Northland" passsenger train operating between Toronto and Kapuskasing, Ontario. The "Northland" normally departed Toronto with two units both facing forwrd. At the crew change point of Englehart, Ontario, the lead unit was cut off and took the Rouyn/Noranda setion  of the train via Swastika Junction into Quebec Province while the second unit took the balance of the train to Kapuskasing via Cochrane. For this train the units would be ONT FT7s or CN(VIA) passenger cab units.

 
Amtrak has a similar practice with the "Empire Builder" due to the split of Seattle and Portland sections at Spokane.
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Posted by RME on Thursday, April 13, 2017 9:09 AM

RME
On some railroads, NS on the ex-Southern main for example, there appears to be an effort to have the two 'leading' units on a directional consist of three be elephant-style, while the third is cabs-out to the second.

As a perhaps ironic update, every train I have seen on that line since I made that post has had every engine, at both ends of the train when DPU-equipped, arranged 'elephant-style', extending even to having two locomotives in one DPU consist coupled cabs-in so the trailing engine had its cab facing the direction of train movement.

I have also seen, very recently, a great increase in the number of trains with midtrain or trailing DPU running through here -- could this be related to a larger number of 'equipped' locomotives being available due to the falloff in coal traffic?

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Posted by NareBNSF on Thursday, April 13, 2017 10:43 AM

When I railfan Norfolk Southern's Pittsburgh Line, an there is an Ex-Conrail leading, 9/10 times it's in elephant style. I also usually see elephant style on coal trains as well.

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Posted by Kielbasa on Thursday, April 13, 2017 12:00 PM

RME

I have also seen, very recently, a great increase in the number of trains with midtrain or trailing DPU running through here -- could this be related to a larger number of 'equipped' locomotives being available due to the falloff in coal traffic?

 

Coal has picked up quite substantially for us of late and all the new power is being assigned to those trains. It's common to see 4 units sequentially numbered. Also, NS management has gotten religion about these DP trains and loves them. When they don't pull themselves apart they work pretty well. 

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Posted by Saturnalia on Friday, April 14, 2017 8:56 PM

zugmann

 

 
Kielbasa
Ha! He said match tonnage ratings... that's adorable!

 

Well, it matched.  When the engine rolled off the assembly floor.  Back in 1983.

 

Well, there are always those cases. I'm well-versed in this "phenonemna", I'm up to 3 stalled-out trains on video now. One I captured earlier this year as it happened, where somebody didn't give enough power to get CSX Q326 up Saugatuck Hill in Michigan - not all that uncommon an occurance, I might add. The rain didn't help.

So here's the (narrated) video, including the stall and the doubling process to get them over the grade: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lodhNn17t38

Well we all know railroads aren't known for necessarily matching power to tonnage, but we can at least go along with the *perfect world* interpretation, no? Ok, maybe not! 

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