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Its been a while since I have seen "slave units aka slugs" even in major yards on CSX and Conrail.

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Its been a while since I have seen "slave units aka slugs" even in major yards on CSX and Conrail.
Posted by divebardave on Tuesday, March 10, 2020 2:34 PM

hanging around rr yards and now that I think of it I have not seen a slug unit in about 6 years doing the hump

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, March 13, 2020 10:11 AM

Depends on where you look.  BRC has SD40/slug sets working the hump at Clearing and IHB uses slugs for flat switching.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, March 14, 2020 9:25 AM

divebardave
hanging around rr yards and now that I think of it I have not seen a slug unit in about 6 years doing the hump

You mean CSX still has active humps after PSR?

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Posted by divebardave on Saturday, March 21, 2020 6:17 PM

saw a slug on a NS road train in Cincy Queensgate enroute N to a steel mill

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Posted by YoHo1975 on Monday, March 23, 2020 12:22 PM
UP uses full carbody SD40 slugs. So SD40-2 mated to a slug that looks like an SD40-2. They also have newer tier 4 power mixed in to the hump and flat switch pool.
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Posted by Railking42 on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 10:11 AM
Norfolk Southern still has them. I've seen Fairbanks Morse Trainmaster slugs in the Roanoke yard.
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Posted by Leo_Ames on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 7:07 PM

The Train Master slugs are gone from NS. The last RP-F6Y slug went in 2008. There's one in storage in Roanoke, but I believe it's VMT property.

The entire slug program at CSX appears to possibly be coming to a close soon. The road slug program has been gutted recently with just a few of the GP40 cores still active (All GP30 and GP35 cores are said to be parked and slated for disposition and many GP40-2's have been sold or are now stored).

I think I also saw that a MT-6 had been sold recently, but I'm thinking it was a NS owned unit (Probably the 856, which is no longer rostered according to NSDash9 but online pictures exist of it up to last Fall, so it's a recent casualty). Those of course have been hump yard slugs and such ever since Conrail outshopped them from 6 axle Alco cores back circa 1980 and they stayed on those duties for NS/CSX.

Sadly, it makes sense and we'll see further disposals of these specialty slugs at CSX/NS as the number of active hump yards continue to dwindle. I bet at least half of the CSX MT-6's are stored these days and many of the remaining RPU6's at NS are listed as stored (A class which includes the remaining ex CR MT-6's and quite a few additional units rebuilt from old NS SD38's and 40's, some of which have also been retired and sold lately it appears).

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Wednesday, July 15, 2020 11:01 PM

BaltACD

 

 
divebardave
hanging around rr yards and now that I think of it I have not seen a slug unit in about 6 years doing the hump

 

You mean CSX still has active humps after PSR?

 

 

Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

I thought an element of PSR is that operations are going back to mixed trains rather than solid-blocks of intermodal/oil tankers/hoppers?  If they don't use hump yards, is everything to be flat switched?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by zugmann on Friday, July 17, 2020 8:28 AM

Paul Milenkovic
Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

 A lot more flat switching and block swapping at earlier terminals. 

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

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Posted by highball6868 on Friday, July 17, 2020 4:56 PM

I now resent having used the word "slave unit"...but that is what they were called back in the 80s.

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Friday, July 17, 2020 9:46 PM

zugmann

 

 
Paul Milenkovic
Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

 

 A lot more flat switching and block swapping at earlier terminals. 

 

I can understand the shade thrown on PSR regarding heavy-handed treatment of workers, along with an unrealistic view of the practical problems with ultra-long trains, but if the PSR "formula" involves more flat switching at earlier terminals and less sorting of cars in a hump yard, somebody must have looked at this tradeoff and figured it was an improvement?

The old saying about a stopped clock being correct twice each day, but there must be some things that PSR gets right?

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, July 17, 2020 10:15 PM

Paul Milenkovic
zugmann
Paul Milenkovic
Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

 A lot more flat switching and block swapping at earlier terminals. 

I can understand the shade thrown on PSR regarding heavy-handed treatment of workers, along with an unrealistic view of the practical problems with ultra-long trains, but if the PSR "formula" involves more flat switching at earlier terminals and less sorting of cars in a hump yard, somebody must have looked at this tradeoff and figured it was an improvement?

The old saying about a stopped clock being correct twice each day, but there must be some things that PSR gets right?

It depends.

Pre-blocking sounds pretty good in theory and when done properly does improve they overall system's efficiency, but that is not always the case.

The additional switching required at smaller, earlier terminals may clog them up, require additional crews, and/or result in poorer service to local customers as the crew that would have switched them is doing the pre-blocking work instead. 

Greetings from Alberta

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, July 18, 2020 9:23 AM

Paul Milenkovic
The old saying about a stopped clock being correct twice each day, but there must be some things that PSR gets right?

Haven't found anything yet. 

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Posted by Paul Milenkovic on Saturday, July 18, 2020 9:59 PM

SD70Dude

 

 
Paul Milenkovic
zugmann
Paul Milenkovic
Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

 A lot more flat switching and block swapping at earlier terminals. 

I can understand the shade thrown on PSR regarding heavy-handed treatment of workers, along with an unrealistic view of the practical problems with ultra-long trains, but if the PSR "formula" involves more flat switching at earlier terminals and less sorting of cars in a hump yard, somebody must have looked at this tradeoff and figured it was an improvement?

The old saying about a stopped clock being correct twice each day, but there must be some things that PSR gets right?

 

 

It depends.

Pre-blocking sounds pretty good in theory and when done properly does improve they overall system's efficiency, but that is not always the case.

The additional switching required at smaller, earlier terminals may clog them up, require additional crews, and/or result in poorer service to local customers as the crew that would have switched them is doing the pre-blocking work instead. 

 

In explaining prototype operations to the railroad modeler, John Armstrong (1963) Track Planning for Realistic Operation, Kalmbach, Milwaukee, p 16 explains

"At congested city yards . . . railroad operating officials may prefer to do very little more than hook the cars received into trains . . . and send them down the main line as fast as possible to a more strategically located out-in-the-country yard which has room to get cars classified more economically."

Interesting.

I guess there is a French language expression that translates, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

If GM "killed the electric car", what am I doing standing next to an EV-1, a half a block from the WSOR tracks?
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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, July 18, 2020 11:16 PM

Paul Milenkovic
SD70Dude
Paul Milenkovic
zugmann
Paul Milenkovic
Are hump yards going away because everything is either intermodal or unit trains?  Or is it because the railroads are turning their backs on customers who don't generate trainload volumes of freight?

 A lot more flat switching and block swapping at earlier terminals. 

I can understand the shade thrown on PSR regarding heavy-handed treatment of workers, along with an unrealistic view of the practical problems with ultra-long trains, but if the PSR "formula" involves more flat switching at earlier terminals and less sorting of cars in a hump yard, somebody must have looked at this tradeoff and figured it was an improvement?

The old saying about a stopped clock being correct twice each day, but there must be some things that PSR gets right?

It depends.

Pre-blocking sounds pretty good in theory and when done properly does improve they overall system's efficiency, but that is not always the case.

The additional switching required at smaller, earlier terminals may clog them up, require additional crews, and/or result in poorer service to local customers as the crew that would have switched them is doing the pre-blocking work instead. 

In explaining prototype operations to the railroad modeler, John Armstrong (1963) Track Planning for Realistic Operation, Kalmbach, Milwaukee, p 16 explains

"At congested city yards . . . railroad operating officials may prefer to do very little more than hook the cars received into trains . . . and send them down the main line as fast as possible to a more strategically located out-in-the-country yard which has room to get cars classified more economically."

Interesting.

I guess there is a French language expression that translates, "The more things change, the more they stay the same."

The modern version of this involves the cars being sent to a "out-in-the-country yard" that is in the wrong direction, meaning they eventually have to be sent back toward the congested city yard once again.

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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Posted by Leo_Ames on Monday, July 20, 2020 12:14 AM

BNSF seems to be another Class 1 that's reducing or perhaps even eliminating slug usage.

I think all three of their remaining yard slugs are parked. And the TEBC6 fleet that BN had constructed in the mid 1990's from SD9 cores are going (Possibly a byproduct of the decision not to rebuild the SD38P masters that had old and non-standard microprocessor control systems that are becoming difficult to maintain?). 

Only Union Pacific seems to be experiencing growth here while the others seem to be reducing the use of these (Or in the case of NS, continues to construct slugs while retiring older examples).

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Posted by rdamon on Monday, July 20, 2020 2:49 PM

Do slugs follow the same maintenance schedule as their mothers?

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, July 21, 2020 8:29 AM

rdamon

Do slugs follow the same maintenance schedule as their mothers?

 

Ideally, you want them to, in reality it doesn't always happen.  Esp when slugs get paired with different mothers for whatever reason.  We had a set that had their MI due dates like 2 weeks apart.  Once it came back from the shop, it turned around and went right back up.  Our mechanical guy was finally able to get the dates straightened out to save a trip. 

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Posted by Overmod on Saturday, July 25, 2020 5:27 AM

divebardave
hanging around rr yards and now that I think of it I have not seen a slug unit in about 6 years doing the hump

Going back to the initial post for a little reflection.

The slugs I remember seeing on CSX in recent years were nominally in road service (one through Aulon on the CN bypass freight route, and one moving a fairly long train off the Youngstown line to the ex-Water Level Route near Ashtabula).   Both these, as I recall, were GP40 conversions.

We now read in another post to Locomotives that NS has built a new GP34ECO as successor to the GP33ECOs converted from GP50s about 4 years ago.

All these engines are built to mate with the RP-M4C cabbed slugs (the first five of which were also GP50 rebuilds, commencing about 7 years ago, but most of which were built on new frames) and it appears from NSdash9 that two more of these, also on new frames, are in process of construction at Juniata.  

It seems clear to me that these were intended to work predominantly as block and heavy flat-switch power, perhaps the current 'first best use' of all those DC traction motors that NS prioritized so many years, but an 'extended mission' for them as a modern equivalent of transfer locomotives, particularly in air-quality-management districts, also seems evident.

In my opinion there is a significant difference between characteristics for hump sets, which exert reasonably steady output at slow speed, and flat/block switching, which involves repeat heavy acceleration.  In particular, I suspect use of SCR greatly facilitates emissions reduction in the latter case, particularly with two-stroke EMD engines; it would be interesting to know if NS has realized the efficiency gains possible with slight additional use of the DEF in that type of service, or has optimized the new locomotive to load quickly for faster practical acceleration when commanded without increased pollution.

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Posted by steve-in-kville on Monday, July 27, 2020 9:04 AM
I think I've only seen a slug one time, maybe late last summer? Have not seen one since...

Regards - Steve

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, July 27, 2020 9:21 AM

Couple years ago - they had big plans to replace all our local engines with slug sets.  Problem was we have a lot of places where we can't run around the train, so we have to split 2 engines and go (at least part of the journey) push-pull.  

 

Later on, they had the same idea with replacing all our sets of two 4 axles with a single 6, but the above problems didn't magically go away.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 27, 2020 12:01 PM

zugmann
Couple years ago - they had big plans to replace all our local engines with slug sets.  Problem was we have a lot of places where we can't run around the train, so we have to split 2 engines and go (at least part of the journey) push-pull.   

Later on, they had the same idea with replacing all our sets of two 4 axles with a single 6, but the above problems didn't magically go away.  

For a time CSX was using two 4 axles on some of their locals - one on either end of the train and it would permit them to serve customers on a track segment no matter which way the customes switch opened onto the Main Track.  Some time thereafter the powers that be came down with the order that all locomotives had to be a part of the locomotive consist at the head end of the train - and the local's over the road efficiency decreased.

The Bone Valley of Florida at one time was the home of numerous mother-slug power sets.  When CSX took delivery of their most recent purchase of EMD locomotives - those 6 axles were assigned to the Bone Valley to keep them in a confined area so their maintenance requirements could be determined and only one service location would have to be trained to service them.

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Posted by zugmann on Monday, July 27, 2020 12:21 PM

BaltACD
The Bone Valley of Florida at one time was the home of numerous mother-slug power sets.  When CSX took delivery of their most recent purchase of EMD locomotives - those 6 axles were assigned to the Bone Valley to keep them in a confined area so their maintenance requirements could be determined and only one service location would have to be trained to service them.

My guess - purely uninformed - is that the 4 axles will get more money at auction than the six axles.  So they are trying to replace what they can to sell what will get the most. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Monday, July 27, 2020 8:00 PM

zugmann
 
BaltACD
The Bone Valley of Florida at one time was the home of numerous mother-slug power sets.  When CSX took delivery of their most recent purchase of EMD locomotives - those 6 axles were assigned to the Bone Valley to keep them in a confined area so their maintenance requirements could be determined and only one service location would have to be trained to service them. 

My guess - purely uninformed - is that the 4 axles will get more money at auction than the six axles.  So they are trying to replace what they can to sell what will get the most. 

After close to a year's experience in the Bone Valley, those EMD's appear to have been released to work all over the system.  I have no idea what the Bone Valley is currently using for power to keep the phosphate moving.

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