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Extra Coaches on Missouri River Runner

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Extra Coaches on Missouri River Runner
Posted by Dwight911 on Monday, March 20, 2017 7:24 PM

Last week my wife and I took a round trip on the Missouri River Runner between St Louis and Kansas City.  I was surprised to see that these trains were running with seven coaches, only three of which were in use.  I asked the conductor about it.  He said that late in 2016 the UP began requiring that Amtrak run at least 30 axles on these trains so they wouldn't disappear from dispatcher displays.

He also mentioned that Amtrak pays the UP by the car (or maybe by the axle) so the extra unused coaches required by the UP were generating extra revenue for the UP.

We enjoyed the round trip.  It was a great way to spend a day.

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Posted by BaltACD on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 10:09 AM

Can't knowledgeably comment on UP's reasons for their requirements.

The carrier I hired out on at one time operated single unit Budd RDC cars as trains.  Shortly thereafter it was discovered that a single RDC operating at track speed was operating faster than the relay based signal system could react to it's presence and therefore signals did not drop to their most restrictive position behind the single RDC's operation.  Major Safety Problem.  The carriers response was to issue Special Instructions and Rules that restricted 'single' engines to 30 MPH.  Two or more pieces of equipment area allowed to operate at track speed.  Those restrictions have carried through to CSX today.

Never too old to have a happy childhood!

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Posted by Deggesty on Tuesday, March 21, 2017 10:48 AM

In the spring of 1968, I rode a single car RDC train from Baltimore to Washington, and we moseyed along.That summer, I came in to Washington in a slumber coach on the Capitol Limited, and rode a two car RDC train to Baltimore; we moved much faster. About that time, I learned about the necessitaty of having at least two cars to activate the signals properly at the higher speeds.

I had an interesting time in Chicago in getting the ticket seller to understand that I wanted a ticket to Baltimore (it cost the same as a ticket to Washington, whether you  rode B&O or PRR) and a slumber coach ticket to Washington.

Johnny

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:44 AM

Dwight911

Last week my wife and I took a round trip on the Missouri River Runner between St Louis and Kansas City.  I was surprised to see that these trains were running with seven coaches, only three of which were in use.  I asked the conductor about it.  He said that late in 2016 the UP began requiring that Amtrak run at least 30 axles on these trains so they wouldn't disappear from dispatcher displays.

He also mentioned that Amtrak pays the UP by the car (or maybe by the axle) so the extra unused coaches required by the UP were generating extra revenue for the UP.

We enjoyed the round trip.  It was a great way to spend a day.

 

I have a recent photo of it rolling into Kansas City within the last few weeks.   Indeed you are correct about the makeup........I had wondered why so many baggage cars on the end of the train.   Somewhat humorous answer.

On the flip side I am surprised how many folks in Kansas City (of all ages) plan to ride the Southwest Chief to Chicago to see the play "Hamilton".    Interesting when you roll in the proximity of the play to downtown Chicago and the hassle of driving in Chicago............how many folks choose the train, regardless of the time it takes vs driving or flying.   Perhaps Amtrak marketing may or may not catch the blip in ridership and learn from it...........perhaps not.     Time will tell.

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, March 25, 2017 1:47 AM

BaltACD

Can't knowledgeably comment on UP's reasons for their requirements.

The carrier I hired out on at one time operated single unit Budd RDC cars as trains.  Shortly thereafter it was discovered that a single RDC operating at track speed was operating faster than the relay based signal system could react to it's presence and therefore signals did not drop to their most restrictive position behind the single RDC's operation.  Major Safety Problem.  The carriers response was to issue Special Instructions and Rules that restricted 'single' engines to 30 MPH.  Two or more pieces of equipment area allowed to operate at track speed.  Those restrictions have carried through to CSX today.

Milwaukee Road had a similar issue on their Twin Cities main while demoing the SPV2000  as a potential Milwaukee to Watertown, WI commuter rail solution and their solution was to hookup an office car to it to make a two car train but forbid riders from riding in the office car.   Apparently they could not find a second compatible HEP car.   This was the 1980's ish.

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Posted by JEFFREY PLETCHER on Monday, March 27, 2017 8:24 PM

In pre-Amtrak days on this same St. Louis-Kansas City line, the MoPac passenger trains in the late 1960's-early 1970's were short, only an E-unit and a couple of cars. Apparently the technical requirements of the signaling system have evolved to where more axles are required. Does anyone know, is this a result of upgrading to PTC? If so, here is a case of progress introducing unintended and expensive (for Amtrak) complications. The extra cars required on the "Mo. River Runners" are prevented from being used elsewhere where they might generate additional revenue, to say nothing of the extra payments to the U.P. as someone else pointed out.

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Posted by Sunnyland on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 2:46 PM

I had heard this locally and had seen the RR as a  longer train.  I haven't rode it for a couple of years, but will be doing it in a couple of months. I like to stand at the rear and look out, if they don't have cafe car/business class at the end, so don't know where these extra cars will be.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:18 PM

Sunnyland

I had heard this locally and had seen the RR as a  longer train.  I haven't rode it for a couple of years, but will be doing it in a couple of months. I like to stand at the rear and look out, if they don't have cafe car/business class at the end, so don't know where these extra cars will be.  

Don't count on the rear lookout when I took a photo of the train the last few cars were baggage (some Heritage Baggage, some Viewliner Baggage) and no passengers in them.   I think the train only had 3-4 cars with passengers at the front end.

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Posted by oltmannd on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 8:27 PM

Dwight911
I asked the conductor about it.  He said that late in 2016 the UP began requiring that Amtrak run at least 30 axles on these trains so they wouldn't disappear from dispatcher displays.

That really sounds funky.  Can't imagine a track circuit needing 30 axles for solid shunting. Must make for some goofy lite engine moves.  Hopefully, it's just temporary.

-Don (Random stuff, mostly about trains - what else? http://blerfblog.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, March 29, 2017 10:23 PM

oltmannd
Dwight911

That really sounds funky.  Can't imagine a track circuit needing 30 axles for solid shunting. Must make for some goofy lite engine moves.  Hopefully, it's just temporary.

I doubt it has anything to do with track circuits - but it may have something to do with Defect Detectors. 

Defect Detectors count axles - I have seen where short passenger trains can sometimes get a 'Defect Detector Malfunction' (not being a signal maintainer I don't know what type of malfunction the detector is actually recording, however, data is retained and examined by maintainers).  On my territories, most (but not all) passenger trains were 6 cars + engine = 28 axles. 

Defect Detectors will also malfunction if trains pass over them at too slow of a speed.  This can be a consideration on how a Dispatcher routes a train over his territory, especially if there are low speed crossovers near Defect Detectors.

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Posted by JOHN L CLARK on Friday, March 31, 2017 7:01 AM

That's why in today's world, CSX limits single diesel units to 30 mph for light moves

and more than one, is now 60 mph.  Same scenario as the RDC's.

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, March 31, 2017 1:41 PM

oltmannd
That really sounds funky. Can't imagine a track circuit needing 30 axles for solid shunting. Must make for some goofy lite engine moves. Hopefully, it's just temporary.

I believe around here, single lite engines are still given absolute blocks (at least for following movements).  I think passenger trains are also the same?  But I don't know for sure.

 

Single lite engines are 30mph on our railroad - but I was told that's due to braking.  I guess there have been many stop signal violations with lite power. Either way- running lite engines for any distance is a pain in the butt.

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

And why does the truth seem too hard to be true?

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, March 31, 2017 1:49 PM

BaltACD
Defect Detectors will also malfunction if trains pass over them at too slow of a speed. This can be a consideration on how a Dispatcher routes a train over his territory, especially if there are low speed crossovers near Defect Detectors.

We have a spot... defect detector you must do 8+ over.  But past the detector is a siding you sometimes had to take.  Siding speed limit is 10.  So you're  pulling a 80-100 car train into the siding, trying to keep the speed between 8 and 10.  Fun stuff.

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

And why does the truth seem too hard to be true?

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Posted by Robert Holman on Tuesday, April 04, 2017 11:50 AM

The Portland section of the Empire Builder runs 4 coaches and locomotive for 24 axles between Spokane and Portland.  I have heard detector calls for 12 axles before out on the ex NP main between Spokane and Pasco, and see 2 six axle locomotives running light power on the main at track speed.   

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