Texas Eagle Engineer

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Texas Eagle Engineer
Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 4:04 PM

Yesterday I took the Texas Eagle from Dallas to San Antonio. Although the train was approximately an hour late leaving Dallas, we still had a lengthy layover in Fort Worth.

While the train was being serviced I was able to talk to the Fort Worth based engineer. She would be operating the locomotive from Fort Worth to Austin. Another engineer takes the Eagle from Austin to San Antonio.

As I understand it Amtrak only assigns one engineer to a run if it is less than five hours. Otherwise two people are required in the cab. The scheduled time for the Eagle from Fort Worth to Austin is 4 hours, 12 minutes.

Here is the question that I forgot to ask.  What happens if the train is delayed so that it cannot get to Austin within the five hour window? Is there some wiggle room in the rule so that the Fort Worth based engineer can still take the train into Austin or does a relief engineer have to come out and take over?

As an aside she confirmed that the fuel put on the locomotive in Fort Worth is enough to take the Eagle to San Antonio and back to Fort Worth.  As a rule no fuel is put on the locomotive in San Antonio. 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 6:19 PM

JPS1
Yesterday I took the Texas Eagle from Dallas to San Antonio. Although the train was approximately an hour late leaving Dallas, we still had a lengthy layover in Fort Worth.

While the train was being serviced I was able to talk to the Fort Worth based engineer. She would be operating the locomotive from Fort Worth to Austin. Another engineer takes the Eagle from Austin to San Antonio.

As I understand it Amtrak only assigns one engineer to a run if it is less than five hours. Otherwise two people are required in the cab. The scheduled time for the Eagle from Fort Worth to Austin is 4 hours, 12 minutes.

Here is the question that I forgot to ask.  What happens if the train is delayed so that it cannot get to Austin within the five hour window? Is there some wiggle room in the rule so that the Fort Worth based engineer can still take the train into Austin or does a relief engineer have to come out and take over?

As an aside she confirmed that the fuel put on the locomotive in Fort Worth is enough to take the Eagle to San Antonio and back to Fort Worth.  As a rule no fuel is put on the locomotive in San Antonio. 

The scheduled running time is the critical element.  If the trip takes longer than scheduled the manning requirements don't change.  Railroading Happens!

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 7:31 PM

About three years ago, the California Zephyr left Chicago a little over two hours late--and kept losing time along the way. I went to bed somewhere in eastern Iowa--and woke up in Lincoln--where we were five hours late. The operating crews that come on Lincoln had been called for their regular time--and so had been on duty for five hours before they were able to work. Somewhere in the wilds of western Nebraaka they were relieved because their time had run out.

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 8:23 PM

Deggesty
About three years ago, the California Zephyr left Chicago a little over two hours late--and kept losing time along the way. I went to bed somewhere in eastern Iowa--and woke up in Lincoln--where we were five hours late. The operating crews that come on Lincoln had been called for their regular time--and so had been on duty for five hours before they were able to work. Somewhere in the wilds of western Nebraaka they were relieved because their time had run out.

My experiences with Amtrak Crew Managment indicate they DO NOT keep track of where their trains are in relation to their scheduled crew change times and they don't alter the On Duty times of their crews to agree with reality.

         

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Posted by JPS1 on Wednesday, August 16, 2017 10:41 PM

Here is a related question.  Amtrak's crew base in Fort Worth, as well as San Antonio, has an extra board for conductor(s), assistant conductor(s), and engineer(s).

If an engineer, as an example, is on the extra board, is he only paid when he gets called out or does he get paid something even if he does not get called out?

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Posted by Dakguy201 on Thursday, August 17, 2017 7:01 AM

BaltACD

 My experiences with Amtrak Crew Managment indicate they DO NOT keep track of where their trains are in relation to their scheduled crew change times and they don't alter the On Duty times of their crews to agree with reality.

 

 
While I believe you, I find that situation nearly incredible.  Is Amtrak's management really that incompetent?  For example, I can sit out here in the wilds of South Dakota and know that this morning's eastbound Zephyr is going to be nearly 3 hours late into the Omaha crew change point, but that information escapes those responsible for crew management?
 
I'd be very interested in knowing any reason why that situation exists.      
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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, August 17, 2017 12:40 PM

Dakguy201
 
BaltACD

 My experiences with Amtrak Crew Managment indicate they DO NOT keep track of where their trains are in relation to their scheduled crew change times and they don't alter the On Duty times of their crews to agree with reality.  

While I believe you, I find that situation nearly incredible.  Is Amtrak's management really that incompetent?  For example, I can sit out here in the wilds of South Dakota and know that this morning's eastbound Zephyr is going to be nearly 3 hours late into the Omaha crew change point, but that information escapes those responsible for crew management?
 
I'd be very interested in knowing any reason why that situation exists.

I can't count all the times I have had to contact Amtrak CNOC and tell them that Train X isn't going to make destination within HOS and they need to begin to get a recrew for the train.  Trains that were multiple hours late into and out of their crew change points.  P030, the Capitol Limited coming out of the crew change location of Pittsburgh has been so late from NS issues that the crew couldn't make the Engineers crew change point a Cumberland and the Conductor couldn't make Washington.

         

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Posted by JPS1 on Saturday, August 19, 2017 8:57 AM

[quote user="JPS1"]

Here is a related question.  Amtrak's crew base in Fort Worth, as well as San Antonio, has an extra board for conductor(s), assistant conductor(s), and engineer(s).

If an engineer, as an example, is on the extra board, is he only paid when he gets called out or does he get paid something even if he does not get called out? [quote]

Hopefully someone can answer this question.  

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Posted by CMStPnP on Saturday, August 19, 2017 9:55 AM

Dakguy201
While I believe you, I find that situation nearly incredible.  Is Amtrak's management really that incompetent?  For example, I can sit out here in the wilds of South Dakota and know that this morning's eastbound Zephyr is going to be nearly 3 hours late into the Omaha crew change point, but that information escapes those responsible for crew management?   I'd be very interested in knowing any reason why that situation exists.      

I've noticed somewhat similar in the Airline Industry.    I fly American Airlines to Kansas City sometimes there is a weather event over DFW.    Usually I am flying out at 7:10 p.m., they cancel the 7:10 p.m. flght, next mornings flight and usually do not recover until the next afternoon sometime.    Meanwhile a few gates over, Southwest Airlines recovers in less than a few hours and is flying with no cancellations the next morning.    Both fly to Dallas, one to DFW and the other to Dallas Love field.    Granted not the same airport but still.     I've seen it at other airports as well.   Southwest usually always recovers from a weather event a full 8-12 hours before American Airlines does and the reason American does not recover quicker is usually always crew management releated in my observation.

You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait.

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 19, 2017 10:13 AM

CMStPnP
You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait.

How could they possibly use Southwest to dispatch AA crews?

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Posted by Deggesty on Saturday, August 19, 2017 10:42 AM

schlimm

 

 
CMStPnP
You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait.

 

How could they possibly use Southwest to dispatch AA crews?

 

Send the crews on Southwest flights.

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 19, 2017 1:19 PM

Deggesty

 

 
schlimm

 

 
CMStPnP
You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait.

 

How could they possibly use Southwest to dispatch AA crews?

 

 

 

Send the crews on Southwest flights.

 

 

I know what he meant.  My question was politely casting doubts on AA doing that.  Terrible for image:  "When American Airlines crews need to get to Dallas, they fly Southwest!"

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Posted by longhorn1969 on Saturday, August 19, 2017 2:34 PM

schlimm

 

 
Deggesty

 

 
schlimm

 

 
CMStPnP
You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait.

 

How could they possibly use Southwest to dispatch AA crews?

 

 

 

Send the crews on Southwest flights.

 

 

 

 

I know what he meant.  My question was politely casting doubts on AA doing that.  Terrible for image:  "When American Airlines crews need to get to Dallas, they fly Southwest!"

 

 

Happens all the time with airlines flying the competition. Its called dead heading, and many times the pilots ride up in the cockpit since they are two extra chairs up there. FA's will deadhead up front sometimes too. It's usually open to any airline employee in the profession.

I remember reading about freight RRs using Amtrak to move their crews around.

 

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Posted by schlimm on Saturday, August 19, 2017 3:17 PM

With the "legacy" airlines, of course.  Not so sure about Southwest. JBS1 would know, as would bluestreak or n012944.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 19, 2017 4:32 PM

longhorn1969
 
schlimm
 
Deggesty
 
schlimm
 
CMStPnP
You would think at a min the Managers at American would notice Southwest flights are up and running and use Southwest to dispatch crews to speed up network recovery instead of waiting on American flights but they would rather sit around and wait. 

How could they possibly use Southwest to dispatch AA crews? 

Send the crews on Southwest flights.

I know what he meant.  My question was politely casting doubts on AA doing that.  Terrible for image:  "When American Airlines crews need to get to Dallas, they fly Southwest!" 

Happens all the time with airlines flying the competition. Its called dead heading, and many times the pilots ride up in the cockpit since they are two extra chairs up there. FA's will deadhead up front sometimes too. It's usually open to any airline employee in the profession.

I remember reading about freight RRs using Amtrak to move their crews around.

I seem to recall in recent memory, United getting unholy hell for the way they secured seats for a deadhead crew movement.

Air carriers pride themselves on having full flights these days.  Trying to find last second seats on a competing carrier will be a whole lot of fun.

On my working territory we did deadhead crews between Richmond and Philadelphia on Amtrak - both ways when necessary.  Division Manager didn't want Contract carriers operating through the traffic on the I-95 corridor between those points, both from a safety stand point and from a repeatable time in transit stand point.  

         

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, August 19, 2017 6:50 PM

Dead heading on airlines is really complicated.  Have D/H on almost all US air carriers, CR, Amtrak, bus (ugh ), limos, ferry boat etc. Ground transportation for air crews usually disliked on due to the long on duty pay times.  Why so different for various airlines ?  Usually amounts to route network.  Also usually airlines with fewer different model planes that require different qualifications can recover quicker.  SW as far as I remember now qualifies all crews on all different models of 737s.  SW did have several years when the new cockpit cinfigurations did have 2  or 3 different qualifications   However special airport qualifications ( Aspen, Gunnison for example ) or certain international airport and routes can gum up the works.

Operating crews now on the north Atlantic had to be specifically qualified and route checked and that is rapidly going world wide.  Takes time to qualify everyone.  As well there are various experience requirements before some special qualification locations can be entered.  Another restrictions is new crews are limited to higher weather minimums than others.  Sometimes  Captains have to fly as co-pilot for certain restricted locations or maybe even have the feds ( FAA ) go for a new for airline locations. along.

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 19, 2017 7:05 PM

BaltACD
I seem to recall in recent memory, United getting unholy hell for the way they secured seats for a deadhead crew movement.

Mostly from people that have no clue what deadheading was before then, and never worked a job where it was required.  But they sure pretend to be experts.

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 schlimm on Saturday, August 19, 2017 8:24 PM

blue streak 1

Dead heading on airlines is really complicated.  Have D/H on almost all US air carriers, CR, Amtrak, bus (ugh ), limos, ferry boat etc. Ground transportation for air crews usually disliked on due to the long on duty pay times.  Why so different for various airlines ?  Usually amounts to route network.  Also usually airlines with fewer different model planes that require different qualifications can recover quicker.  SW as far as I remember now qualifies all crews on all different models of 737s.  SW did have several years when the new cockpit cinfigurations did have 2  or 3 different qualifications   However special airport qualifications ( Aspen, Gunnison for example ) or certain international airport and routes can gum up the works.

Operating crews now on the north Atlantic had to be specifically qualified and route checked and that is rapidly going world wide.  Takes time to qualify everyone.  As well there are various experience requirements before some special qualification locations can be entered.  Another restrictions is new crews are limited to higher weather minimums than others.  Sometimes  Captains have to fly as co-pilot for certain restricted locations or maybe even have the feds ( FAA ) go for a new for airline locations. along.

 



Is it likely AA, Delta or UA would use SW to deadhead?  Someone with AA once (about 10 years ago) gave me the impression they did not cooperate much with SW on routes where they competed.

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 19, 2017 8:41 PM

Is cross carrier airline deadheading done on a gratis or full fare basis?

The CSX crews deadheading between Richmond & Philadelphia on Amtrak were on a ticketed basis with CSX being billed.

         

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Posted by blue streak 1 on Saturday, August 19, 2017 9:49 PM

BaltACD

Is cross carrier airline deadheading done on a gratis or full fare basis?

The CSX crews deadheading between Richmond & Philadelphia on Amtrak were on a ticketed basis with CSX being billed.

 

 
Usually highest fare or high bucket since at last minute and usually those dreaded center seats with no leg room..  If in cockpit usually no cost but with only one spare seat in many aircraft cockpits ------
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Posted by NP Eddie on Sunday, August 20, 2017 1:17 AM

ALL:

I remember calling St. Paul Amtrak and ordering blank forms for BNSF conductors and engineers deadheading to Fargo via Amtrak. As stated above, the BNSF was billed for transportation.

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Posted by longhorn1969 on Monday, August 21, 2017 2:15 PM

When did the TE get a woman engineer? Is she new? 

Yes, they change crews in Austin. I believe the San Antonio crew brings it up in the morning and just chill in Austin to take 21 back home to San Antonio. Where they rest up at I do not know. Pretty easy gig if you ask me.

 

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Posted by Sunnyland on Friday, August 25, 2017 6:16 PM

I have only rode the Eagle going north to Chicago and many times it used to be late, but it has been doing much better.  I may be riding it into TX since my cousin had to move from FL to Longview, TX due to health reasons and needing to be closer to family members.  

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Posted by BaltACD on Saturday, August 26, 2017 8:37 AM

longhorn1969
When did the TE get a woman engineer? Is she new? 

Yes, they change crews in Austin. I believe the San Antonio crew brings it up in the morning and just chill in Austin to take 21 back home to San Antonio. Where they rest up at I do not know. Pretty easy gig if you ask me.

What may appear 'easy' on the outside, is rarely that easy on the inside.

         

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Posted by zugmann on Saturday, August 26, 2017 3:28 PM

Ok, I'll say it. 

Whenever the discussion of "female engineer or train crew" comes up, there's also this sort of creepy vibe in the railfan community.  I can't be the only one sensing it. 

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 Saturday, August 26, 2017 4:57 PM

zugmann
Ok, I'll say it. 

Whenever the discussion of "female engineer or train crew" comes up, there's also this sort of creepy vibe in the railfan community.  I can't be the only one sensing it. 

Considering that 80-90% of the people I had to talk to on the telephone or radio were male - it was very easy to use the wrong pronouns when a female was on the other end.  Our minds crave 'routine' and sometimes 'routine' is wrong.

         

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Posted by Electroliner 1935 on Sunday, August 27, 2017 6:21 PM

I have been on a number of Amtrak trains that had female Engineers and wonder what the percentages are currently. Also, note that some BNSF dispatchers come over the radio sounding very much like females and presume they are so wonder what percent of dispatchers are female.

I will never forget when on one of my rail trips before Southern RR joined Amtrak, I had gone East to Washington DC and then south on Southern's Piedmont to go to Ashville to ride the dome car down to Salibury. To enhance the Piedmonts revenue, it had piggyback cars added at Alexandria to take south. Train had four F units and we would drag up the hills and accelerate to track speed downhill. My return was to take the NB Piedmont to Charlottesville and thence a sleeper on Amtraks James Whitcomb Riley (now Cardinal) to Chicago. Piedmont was late and I was concerned we might miss the connection but the conductor assured me that I would be fine. That they might put me in a taxi from Lynchburg to Clifton Forge  or they might drop the pigs. Which is what they did. And then we ran at track speed to Charlotesville where I made my connection.

But when I was ready to board the sleeper, I found that Amtrak had a LADY porter. As I started to pick up my bag, she forcefully said, "I'm your porter and took it from me. She was a petite cute young lady, but well trained. I watched as she struggled with an upper bunk in a bedroom (10-6 car) standing tippy toed to insert the key to release the bunk. I wasn't about to offer assistance unless asked. She got it done. I have had a number of lady car attendents since then on Amtrak and no problems. Again, wonder the percentage.

 

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Posted by BaltACD on Sunday, August 27, 2017 6:57 PM

Electroliner 1935
I have been on a number of Amtrak trains that had female Engineers and wonder what the percentages are currently. Also, note that some BNSF dispatchers come over the radio sounding very much like females and presume they are so wonder what percent of dispatchers are female.

I will never forget when on one of my rail trips before Southern RR joined Amtrak, I had gone East to Washington DC and then south on Southern's Piedmont to go to Ashville to ride the dome car down to Salibury. To enhance the Piedmonts revenue, it had piggyback cars added at Alexandria to take south. Train had four F units and we would drag up the hills and accelerate to track speed downhill. My return was to take the NB Piedmont to Charlottesville and thence a sleeper on Amtraks James Whitcomb Riley (now Cardinal) to Chicago. Piedmont was late and I was concerned we might miss the connection but the conductor assured me that I would be fine. That they might put me in a taxi from Lynchburg to Clifton Forge  or they might drop the pigs. Which is what they did. And then we ran at track speed to Charlotesville where I made my connection.

But when I was ready to board the sleeper, I found that Amtrak had a LADY porter. As I started to pick up my bag, she forcefully said, "I'm your porter and took it from me. She was a petite cute young lady, but well trained. I watched as she struggled with an upper bunk in a bedroom (10-6 car) standing tippy toed to insert the key to release the bunk. I wasn't about to offer assistance unless asked. She got it done. I have had a number of lady car attendents since then on Amtrak and no problems. Again, wonder the percentage.

CSX Baltimore Division dispatching office consisted of 6 trick dispatcher desks plus the Chief Dispatcher's desk.  All manned 24/7/365, which equates to 27 regular contract positions plus a non-contract Chief Dispatcher.  There were 11 positions on the Extra Board.  Out of these 38 positions there are 8 females.  The other CSX Dispatching offices have a similar M/F ratio - some offices have more desks, some don't.

When I relinquished roster spot #1, it was taken over by a woman with 31 years less seniority than I had.

         

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Posted by Deggesty on Sunday, August 27, 2017 7:31 PM

I cannot count the number of times that my sleeper attendant has been a woman on both VIA and Amtrak. They have all been as capable as the men who have looked after my berths. On one trip back from Chicago, I had a roomette in the crew dorm car, and the attendant also had to look after coach passengers, but she did take care of the berth in the mornings (I spent two nights from Chiago to here that trip).

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Posted by jeffhergert on Thursday, September 07, 2017 4:33 PM

Dakguy201

 

 
BaltACD

 My experiences with Amtrak Crew Managment indicate they DO NOT keep track of where their trains are in relation to their scheduled crew change times and they don't alter the On Duty times of their crews to agree with reality.

 

 

 
While I believe you, I find that situation nearly incredible.  Is Amtrak's management really that incompetent?  For example, I can sit out here in the wilds of South Dakota and know that this morning's eastbound Zephyr is going to be nearly 3 hours late into the Omaha crew change point, but that information escapes those responsible for crew management?
 
I'd be very interested in knowing any reason why that situation exists.      
 

It's not only Amtrak.  Sometimes a crew gets called and something happens to delay the train it's called for.  If possible, they will switch the crew to a different train and re-call another crew.  Sometimes that doesn't happen. The other day a Long Pool crew departed their away from home terminal after being 7hrs on duty. That left them 5 hours to go 300+ miles. I'm sure they were recrewed at a crew change point by a short pool crew.  That way it doesn't show up as a recrew on the books.

As far as Amtrak extra boards, I believe they are guaranteed boards.  I was reading on another site a link to the conductor's contract and their extra boards have a guarantee.  I would guess the engineer's are too.  At some of their smaller crew bases where only two trains (one each way) are run, someone might sit on the extra board for days at a time.

Jeff

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