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Long trains blocking grade crossings

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Long trains blocking grade crossings
Posted by James Goodwin on Tuesday, August 29, 2023 5:24 PM

Here is a link to a piece on NPR that interviews the mayor of York, Alabama about the multi-hour delays York residents must endure when a particularly long Norfolk Southern freight blocks grade crossings that prevent people from returning to their homes. One delay was apparently 13 hours, and the town had to set up shelters for those who couldn't get home.

I know that Precision Scheduled Railroading has improved railroads operating rations and profits, but somehow a 13-hour delay does not seem to be either "Precision" or "Scheduled". It somehow seems that NS needs to do better before some Federal legislation actually places some undue restrictions on railroad operations.  

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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 11:33 AM

Alabama hopefully aims some of their federal Section 400 $$$ at this. Ripe argument for a grade separation with no alternate route available. In the meantime what is APSC and Alabama's DOT rail section doing? (don't be idiots like MS)

Crossing issues are state issues per letters of agreement between the feds and the states.

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 11:48 AM

Duplicate

Mudchicken Nothing is worth taking the risk of losing a life over. Come home tonight in the same condition that you left home this morning in. Safety begins with ME.... cinscocom-west
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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 12:43 PM

James Goodwin

Here is a link to a piece on NPR that interviews the mayor of York, Alabama about the multi-hour delays York residents must endure when a particularly long Norfolk Southern freight blocks grade crossings that prevent people from returning to their homes. One delay was apparently 13 hours, and the town had to set up shelters for those who couldn't get home.

I know that Precision Scheduled Railroading has improved railroads operating rations and profits, but somehow a 13-hour delay does not seem to be either "Precision" or "Scheduled". It somehow seems that NS needs to do better before some Federal legislation actually places some undue restrictions on railroad operations.  

 

I agree with you.  “Precision, Scheduled Railroading” sounds like it would have shorter, more nimble train movements, and more of them; as opposed to ponderously long trains that tie up more track and yard space.
 
The FRA is considering limiting the length of freight trains for two reasons:  One is the blockage of grade crossings; and the other is the growing evidence that the higher in-train forces of longer trains are causing more derailments. 
 
Here is a link to the following article:
 
The feds are warning railroads that their love of long trains is leading to horrible accidents and derailments—but they’re not doing anything about it yet
 
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Posted by caldreamer on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 2:14 PM

Mentioned in the fortune article are the pull and push of freight cars on long trains. Railroads love to block cars based on their destination, but where a block will cause excess pull and push stresses with the block ahead or behind has never been mentioned.  Perhaps considering moving blocks of cars to lessen these stresses might be a good idea.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 2:58 PM

caldreamer
Perhaps considering moving blocks of cars to lessen these stresses might be a good idea.

I'm far from an expert, but what I've seen in the past is that a DPU will be 2/3 of the way into the train, thus pulling what's behind it, and pushing maybe 1/3 of what's ahead of it.  I don't know that there's a formula as such.

Don't know about using mid-train plus rear end DPUs.

An extremely lengthy stop of a train suggests that there's an issue with a nearby yard, or with crews.  Or a little of both.  It could happen with a shorter train, but usually those will fit places where blocking of critical crossings can be avoided.

This is a completely different class than moving trains blocking crossings.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 3:22 PM

caldreamer
Mentioned in the fortune article are the pull and push of freight cars on long trains. Railroads love to block cars based on their destination, but where a block will cause excess pull and push stresses with the block ahead or behind has never been mentioned.  Perhaps considering moving blocks of cars to lessen these stresses might be a good idea.

You would likely choke and gag once you understood all the car placement rules and restrictions that a Yardmaster has to take into consideration when building a multi-block merchandise train.  HAZMAT rules, Empty/load rules, long/short car rules, Hi-Wide restrictions and then blocking by destination.

The operation of DPU in trains is for the reason of lessening the intrain forces both buff and draft.  CSX was not operating DPU's when I was working, observations since I have retired would indicate that CSX is operating larger trains with two units being used in DPU service than they did with the same two units on the head end of the train.

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Posted by SFbrkmn on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 4:48 PM

To your knowedge, is CSX running LXA DP units (mid train, ETD on rear) like BNSF is doing w/ Q, S, G & some H symbols to name a few

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 5:16 PM

BaltACD
The operation of DPU in trains is for the reason of lessening the intrain forces both buff and draft.  CSX was not operating DPU's when I was working, observations since I have retired would indicate that CSX is operating larger trains with two units being used in DPU service than they did with the same two units on the head end of the train.

The main purpose of DPU is to spread the power out so you can run longer trains without pulling them in two.  Otherwise, with conventional M.U. all on the head end, the entire weight of the train is being pulled through the trailing coupler of the last engine and the leading coupler of the first car.  That is what limited the length of trains in the pre DPU era. 
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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 5:37 PM

SFbrkmn
To your knowedge, is CSX running LXA DP units (mid train, ETD on rear) like BNSF is doing w/ Q, S, G & some H symbols to name a few

That I have seen, CSX is using DPU's both mid-train and on the rear.  Normally with only one (set) of DPU's is used.  I have not seen trains with DPU's in multiple locations within the train.

At the time I retired, CSX was beefing up radio repeaters across my division as normal operations have identified there are myriad dead spots considering the geography of going from coastal areas over the Appalachian Mountains to Ohio on multiple routes.

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Posted by Paul Schmidt on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 5:40 PM

James Goodwin

Here is a link to a piece on NPR that interviews the mayor of York, Alabama about the multi-hour delays York residents must endure when a particularly long Norfolk Southern freight blocks grade crossings that prevent people from returning to their homes. One delay was apparently 13 hours, and the town had to set up shelters for those who couldn't get home.

I know that Precision Scheduled Railroading has improved railroads operating rations and profits, but somehow a 13-hour delay does not seem to be either "Precision" or "Scheduled". It somehow seems that NS needs to do better before some Federal legislation actually places some undue restrictions on railroad operations.  

 

That's because on the whole Precision Scheduled Railroading is neither "precise" nor "scheduled." Just ask the shippers who hate it  and are taking legal action in some cases. The moniker is really more a catchy phrase intended to impress Wall Street analyst types. 

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 6:27 PM

Paul Schmidt
That's because on the whole Precision Scheduled Railroading is neither "precise" nor "scheduled."

Someone came up with a new moniker using 'PSR', but I neglected to write it down.

LarryWhistling
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Come ride the rails with me!
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Posted by jeffhergert on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 7:26 PM

Paul Schmidt

 

 
James Goodwin

Here is a link to a piece on NPR that interviews the mayor of York, Alabama about the multi-hour delays York residents must endure when a particularly long Norfolk Southern freight blocks grade crossings that prevent people from returning to their homes. One delay was apparently 13 hours, and the town had to set up shelters for those who couldn't get home.

I know that Precision Scheduled Railroading has improved railroads operating rations and profits, but somehow a 13-hour delay does not seem to be either "Precision" or "Scheduled". It somehow seems that NS needs to do better before some Federal legislation actually places some undue restrictions on railroad operations.  

 

 

 

That's because on the whole Precision Scheduled Railroading is neither "precise" nor "scheduled." Just ask the shippers who hate it  and are taking legal action in some cases. The moniker is really more a catchy phrase intended to impress Wall Street analyst types. 

 

Precision Scheduled Railroading refers to scheduling individual cars, not the trains they move in. Having each car make the next connections on it's journey. 

At first, management was saying train performance didn't matter, it was all about the cars. Everyone in the field said cars still move in trains. Eventually they decided that trains were still part of the equation. Not that they still don't max out a train whenever they can. 

Jeff

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 8:59 PM

jeffhergert
 
Paul Schmidt 
James Goodwin

Here is a link to a piece on NPR that interviews the mayor of York, Alabama about the multi-hour delays York residents must endure when a particularly long Norfolk Southern freight blocks grade crossings that prevent people from returning to their homes. One delay was apparently 13 hours, and the town had to set up shelters for those who couldn't get home.

I know that Precision Scheduled Railroading has improved railroads operating rations and profits, but somehow a 13-hour delay does not seem to be either "Precision" or "Scheduled". It somehow seems that NS needs to do better before some Federal legislation actually places some undue restrictions on railroad operations.   

That's because on the whole Precision Scheduled Railroading is neither "precise" nor "scheduled." Just ask the shippers who hate it  and are taking legal action in some cases. The moniker is really more a catchy phrase intended to impress Wall Street analyst types.  

Precision Scheduled Railroading refers to scheduling individual cars, not the trains they move in. Having each car make the next connections on it's journey. 

At first, management was saying train performance didn't matter, it was all about the cars. Everyone in the field said cars still move in trains. Eventually they decided that trains were still part of the equation. Not that they still don't max out a train whenever they can. 

Jeff

For the final decade or more of my career on CSX 'Car Scheduling & Right Car Right Train' were important metrics that Division Operating officials were measured on for their Performance Review and resultant Bonu$.  This was LONG LONG before EHH came on the property with his so name PSR.

The scuttlebutt I got from those I formerly worked with was that PSR, by design, wrecked the former metrics.  PSR did not care about the customer and his view of the carrier as a 'reliable' pipeline for their products to the customer's customers.

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, August 30, 2023 9:00 PM

caldreamer

Mentioned in the fortune article are the pull and push of freight cars on long trains. Railroads love to block cars based on their destination, but where a block will cause excess pull and push stresses with the block ahead or behind has never been mentioned.  Perhaps considering moving blocks of cars to lessen these stresses might be a good idea.

 

According to the FRA, there are many unknowns regarding the slack run-in and run-out in the monster trains.  They don’t agree with the common view that all of this has all been investigated, computer analyzed, and easily seen and evaluated in current train simulators.  There was an article that I posted by one of the consultants to the FRA, which is currently delving into this question, and he said all of this investigation so far has barely scratched the surface.  So it is just now that the FRA is on a quest to investigate whether the ultra-long trains are more prone to having derailments.  If they find that the answer is yes, they want to learn why that is. 
 
It may be that DPU helps mitigate the problem by dispersing power throughout the monster trains.  But those trains cannot run without DPU, so there is not a comparison that can be made to answer the question.  I suspect that the issue with DPU and monster trains may be the greater use of dynamic braking that DPU makes possible. 
 
DPU distributes tractive effort with good benefit.  It also distributes dynamic braking which makes it able to handle all the braking of today’s monster trains that would have been too long for exclusive dynamic braking in the M.U. era.  But still, all the cars behind each DPU set today, run-in their slack against the DPU set as free rolling cars with no actual braking of their own.  So that leaves potential for excess buff force with each DPU group of cars being controlled with only dynamic braking. 
 
If there is a problem to be found, I suspect it will be with DPU trains relying on dynamic braking.
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Posted by blue streak 1 on Sunday, September 10, 2023 3:19 PM

There is the possibility that the number of coplers and the kind of draft  gear in a train has effect on accidents..  Extreme examples .  An all intermodal train with many multi packer wells will not have many couplers. A 5 well car where the wells are hard connected is almost 300 feet long with just 2 couplers & 2 draft gears.  Compare that to 5 -60 foot cars 300 train feet long.  So, what is the accident rate of long IM trains with mostly 3 & 5 well cars comared to other long trains?

Every regular manifest trains are all going to be different and even unit trains are different enough that a digital compurter program cannot predict precisly what the train dynamics are going to be. It takes an analog train engineer to handle the train and make adjustments that he gets while starting out. 

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Posted by SFbrkmn on Wednesday, September 20, 2023 9:17 PM

Not just breakdown/service interuptions, stopping for signals or meets, but also trains stopping to perform work w/busy street crossings blocked. Going w/the PSR playbook, BNSF began a process in 2017 when the rd switcher that handled all Wichita traffic was abolished. The replacement became mainline northbound trains stopping to pick up cars assigned on their work order.                                                I'll have to paint the picture so you can follow this. The former ATSF yd in Wichita has 29th st which cuts directly through the middle of the yd (14 tracks total). Trains pull up the mainline at 33rd, cutoff, then back into the yd. Forever, the rule was to cut 29th--do not block it. Not anymore. Trains will pull up to the top & leave 29th blocked. Below at 21st is another busy crossing and long mega trains have also blocked that important crossing for periods of time as well.               So now these long mainline trains do the pickup of nb traffic which used to be in the hands of an assigned job. Here is what has to be the most bizarre drama anywhere associated w/a blocked crossing.                                                            A DP train, already like 9000k, stopped to pickup cars. In the process, it was discovered while doing the work the train would be out of compliance if this work was done. In the meantime 29th is blocked and remained so for several hours while the condr, w/no brkmn,sorted the mess in the dark by himself. At this point, you just snail through it, don't hurry and keep yourself safe, break it off on the rr. They created this culture. I live about a mile from there. At home when the 9:00 FOX local news came on, all four tv stations had live cams on scene at 29th reporting about this train which had been blocking 29th for like three hrs. The words of wisdom to viewers was like "we dont know why this train is here for so long, there doesn't appear to be an emergency but please avoid the area".                                           That is just one of many events taking place at this location over the past several yrs of the PSR era related to trains blocking the crossing and nothing chages but as far as I know, the TV news has not been back. Guess the general public knows about the blocked crossings and is no longer news.                                                    

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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Thursday, September 21, 2023 9:59 AM

This sort of crossing tie-up is not new.  In my distant youth (early 1960's), an inbound C&O freight from Cincinnati would stop just short of Burnham Avenue.  It would then proceed forward to cut off a lead block of cars, which would then be set out in South Shore's Burnham yard, easily tying up the crossing for 10-15 minutes.

The daily commute is part of everyday life but I get two rides a day out of it. Paul

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