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When does a train need a pilot

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When does a train need a pilot
Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, October 3, 2019 2:05 PM

When would a train need a pilot to run over a railroads territory?

    Caldreamer

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Posted by Deggesty on Thursday, October 3, 2019 2:29 PM

caldreamer

When would a train need a pilot to run over a railroads territory?

    Caldreamer

 

When you are running on a road that you are not qualified to run on--that is, when you are not familiar with the territory so that yout anticipate changes in the gradient, curves,  know where to reduce your speed amd where you may increase your speed; the conductor also has to be familiar with the territory. The usual call for pilots is when you are detouring over a foreign road.that you are not familiar with.

When one railroad has trackage rights over another road, the crews of the tenant road must be familiar with the owning road. 

About a year ago, as I was coming west, the owning railorad's dispatcher stopped the Amtrak train in western Nebraska because of high winds, by the time that winds died down, the train and engine crews' time had run out--and there was no qualified Amtrak crew available to take us in to Denver, so we not only had relief Amtrak crews (they were qualified to run west but not east from Denver, but also a BNSF engineer and a BNSF conductor to operate the train into Denver. Perhaps the only Amtrak crews that were qualified and available were to take the eastbound out of Denver that evening, and so they were not called take the westbound into Denver.

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, October 3, 2019 4:29 PM

Deggesty
 
caldreamer

When would a train need a pilot to run over a railroads territory?

    Caldreamer 

When you are running on a road that you are not qualified to run on--that is, when you are not familiar with the territory so that yout anticipate changes in the gradient, curves,  know where to reduce your speed amd where you may increase your speed; the conductor also has to be familiar with the territory. The usual call for pilots is when you are detouring over a foreign road.that you are not familiar with. 

When one railroad has trackage rights over another road, the crews of the tenant road must be familiar with the owning road. 

About a year ago, as I was coming west, the owning railorad's dispatcher stopped the Amtrak train in western Nebraska because of high winds, by the time that winds died down, the train and engine crews' time had run out--and there was no qualified Amtrak crew available to take us in to Denver, so we not only had relief Amtrak crews (they were qualified to run west but not east from Denver, but also a BNSF engineer and a BNSF conductor to operate the train into Denver. Perhaps the only Amtrak crews that were qualified and available were to take the eastbound out of Denver that evening, and so they were not called take the westbound into Denver.

With the FRA now being involved in Qualifications.  Engineers and Conductors have to keep their Qualifications current.  Qualifications, I believe, expire after one year.  If a Conductor or Engineer has not operated over a particular territory within one year of the current date, their qualification has lapsed for that territory.

Extra Boards tend to cover vacancies on multiple territories and those who go to those boards find if they 'want to make money' they become qualified on everything the board protects.  CSX Crew Management software works in concert with the T & E payroll software and thereby keeps track of what territories employees work and when.  I suspect other Class 1's have similar software to keep track of their employees qualifications.

When it comes to Engineers, the supervisory position Road Foreman of Engines is required to make a 'check ride' with each Engineer he supervises on, I  believe, a yearly basis.  That does not mean that the RFE checks the Engineer on each of the territories they may be qualified on, that being said, the RFE is normally the one that will initially qualify a Engineer on a particular route. 

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Posted by zugmann on Friday, October 4, 2019 9:00 AM

BaltACD
When it comes to Engineers, the supervisory position Road Foreman of Engines is required to make a 'check ride' with each Engineer he supervises on, I believe, a yearly basis. That does not mean that the RFE checks the Engineer on each of the territories they may be qualified on, that being said, the RFE is normally the one that will initially qualify a Engineer on a particular route.

 

That's all done via a remote tape pull to the home office anymore.   No more riding required.  

  

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 4, 2019 11:21 AM

zugmann
 
BaltACD
When it comes to Engineers, the supervisory position Road Foreman of Engines is required to make a 'check ride' with each Engineer he supervises on, I believe, a yearly basis. That does not mean that the RFE checks the Engineer on each of the territories they may be qualified on, that being said, the RFE is normally the one that will initially qualify a Engineer on a particular route. 

That's all done via a remote tape pull to the home office anymore.   No more riding required.  

Riding was required when I was employed - then came EHH and the elimination of the RFE position.

Of course when I was employed, a crew got 30 days off for Speeding that was deduced from a download of the locomotive a while after the trip.  ETT listed 25 MPH through the area of the speeding and train was doing 25 MPH, however the Main Track was in Yard Limits and Yard Limits restricted speed through the limits to Restricted Speed (which maxes out at 15 MPH).

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Posted by jeffhergert on Friday, October 4, 2019 5:56 PM

We still get a yearly ride, too.  Of course they have access to downloads.  Many engines now can be downloaded at any time, others have to go past a reader, some can only be downloaded physically.  The physical ones are usually because they are looking for something specific.  I've been stopped twice to have a download because of something that happened to/by a previous, once a couple of previous crews.  Of course if they are going to all the trouble to download, they might as well review the whole available record.  Once in a while catch someone who wasn't on the radar.  Now, they often will also check the inward facing camera tape, too.

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, October 4, 2019 6:27 PM

jeffhergert
We still get a yearly ride, too.  Of course they have access to downloads.  Many engines now can be downloaded at any time, others have to go past a reader, some can only be downloaded physically.  The physical ones are usually because they are looking for something specific.  I've been stopped twice to have a download because of something that happened to/by a previous, once a couple of previous crews.  Of course if they are going to all the trouble to download, they might as well review the whole available record.  Once in a while catch someone who wasn't on the radar.  Now, they often will also check the inward facing camera tape, too.

Jeff   

Before I retired CSX had a entire computer application dedicated to tracking downloads of both data and video from locomotives (trains) that were involved in some form of accidental happening. (crossing accident, struck pedestrian, vehicle parked too close to he tracks, etc. etc. etc.)  As I recall, the locomotive had to be downloaded within 72 hours of the incident or the loop would record over the prior data.  When using the application the Chief Dispater had to identify in the application which RFE had been notified and when; it was then the RFE's responsibility to either get the download himself or arrange with one of his counterparts to have it done and then report the handling in the application.  I imagine this was being done for the Legal Dept.

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, October 4, 2019 10:26 PM

jeffhergert
We still get a yearly ride, too.

As do we, plus an unannounced (usually banner) test.  I ran radar on a train tonight (they passed).  Plus we do "219" tests - signs of drug and alcohol use.

And that's on a tourist line...

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Posted by SD70Dude on Saturday, October 5, 2019 12:29 AM

tree68
jeffhergert
We still get a yearly ride, too.

As do we, plus an unannounced (usually banner) test.  I ran radar on a train tonight (they passed).  Plus we do "219" tests - signs of drug and alcohol use.

And that's on a tourist line...

Still a real live railroad that has to comply with FRA regulations.

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you aren't deliberately looking to collect failures, or have any sort of quota to fill....

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Posted by tree68 on Saturday, October 5, 2019 6:55 AM

SD70Dude
Still a real live railroad that has to comply with FRA regulations.

Yep - we tie in to the national rail network (we ride on a shortline's rails for part of our trips).
SD70Dude
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say you aren't deliberately looking to collect failures, or have any sort of quota to fill....
'Xactly.  We aren't looking to "fire" anyone - it's not like we have so many volunteers that we can afford to.

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Posted by Convicted One on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 9:46 AM

Customarily, does the "pilot" take over and actually run the train, or does he just serve in an advisory role to the "visiting" engineer?

Seems like it would be redundant to have two capable engineers on the same train, unless one has special qualifications such as a restored steam engine out on commercial trackage and what not. 

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 10:27 AM

Convicted One

Customarily, does the "pilot" take over and actually run the train, or does he just serve in an advisory role to the "visiting" engineer?

Seems like it would be redundant to have two capable engineers on the same train, unless one has special qualifications such as a restored steam engine out on commercial trackage and what not. 

It's less a question of two capable engineers than it is one who is familiar with the equipment and one who is familiar with the territory.  

Obviously, this would be especially true with, say, steam or other vintage equipment.  In my case, I'm more familiar with the vintage equipment.  Running a brand new loco with some high-tech stuff might be out of my league - but I know my territory.

That said, I'm pretty sure it could go either way in terms of who runs.  We've had a couple of special excursions on our line with Amtrak power - the Amtrak engineers rather enjoy running on something other than flat, straight track, and have said so.

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Posted by Convicted One on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 11:14 AM

Well, I've always pictured such an arrangement as the visiting engineer at the controls, while the pilot mentors over his shoulder......but just looking at all the static about reduced crew size and expense control makes me wonder if the RR is willing to pay two engineers for the same miles?

I'll bet those host road engineers are thrilled by a little "throttle time" when groups like 765 take their act on the road, but that really is a special situation and falls a little outside the scope of my interest.

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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 11:41 AM

You need to have a qualified engineer on a territory.  So yeah, there are times the RR has to pay for a pilot crew.

  

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Posted by Convicted One on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 12:00 PM

Well, I'm glad to hear that nobody is penalized.  The way the railroads are often portrayed on these boards as "scrooge", it wouldn't surprise me if the same taxi that delivereed the pilot also hauled the relieved "visiting" engineer to a location where he might be of more use. 

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, October 8, 2019 12:52 PM

Convicted One

Well, I'm glad to hear that nobody is penalized.  The way the railroads are often portrayed on these boards as "scrooge", it wouldn't surprise me if the same taxi that delivereed the pilot also hauled the relieved "visiting" engineer to a location where he might be of more use. 

Heritage operations notwithstanding, I believe where you will usually find a pilot will be on a detour move - ie, the usual route for a train on the XYZ railroad is blocked (ie, wreck, washout, etc), so the train is rerouted over the ABC railroad.  ABCRR will provide a pilot over their tracks.  The XYZRR crew may even originate and terminate on their own railroad.

These days, with run-through power on many trains being the norm, it's possible that a full crew from the host railroad might just take over the move completely.  

Heritage moves are relatively rare, all things considered, and may well get a road foreman instead of a regular engineer as a pilot.  

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 10:23 AM

On one trip back to Salt Lake City, we were detoured across Wyoming. As we backed into the station here, the UP conductor conned the engineer in, calling the signals as we approached them, as the Amtrak conducto stoodbehind him. I did not ask which engineer was running the engine.

The UP has ACS across Wyoming and into Ogden. If the  lead engine powering the train does not have ACS, the maximum speed allowed is 45 mph, according to an ETT I have.

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 10:38 AM

What's a trin?

The TRIN, or Arms index, developed by Richard Arms in the 1970s, is a short-term technical analysis stock market trading indicator based on the Advance-Decline Data. The name is short for TRading INdex.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › TR...
 
 
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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 1:13 PM

Convicted One

Well, I'm glad to hear that nobody is penalized.  The way the railroads are often portrayed on these boards as "scrooge", it wouldn't surprise me if the same taxi that delivereed the pilot also hauled the relieved "visiting" engineer to a location where he might be of more use. 

The 'Scrooge' part is that the company doesn't like calling the pilot in the first place.  I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.  

The argument usually ends with the original Engineer refusing to take the train over track he is not qualified on, and the company having to call a pilot anyway.

Not sure how this goes on other railroads, but on CN the Engine Service Officers (our name for Road Foreman) normally side with the crew in situations like this, when safety is a concern.

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 2:26 PM

Quoting SD70Dude, ".  I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.  " If the supervisor wants someone who does not know the territory to work the territory he should either be fired or take remedial education in railroad operation.

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Posted by Overmod on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 2:32 PM

Convicted One
Customarily, does the "pilot" take over and actually run the train, or does he just serve in an advisory role to the "visiting" engineer?

Trains Magazine in the early 1970s had an anecdote about an EA-powered B&O train detouring over a nominally fast part of the NYC.  There, the NYC pilot allowed the B&O engineer to run the train, but couldn't resist making some wisecrack about it being a high-speed railroad and to be sure to get the train over the road.  The B&O guy was described as a quiet type who didn't ask questions: he did as told, notched out to Run 8 and left it there.  I don't now recall the exact speed they reached before the epiphany, but it was QUITE a bit in excess of nominally high speed timetable limit...

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 3:01 PM

Overmod, the account of the B&O engineer who could run fast reminded me of the N&W roundhouse foreman who made it possible for passengers on a B&O train out of St. Louis to reach Cincinnati two hours sooner when the governor on the second engine stuck on "stop." After talking with the crew, he sat in the second engine, listened to the first engine, and worked the governor by hand--saving the two hours that it would have taken a helping engine to arrive. (pp. 48-49, March 1999 issue of Trains).

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Posted by Convicted One on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 5:10 PM

SD70Dude
I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.

I really want to thank everybody who replied to my questions.  The above comment by SD70Dude raises one additional item of curiosity for me.  In the event of an extended period of detours, suppose a bridge totally washed out for example, is it likely or even possible that the "visiting" engineer will become qualified on the hosts segment after a requisite number of passes under the supervision of a qualified pilot? (thus no longer requiring a pilot for the remaining duration of detours)

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Posted by Deggesty on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 7:32 PM

A few years ago, the UP was doing extensive work on the former RG track beteen Denver and Salt Lake City. On an eastbound trip aat that time, I talked with one of the Amtrak conductors (his regular run was Salt Lake Cty-Grand Junction), and asked if he should not be becoming qualified for that section--and he told me that he did not want to be qualified. He also told me that that morning was his last trip into Wyoming (crews were changed in Green River), and he was to be flown to Grand Junction to lay over there until his next trip west.

 

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Posted by MidlandMike on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 7:40 PM

SD70Dude
The 'Scrooge' part is that the company doesn't like calling the pilot in the first place.  I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.  

I would have thought the foreign road needing to detour would have to pay for the pilot's time.



 

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 7:54 PM

MidlandMike
 
SD70Dude
The 'Scrooge' part is that the company doesn't like calling the pilot in the first place.  I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.  

I would have thought the foreign road needing to detour would have to pay for the pilot's time.

 

There are more occasions when pilots are needed in 'same road' operations.  Detour moves are black and white issues on pilots and there rarely any conflict about them.

More frequently, with the size of seniority districts increasing with more and more territory being a part of the district - personel are used off their 'normal runs'; and while they may have been qualified on another run at one time - the time since they last operated that line now exceeds the qualification period - by the qualification rules the employees is NOT Qualified - Supervisor insists that that the employee take the run under the threat of insubordination.

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Posted by SD70Dude on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 7:55 PM

MidlandMike
SD70Dude
The 'Scrooge' part is that the company doesn't like calling the pilot in the first place.  I have seen many arguments between Engineers and ill-informed supervisors about whether or not a pilot is really needed.  

I would have thought the foreign road needing to detour would have to pay for the pilot's time.

I was referring to trains called with Engineers who are not qualified on a certain part of their own company's track.  

For detours on short sections of foreign roads you are correct.  For long-distance detours, like the CP trains that were running on CN's mainline to avoid the 2013 Alberta floods, entire host railroad crews are used.  We ran those just like they were another CN train.

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Posted by Euclid on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 8:53 PM

BaltACD
  - the time since they last operated that line now exceeds the qualification period - by the qualification rules the employees is NOT Qualified - Supervisor insists that that the employee take the run under the threat of insubordination.
 

Not qualified according to what details? How can not qualified be overridden?

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Posted by BaltACD on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 9:13 PM

Euclid
 
BaltACD
  - the time since they last operated that line now exceeds the qualification period - by the qualification rules the employees is NOT Qualified - Supervisor insists that that the employee take the run under the threat of insubordination. 

Not qualified according to what details? How can not qualified be overridden?

Qualifications expire if you have not made a trip over the territory in one year - in some cases it may be 6 months.  On CSX the T&E payroll system keeps accurate track of the territories employees have been PAID for operating on and when the operated on it.  The normal method management uses to override qualification disputes is bullying with threats of charging the person with insubordination.

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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, October 9, 2019 9:26 PM

There is another time when a train may need a pilot:

From the NYO&W Historical Association website:  

  On the dark rainy night of Sept. 27, 1955 train ON-2 rumbled into Hamilton, N.Y., as it had done so many times before. Engineer Les Vidler had FT 803 on a 50-car train that night and was making about 34 mph when he--or someone else in the cab-- noticed that a mainline facing- point switch was set for a siding leading up to Leland's coal trestle. The

 engineer quickly applied the brakes,but the momentum was enough to push the train up the siding, through the coal-shed doors and the barnlike structure and out the opposite end. After the noise ended and debris settled, it was found that the 213-ton locomotive had "flown" 150 feet beyond the end of the coal trestle after taking off from an elevation of 15 feet. The drawbar between the A and B units snapped, and four cars had followed the air-borne FT's. A fifth car hung off the end of the trestle. Two men in the 803's cab, Road foreman of Engines Fred Lewis and fireman Oliver Wrench, were seriously injured.

LarryWhistling
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