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Locomotive Assignements

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Locomotive Assignements
Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, January 12, 2023 6:50 PM

Are locomotives still assigned to a specific job untill they need to be inspected or shopped or are any available engines used? For example would a GP38-2 currently assigned to yard and/or local service be used on a road train because the extra tractive effort is needed on the road engine. Or an ES44AC is the only engine availble to complete a local job.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, January 12, 2023 7:29 PM

Yes...

Power used for locals will usually stick around until it needs attention.  Isolated locations will see the power stick around longest.

Could a locomotive get pulled for use if the railroad is short power for a given train?  Very possibly, but that could cause problems "tomorrow" when it comes time for it to do its usual job.

Watching the local run through Deshler can be like the lottery - you may see the same locomotive every day, or you could see who-knows-what.

The policies of a railroad's power desk will usually be the deciding factor.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by caldreamer on Thursday, January 12, 2023 9:20 PM

Tree68, thank your for your reply.  Your last sentence says it all.  Who sets the power desk policies?

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Posted by BaltACD on Thursday, January 12, 2023 9:25 PM

In the early 1990's CSX would try and collect all the outlying local switcher power and try to get a round trip over the road move out of it before returning the power to be available for the outlying local switchers to start business on Monday.  The plan was a abject failure as the power was rarely returned to the outlying location without delaying the local switcher in serving its customer base.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, January 12, 2023 11:05 PM

caldreamer
Who sets the power desk policies?

I would suppose that comes from upper management in the long run.  In the short run, it kind of depends on the train.  Stories abound of trains stripped of their power to cover another assignment.  It's the power desk's job to have appropriate power available for use where it's needed.  Sometimes that works, sometimes, well...

If you watch the VR cams (or any others), you'll often see a string of 8 or more locomotives, frequently running "light," on a power move.

Amtrak lost an engine on the Lake Shore not long ago.  The NS engine that was leading the train became something of a celebrity.  But someone, somewhere, on NS was probably scrambling to fill in the gap that substitution created.

I have little doubt that in some respects, the railroads are little different from the airlines, wherein your plane for tomorrow morning's flight is covering the redeye from some other airport.  If it's delayed, so too will be your flight...  The days of long lines of locomotives on the ready line are probably history.

LarryWhistling
Resident Microferroequinologist (at least at my house) 
Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
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Come ride the rails with me!
There's one thing about humility - the moment you think you've got it, you've lost it...

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Posted by BaltACD on Friday, January 13, 2023 8:40 AM

caldreamer
Tree68, thank your for your reply.  Your last sentence says it all.  Who sets the power desk policies?

The Operating Plan is the defacto setter of power desk policy.  It identifies the 'primere' trains that MUST be powered On Time at origin.  It also defines the elements of the scheduled merchandise network that NEED to be powered On Time at origin.  It also identifies the locations and times that power is needed to support outlying local switchers and the power requirements for the recognized yard areas.  

Once all those known requirements are staisfied, the balance of the available power can be used for the nominally unscheduled bulk commodity movements, both loads and empties.  The various departments that are involved in operations of the bulk commodities notify the power desk of the needs and times for the operation of their trains - grain, coal, ore, oil, ethanol etc.  In many cases power on bulk commidity trains will be assigned from empty marshaling yard to loading location to unloading location and return to the empty marshaling yard.

As a matter of practicality, at least on the territories I worked, when there are engine failures on operating trains, the first place the power desk and operating people look for 'rescue power' are the empty bulk commodity trains as in most cases those trains can continue operating with one less engine than they are currently powered with.  When there are no bulk commodity empty trains available in in the territory, the problem of getting rescue power becomes more difficult.

On one territory I worked, the Division Manager had a standing order - NO LIGHT POWER MOVES - PERIOD.  There would be many high volume conversations between the Division Manager and the Power Desk.  The DM won most of the conversations and the power would be moved on existing schedules.

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Posted by tree68 on Friday, January 13, 2023 11:18 AM

BaltACD
On one territory I worked, the Division Manager had a standing order - NO LIGHT POWER MOVES - PERIOD.  

It's also common to see on the cams a train with six or more locomotives on the head end, when normal power would be two, or even one.

And that's what's pulling the train - one or two locomotives (plus DPU as appropriate).  The rest are "boxcarred" and just along for the ride.

I suspect that if one sees a bunch of light engines without a train that someone got caught with their pants down.

LarryWhistling
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Everyone goes home; Safety begins with you
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Posted by rdamon on Friday, January 13, 2023 11:59 AM

Quite a few in this grab bag.  I would assume that there would be some formula to cut out some of the units when added to the head end. 

 

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Posted by SD70Dude on Friday, January 13, 2023 1:47 PM

rdamon

Quite a few in this grab bag.  I would assume that there would be some formula to cut out some of the units when added to the head end.

We have restrictions on both the number of powered axles and cut in independent brakes in a consist.  With an all DC consist we can have 24 powered axles but only 18 with dynamic braking cut in, if there is at least one AC unit in the mix this drops to 18 powered axles and 12 with DB.  The lead consist can have seven units with the independent cut in and remote consists are limited to three (I don't think I've ever seen a DP consist with more than three units), any others would have to be set up for dead haul or have their trucks cut out.  A consist with more than 24 axles of independent braking is also restricted to no more than 30 PSI in the brake cylinders while moving. 

Greetings from Alberta

-an Articulate Malcontent

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