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Helper Districts

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Posted by thehartsellerailfan on Tuesday, February 13, 2024 10:59 PM

Yep, just saw him today help a sounthbound mixed freight up the hill

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Thursday, October 20, 2005 6:32 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by nscnotp

The 1st Dst CNOTP has a hill helper which will push a train up Erlanger Hill from Cincinnati. Mostly the 4000hp units are used to help the train up the hill to the crest at Erlanger Depot.




If they devote 4000 hp units to this hill, does that mean there are a lot of trains daily?

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 8:20 PM
CSX between Louisville and Nashville at Elizabethtown. Not all trains use them, but they are there just in case.
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Posted by mudchicken on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 6:02 PM
In spite of DPU, you still see manned switchers running between Colorado Springs and Denver over Monument Hill on the BNSF/UP (ATSF/DRGW) Joint Line. Saw a set of ragged-out BN SD40-2 Leasers today....
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 Murphy Siding on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 5:40 PM
Any engineers on here ever work on a helper district?

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Posted by Clutch Cargo on Wednesday, October 19, 2005 3:51 AM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Murphy Siding

QUOTE: Originally posted by rvos1979

I'm not sure if the CN still does this, account I haven't been that way in a while, but the Wisconsin Central used to occasionally use pushers on Hawthorne hill out of Superior and Byron hill out of Fond du Lac. Usually on Byron Hill, a yard job out of Shops yard in FDL would use whatever was available, from SD45s to SW1200/SW1500 switchers.

Randy


[:)] I'm trying to picture a group of SW1200s in pusher duty out of Superior. That's a BIG hill.


If more than 2 are needed you are SOL., unless you borrow from Duluth.

Kurt
Next to Duluth....We`re Superior. Will Rogers never met an FBI Agent.
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 11:00 PM
UP that runs through Chetopa, KS had a coal train about a mile long, the other day, and it had three engines on front end, with a large single unit on the tail end of the train. There was some exhaust coming out of the tail end engine, so it must have been pushing.
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Posted by tabeckett on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 9:18 PM
CP still uses helpers on coal trains out of Buttonwood Yard in Wilkes Barre, Pa headed toward Clark's Summit and Binghamton, via the ex D&H/DLW, and sporadically on Belden Hill going north from Binghamton as far as Belden Tunnel, near Sanitaria Springs. This doesn't happen often, as usual practice is to add a unit on the head end and run it through to Mohawk. Nowadays, the extra unit or pushers are NS C40-9s, or CP SD 40-2's. Back in the "good old days" of the D&H, it could be U 33C's or two or three of their stable of Alcos. That was fun to watch!!
Tom Beckett Keeping the freight moving by road and rail
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 8:47 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by rvos1979

I'm not sure if the CN still does this, account I haven't been that way in a while, but the Wisconsin Central used to occasionally use pushers on Hawthorne hill out of Superior and Byron hill out of Fond du Lac. Usually on Byron Hill, a yard job out of Shops yard in FDL would use whatever was available, from SD45s to SW1200/SW1500 switchers.

Randy


[:)] I'm trying to picture a group of SW1200s in pusher duty out of Superior. That's a BIG hill.

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Posted by Gasman63 on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 3:06 PM
Helpers are used as needed on Norfolk Southern trains leaving west from Louisville, KY across the K & I Bridge, thru New Albany, IN. They shove up Duncan Hill through the tunnel to Georgetown, IN.
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Posted by bostet on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 10:33 AM
BNSF (GN) eastbound from Essex, Montana to summit uses helpers on virtually all loaded trains.
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 7:45 AM
Believe that Montana Rail Link (MRL) is still running helper sets out of Helena, MT (Mullen Pass) and Bozeman, MT (Bozeman Pass). A recent Trains Magazine had an article as MRL is one of the last RR's using SD-45 engines--these engines are usually part of the helper sets at these locations.
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Posted by rvos1979 on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 4:03 AM
I'm not sure if the CN still does this, account I haven't been that way in a while, but the Wisconsin Central used to occasionally use pushers on Hawthorne hill out of Superior and Byron hill out of Fond du Lac. Usually on Byron Hill, a yard job out of Shops yard in FDL would use whatever was available, from SD45s to SW1200/SW1500 switchers.

Randy

Randy Vos

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Posted by stewarttrains on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:57 AM
Also forgot to mention that CSX uses pushers/helpers on the Cumberland Mtn. grade on the main line from Nashville to Chattanooga, TN.

As well as on the NS line from Cedertown towards Breman over Dougdown Mtn., on the old Central of Georgia route: this also being in GA
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Posted by stewarttrains on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 2:52 AM
It is hard to believe that helpers would be used in Georgia but they are. They are used on the NS from Rockmart over Brawswell Mtn almost to Powder Springs. That is the main line from Atlanta, GA to Chattanooga, TN.

From time to time they are needed on CSX in Atl as well. Just outside the yard on the Manchester Sub. Then again on the start of the Fitzgerald sub just outside Manchester,GA
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:56 AM
Don't forget one of the most fascinating places I ever visited: Montana Rail Link's Mullan Pass between Helena and Elliston - the former Norhern Pacific crossing of the continental divide. There will be hardly any train without helpers (mostly used SD40/45 - some still in livery of their former owners). A helper set here normally consists of 4 units ! Heavy trains have up to 3 of them. The line is also used by BNSF freights. The unquestionable highlight is Mullan tunnel on the summit. Imagine these old units at top throttle running at 5 mph, filling the tunnel with black smoke. When the trains emerge from the tunnel right at the continental divide, the earth shakes ! A big cloud of exhaust fumes will build up and remain there for minutes. This is a real treat albeit its remoteness !
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Posted by Anonymous on Tuesday, October 18, 2005 12:40 AM
The 1st Dst CNOTP has a hill helper which will push a train up Erlanger Hill from Cincinnati. Mostly the 4000hp units are used to help the train up the hill to the crest at Erlanger Depot.

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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 17, 2005 11:39 PM
Friends,
I have read somewhere the longest helper district in the United States is on the BNSF Thayer, Mo. subdivision. From Springfield, Mo. SE to Burnham, a double track area just outside of Willow Springs, Mo. Pusher units help the coal trains from Springfield and drop off at Burnham, and go back to Springfield for the next one. There are lots of l o n g grades on this area of track. I have seen the helpers going back to Springfield. There is one interesting area of track between Mountain Grove, Mo. and a little community of Dunn, Mo. The track runs straight east and west right along side old Hwy 60. The are several miles of straight track with lots of up and down dips in it. Watching a coal train on this section is like watching a roller coaster going up and down. Westbound freights from Memphis, TN going to Springfield go around a sharp curve and very steep grade from Cabool to Moutain Grove, Mo. A heavy loaded train really lugs down on this one. I don't remember what the rise in elevation between the two towns is, but its quite significant. Good places for train watching.
Dave.....I grew up in Cabool, Mo.
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 17, 2005 7:42 PM
NS uses a set of pushers up Duncan Hill through the tunnel from Louisville, KY to Georgetown, IN. This is reportedly the second steepest grade east of the Mississippi River. (Saluda being the steepest.)
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Posted by JDJONES45 on Monday, October 17, 2005 7:11 PM
Pushers are used on the CSXT Spartanburg Sub (C&WC/ACL) between Spartanburg and Ora, SC, on southbound coal trains. Sometimes they push further south to Park Jct, depending on the tonnage of the train. Augusta trains are then pushed from the Savannah River to Martinez, Ga. The coal trains are also pushed out of Bostic, NC, toward Charlotte on the old SAL. The Spartanburg Sub pushers are usually CW44ACs. John Jones
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 17, 2005 7:03 PM
I live in Oakridge, Oregon and we are the helper station for the Cascade sub of the Oregon Division of Union Pacific and almost all trains except Amtrak and pigs get two helpers on the rear, or occassionally on the front put on here or close by. There are usually 3 sets of helpers in the yard and the crews are ferried back and forth from Eugene Engine Board. I used to drive them for Alexs transportation, but that contract was dropped when UP decided to try robot helpers, big mistake didnt work on this mean hill. So its back to human two man crews and doing a great job!!! If you are ever in Oregon come to Oakridge, and take Hills Street or the overpass at the light to the tracks and have fun taking pics of the operations here, about 20 trains a day more or less are thru here a lot at nights unfortunatey, but enuf good action to have fun Richard Cameron (railfan65)
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Posted by Anonymous on Monday, October 17, 2005 5:23 PM
Quite a few of the BeaNSnifF trains running through Flagstaff will have two or three -9s or equivalent pushing the rear in either direction over the Az. Divide. whether these are true helpers or DPu's I have no idea but they do make the consists more interesting to watch. When the regular "Grain Train" blows through it normally has 4 units leading, 3 in the middle and 2 bringing up the rear.
Roger Eyrich
Flagstaff, Az.
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Posted by Murphy Siding on Monday, October 17, 2005 6:32 AM
OK I understand now. Thanks[:)]

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Posted by Murphy Siding on Sunday, October 16, 2005 10:20 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by Mark_W._Hemphill

QUOTE: Originally posted by Murphy Siding
How would converting to distributed power eliminate the need for pushers? Wouldn't you still have the same horsepower trying to pull the same tonnage over the same grade?

Murph: You're absolutely right -- it still requires the same amount of horsepower/ton to overcome gravity. However, "pushers/helpers" in U.S. railroad practice *usually* means "manned," whereas DP is not manned. By converting to DP, the "helper is eliminated," that is, the expense of the crew is eliminated. So when someone at a U.S. railroad says "We instituted DP on the big hill last week and got rid of the helpers," everyone at the railroad knows what he means -- we got rid of the engine crews running the helper. I apologize that the industry at times uses distinctions that from the outside might seem arbitrary and semantic, and this is one of them.

It's worth noting that converting from manned helpers to DP is a complex economic calcuation. In many cases, it's not worth it. The geography of eastern U.S. railroads tends to make manned helpers less expensive than DP -- on a given heavy tonnage route in the east, the hills tend to be short and there are few of them. On western U.S. railroads tend to have longer hills and there are more of them en route, which favors DP. Eliminating manned helpers eliminates the cost of the crew that mans them, as well as any support facilities for the helper and crew (which tend to be in the middle of nowhere and thus are expensive), but adding DP often runs up locomotive hours per train hour and can give you very poor locomotive utilization -- on some routes where DP is used, much of the time the DP unit is just loafing along. Plus, cutting the DP in and out is a challenge. If it's done at a major terminal, the train is occupying a through track or long lead while the power is shuffled on and off, which can deeply affect yard fluidity. If it's done at a minor terminal, the road crew has to do it, which means they'll need a van and 30-90 minutes, which affects their hours (often putting them over their 12 hour limit) and of course the train performance is deeply degraded.

All of this has to be assessed before you make the decision. It's not an easy calculation because a lot of the effects won't show themselves before you make the switch, and often you have to go out and try it for awhile to see what happens.

Mark


I'm still a little unclear on part of this,so bear with me please. The few DPU trains I've seen in person, and all the DPU trains I've read about, all seem to have maybe two locomotives on the head end and one unit on the rear. Being a flatlander, I've never seen a helper district,but everything I've read indicated that they had something like 2 or 4 SD-40's used for pushers. Are you saying that one SD-70 in DPU mode negates the need for a slug of pushers on the tail? That almost seems too good to be true. Can you explain further?

Thanks

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Posted by chad thomas on Sunday, October 16, 2005 12:32 PM
Yes, the roadrailers were Swift.
The cabooses stay between Bend and Wishram. I used to drive along this route a half dozen times a year when I lived in Wa. until about 2 years ago and I never saw a caboose south of Bend. North of Bend I saw many cabooses on trains but by no means are they used on every train thought. I would say one out of 5 would have a caboose. And I never saw one on an intermodal. They were the classic BN widevision green w/yellow ends by the way and I've seen as many as 4 at a time in the yard at Bend.
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Posted by ozzy01 on Sunday, October 16, 2005 12:28 PM
NS uses pushers on southbounds out of Cincinnati on Erlanger Hill when train is heavy enough. CSX uses them on Richmond Hill south of Winchester,Ky. from Ford to Richmond. The pusher engine,usually a C40-8 sits in Richmond between assignments.
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Posted by broncoman on Sunday, October 16, 2005 12:02 PM
QUOTE: Originally posted by chad thomas


Things have changed for the better on that line now . After the SP-UP merger BNSF got the UPs portion between Keddie and Beiber and fixed it up. The Beiber to K-falls section was kept in tip top shape even through the darkest hours. With a good route to compete with UP and I-5 for the north / south traffic things started picking up in the late 90s. These days it's common for there to be 6 trains or more a day EACH WAY on the inside gateway. And Amtrak occasionaly detours the starlight on this route too. They also ran a roadrailer train on the inside gateway for a while, But they axed it and sent the equiptment back east about a year ago.

As to the DPU question, They probably cut them in at Klamath and Stockton, although I have seen them come out of Vancouver with DPUs (I used to live in the george). The line north of Klamath is relativly flat and they don't need the extra power like they do on the exWP and the FRC.

As a side note they still use cabooses on the Oregon Trunk on some manifests because this is dark territory and they have to line there switches behind them.

BNSF also has track rights on the overland. So you might be seeing trains from the east too, but there main pair of overland trains are running on Donner because of the Reno local traffic (That's getting to be a respectable amount from what I hear). But if we are talking stack trains they are north / south as BNSF has a better eastward route from the bay area / San Joaquin valley in there transcon to the south.


Thanks for the info Chad. Two questions though. First were the Roadrailers the Siwft train or some other one, and how far down do the caboose make it before they get cut out for the return trip (oroville, stockton)?

Dave
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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, October 16, 2005 8:04 AM
...Think of all the expense {regarding pushers}, that used to occur when they were still using steam engines...2 crew members for each engine pushing, etc....and used they were, even on the branch lines hauling coal out of the valleys of my part of western Pennsylvania...Wasn't unusual to have 2 pushers on each coal drag coming up the valley...{S&C}, and of course another crew necessary for the leading engine.

Quentin

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Posted by Modelcar on Sunday, October 16, 2005 7:58 AM
...Watching pushers help a heavy train up around the 12 miles of ex. Pennsylvania Railroad Altoona to Summit sure is convincing they are worth their cost....They sometimes are just about down on their hands and knees to make the grade....{1.8%} in general to get to the top.

Quentin

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