Safety cab (wide nose) locomotives

4 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    June 2006
  • 1,432 posts
Posted by Limitedclear on Monday, July 9, 2007 3:47 PM

True, except the crashworthiness is not because of heavier plate steel, it is due primarily to the structure itself and additional crash posts and bracing inherent in the design.


  • Member since
    June 2005
  • From: Phoenixville, PA
  • 3,495 posts
Posted by nbrodar on Sunday, July 8, 2007 6:50 PM

The wide cabs are better insulated against noise and the elements, and have (usually) more efficient climate systems including A/C.   The cab interior is larger then a conventional cab, more room for your stuff, the conductor has an actual desk to do his work on, and seats (for the most part) are more comfortable.

The primary entry point is through the center of the nose.  The door is nice and tall, and rather wide compared to the front door on a normal cab.  Most (if not all) wide cabs have a sort of air lock in the nose.   You enter the first door into a little room that usually has your tools, and flagging equipement.  Then there is another door that leads into the cab itself.  One one side is the toilet, again usually with a nice tall and wide door.  On the other may be storage racks for your grip, a sink, sometimes flagging equipement, and the black boxes for the electronic equipement.  Up a short flight of stairs and your in the cab proper, the cooler is usually located in the stair area.

Because of the location and construction of the wide cab, they are much more crashworthy then normal cabs.

NS resisted them because they cost more.  NS started using them when they became standard equipment, and it cost more to get a conventional cab.


Take a Ride on the Reading with the: Reading Company Technical & Historical Society

  • Member since
    December 2004
  • From: WSOR Northern Div.
  • 1,559 posts
Posted by WSOR 3801 on Saturday, July 7, 2007 7:18 PM

You walk in through the middle, up some stairs to the cab itself.  The toilet is usually to the right, and there is a little more room in there, as well as not needing to get contorted to get into the room.  On the other side usually are tools and electronic gear.  The cab floor is a little higher than a regular cab.

The conductor has a place to do paperwork, etc, at a desk-type thing.  The older ones have two seats on the fireman's side, but newer ones put the third seat more towards the middle.

The sound insulation is much better.  Can't usually hear the horn, unless the windows are open.  Most have air conditioning.  

Some roads ordered with the desktop controls.  OK for road trains,but poor for switching.  Pretty much have to face forward to run these. 

Most wide-nose jobs are built with heavy plate in the cab area.  Better for collision protection.

Not sure why NS resisted.  Could be bidirectional running is easier with a regular cab, or they just do things their own way.  Their Dash-9s run at 4000 hp, instead of 4400, to reduce wear and tear on the engine. 

Mike WSOR engineer | HO scale since 1988 | Visit our club

  • Member since
    July 2003
  • From: Elmwood Park, NJ
  • 2,385 posts
Posted by trainfan1221 on Saturday, July 7, 2007 7:12 PM
From what I understand they are safer than conventional cabs, and I think larger.  I know that the desktop control stands didn't go over well with crews, and new locos have the more traditional type, which NS has all along.  NS, owing to the heritage of its component roads, seemed to do things differently, after all they specialized in long hood forward, but I don't know why they took longer.  Since I am not a huge fan of the appearance of wide cabs, I would just as soon they never wanted them!
  • Member since
    May 2005
  • From: S.E. South Dakota
  • 13,569 posts
Safety cab (wide nose) locomotives
Posted by Murphy Siding on Saturday, July 7, 2007 4:53 PM
     I keep reading that wide cabs are the cat's meow as far as crew comfort, compared to the old units.  Can someone expound on that thought?  It seems to me, that the area where the crew sits has always been the full width of the locomotive, so all the gained area must be forward of the cab portion.  When the *nose* of the locomotive was widened, it eliminated two narrow, outside walkways, but added one, perhaps wider walkway down the middle.  It doesn't seem like much space would have been gained.  Are there other advantages of the wide cabs?  And why did some rialroads, like NS resist them?

Thanks to Chris / CopCarSS for my avatar.

Join our Community!

Our community is FREE to join. To participate you must either login or register for an account.

Search the Community

Newsletter Sign-Up

By signing up you may also receive occasional reader surveys and special offers from Trains magazine.Please view our privacy policy