FRA rules "you don't need no stink'in conductor or brake persons to run a train anymore".   .Besides it helps your bottom line and operating ratios, plus our insurance takes care of any accidents our fancy new can't fail PTC system misses...….

https://issuu.com/railwayage/d...way_age_june_2019/12

 

Thanks,

Sam

Free lancing fictitious Iowa Midwest Division of Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway

Take a cab and trolley ride on P&WV  https://www.youtube.com/watch?...7pZJZBL_4&t=144s

 

BE WITH THOSE THAT BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU,

          NOT THE STRESS IN YOU.

          unknown

Original Post

Alan:

I agree.  FRA is saying this isn’t a regulatory issue and that’s the extent of it.

I personally believe it is safer to have both an engineer and a conductor in the cab of all freight trains but; until there has been an independent study validating my belief; it remains a collective bargaining issue and not a regulatory one.

Curt

OGR CEO-PUBLISHER posted:

I read the article and can't see where you made the conclusion in your comment....

Alan,

Way I read it it sounded as if RR could dispense with extra people and engineer does it all.  You may have read it differently.  Probably sure the RR will read it however is to their advantage.   I agree as an armchair RRer, it would be safer to have two people but then again what do I know compared to real world RR members here?

I really doubt railroads are just going to get rid of brakemen and conductors. The reason for this is the time savings that the railroads get with multi-person crews. The main point of a railroad is to move cargo from point A to point B as quickly as possible and having one person crews will just slow things down further.

~ Ameen

I suppose there is an advantage of one person if you run a solid one type consist say coal from A to B, so you only need one person to run engine(s).  Not good if you have to stop to drop/pickup cars along way.  Somewhat would be like requiring auto drivers to have second person along "just in case" when going to corner store or across town.

 

Thanks,

Sam

Free lancing fictitious Iowa Midwest Division of Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railway

Take a cab and trolley ride on P&WV  https://www.youtube.com/watch?...7pZJZBL_4&t=144s

 

BE WITH THOSE THAT BRING OUT THE BEST IN YOU,

          NOT THE STRESS IN YOU.

          unknown

Think about it this way:

Let's say there's a 100 car freight train rollin' along.  Somehow or someway a brake hose detaches someplace along the train. There are only two men in the cab - engineman and conductor.  The conductor has to walk the train, reattach the brake hose (if possible), walk to the hind end and perform a brake test with the engineman. 

You can bet your bottom dollar those two are wishing there was a full crew with a hack on the hind end.

Ponz

Sam:

I’m not sold on a single crewman even if it’s something like a coal train.  My main concern is task overload of an engineer.  

With the proliferation of distributed power now, an engineer has to juggle two and sometimes three different sets of power located at different points within the train.  Add to that the tasks currently being handled by the conductor such as calling and recording signal indications; keeping track of speed restrictions or MOW; and copying and repeating any track warrants and it is placing too much on a single individual to deal with during a 12 hour shift - day or night, in all kinds of weather. Throw in a stuck brake, pulled knuckle or parted air hose - things a conductor would ordinarily walk the train to locate, identify the problem and make a repair and you’ve got the perfect way to tie up the railroad.

And I realize Trip Optimizer and PTC will in theory address some of the train handling issues as well as the need to call and record signals or keep track of speed restrictions but; PTC is not required on every mile of railroad in this country and I’ve heard too many anecdotal comments concerning the shortcomings of Trip Optimizer to believe either can overcome my concerns.

The main reason given by the railroads for wanting to reduce crew size to a single individual is to reduce cost and stay ahead of the possible loss of business to lower cost autonomous trucks.  Personally; I think this is a specious argument.  Spend any time trackside or viewing Virtual Railfan and you see countless very long double stack trains.  I would conservatively guess that a 10,000 foot double stack train carries the equivalent of around 300 containers.  Now imagine putting 20 or 30 times that number of additional trucks on the road and the congestion on our interstates right now would quickly shift to gridlock.  

In my mind, the ONLY way autonomous trucking can work is if these trucks are restricted to dedicated rights of way.  And we already have those dedicated rights of way - they are called railroads.

And I apologize for the digression into rail economics.

Curt

juniata guy posted:

Sam:

I’m not sold on a single crewman even if it’s something like a coal train.  My main concern is task overload of an engineer.  

With the proliferation of distributed power now, an engineer has to juggle two and sometimes three different sets of power located at different points within the train.  Add to that the tasks currently being handled by the conductor such as calling and recording signal indications; keeping track of speed restrictions or MOW; and copying and repeating any track warrants and it is placing too much on a single individual to deal with during a 12 hour shift - day or night, in all kinds of weather. Throw in a stuck brake, pulled knuckle or parted air hose - things a conductor would ordinarily walk the train to locate, identify the problem and make a repair and you’ve got the perfect way to tie up the railroad.

And I realize Trip Optimizer and PTC will in theory address some of the train handling issues as well as the need to call and record signals or keep track of speed restrictions but; PTC is not required on every mile of railroad in this country and I’ve heard too many anecdotal comments concerning the shortcomings of Trip Optimizer to believe either can overcome my concerns.

The main reason given by the railroads for wanting to reduce crew size to a single individual is to reduce cost and stay ahead of the possible loss of business to lower cost autonomous trucks.  Personally; I think this is a specious argument.  Spend any time trackside or viewing Virtual Railfan and you see countless very long double stack trains.  I would conservatively guess that a 10,000 foot double stack train carries the equivalent of around 300 containers.  Now imagine putting 20 or 30 times that number of additional trucks on the road and the congestion on our interstates right now would quickly shift to gridlock.  

In my mind, the ONLY way autonomous trucking can work is if these trucks are restricted to dedicated rights of way.  And we already have those dedicated rights of way - they are called railroads.

And I apologize for the digression into rail economics.

Curt

I'll say two things:

  1. RRMAN, I really did not expect you, of all who post here, to refer to "stinkin' conductor or brake person" which is insulting to all the railroaders who read these forum posts.  It seems out of character for you and, although you probably meant no harm, it was unwisely phrased.  I'll presume that it was a failed attempt at humor.  If you had ever been a Brakeman out on a local freight, picking up and setting out cars in sweltering summer humidity, you might better understand how disrespectful that sentence is.  And you mis-stated the point made in the article from Railway Age (which is that the FRA has decided that this topic does not need government intervention).
  2. No railroad is going to let a long train tie up its busy main track for hours while all other trains build up giant traffic jams ahead and behind, as a sole employee aboard struggles with an unplanned event such as an air hose separation 75 cars behind the locomotive.  He might get the train tied down, analyze the problem, fix it if possible, and then release all the hand brakes the same day he started.  Maybe.  So the matter will work itself out through collective bargaining and possibly different processes for handling unplanned events.  And the FRA, which, yes, was invited into the matter by unions, is now uninviting itself and urging states to do likewise.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

No railroad is going to let a long train tie up its main track for hours while all other trains remain stopped as a sole employee aboard struggles with an unplanned event such as an air hose separation 75 cars behind the locomotive.  He might get the train tied down, analyze the problem, fix it if possible, and then release all the hand brakes the same day he started.

Tom,

I haven't worked for a railroad but wouldn't it be dangerous to leave a running engine unattended for any length of time?

Doug

 

Aliquippa & Southern posted:

I haven't worked for a railroad but wouldn't it be dangerous to leave a running engine unattended for any length of time?

Doug

If the reverse lever is removed, all units are isolated, air brakes fully applied, hand brake applied to each unit of the locomotive consist, all cab doors locked, then it would be safe from most unauthorized operation.  There is always the very small chance that some rogue railroad employee or former employee could figure a way to get around all that, but the average vandal would not be able to do much.  Normally, locomotives, when left unattended, are placed on a track that has derail protection.   If left unattended on a main track, rules typically require that the locomotive be coupled to a train with air brakes and hand brakes applied, and couplers stretched tight to prevent the locomotive from being uncoupled from the train.

 

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

If my union literature was accurate, there were about 444,000 of us UTU guys, circa 1980's.   What paltry number would it be now?

In the somewhat recent past, the speculation banter was focused on which union would prevail should the industry move to one person crews...the obvious answer was the BLE.  Having been marked off for about 38 years I will admit I am mostly out of touch with the status of railroad unions.  However, it seems that the BLE includes Trainmen now, but I have no understanding of the SMART union conglomeration. 

All of you forum people...don't you actually think that two person crews will prevail on road freights?  There will always be a possibility of separations, broken knuckles, or hotboxes that need to be set out, thus sustaining the necessity for a trainman on board.  Now...having said that, I will relate the time when BN, Inc took out ALL the switches between Quanah and Paducah, TX on our QA&P line.  I asked the conductor, "what happens when we need to set out a hotbox?"  His reply was, "tie up and call the carman".  This story has pointed out to me the fact that anything is possible, even if it seems unwise.

Rob:

Tom’s former boss Matt Rose often talked about “automating the left side of the cab”.  

I recollect a number of years back that BNSF put a proposal before the union to allow engineer only trains on the northern region lines.  These one person crews would be backstopped by traveling conductors in SUV’s who would be responsible for multiple trains operating within their assigned territory.  If a problem occurred that required intervention by a conductor; the traveling conductor would  drive to wherever the train was stopped and attempt to correct the problem.

The union overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

Curt

I would not equip the traveling conductors with SUV's.  They should have helicopters.  Of course the helicopters would have two man crews, pilot and conductor - different skill sets.   Compensating for the cost of two men rather than one is a tremendously higher level of productivity.

Is there not a RR in Canada that has one person crews with choppers?

And what about that town in Canada which burnt down with one person crew?

What does it take to learn a lesson?  That is like TXDOT wanting to put I45 and 69 underground.  In Houston.  After Harvey.

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

Dominic:

Quebec, North Shore & Labrador operates with one man crews backstopped by helicopters in emergency situations and - relevant to MLAUGHLINNYC’s comments above yours - weather permitting.

QNS&L operates through a largely inaccessible wilderness with few roads and a light density of train movements hence, the usefulness of helicopters.  The northern region lines on which BNSF was proposing to use “traveling conductors” is considerably busier and not as hampered by this level of inaccessibility so; I’m guessing they felt SUV’s was a more practical and cost effective alternative.

Curt

PS:  TXDOT is actually considering tunnels for 45 and 69 through parts of Houston?  Having lived there for 19 years from the late ‘70’s to late ‘90’s; my only comment is unbelievable! 

juniata guy posted:

Dominic:

Quebec, North Shore & Labrador operates with one man crews backstopped by helicopters in emergency situations and - relevant to MLAUGHLINNYC’s comments above yours - weather permitting.

QNS&L operates through a largely inaccessible wilderness with few roads and a light density of train movements hence, the usefulness of helicopters.  The northern region lines on which BNSF was proposing to use “traveling conductors” is considerably busier and not as hampered by this level of inaccessibility so; I’m guessing they felt SUV’s was a more practical and cost effective alternative.

Curt

PS:  TXDOT is actually considering tunnels for 45 and 69 through parts of Houston?  Having lived there for 19 years from the late ‘70’s to late ‘90’s; my only comment is unbelievable! 

Check for North Houston Highway Improvement Project.  It will affect both METRORail and some freight lined crossing the two Interstates.  (Train Relationship.)

The TEXAS SPECIAL:  The REAL RED streak of the golden prairies!

Number 90 posted:

I'll say two things:

  1. RRMAN, I really did not expect you, of all who post here, to refer to "stinkin' conductor or brake person" which is insulting to all the railroaders who read these forum posts.  by unions, is now uninviting itself and urging states to do likewise.

Well, I think he (the OP) was being sarcastic when saying "don't need no stink'in conductor or brake persons to run a train anymore," and in fact is critical of what he believed to be an erroneous decision by the FRA (at least the way he interpreted it).

"Stinkin" did not refer to conductors or brake persons, per se, but was the sarcastic use of a famous phrase from the classic 1948 movie "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" starring Humphrey Bogart. It is both a quote and misquote, but is often quoted as "we don't need no stinkin' badges." (The original quote referred to badges worn by Mexican Federales.)

The quote is usually used sarcastically, or humorously, to say that something isn't required, as in "We don't need no stinkin' ________." (Fill in the blank with whatever is being discussed)  The quote is commonly used to sarcastically refer to something that may be, in fact, really necessary. The quote also has been satirized in other movies, including, most famously, "Blazing Saddles," and is commonly used in jokes and satire.

breezinup posted:
Number 90 posted:

I'll say two things:

  1. RRMAN, I really did not expect you, of all who post here, to refer to "stinkin' conductor or brake person" which is insulting to all the railroaders who read these forum posts.  by unions, is now uninviting itself and urging states to do likewise.

Well, I think he (the OP) was being sarcastic when saying "don't need no stink'in conductor or brake persons to run a train anymore," and in fact is critical of what he believed to be an erroneous decision by the FRA (at least the way he interpreted it).

"Stinkin" did not refer to conductors or brake persons, per se, but was the sarcastic use of a famous phrase from the classic 1948 movie "Treasure of the Sierra Madre" starring Humphrey Bogart. It is both a quote and misquote, but is often quoted as "we don't need no stinkin' badges." (The original quote referred to badges worn by Mexican Federales.)

The quote is usually used sarcastically, or humorously, to say that something isn't required, as in "We don't need no stinkin' ________." (Fill in the blank with whatever is being discussed)  The quote is commonly used to sarcastically refer to something that may be, in fact, really necessary. The quote also has been satirized in other movies, including, most famously, "Blazing Saddles," and is commonly used in jokes and satire.

Spot on interpretation!!  I didn't mean to offend any RRers for their hard work.  Sent apology to Number 90 offline and we are cool.

They got rid of the brakeman a long time ago on through freight trains. They have been 2 man crews for years, but of course road switchers, locals and yard jobs still have 3 man crews unless they are remote.

The 2 man crew is protected under the Crew Consist Agreement. Once the last protected trainman has retired, the Crew Consist Agreement can be re-visited and you can bet it will be. It will be changed significantly AGAIN, and we are going to lose many jobs.

All the FRA said was they pulled their requirement of 2 man crews. You have to understand this is all political just like everything else. For whatever reason (and we can all take a good guess) they are not backing the Unions now and many states have already voted on 2 man crew Bills. New Mexico is one that voted against the requirement of a 2 man crew. That itself was a flip flop at the Table when it came down to it. My congressman said he couldn't support a bill that created jobs by political means. THE JOBS ARE ALREADY THERE I told him, you are eliminating jobs and creating a safety risk. He hung up on me.

Railroads WILL have 1 man crews eventually. It's going to happen, just like everything else they have wanted. When they want it, they get it, no matter what.

Many locations already have "Responders" or "Utility Employees" to help with those air hose separations and everything else. they are already doing most of the work for the conductor so eliminating the conductor all together for the railroads

We didn't want Remote Control Operations, but it happened anyway. Ironic because most locations (at the big orange) have gotten rid of RCO and either went to a conventional job or eliminated it all together.  This Precision Railroading is already taking its toll on train crews/jobs and it's only going to get worse.

If the 2 Man Crew Bill is coming to a vote in your state, I suggest calling, writing, emailing your congressman or woman. All that matter to these railroads is saving money, they do not care how many billions they profited the year before! 

 

 

My conductor friend, who recently retired from NS, was usually on a train from Conway Yard/western PA, to Toledo, Ohio.  He was responsible for the horn, at each, of over two hundred road crossings.   That could be automated, I'm not sure whether you could make it fail-safe, other than eliminate all road crossings, a major liability concern with the Railroads.  One in the cab, this becomes the responsibility of the engineer.   

Dominic Mazoch posted:

Can a state legally make a law about crew size?  Is that a Federal call?

Absolutely! Since the FRA back down from requiring a 2 man crew, that left it open for states to vote on their own Bill, which some were already doing anyway. It really doesn't matter if a state requires a 2 man crew because the railroads will fight in court to get what they want. They always do.

 

 

Mike CT posted:

My conductor friend, who recently retired from NS, was usually on a train from Conway Yard/western PA, to Toledo, Ohio.  He was responsible for the horn, at each, of over two hundred road crossings.   That could be automated, I'm not sure whether you could make it fail-safe, other than eliminate all road crossings, a major liability concern with the Railroads.  One in the cab, this becomes the responsibility of the engineer.   

The conductor blows the horn on NS? That’s news to me...

-Mike

Laidoffsick posted:
Dominic Mazoch posted:

Can a state legally make a law about crew size?  Is that a Federal call?

Absolutely! Since the FRA back down from requiring a 2 man crew, that left it open for states to vote on their own Bill, which some were already doing anyway. It really doesn't matter if a state requires a 2 man crew because the railroads will fight in court to get what they want. They always do.

No, the FRA is, essentially, leaving the crew size decision-making to the railroads, and also taken away any authority states may have tried to exert with respect to the matter as well.

“This notice of withdrawal provides FRA’s determination that no regulation of train crew staffing is appropriate and that the FRA intends to negatively preempt any state laws concerning that matter.” 

Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of maintaining 2-person crews from those commenting on the matter before the FRA, the FRA determined that they would leave it to the railroads, who, of course, wanted the freedom to reduce crew sizes without any regulations getting in the way. If this looks like what has been done to environmental regulations and any number of other things under the current administration, that's because it's the same thing. Get rid of the rules, and let the companies do what they want.

Mr. Fox, we're going to let you administer the henhouse.

mlavender480 posted:
Mike CT posted:

My conductor friend, who recently retired from NS, was usually on a train from Conway Yard/western PA, to Toledo, Ohio.  He was responsible for the horn, at each, of over two hundred road crossings.   That could be automated, I'm not sure whether you could make it fail-safe, other than eliminate all road crossings, a major liability concern with the Railroads.  One in the cab, this becomes the responsibility of the engineer.   

The conductor blows the horn on NS? That’s news to me...

I’m a conductor for Norfolk Southern and this is most definitely not one of our job duties...

 

Our duties when on road trains is calling and recording signals (unless PTC is actually working, which is rare, then we just call them), keeping track of any slow orders or conditional stop signs, etc that may be on the way, and most importantly making sure the other guy is awake. 

 

It’s different of course for locals, whereas we’re stopping and working industries on our route. 

 

My opinion, through my experience with the railroad so far, it’ll be awhile before they’re even able to do one man crews. PTC is so shotty and has too many kinks to be relied on 100%. Just come to the Atlanta area and listen to the mainline channel. All you’ll hear is crews calling PTC and saying it isn’t working and being told to run without...

Max Warfel

--

OGR Run 240 & 251

North Atlanta O-Gauge Railroad Club

I think on Class 1 RRs roadcrews are 2 perple.    There is a conductor and an Engineer.     There are no brakemen on road trains, so no jobs to loose.     Both crew members ride/work in the cab since cabooses have been gone for decades.    My friend who worked for CSX for some years said when you started you were trained as a "conductor" and put on the job.    Then you had I believe 3 years to qualify also as an engineer or you were out.     That way all road crew would be certified for either job.   

I think I have heard that there are "switchman" jobs in yards.  

Dominic Mazoch posted:

On my scanner, I hear somebody calling out signals.  OK, good idea.  But who or what is "recording" them.

We have a signal log book where we record every signal we call and hold onto the log for each trip for 15 calendar days. On the 16th day we tear it out. Trainmasters are required to check log books to make sure they’re actually being done and being done correctly. Not filling it out can result in being fired (suspended in other terms). Now as I said earlier, if PTC is actually working, all we have to do is fill out the header (train symbol, conductor’s/engineer’s name, lead locomotive, etc.) and record the signals up until the time PTC is initialized and working. Then all that is needed is to call them over the radio. NS has a rule that requires us to say the indication aloud in the cab, over the radio, and then again as we’re about to pass it. 

Max Warfel

--

OGR Run 240 & 251

North Atlanta O-Gauge Railroad Club

prrjim posted:

I think on Class 1 RRs roadcrews are 2 perple.    There is a conductor and an Engineer.     There are no brakemen on road trains, so no jobs to loose.     Both crew members ride/work in the cab since cabooses have been gone for decades.    My friend who worked for CSX for some years said when you started you were trained as a "conductor" and put on the job.    Then you had I believe 3 years to qualify also as an engineer or you were out.     That way all road crew would be certified for either job.   

I think I have heard that there are "switchman" jobs in yards.  

Here in Atlanta all road trains have an engineer and a conductor. 

Yard jobs (at Inman, which is intermodal) only have an engineer and a conductor.

There’s 3 remote jobs that work the “hump” or south end of the class yard on every shift. 

Locals at East Point, Rome, McDonough, South Yard, Dalton, etc. have an engineer, conductor, (except for one remote job) and switchman/brakeman if needed. There are some with and some without. A job that requires a lot of switching or has many industries usually has a helper, as we call them. 

Max Warfel

--

OGR Run 240 & 251

North Atlanta O-Gauge Railroad Club

Rich Melvin posted:

Same here. Sounding the horn at grade crossings has always been the engineer’s responsibility.

but if the engineer does not do it, it becomes the conductors responsibility to do it. if neither does it, both are subject to a personal fine from the FRA and termination depending on which RR you work for. They always get you with the rule that says "The engineer and conductor are JOINTLY responsible"  

This just happened recently on a job in CA. The crew blew threw a crossing without whistling. The engineer and brakeman got a level S because they had a clean record. The conductor who did not, was given the choice. Retirement or termination.  

 

 

breezinup posted:
Laidoffsick posted:
Dominic Mazoch posted:

Can a state legally make a law about crew size?  Is that a Federal call?

Absolutely! Since the FRA back down from requiring a 2 man crew, that left it open for states to vote on their own Bill, which some were already doing anyway. It really doesn't matter if a state requires a 2 man crew because the railroads will fight in court to get what they want. They always do.

No, the FRA is, essentially, leaving the crew size decision-making to the railroads, and also taken away any authority states may have tried to exert with respect to the matter as well.

“This notice of withdrawal provides FRA’s determination that no regulation of train crew staffing is appropriate and that the FRA intends to negatively preempt any state laws concerning that matter.” 

Despite overwhelming testimony in favor of maintaining 2-person crews from those commenting on the matter before the FRA, the FRA determined that they would leave it to the railroads, who, of course, wanted the freedom to reduce crew sizes without any regulations getting in the way. If this looks like what has been done to environmental regulations and any number of other things under the current administration, that's because it's the same thing. Get rid of the rules, and let the companies do what they want.

Mr. Fox, we're going to let you administer the henhouse.

I guess you forget about the weed and firearms laws that differ from state to state???

CA had already passed the 2 Man Crew Bill because of the grades and past history of Cajon Pass. Just because the FRA says they can run one man crews up and down that hill, lets see how soon that happens. I doubt I will see it in my life time...but then again Rich Melvin said the Big Boy would never run again either!  sorry, couldn't help that one Rich!

The FRA stated that a 2 man crew can be more of a distraction because the 2 crew members can be engaged in a conversation and lose all situational awareness!

 

 

Dominic Mazoch posted:

On my scanner, I hear somebody calling out signals.  OK, good idea.  But who or what is "recording" them.

Most passenger and commuter trains have to call out signals. Many class one railroads have also now required this as well, depending on traffic volume. Places like the San Bernardino and Cajon Subs there is too much traffic to have all that on the radio. Amtrak and Metrolink are still required to call signals on the radio.

 

 

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