Norfolk Southern Dispatchers in Atlanta

  Today was the first day anyway for the Pokey Dispatchers to be in Atlanta.

 Couldn't believe my ears when at 7am I heard the Kenova Dispatcher say "NS Kenova Dispatcher in Atlanta ".

 1st shift today,1st and 2nd tomorrow and all 3 shifts Monday. 

Collin "The Eastern Kentucky & Ohio R.R."

Original Post

Dominic:  

I suspect this is one of those things for which a solid argument could be made either pro or con.  KCS, UP and BNSF have had centralized dispatching for years now.  CSX had it; decentralized then recentralized their dispatching.  And I believe both CN and CP have centralized dispatching centers in both the US and Canada as well.

The two arguments I’ve heard most frequently against doing this are the impact a significant weather event could have on centralized dispatching and the inability for dispatchers to conveniently hit the road and become more familiar with the territory they dispatch.

The reality is the structures in which dispatchers are located can be made darn near impregnable and there really isn’t any reason dispatchers couldn’t be sent into the field periodically to ride with crews.  

Ultimately, whether it’s good or bad depends who is holding down the CEO’s spot and whether he (or she) believes it’s a good idea.

Curt

juniata guy posted:

The reality is the structures in which dispatchers are located can be made darn near impregnable and there really isn’t any reason dispatchers couldn’t be sent into the field periodically to ride with crews.  Curt

If only the railroad would do it.  In actual practice, Train Dispatchers seldom have opportunities to ride the territories they dispatch, and there are a number of reasons.

COST  It is fairly expensive to arrange an extra Dispatcher to fill in for a regularly assigned one, fly the Dispatcher from Fort Worth to, say, Seattle.  Then there will be a rental car and hotel and meals, and the return flight.  So two employees are being paid for one assignment while one is in the field for an entire week.

STAFFING  There is not a large Dispatcher Extra Board.  Time off in that office is carefully monitored, just as it is with road crews, largely because of the high cost of the benefit package per employee.  Therefore, vacations, annual rules and safety classes training on new equipment, plus long- and short-term illnesses, and fallout from seniority bids and bumps must be covered first, which the available staff.

SENIORITY MOVES  It used to be that a Dispatcher dispatched on a division and might move from one subdivision to another, but it was all close to home and easy to spare him for a day to ride a couple of times a year.  Nowadays, some Dispatchers with low seniority get bumped from the Pacific Northwest to the Ozarks, to the southwest desert, to the Chicago metropolitan area, to south Texas, to the great plains.  The opportunities for sharpshooting are abundant, and some Dispatchers would certainly take advantage of it and make a career of riding the new territory they just bid or were bumped onto.

So, although there is some benefit in periodically sending a Dispatcher out onto his territory for a couple of days of train riding and conversation with employees who actually work out there, that practice is fading away.

One thing Santa Fe did in the 1990's was to send some Engineers and Conductors to the Shaumberg, Illinois centralized dispatching center for two weeks and have them sit with the Dispatchers on their home territory and exchange information about why certain things work better than others when making meets and passes.  Both the Dispatchers and the crews learned both sides of the matter and the Company benefitted.  When the dispatching was centralized, about half of the Dispatchers were not originally from the Divisions on which they were dispatching trains.

Tom

 

Superintendent, High Plains Division (O Gauge) 

The Panhandle & Santa Fe Railway Co.

Lone Star Hi-Railers

Santa Fe, All the Way

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