Rail Crews on my shortline

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by Gary S., Nov 5, 2007.

  1. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    On a good day, my little shortline starts out at the East Yard with a cut of 6 to 12 cars which were delivered to us by the SP. These cars are bound for the industries we serve. We head west, and drop off the cars, at the same time picking up cars which need to be delivered to the West Yard on the opposite end of the layout, which is the intechange with Santa Fe. Once we have dropped the pick-ups off in the West Yard, we grab a cut of 6 to 12 cars from the Santa Fe and head back east, making the drops at the industries and also picking up any cars headed to the East Yard. Once that is done, we head back east and drop the cars so the SP can pick them up, and our day is done. (unless it is a real heavy day, and we have to make another run).

    So, considering the above, how many crew members would be on the train? What would their titles be? Any info on their actual job assignments?

    This is the 1970s, but I probably will not run cabooses because the trains are so short. Am I correct in this?
  2. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You would typically have 1 conductor to handle car movements, paperwork, and lading bills. The Engineer, of course! Perhaps 1-2 brakemen riding in the cab as well, (Front and Rear Brakemen Respectively. I suggest you run with cabooses, so one of the brakemen and the conductor can ride in comfort and have room to do paperwork.
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thanks Miles... so at least 3 crewmen, possibly 4? Even on a small industrial shortline like this?

    If I had 3, then the engineer pretty much stays in the loco, the conductor and the brakeman would throw the switches?

    Say we were doing a run-around, then the brakeman may throw the first switch, then the conductor would ride the engine down the run-around to throw the switch there to get back behind the cars, then the brakeman left at the other end would throw the switches to direct the cars into the sidings?

    Would the engineer ever be by himself and have to throw his own switches, then get back and run the train through?

    I would actually prefer to run cabooses, because I have the ones I weathered (and I personally think they turned out terrific), but was thinking that with such short trains, and such a minor little shortline, that the cabooses wouldn't have been used.
  4. Triplex

    Triplex Active Member

    Cabooses were used regardless of train length.
  5. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    Gary, we have a little shortline here (about a 2 miles of track ) and he runs a caboose even now.

  6. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    Gary the conductor started out his job 5-10 years ago throwing switches in horrible weather battling the elements, animals & Reptiles, dehydration, and monotonous work, not to mention extreme danger at times, working between cars, replacing couplers and the like, I'd REALLY bet that the conductor wouldn't revert to becoming a switchman again anytime soon, for any amt. of money. Yes, a crew of 3-4 with a front + rear brakeman would comply with acceptable safety standards, even on a shortline.

    Remember, it is people who build, run, and maintain the railroad to haul good for other peoople, thus it is a transportation company and not a model railroad. Noting would exist without those courageous men & women who run the railroad. Don't short sell them by overworking them.
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    More then likely a Engineer and conductor..On heavier work days a "conductor's helper" could be added.

    Of course some short lines operates with a three men crew.A engineer,conductor and brakeman.

    My C&HV operates with a 3 men crew on locals,mine runs and all yard crews.

    Road trains uses 2 men crews..A engineer and conductor.

    We only use cabooses on locals and mine runs the require long reverse moves.
  8. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Thank you everyone for the replies.... so now that I am armed with that info, on to part Two of the thread:

    In my latest operating sessions, I have been wondering about the crew and what they would be doing, and where they would be - instead of just flipping the switches whenever the "arm from heaven" wanted to. I suppose there are times when the brakeman has to walk a long darned way to throw switches and such.

    Would there be any operating value of having some LBPs on stands to represent the crew members, and I would set them out wherever they needed to be to flip a switch or guide a train into position at a loading dock, or uncouple a car? And before I could throw a switch or whatever, there would have to be an LBP there to "actually" throw the switch? And I would have to decide if he had to walk all the way from "here to there" or if he could catch a ride on the loco, or maybe hang on to the last car...

    any thoughts?

    I suppose it would give me some insight into the actual jobs of the crew,
  9. MilesWestern

    MilesWestern Active Member

    You know, I've really thought about that! It would be interesting, and reminicent of playing with Army men! however, I think it would be pretty interesting, make sure you make little plastic bases for 'em, small enough to fit on the short hood walkways of the diesels, but large enough to stand up properly on the ground. Cool!
  10. 60103

    60103 Pooh Bah

    Gary: there is a good chance that your LPB (little plastic brakie) would be on the step of the car farthest from the loco or else on the car where the cut would be made as they back into the sidings. On an older layout he'll have a lantern; a modern layout might have either a lantern or a radio. He'll be on the side where he can be seen as they go around curves or else on the engineer's side. As they go forward, he might be on the pilot steps if they're going into a siding to pickup, unless he's stuck at the switch to rstore it so a mainline train can go through.
    If he's not on good terms with the engineer, he might be walking through the snow a car length behind the train.
  11. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Heehee! That's pretty funny!

    On the layout, the simple thing to do is for me to just throw the switches whenever I need to. But learning about the actual process and how the crew handles each situation is very interesting. I appreciate everyone's input on the subject, and am looking forward to more. And it is great to have folks like Brakie and others who have actually done this stuff for real!
  12. scubadude

    scubadude Member

    Do you stop the engine and wait for the length of time it would take someone to throw the switch, or do you simply "hit the button" as the engine approaches without stopping?
  13. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Gary,The reason we rode the sides of freight cars or the engine steps wasn't to save shoe leather it was to save time.
    Switching a industry:
    Of course we would work as a team..The head brakeman would handle the switch while the rear brakeman would make the cut..After making the cut he would proceed to unlock and open the detail by this time the had proceed to the switch.The head man throws the switch and the train begins to make a slow reverse move into the siding..The rear brakeman walks ahead of the train looking for any debris laying on or between the rails that could cause a derailment and he also checks for anything stacked to close to the track.Now just short of the dock the rear brakeman will stop the train and check around the dock for workers,dock plates still in place,unloading hoses still connected to the car and anything else around the car to include wheels chocks,car puller hook and rope still hook to the car or vibrators on the side of covered hoppers.
    After all is clear the local will coupled to the car..At that time the brakeman release the hand brake and they will pull the empty.If they are cars coupled to the empty those cars will be pulled to so the arriving car can be place at the end of the cars waiting to be unloaded.Of course hand brakes will be set as well.
    Of course the pick up can be at door 5 and all cars between door one and door four will need to be moved and replace after the normal pickup.The same would apply if the inbound car went to door 5.
    After the industry is switch the derail will be closed and locked as well the siding switch.
    As a side note..If there is a gate at the industry this gate will need to be unlocked and open and of course closed and lock upon completion of the work.
  14. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Well, right now, for facing point switches, I just keep the engine running while I throw the switches ahead. For trailing point switches, I just run through them until the engine shorts on the frog because I forgot to align the switch :)curse:DOH!)

    I am trying to develop the habit of planning each move before I actually start the loco rolling, but then I forget and just start going without checking the switch alignments and everything = "Wait, why is the train on THAT track, it was supposed to be on the OTHER track - either that, or the Digitrax DCC is beeping at me 5 times because I ran through a trailing point which was wrong as mentioned above.

    As I getthe hang of the operations on my layout, I am sure I will do things more prototypically.
  15. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    What's your hurry? Take your time and make less mistakes..
    Of course I speak from experience..I was in such a hurry while DS'ing at the club two weeks ago I threw a switch under a passenger train with the expected results..:oops::oops:
  16. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    We run two man crews at one place I operate. One is the engineer/conductor, and the other is the brakeman/conductor. That is to say - we think about how we will switch the job together, and then one person drives the engine, and the other throws the switches. We try to communicate as if the engineer cannot always see what is going on, so no reverse moves (for example) are made without a verbal "OK" from the brakeman.

    The mainline switches on this layout are thrown ahead of time, as if they were under the control of CTC far away. But at the local industries, we try to give a reasonable pause to simulate the time required to throw the switch, couple/uncouple, and/or prepare the train for departure after the job is complete.

  17. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Oh, there's no hurry, and I know I should slow down and make ZERO mistakes, but for some reason I just don't think everything through. Perhaps it is because I am busy just admiring the trains and marveling that they even run at all!:mrgreen:

    And I haven't thrown any switches while a train was passing over... yet!:mrgreen:
  18. Nomad

    Nomad Active Member

    I made it a rule my rr that the train must stop, wait for the turnout to be thrown, pull through the turnout, and then the turnout is returned to original position before the train can proceed.

  19. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    Re: cabooses

    Canadian Pacific keeps a caboose at Bedell Jct (near where I used to live) for when they switch the branch that comes into town to serve the fertilizer plant. I have only seen it on the train once when it was raining. The rest of the time I think the brakeman rides the rearmost car step when backing. The branch is only a few kilometres long, if that.

  20. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    Oh the HUMANITY!!! Those poor little passengers. :mrgreen:

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