Something different

Discussion in 'The Real Thing- North America' started by TrainNut, Jul 19, 2008.

  1. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    This last weekend, my family and I drove the flat, boring stretch between Phoenix and Tucson. I've done this trip many times in the past and we usually pass 4-5 freights either way. Thing is, the usual sight is to see the freight being pulled by 4 engines. This trip, almost all the trains we saw were being pulled by two and followed up by two pushers. Any idea why the change in protocol? Would this require two engineers (doubtful) or can everything be controlled from the front cab (I expect)?
  2. nachoman

    nachoman Guest

    I really have no answer about the trains, but I will point out that if it werent for the railroad tracks, that would be about the most boring stretch of highway I have ever travelled.

    As far as speculating on the trains - I know mid and rear train helpers are common in areas with grades. But that area is prety flat. And I think Tucson is a division point for UP - in other words I don't think trains travel though Tucson without stopping. What kind of trains were they? Perhaps it had to do with what kind of cars were on the train...

  3. Dave1905

    Dave1905 Member

    Its called distributed power, DP and it is used by almost all the major railroads. the rear engines are radio controlled remote engines. DP gives better train handling, allows larger trains and better stopping distance.

    Dave H.
  4. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    They all looked like your standard double stack trains to me.

    Thanks Dave for the info. We make that trip 4-5 times a year and this is the first trip I've seen them consistently do something like this. I guess it seemed to work well for everybody else so they figured they'd give it a try...:confused: Who knows.
  5. Kanawha

    Kanawha Member

    That is definitely a really dull stretch. Recently up in Flagstaff I watched probably the most impressive train I've ever seen pass through downtown: 7 lead engines, 2 mid train helpers, 2 trailing helpers, and enough doublestacks that I lost count (well over 100).
    We get freights through 100 times a day up there. But I look most forward to the Amtrak Southwest Chief that pulls in about 10pm. :)
  6. Russ Bellinis

    Russ Bellinis Active Member

    If the area is really flat and not a continuous grade that you just don't notice in a car, some of those engines may have been just "going along for the ride" to be repositioned either to a terminal where they were needed or else being taken to a repair facility. If you drive I-5 from Bakersfield to Sacramento, you would think it is pretty flat except for where the road goes up over a highway bridge. If you do the same drive in an 18 wheeler with 80,000# gcw, you discover that it is pretty much down hill all the way to Sacramento. Conversely, it is a climb all the way from Sacramento to Gorman on the same road!
  7. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    That is most definitely an impressive train! I love sitting at the crossing gates on Enterprise road and watching those impressive trains thunder right through the middle of town. The Southwest Chief will always have a special place for me as the one time I got to ride Amtrak was from Toledo, OH to Flagstaff, AZ for Christmas one year.
    That had occured to me except of all the freights we passed, only one had no engines on the rear. Phoenix is at an elevation of 1,100 feet and Tucson is 2,300 feet. The distance between the two is 114 miles which works out to an AVERAGE grade of less than 1% (.095). HOWEVER, upon tracing the tracks, I found that the line also branches off and continues on over to Yuma and eventaully LA. If all these trains were going to or coming from there, I can now understand as there are some pretty healthy grades between us and them. Still, I wouldn't think they'd patch in the helpers till Yuma.
  8. sometimes you need helpers not because of grade, but because if you get so many cars/weight they can bust couplers, so by putting helper engines in the middle it takes the stress off of the couplers. same with engines on the back. remember that the first rail cars couplers in a train is not only holding its own weight , but the weight of every car behind it, can be 125 cars or more in a train. couplers are a trains weakest link.
  9. TrainNut

    TrainNut Ditat Deus

    I also thought that you had a higher chance of derailments when you push a train. I would think that putting pushers on the end would be a dangerous ordeal.
  10. e-paw

    e-paw Member

    The rear end power may also be there to help make a switch move easier when the train gets to it's destination?

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