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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Wanna yard your train? Take a number!


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Date: 08/12/19 09:45
Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: santafe199

As a railfan photographer it’s always good stumble across some train stopped in an easily accessible place. Snap a few pics and be on your way to the next pixel-burning location. But the train service railroaders here on TO will almost certainly sing you a different tune. As photographers they’ll be happy to get an opportune shot like I’ve posted below. But they’ll know right away what’s really going on.

A train stopped on the main line for a long period of time, just short of arriving in its final terminal usually has a not-so-happy explanation. Although there can be any number of specific reasons, the overall reason will likely be yard congestion*. Translated: There is no room for another inbound arrival, so the train (and crew) will wait indefinitely just outside of the yard until a track opens up. And the wait could be for hours!

In my MRL days we would come in off the road from Helena and quite often have to stop at 5th St in Laurel (MT) to wait for a track to open up. There the town was all spread out in front of us, teasingly close enough to almost touch. But we had to just sit and wait it out. And if you or your partner didn’t exactly get along with the yardmaster for whatever reason, your wait time could be a “wee bit” longer.

In those numerous times I’ve been made to sit at 5th St I would use the generic term “yard congestion” if it was my turn to keep the delay report. *Every once in a while, just for giggles & that other aromatic stuff I would write down yard indigestion, or even yard constipation on the delay. (I never heard word about it… ;^) But the most dreaded aspect of being held out of your final terminal was when you heard the yardmaster ask you over the radio: “How much time do you have left to work?

1. & 2. BNSF 8485 is pointing a coal empty stopped at N 98th St just west of Waverly, NE on July 12, 2019.

We’ll send you a ride…
Lance Garrels
santafe199

PS: for each train service railroader here on TO I’m betting there are a half-dozen tales of woe concerning final terminal delay…



Edited 6 time(s). Last edit at 08/12/19 09:52 by santafe199.






Date: 08/12/19 12:19
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: twropr

My favorite story on this subject occurred in about 1974 when I was living in Birmingham, AL.  L&N's Boyles Yard was notorious for holding trains out unti there was "room in the inn"l. When northbounds were waiting on the elevated tracks downtown, the next place they waited was Green Springs Road, a busy crossing south of town that could not be blocked.  A "chain gang" (L&Nese for extra drag freight) had been waiting for hours.  When the crew heard on the radio that some trains ahead were moving, the crew called the Boyles YM and asked if they could come into town.  The YM said "NO."  The crew then said, "we've been sitting here for more than two hours without food or drink 0 we're only human, you know."  The YM shot back "You're not human when you work for the railroad.  Now you sit there and wait at Green Springs until I call you,."
Andy



Date: 08/12/19 13:06
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: cewherry




Date: 08/12/19 13:37
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: santafe199

cewherry Wrote: > ... I wrote of this practice here: (link)

That's a great story, Charlie! Usually it's some old head conductor or hoghead with the fatherly arm-around-the-shoulder/pep talk. In 3+ decades I can only think of maybe 2 or 3 RR managers who would try something like that with us...

Lance/199



Date: 08/12/19 15:01
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: PHall

At least now you can have Uber Eats deliver some food so you don't starve anymore.



Date: 08/12/19 15:01
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: twjurgens

These look familiar!  Nice shots.



Date: 08/12/19 16:59
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: cewherry

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> At least now you can have Uber Eats deliver some
> food so you don't starve anymore.

Maybe. Yardmasters and DS's don't place a high priority on giving crews a timely heads-up about when they are going
to move you. So, you have just placed your order when the signal you've been waiting for goes 'Clear' or 'Approach' or
'Restricting' or whatever. Now what? Like the ancient advice says; "The man who want's to eat should bring a lunch".

Charlie
 



Date: 08/12/19 17:40
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: PHall

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > At least now you can have Uber Eats deliver
> some
> > food so you don't starve anymore.
>
> Maybe. Yardmasters and DS's don't place a high
> priority on giving crews a timely heads-up about
> when they are going
> to move you. So, you have just placed your order
> when the signal you've been waiting for goes
> 'Clear' or 'Approach' or
> 'Restricting' or whatever. Now what? Like the
> ancient advice says; "The man who want's to eat
> should bring a lunch".
>
> Charlie
>  

You can see the delivery guy's location on your phone and you can change the delivery location too.



Date: 08/12/19 17:43
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: Railbaron

Used to be pretty common coming from Klamath Falls to Eugene. 

Dougren was our "black hole" where trains would head in and not come out for hours at times, especially after UP took over. Then with about 2-hours to work they often bring you out and then hold you just south of Eugene at what we called "Sand & Gravel". Then with about an hour to work they'd be in a rush to bring you in because then you'd be hot. I can't tell you how many times I'd leave "Sand & Gravel" having an hour to go about 2 miles to the receiving track, 3 miles to get into the receiving track, but mysteriously I'd die as soon as my lead units entered the track causing the entire south end of Eugene Yard to be completely blocked so nothing could move. Hey, you have to comply with "yard speed" (loved that rule). Nobody ever said anything although I know I pissed yardmasters and managers off but fair is fair - screw me and you know I'll return the favor, and make money as well. 



Date: 08/12/19 19:10
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: cewherry

PHall Wrote:

> You can see the delivery guy's location on your
> phone and you can change the delivery location
> too.

Not while moving. Remember Chatsworth?

Charlie



Date: 08/12/19 20:40
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: TAW

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > At least now you can have Uber Eats deliver
> some
> > food so you don't starve anymore.
>
> Maybe. Yardmasters and DS's don't place a high
> priority on giving crews a timely heads-up about
> when they are going
> to move you.

I'm from a different school.

Beginning of the shift, first thing after transfer, was figuring: figure the meets and known big project trackwork, put pencil figures on the trainsheet. Then came finding out what all of the gandys and signal planned to do for the day. I talked to each foreman on the territory. Then came calling the yardmasters personally with figures and talking about who could get in and who couldn't,  when they could get in, what was coming out and when. Those figures went on the sheet. Then came re-figuring to get the trains to they yard when they were wanted and using any extra time for opposing trains or gandys and signal. That could also involve, if there was no other use of the time, sending crews to get coffee, food, or in the case of Gold Bar and Baring WA, ice cream. For a short duration, I would tell them what time to be back and call me. For long duration, I would tell them to call me with the phone number of the establishment (if I didn't already have it) and I would call them. Each yard on my territory got a minimum of a one hour call figure (final) on each train that was going there. Following setting that up, I would call any gandys or maintainers that couldn't be accommodated with what they wanted to do and find stuff that they needed to do that I could accommodate.

No surprises makes the job so much easier, the time and effort to not have surprises notwithstanding.

Sending trains to a place where the crew could comfortably hang out always worked well except for one SP crew right after I got to Bakersfield. I don't remember where it was, somewhere between Fresno and Bakersfield. SP had put in new 8080 foot CTC sidings between towns so that there were no crossings. This train was coming against fruit and pigs and had nowhere to go. I could have just dumped them, but I put them in and told them to take the engine back to the nearby town to hang out. Call me with the number and I'll call you when it's time to go. The closest town that was sure to have plenty of places to go and a place to get in the clear was the one behind them, so that's where I sent them. They timeslipped me for a lapback!

Of course, I'm sure that workload doesn't allow that any more. The job, as it was described to me before I left is line signals and answer the phone. You don't have time for all that. (But then I was also turned down for promotion because You spend too much time planning instead of reacting.)

TAW



Date: 08/12/19 21:05
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: PHall

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
>
> > You can see the delivery guy's location on your
> > phone and you can change the delivery location
> > too.
>
> Not while moving. Remember Chatsworth?
>
> Charlie

Never said anything about when to do it did I. Railroaders are smart, they'll figure it out.



Date: 08/12/19 21:09
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: cewherry

Yes Tom, you were definitely from another school.

For the most part I don’t believe there is purposeful neglect among the YM,s or DS’s, rather it’s a matter of workload or instructions from local managers responding to ‘guidance’ from even higher authority.

Charlie



Date: 08/12/19 21:35
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: TAW

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes Tom, you were definitely from another school.
>
>
> For the most part I don’t believe there is
> purposeful neglect among the YM,s or DS’s,
> rather it’s a matter of workload or instructions
> from local managers responding to ‘guidance’
> from even higher authority.
>
...and not being taught to do it right from the outset. That is lost to history.

TAW



Date: 08/12/19 22:32
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: santafe199

cewherry Wrote: > ...  I don’t believe there is **purposeful neglect** among the YM,s or DS’s ...

With all due respect Charlie, you better think again. I'm not in any way saying it was a "commonplace, every day occurrence", but it most definitely did exist. On ALL 3 RRs I worked for. I saw it in play on the Santa Fe early in my career. I saw several guys get the ol' rawhide treatment, so I very quickly learned that trying hard to get along with dispatchers & yardmasters was the ONLY way to play it...

Lance/199



Date: 08/13/19 05:42
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: atsfer

Yep, tee off a dispatcher or yardmaster and prepare to pay the price.  I saw a lot of guys that never figured that out, you hated working with them because you were going to get beat on along with them.  One guy I knew was screwed for a year after he argued with a chief dispatcher in front of the whole office, big mistake, he finally threatened to sue the dispatcher after a year of royal screwings.



Date: 08/13/19 06:42
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: Railbaron

First, this is not intended to disagree with the dispatchers chiming in here, the issue of getting into the yard is the yardmaster's / manager's decision making often caused by issues in the yard. All this talk about dispatchers expediting movements across their territory is not going to get you in the yard any faster if the yard doesn't want you. I've had many excellent trips across my old territory for 180 of the 198 miles and then enter Dougren to sit longer than it took me to get there. As I read it, this thread started on the premise of having to wait to put your train away.

Second, with respect to dispatchers, I noticed as dispatchers got more centralized and got moved further away from the territory the handled, their thinking about crews got worse and worse. Even though they knew the yard couldn't handle a train, it got worse and worse about dispatchers telling crews ahead of time, especially offering to let them stop and eat something if they wanted. The same applies to a train approaching a MOW window; the dispatchers would run you right past a siding where a coffee could have been acquired and instead run you somewhere that has nothing available. And it's not just about the food, it's the chance to to simply de-stress for a little bit and not think about running a train.

As far as dispatchers screwing a crew, that's all in how you look at it. Sure, if the dispatcher is screwing you you'll have a bad trip. The other side of the coin I was out there to make money so while that dispatcher might be screwing me, he's also filling my pocket with overtime. If you go out there expecting a quick trip, you'll get screwed every time, but go out expecting 12-hours and make extra money you won't get screwed.



 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/13/19 07:04 by Railbaron.



Date: 08/13/19 07:48
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: TAW

cewherry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Yes Tom, you were definitely from another school.
>

...in which everyone was taught to and expected to work the way I did.

TAW



Date: 08/13/19 11:17
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: Beowawe

On the WP the first siding east of Stockton is Hammer Lane.  Many a train would wait there until the yardmaster told the dispatcher to line the held train in.  Crews referred to Hammer Lane as “Hammered Lane”.

I was braking on a westbound out of Portola and we had a set out in Oroville.  A guy riding in one of the set out cars jumped off and asked if he could ride the through portion and my conductor told him sure.  He said he was going to Stockton and asked if we were going to stop at Hammer Lane.  My conductor said he was not sure.  This guy must have been riding trains to Stockton for a while cause then he stated “your trains always stop there”.  My conductor and myself had a good laugh.

And for full disclosure I was a yardmaster at Stockton.



Date: 08/13/19 14:48
Re: Wanna yard your train? Take a number!
Author: jst3751

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> cewherry Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > PHall Wrote:
> >
> --------------------------------------------------
>
> > -----
> > > At least now you can have Uber Eats deliver
> > some
> > > food so you don't starve anymore.
> >
> > Maybe. Yardmasters and DS's don't place a high
> > priority on giving crews a timely heads-up
> about
> > when they are going
> > to move you. So, you have just placed your
> order
> > when the signal you've been waiting for goes
> > 'Clear' or 'Approach' or
> > 'Restricting' or whatever. Now what? Like the
> > ancient advice says; "The man who want's to eat
> > should bring a lunch".
> >
> > Charlie
> >  
>
> You can see the delivery guy's location on your
> phone and you can change the delivery location
> too.

So now you are telling that "independent contractor" who would be only making $7.50 for that delivery to now spend an extra 20 minutes tracking down where you are moving to and he "MAY" be able to convince UE/DD/PM to give him a couple more bucks but unless you are also going to tip him in cash $10 or more, he is going to end up eating free food and you will still be hungry.



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