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Date: 08/20/19 19:33
Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

Back in the days when I was a conductor for Metrolink, I was on a job assignment that had me working an eastbound train on the San Gabriel Sub in the early morning hours.  We were basically a "positioning move" to get a set of equipment to San Bernardino to then become part of the morning westbound fleet of trains taking commuters into L.A.  Consequently, we were kind of like a fish swimming upstream and we had to make meets with several morning westbound trains as we made our way to San Bernardino.  One of the several places where we met opposing trains was Covina.  From CP Barranca to the east, there is a long stretch of single track.  We never had very many passengers on this train and we didn't officially serve the stop at Covina because, at that time, a platform had yet to be built for the south track.       

As part of this daily routine, I noticed that there was a catering truck at the Covina station.  Since we were stopped there for a few minutes each day waiting for the westbound train, I would get off the train, walk across the ballast between the two tracks and make my way over to the catering truck to buy a coffee and doughnut.  My engineer and I would spot the train close to where the catering truck was and we could still easily see the signal at CP Barranca, about four train lengths away.  

Enter Mrs. Ortiz.  Mrs. Ortiz was a woman whose house was adjacent to the north side of the parking lot at the Covina station.  She was probably used to the infrequent Southern Pacific local train that would rumble through Covina a few times per week serving the handful of industries that the line still had.  At this time there was even an active citrus packing house a little east of the station.  Things radically changed when SCRRA bought the line, spruced it up with concrete ties, welded rail and high ballast and started running a whole bunch of commuter trains through Covina as part of their then-new Metrolink service.  She didn't like Metrolink.  She hated Metrolink.  She hung a huge banner on her house that all the commuters at Covina and passengers on the trains could read that said "METROLINK SUCKS."

She was like the Gladys Kravitz character from the TV series "Bewitched" and would frequently peek over her fence to see how Metrolink was messing up her quality of life.  She didn't like the fact that I was spotting the train near the catering truck and getting a coffee and doughnut.  She complained to the city, and they wrote a letter to Metrolink, reproduced here.  It wasn't very long before my supervisor told me that positioning the train near the catering truck and buying a coffee and doughnut was unacceptable.  From then on, we were instructed to go beyond the station platform and wait for the opposing train closer to the absolute signal at CP Barranca, in an industrial area where we wouldn't be so noticeable and irritating. 

I've sanitized the complaint letter a little bit and omitted the names of people who probably wouldn't appreciate being identified.  Mrs. Ortiz eventually moved, much to the relief of Metrolink.  

Maybe she's now teaching a college course on how to be a top-notch NIMBY. 

It's hard to believe all this transpired twenty-four years ago.  I still have vivid recollections of hearing her shrill voice telling me to go buy my coffee and doughnut somewhere else.   



Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 08/21/19 19:44 by CA_Sou_MA_Agent.






Date: 08/20/19 20:11
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: BNSF6400

Bitch, bitch, bitch is correct.  While asking SCRRA to make changes/adjustments is one thing, but the unvieled threats at the end are downright uncalled for, especially from a City Planner.  My response (as the head of SCRRA) would have been to the Mayor of Covina asking why his staff feels the need to threaten us to openly on the first complaint.  Also, I would have eliminated the double stop too, I would have simply instructed you to remain next to the coffee vendor until the signal cleared.  This would eliminate the double stop and thus the additional sound.  I guess in the early days SCRRA was on thin ice politically and maybe they still are.

Thanks for sharing...its a quick look into the things public transit agencies deal with on a daily basis (working in a non-railroad transit operation, I see stuff like this all the time).



Date: 08/20/19 20:42
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

BNSF6400 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I guess in the early days SCRRA was on thin ice politically and maybe they still are.


They definitely were in the early days and they probably still are, to some degree, today. 

When the trains first started operating, the locomotives and cab cars had some really nice sounding Nathan chime horns.  They were loud, but effective.  It didn't take very long for the complaints to come in from trackside residents and, before long, everything was converted to a shrill sounding "peanut whistle" that had a lower decible rating.  They in some ways sounded a little like the air whistles on the Pacific Electric "blimps" that operated to and from Long Beach.  Occasionally there would be a problem with them and we could cut them out and go back to the horns that were originally installed, but just on a short-term basis. 

Railroading + politics + taxpayer dollars = a strange, and sometimes strained, relationship. 

I just heard on a news radio station this morning that a Metrolink train struck another trespasser near Sylmar.  That would be an interesting statistic to track down  --- the number of trespasser / pedestrians and motorists that Metrolink has tangled with since their inaugural day.  I would imagine it's easily in the triple digits.  I was involved in at least two of them.     
 



Date: 08/20/19 21:17
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: Ivar

Too bad she wasn’t around to enjoy the BNSF units that were put on the West end of all the commuter trains a couple of years back. It must have sounded glorious as they decended the grade out of Pomona every 20 minutes, starting around 5 am, blowing for all of those crossings! 😂



Date: 08/20/19 22:31
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: trainjunkie

Wow, I would have made a point to power-brake to a spot at the catering truck, and make sure we whistled off every time when departing on the clear. It astounds me that people buy homes next to a railroad track then complain about the trains.



Date: 08/20/19 22:57
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: SP4360

She was one of the reasons Metrolink had to put those ruptured duck horns on everything. 



Date: 08/21/19 09:00
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: trackplanner

While not a Metrolink agency, but heavily subsidized by our company, I was at a training class with a gentleman in management that was talking about the great deal he just made on a house in a new gated community in Covina across the tracks from Northview High School on Azusa Ave. At the time (1991), this was the old 10mph, several trains a week, SP/PE line that Metrolink would eventually refurbish into a double track section of their LA-San Berdoo line. Since our organization was funding the constuction of this very near future operation (service began in 1992), it was all over the company's newsletters and newspapers. When he finished talking about his 'great deal', I simply asked if he liked the sound of diesel airhorns all day long. He just looked at me with a perplexed expression and as I explained what he was about to soon experience, his facial color turned a little pale.... 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/22/19 08:42 by trackplanner.



Date: 08/21/19 09:50
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: cjvrr

I am betting a contiuent (or the mayor him /herself) asked that the letter be written.   This is not a typical letter from any municipal planner I have ever worked with as they are discussing changes in agency policy outside of their purview.  



Date: 08/21/19 18:55
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: ExSPCondr

trainjunkie Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Wow, I would have made a point to power-brake to a
> spot at the catering truck, and make sure we
> whistled off every time when departing on the
> clear. It astounds me that people buy homes next
> to a railroad track then complain about the
> trains.

Back when I was the ATM at Anaheim we had a guy like that.
He lived in a new subdivision with a wall all around the outside, and his house was on the end of a cul-de-sac on a corner lot.  Only problem was that one side of the back of his lot was a main street, and the other side was the Costa Mesa branch, so a gate machine was really close to his back yard.

The Costa Mesa was a 6 day job that went to work at 1pm with an SW800 and 10 or 12 cars as their normal train, so they usually didn't make much noise.  This homeowner's problem was that he went out and yelled at the crew to stop blowing the horn.  Then he put a stick in the crossing bell to stop it from ringing.  Next was call to the SP's Anaheim office to complain, and then to the Police Dept.

We got the Police Dept to convince him of the error of his ways in sabotaging the bell, and they also explained the PUC requirements about minimum whistling distance.  However, the guy just couldn't leave well enough alone, and kept on yelling at the crews to stop whistling.

Neeless to say, everybody here can figure out what happened next:  The crew found out just how much of a brake application they could make and still keep moving in run 8.  After that they went by his house both ways at 5 or 6 miles an hour in full throttle with the bell ringing and the whistle blowing as loud as they could blow it.  This went on for almost a year, and finally the crew won and the guy and his family sold and moved.

Hopefully this time he looked around before he bought.
G



Date: 08/21/19 20:40
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: PHall

But the Real Estate agent said these tracks are abandoned!   ;-)



Date: 08/21/19 21:10
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: 567Chant

Disconnecting the platform loudspeakers -
Isn't that a violation of ADA requirements?
...Lorenzo



Date: 08/21/19 22:04
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: ExSPCondr

This wasn't platform loudspeakers, this was the bell on a crossing gate, which I think is a worse penalty.
G



Date: 08/21/19 23:07
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: SP4360

My kind of crew LOL

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> trainjunkie Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Wow, I would have made a point to power-brake to
> a
> > spot at the catering truck, and make sure we
> > whistled off every time when departing on the
> > clear. It astounds me that people buy homes
> next
> > to a railroad track then complain about the
> > trains.
>
> Back when I was the ATM at Anaheim we had a guy
> like that.
> He lived in a new subdivision with a wall all
> around the outside, and his house was on the end
> of a cul-de-sac on a corner lot.  Only problem
> was that one side of the back of his lot was a
> main street, and the other side was the Costa Mesa
> branch, so a gate machine was really close to his
> back yard.
>
> The Costa Mesa was a 6 day job that went to work
> at 1pm with an SW800 and 10 or 12 cars as their
> normal train, so they usually didn't make much
> noise.  This homeowner's problem was that he went
> out and yelled at the crew to stop blowing the
> horn.  Then he put a stick in the crossing bell
> to stop it from ringing.  Next was call to the
> SP's Anaheim office to complain, and then to the
> Police Dept.
>
> We got the Police Dept to convince him of the
> error of his ways in sabotaging the bell, and they
> also explained the PUC requirements about minimum
> whistling distance.  However, the guy just
> couldn't leave well enough alone, and kept on
> yelling at the crews to stop whistling.
>
> Neeless to say, everybody here can figure out what
> happened next:  The crew found out just how much
> of a brake application they could make and still
> keep moving in run 8.  After that they went by
> his house both ways at 5 or 6 miles an hour in
> full throttle with the bell ringing and the
> whistle blowing as loud as they could blow it. 
> This went on for almost a year, and finally the
> crew won and the guy and his family sold and
> moved.
>
> Hopefully this time he looked around before he
> bought.
> G



Date: 08/22/19 22:21
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Back when I was the ATM at Anaheim we had a guy like that.  . . . 


That was a great story.  Thanks for sharing.  Were you working at Anaheim when Bruce Selby was there?    



Date: 08/23/19 08:47
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: ExSPCondr

Sorry, I don't believe I know him?
At Anaheim more or less, 4/73-5/77.
G



Date: 08/23/19 09:21
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: CA_Sou_MA_Agent

ExSPCondr Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Sorry, I don't believe I know him? At Anaheim more or less, 4/73-5/77.


He was either an ATM or a TM there sometime in the 80's.  He was later a co-worker of mine at AMTK.  
 



Date: 08/23/19 10:04
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: ExSPCondr

Aha, I was at Surf after 4/77,  and on Amtrak as a TM after 4/82, so that's why we missed.
G



Date: 08/23/19 11:48
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: ExSPCondr

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> But the Real Estate agent said these tracks are
> abandoned!   ;-)
How did you know that happened? Ha Ha!

In the same time period at Anahiem I get a call from the Supt's Administrative Assistant that the Stanton City Council wants an SP representative at their next meeting, and I'm elected.  The former PE Santa Ana line crossed Beach Blvd on a diagonal, and the SP's Los Alamitos/Huntington Beach line crossed Beach on a 90 degree angle, and then originally crossed the PE line on a diagonal, then after passenger service ended, the diamond was made into a couple of switches, and the HB had to cross Beach Blvd twice.

The end result of this was that the Santa Ana line bordered this big Mobile Home Park on the North side, the joint Los Alamitos/HB line went by on the East side, and the Los Alamitos Branch went by on the South.  To make things worse, about two months previous, vandals had cocked a switch and we derailed an SW1500 and two tank cars of road oil which leaked right beside the park on the North side.

Nice and smelly, and several resident's cats got in the oil and in their houses before their owners noticed they didn't use to have black paws!  We got a bunch of cleaning bills, whether the residents needed carpet and drapery cleaning or not...

Anyhow, I get to the council meeting and look at the agenda which has a couple of variance applications and a zone change, followed by the Southern Pacific business as the last item.  There are at least 50 people in the audience, so I figure most of them are dealing with the variance issues.  What a surprise I got, as one or two people got up and spoke about each of the first three issues, and all the rest of the nearly fifty present were there to complain about the SP!

They wanted the dirt roads next to the tracks blocked off closer to the tracks so the kids on motorcycles couldn't ride through, and then, "When were we going to be done with the tracks?"  "Every night when your crew leave cars back there, we get broken into!"  "We have this letter from your division superintendent saying the railroad will put up barriers, and you haven't done anything!!!"

The letter several of them had was a standard letter on SP LA Divn. letterhead, over the late Supt R. G. Thruston's stamped signature, with a small 'c' behind it, which meant it was stamped by the Administrative Assistant Art Cole, and the Supt probably didn't know about it.

At least ten of the residents said they had bought in the last year and the realtor said the tracks were going to be abandoned shortly.  I explained to them that the SP was in both the White and Yellow Pages, and we were open 24 hours, 7 days in Anaheim, and would be glad to answer questions about service.  Also that nobody in the SP anywhere had heard from any of the prospective buyers, or a realtor, with questions about normal operating hours which didn't go over well either.

At that time, the Bellflower local went to work in Anaheim at 11am and went through Stanton on the way to Paramount, and at least a couple of the six days they worked, they had lumber for Garden Grove, which was East of Stanton on the Santa Ana line.  This meant that they went by the MH park either four or six times a day.  The Huntington Beach job went to work at 1205pm, and followed the Bellflower to Stanton.  The HB went to Los Alamitos 3 or 4 out of its 6 days, which meant it made either two or four trips beside the MH park, the last being about 1030pm.  The Bellflower was off on Saturday, while the HB was off on Sunday, so we didn't give the residents any rest.

I crawled out the door bleeding, and surprisingly the company car still had air in all of its tires and no broken windows.  The Supt's office called the next day for a report, but I never heard another word from the MH park owners.
G



Date: 08/25/19 10:24
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: cabsignaldrop

Love all these stories, folks! Thanks for sharing.

Posted from Android



Date: 08/27/19 14:19
Re: Bitch Bitch Bitch
Author: jst3751

There was a story about a lady that lived in a house in Covina next to the tracks at a crossing. She complained and compained about the crossing bells and the train horns. Finally it was said they changed the horns so the engineers would begin to do brake sets as they went by to anoy her.

Is this the same lady?



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