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Railroaders' Nostalgia > the hummingbird stop

Date: 03/23/20 08:40
the hummingbird stop
Author: atsfer

One of the best engineers I worked under while in training, was an old head who had worked passenger service where performance and efficiency were paramount.  This meant stretching and sometimes out and our violating some operating rules.  In old timetables you can find reference to that where the company leaves it up to the conductor and engineer to make up time by exceeding authorized speed if in their judgment it was safe to do so.  In other words, if you do exceed and something goes wrong, it's your neck not theirs on the chop block.  
     We had one siding we normally went into which was downhill in CTC territory where we had to stop at the west end by hand throw switches and then uncouple and go service industries nearby.  He would use stretch braking, using power while setting the air brakes to control his speed, mind you downhill where we would have to stop about 3 car lengths away from a red signal that looked ominously large to me.   So, routinely, he would roar down this siding, in run 8 with air set, and then notch down to run 7 and go from around 30 mph to what I call a hummingbird stop just short of the signal trip after trip.   I don't mind saying it scared me a lot, I couldn't tell from my side of the cab how the train was reacting to the controls.   But, he used markers, like they all used to to tell how he was doing, by here at 25mph, by here at 20mph and so on.   
But, I had to look away while all this was happening, it was like I said it was scary to me, but routine to him.  Believe it or not, later I was able to do it on a good day anyway when I was promoted, but my mentor had the procedure down to an art. 

Date: 03/23/20 09:39
Re: the hummingbird stop
Author: RRTom

There was an article in Trains magazine in the 70s or 80s in which the author rode the cab with an old-head engineer running on the former Rock Island commuter line out of Chicago, Beverly Branch, I think.  Before each stop, he would set his brakes as required and then put his hands in his lap while the train would decelerate and stop at exactly the desired spot every time.  The author was impressed with this feat but the engineer told him that he'd done this route so many times that he would be ashamed of himself if he couldn't do it like that.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/23/20 09:40 by RRTom.

Date: 03/23/20 16:12
Re: the hummingbird stop
Author: wp1801

An early SP book of rules forbade "Exibition"Stops!

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