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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Tales from the Dispatchers' Office


Date: 01/02/24 14:58
Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: Seventyfive

I will begin the New Year with a fun memory from late in the last century.  Location: the C&NW Dispatchers' office in the headquarters building on Canal Street in Chicago.  Territory: the Spine Line, which went from St. Paul, Minn. to Kansas City.
 
This was my first dispatching experience.  The desk was a handful, but I did okay.  One day while off duty, some now-forgotten (by me) incident on the Spine occured that must have been a real gem.  One of the Operations Executives put out a message
in our internal "email" known as "CNW PROFS" declaring the Spine Line as "THE WORST DISPATCHED TERRITORY ON THE SYSTEM."

Upon arrival for my next tour of duty and entering the Spine Line work station I saw a huge banner spread across four walls.  Sure enough, it advertised our desk as THE WORST DISPATCHED TERRITORY ON THE SYSTEM !!!  One of our more creative and colorful dispatchers prepared it using an office printer that could be set to print sideways from top to bottom across dozens of pages.  I don't recall how many days the banner survived, but it was fun while it lasted and lightened things up in the office.



Date: 01/03/24 10:22
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: MILW86A

Questions for you:
Were you still using train orders or using the DTC system by that time? 
Did you handle everything from St Paul to KC on one desk? UP now splits it south of Des Moines at Carlisle. 
TIA 
MILW86A 



Date: 01/03/24 18:24
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: Seventyfive

We were still using DTC. I will dig out my C&NW Time Table from that year so as to recall exactly
what authorities for movement were in effect on the various line segments.  
The Spine Dispatcher had, at that time (1993), the whole shebang between South St. Paul and KC.
For historical reference, the C&NW desks were all moved to Omaha just weeks prior to Christmas 1995.



Date: 01/03/24 18:59
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: TAW

Seventyfive Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
>  Sure enough, it
> advertised our desk as THE WORST DISPATCHED
> TERRITORY ON THE SYSTEM !!!  

It reminds me of the figure-8-shaped district in the SP Roseville office (Elmhurst-Santa Clara via Newark, Elmhurst-San Jose via Niles, Newark-Niles Jct), all train orders. A train could be east/west, west/east, east, or west. A train could be in two or three places on the trainsheet. It was a really easy district to get fired off of. The sign on the door said "Welcome to Lap Land."

TAW



Date: 01/04/24 12:56
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: KCRW287

I worked the Spine Line from 1980 until 2014, for the most part the dispatching was OK, what could really jam it up was power going belly up between Allerton and DM. That would really be a train killer. Also not taking the input of the yardmasters in DM on how they wanted trains brought into the yard and what trains that ran through or held at Beech or Williamson, not what the higher ups wanted done, I have been around when they got involved and went to hell real quick. After the merger things would always go downhill quick because of the arrogant attitude at Omaha, just keep your pockets open and keep your attitude to work safely and come back for more easy money. But I felt most dispatchers were great to work with except a couple after the merger, real swelled up egos not designed to work the Spine along with the Falls City side at the same time.  KCRW287



Date: 01/04/24 14:39
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: RetiredHogger

Such bold statements as "worst dispatched territory...", raise the question: could said judge run a dispatcher's desk to save his life?

Bad attitude to ask? Nope. The result of basically an entire working lifetime.



Date: 01/04/24 17:36
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: JasonCNW

RetiredHogger Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Such bold statements as "worst dispatched
> territory...", raise the question: could said
> judge run a dispatcher's desk to save his life?
>
> Bad attitude to ask? Nope. The result of basically
> an entire working lifetime.


CNW managment could be cruel,mean arrogent bastards.
JC

Posted from Android



Date: 01/04/24 18:29
Re: Tales from the Dispatchers' Office
Author: Seventyfive

KCRW287 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I worked the Spine Line from 1980 until 2014, for
> the most part the dispatching was OK, what could
> really jam it up was power going belly up between
> Allerton and DM. That would really be a train
> killer. Also not taking the input of the
> yardmasters in DM on how they wanted trains
> brought into the yard and what trains that ran
> through or held at Beech or Williamson, not what
> the higher ups wanted done, I have been around
> when they got involved and went to hell real
> quick. After the merger things would always go
> downhill quick because of the arrogant attitude at
> Omaha, just keep your pockets open and keep your
> attitude to work safely and come back for more
> easy money. But I felt most dispatchers were great
> to work with except a couple after the merger,
> real swelled up egos not designed to work the
> Spine along with the Falls City side at the same
> time.  KCRW287

I was only there in '93 but obviously we must have met.  Did you make the big banner?  I have forgotten most of the operations details, but one that still comes to mind is meeting trains at Sheffield, which I recall being one of our longest sidings then.  The problem was that it was on somewhat of a grade and anyone stopping there usually stalled trying to depart.

After the move to Omaha I heard stories of M/Way waiting hours to reach the DS for track and time.  Any stories you can provide about the Omaha experience, especially right after the move, might well be an interesting thread here in Railroaders'  Nostalgia.



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