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Passenger Trains > An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago


Date: 03/19/17 07:52
An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: inCHI

Since there have been several discussions about CN making Amtrak late on the Chicago - Carbondale corridor, I'm going to offer up this striking example occuring right now, involving 391. It departed Chicago on time at 8:15, and was scheduled into Homewood at 8:56am. I suspect it was a bit later than that, and as I am typing this, it is approaching 45 minutes late out of Homewood.

ATCS shows why, in part. Disclaimer, I realize I don't know the full picture here, but it seems clear that freight was very prioritized in this case.

Image 1: In what appears to be an extremely typical practice, CN has something blocking Main 2 at Homewood, making the Chicago Sub a single track railroad through there. So, repeating a common scenario, as train 1158 headed north this morning, leaving Homewood, 391 had to hold about 8 miles north and wait for 1158 to cross over to Main 2. In that first time, 1158 is at Homewood.

But that seems to happen on most days, maybe causing under 15 minutes of delay. Notice, though, that there is a clear signal for a northbound behind 1158. Between Homewood and Stuenkel, there are two freights Main 3, meaning routing a Northbound on Main 1 traps 391 at Homewood.

Image 2: 391 is allowed to progress to Homewood, but that is it. The northbound freight continues towards Homewood, then has to take the switch. I don't claim to know the area, but I would wonder at what speed that freight can enter Main 2 there, since it is close to the yard, and how long the freight is.

Meanwhile, the southbound freight that was at Stuenkel is on its merry way south, ahead of 391.

Image 3: 391 still waits.

Image 4: 391 still waits for that train to enter the yard, and now, the second southbound freight on Main 3 even has a light!

391 finally got a signal at 9:37am, 41 minutes after the scheduled time, and now, it is following a freight. One could image that the 40 minutes delay is only the beginning on its 6 hour trip to Carbondale, IL.




Date: 03/19/17 08:21
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: PittsburghMike

Interesting. To be fair, the second southbound freight only got to the south end of track 3 before being held for Amtrak. As someone not knowing the area or the situation, I guess I'd have the following questions:
-Would the northbound freight fit in the siding shown south of the double track? Would parking it there for an extended period to hold for Amtrak block a bunch of crossings? Because that's the only other option that the dispatcher would appear to have here.
-Would Amtrak have an upcoming station stop ahead of the southbound freight?
-Is the northbound freight short on time?
-Is the southound freight short light, intermodal, or a long heavy drag?
-How much padding is there in the southbound Amtrak's schedule in this section of its run?

Not saying Amtrak didn't get the short end of things, but any of these factors could have come into play. Track a train shows them making 70 mph at the moment, so hopefully they either ran around the southbound ahead or it was fast enough to stay ahead of them.

 



Date: 03/19/17 09:18
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: NineHourLimit

It must be exhausting trying to arm-chair dispatch a railroad in your head, minus any knowledge of the facts.   What's amazing is that some foamers think they can do just that.



Date: 03/19/17 09:29
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: andersonb109

Yet another nasty TO response to someone who was simply trying to start an interesting discussion related to time keeping problems on the route. What is clear from my recent experience on VIA is that CN doesn't give a crap about it's tenants who pay to operate over their lines. Why on Earth a massive slow moving freight would be sent out of Hornpayne, ON 10 minutes ahead of the Canadian is beyond me. They knew our estimated departure time but didn't care leaving us to run yellow to yellow for hours, thus losing up much of the time made up during the day do to....you guessed it....another CN derailment which resulted in zero approaching traffic for most of the day. 



Date: 03/19/17 09:49
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: inCHI

NineHourLimit Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> It must be exhausting trying to arm-chair dispatch
> a railroad in your head, minus any knowledge of
> the facts.   What's amazing is that some foamers
> think they can do just that.

I don't think I know the full circumstances, I specifically stated that. I know there are others here who even work on this segment who would know far more. But isn't it certainly possible to question why nearly everyday a train blocks one of two main tracks, creating a bottleneck? 58 and 391, if on or close to schedule, meet in that area.

Posted from Android



Date: 03/19/17 11:24
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: cabsignaldrop

CN does a sloppy job with the old IC main. Same thing happens in Champaign where the main is almost always blocked by a train, and 3 and 4 way meets are common at Leverett Jct. 391 will pull down the main or into a yard lead behind/in front of a CN freight, wait for a northbound or two, then back out and head south on the siding.

I think the dispatchers try their best. There is simply to much traffic for a single track main to handle. Factor in hot intermodal trains, slow grain drags, locals, and 79MPH (Well, 60-70 with CN's questionable crossing restrictions) and it's just impossible to run a fluid railroad.

Posted from Android



Date: 03/19/17 11:29
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: inCHI

cabsignaldrop Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> CN does a sloppy job with the old IC main. Same
> thing happens in Champaign where the main is
> almost always blocked by a train, and 3 and 4 way
> meets are common at Leverett Jct. 391 will pull
> down the main or into a yard lead behind/in front
> of a CN freight, wait for a northbound or two,
> then back out and head south on the siding.
>
> I think the dispatchers try their best. There is
> simply to much traffic for a single track main to
> handle. Factor in hot intermodal trains, slow
> grain drags, locals, and 79MPH (Well, 60-70 with
> CN's questionable crossing restrictions) and it's
> just impossible to run a fluid railroad.

Interesting. I am not attempting to criticize dispatchers, again; I don't know the circumstances. I wonder how different things would be if they had the two mains available to them.
 



Date: 03/19/17 11:41
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: 9900

CN Dispatchers:  "Making precision decisions on a precision railroad!"



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/19/17 11:41 by 9900.



Date: 03/19/17 11:53
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: ghemr

9900 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> CN Dispatchers:  "Making precision decisions on a
> precision railroad!"

In due time that will be a new CSX  motto!



Date: 03/19/17 12:22
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: NineHourLimit

inCHI Wrote:

> Interesting. I am not attempting to criticize
> dispatchers, again; I don't know the
> circumstances. I wonder how different things would
> be if they had the two mains available to them.
>  

Call it a hunch on my part...but most likely the meet in question would have been made there.



Date: 03/19/17 18:05
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: JLinDE

As recent TRAINS and RAILWAY AGE articles have pointed out, CN has become a good freight railroad. The most efficient for the investor and freight customer; maybe on the later. But it is not a good TOTAL railroad if it cannot meet its obligations inherited thru mergers to keep passenger services on time as well. CN has the simplest, and easiest RR network to run in North America. There are many reasons for that; stated elsewhere and obvious to serious past and present RR managers. The fact that it cannot run passenger trains on it's low density major mainlines is almost in excusable. Of course, its posture is inherited from its past CEO, EHH. It will be very interesting to see out how that philosophy plays out at his helm at CSX, on important passenger corridors like the ex-RFP between DC and Richmond, where passenger trains are about half the train starts. But; politics are now on his side. People can always fly at much greater cost, or go by bus and car, on I-95 which is very slow from DC to Fredericksburg from 0600 to 2000 weekdays. Most deadheading CSX freight crews will choose AMTK over crew vans at that time.



Date: 03/19/17 18:19
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: MEKoch

It is well documented on TO that CN-IC delays Amtrak repeatedly every day. 

They won't change until they are forced to pay HUGE fines to the STB.  I am ready for such a day.



Date: 03/19/17 22:03
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: DevalDragon

These are some bold statements, akin to the type the Current US President would make.

I'd like to see how you figure CN is the "simplest and easiest" North American Railroad, considering it is the only US Railroad to touch all 3 coasts (Atlantic, Pacific, Gulf). It travels through some of the most extreme and diverse territory of any railroad I have ever worked with.

What do you consider a "low density major mainline" and how do you quantify that? CN did not want a 2nd Illini / Saluki train because they did not have capacity to run it properly. The Feds forced their hand and CN's dispatchers do their best to keep things moving. But they can't wave a magic wand and make trains disappear.

JLinDE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> CN has the simplest, and easiest RR network to run in North America.

> The fact that it cannot run passenger trains on it's low density major mainlines is almost in excusable. 



Date: 03/20/17 14:19
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: Englewood

This is what happens when:
1. The operating plan uses main tracks for yard tracks.
2. Single tracking is brought too close to terminals.

Another good job by the "Men Who Made Love to the Railroads."
I think the lover that single tracked the IC went on to single track Donner Pass.
A pity that many of today's operating officers were mentored by these 1980's idiots who
made their "reputation" by removing main tracks.



Date: 03/20/17 20:05
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: JLinDE

To DevalDragon: I'll try to respond to your post about my comments. Please realize I'm giving up watching a 652 axle q410 only about 2 miles away; but their will be many more with CSX's new leader.
1. If you knew me you would never compare me to the current US President. I'll just get deleted if I say more.
2. A friend or two attends the 'Lexington Group' of knowledgeable RR executives and some enthusiasts; many are both. Some there say CN is the easiest to run and manage.
3. I have the Railway Age and Trains magazine articles.
4. I had a railroad career, albeit I'd admit with the ancient PC and CR. But I did Transportation and operations planning; and marketing, etc.
5. I've been on both sides of an argument to keep a railroad route or not (at a low level), won some and lost more, when the RR's were really struggling to survive before the Staggers Act.
6. I'm a small investor in all the 'big seven' RR's plus GWI and a supplier. But due to our 'current President' I may shed some KCS, if my advisor has not already done it.
7. Now to CN:
    a. It is the easiest RR to run because IT DOES reach all three coasts!
    b. And it reaches them on routes that have very good engineering alignments, few tunnels, and very low grades except in several places (on main Lines): Near Duluth on ex DMIR, Byron Hill in WI, and the route to Halifax. you could add the Sarnia tunnel, but I think that would be a momentum grade with most trains.
    c. CN probably has the highest percentage of main line trackage to branch lines in the country. ie, fewer low cost operations.
    d. Its a huge system to be able to switch its cars with only four (or five) hump yards, and is not intermodal intensive.
    e. It has little exposure to passenger train interference, which starts this thread.  Except around Toronto and a bit at Chicago.
8. That is my simple summary of CN. As far as "low density mainlines" to me that means 24 total trains a day in any direction by train type. Any CTC single track mainline should be able to handle that if it is not subject to the conditions of other posts already mentioned above. (Trains too long for yard approaches...etc).

Final comment. The hardest RR to run of the big seven is CSX; which has made a lot of progress since the "SNOW" years. It will be interesting to see what type of weather the new CEO creates..

 



Date: 03/21/17 16:04
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: DevalDragon

You are a retired railroader with no firsthand knowledge or experience with CN and rely on friends and magazines to understand how CN works.

If you did know a few things about CN, you would realize that Intermodal is CN's largest revene commodity and the amount of local traffic it generates off its "main line trackage." You would also realize that CN runs passenger trains on more than 60% of its main line trackage - not sure how that amounts to "little exposure to passenger train interference."

I understand your perspective now. Somehow, I bet you didn't know that  I am 18 years into my railroad career and have worked with Amtrak, BNSF, the US Army and currently work for CN on their Wisconsin Division, so I experience these issues first hand.

JLinDE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> To DevalDragon: 
> 2. A friend or two attends the 'Lexington Group'
> of knowledgeable RR executives and some
> enthusiasts; many are both. Some there say CN is
> the easiest to run and manage.
> 3. I have the Railway Age and Trains magazine
> articles.
> 4. I had a railroad career, albeit I'd admit with
> the ancient PC and CR. But I did Transportation
> and operations planning; and marketing, etc.

> 7. Now to CN:
>     c. CN probably has the highest percentage
> of main line trackage to branch lines in the
> country. ie, fewer low cost operations.
>     d. Its a huge system to be able to switch
> its cars with only four (or five) hump yards, and
> is not intermodal intensive.
>     e. It has little exposure to passenger
> train interference, which starts this
> thread.  Except around Toronto and a bit at
> Chicago.
> 8. That is my simple summary of CN. As far as "low
> density mainlines" to me that means 24 total
> trains a day in any direction by train type. Any
> CTC single track mainline should be able to handle
> that if it is not subject to the conditions of
> other posts already mentioned above. (Trains too
> long for yard approaches...etc).



Date: 03/21/17 19:09
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: JLinDE

I'll maintain my position that CN is easiest to run. CN may have a passenger train on 60% of its mainline miles, but across Canada its triweekly, on your Wisconsin Division none On the IC below mid-Illinois only one, In Michigan a few. In Southern Ontario to Montreal where the Canadian Govt supports passenger trains there are quite a few. East of Montreal just one. I do not see how that makes CN a passenger intensive railroad. I am a bit familiar with your traffic levels on the Wisconsin Division. I've visited West Chicago several times and seen and logged the trains. I count cars and I/M units. I did this with the person that made the original post. There are far more carload trains than intermodal. If you are on the WI DIv, you tell me how many road trains there are between Chicago and Duluth. (I'll guess 20-24 a day, with only 3 each way being intermodal. Now be specific; cite train symbols and days of operation. The man I know best that attends the Lexington Group makes professional DVD's and BluRays of trains. He has done both CP and CN around Winnipeg recently. I have either his train notes or his product. One quote there (other than mine) that CN was the easiest RR to run came from a high level executive that gave some of the reasons I did, because they wanted CN. SOME high level executives that really care about and know railroading know more than you think. I like CN, but disappointed it cannot meet it's rather simple passenger obligations in the USA when it does in Ontario, but certainly not with the CANADIAN across Canada, just look at the posts on here. none of them mine



Date: 03/21/17 22:12
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: DevalDragon

What do you call Metra's North Cental Service if they're not passenger trains?

JLinDE Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I'll maintain my position that CN is easiest to
> run. CN may have a passenger train on 60% of its
> mainline miles, but across Canada its triweekly,
> on your Wisconsin Division none 



Date: 03/22/17 19:30
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: JLinDE

I call them commuter trains, which they are. They run under differnet laws and agreements than longer distance AMTK & VIA trains. They run no more than 40-50 miles out of Chicago on any route, and I know that route is one of the lightest density ones on METRA. 10-12 trains a day each way? I've seen them in the distance at Franklin Park, (B12) where they get on the ex-CP commuter route into Union Station. As far as I know, since CN obtained the EJE, the ex-SOO into Chgo has only 2-6 thru freight trains per day. Now I do think that METRA commuter line does run on the ex-SOO north of Mundellin?? Not sure where it ends. My son who knows METRA a lot better than I do might know. But train dispatching in this area and its affect on passenger train delays can hardly compare to what was posted.



Date: 03/23/17 11:14
Re: An example of CN making #391 40 mins late out of Chicago
Author: kevink

DevalDragon Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> What do you call Metra's North Cental Service if
> they're not passenger trains?

I call it a nice double tracked section of railroad funded in great part by the taxpayers. (And design of one section kept me gainfully employed for over a year)

I guarantee you there would be holy heck raised if Metra's North Central Service trains were delayed as much as the Amtrak trains on the IC.



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