Sunday, January 29, 2017

2-Mile Trains

John Rutter posted
West Deshler (2). Got a different shot of it today. Perfect weather! Deshler, Ohio. 5-30-2016.
John Rutter I forgot to note, the train in the pic is going in reverse! It was a nearly two mile long freight that turned south into a siding but didn't fit, Two north bound trains were already on the main and this one had to back up about three miles to clear. smile emotico
This is another example of CSX management being penny wise and pound foolish. They run longer trains to reduce employment even though their infrastructure can't handle the longer trains. There have been a couple of Tribune articles about them sending long trains to a Chicago yard on the GTW tracks they got from CN, but then stop them in the south side suburbs for over 20 minutes because the yard couldn't handle the train. Those trains block a lot of grade crossing for a long time. Kids were going through the trains in order to get to school on time. People in ambulances were having problems. The police of the communities were contacting congressmen and senators about the problem because only the Federal government can deal with the railroads. When CSX applied for control of the GTW route, they assured the Surface Transportation Board that they would not send trains to the yard unless there was room to accept them. CSX has been parking on crossings for a long time in Toledo as well.
(Update: CSX reports that it is doing better. More significantly, the 19th-ward alderman is receiving fewer complaints of crossings being blocked and signals not working.)

Brandon Townley has an aerial shot of several covered hopper cars laying on their side next to the connector from westbound former-B&O to northbound former-C&O with the comment:
Clean up continues on the CSX L355-17 derailment that occurred after 7:30am in Fostoria, Ohio. The 232-car, 14,178-foot long train derailed on the northeast connection.
The referenced shot above is looking east, this one is looking south. Brandon also has a drone video of the scene.

Some comments on his posting.
Cameron Applegath Stringlined.
Craig Williams 232 cars and train makeup, they came together to make this mess it looks like. [The yard puts a string of empties in front of a lot of loads.]
Kristopher Hazen Going to be seeing these more and more and the railroads continue pushing the physics envelope in the name of supposed savings.
Paul F Bishop And the crew will suffer the consequences of a decision made in Jacksonville.
Kristopher Hazen Yes they closed Erwin terminal and ended through train operations across the Clinchfield in October. One of the biggest reasons for this was the fact they could not run 220 car trains this was because of the grades and curvature. I have 16 years engineer seniority and 19 years total here and now consider myself lucky to still be hanging on to the bottom 5 conductor positions that remain in Kingsport. So many of my friends have been scattered to the wind trying to find work in other cities.
Raul Scarmack Running long and heavy trains in the name of "savings"? It was just blown with the clean up of this mess.
Stan Stanovich ...these monster trains cost a little extra to run, but they're worth all the additional bother, aren't they!!!
Zach Pumphery 232 cars...what could go wrong? This. This could, does, and will continue to go wrong.
Daniel Valentine Last Friday, it was 1004 axles, and 246 cars.
Zach Pumphery I'm sure their company officials are scrambling through the tapes to prove the crew screwed up. No way a train would ever do this due to makeup or normal in-train forces.
Doug Hays ....Just wondering, how many furloughed crews could have worked, and for how long vs: the cost of this derailment?
Rick Dreistadt They could have run 2 trains and wouldn't have had this kind of a mess. Of course, it had to be the crews fault, not managements.
Steve Forrest Was this train set up DPU? If not, then it's no wonder it happened. No management was harmed by this derailment. It used to be a trainmaster would get his ass ripped by a superintendent when needed. Now that rarely occurs. Everyone in management these days is scared stiff that someone whose ass they rip today will pass them up someday in the chain of command and it will come back to haunt them.
Todd Dillon No CSX doesn't use dpu's
Bob Francis 150 years of cumulative RR knowledge dismissed by this group of college grads that call themselves supervision.
Jim JP Pallow I handled 243 cars from Salina, KS to almost Beloit, KS before recrew! I did have to pull them around the wye at Solomon, KS but there were only 33 loads in the train! I think I had somewhat better luck than the guy above.
Eric Chester Look at all that money we're saving with those mammoth trains. CSX saved almost 600 dollars in crew wages by combining what used to be two trains into this one.

And many more comments of a similar nature. I have noticed that BNSF runs empty container cars in trains that contain just empty cars. They do not mix empties with loads in intermodal trains.

When I attended the book signing for a Chicago & Western Indiana Railroad book, I asked Bill Molony why Chicago used to be able to run so many trains in the city but now it is a significant choke point in the nation. (An electric wheelchair can get through Chicago four times faster than a freight car!)  Bill's answer was that trains are now longer.

When trains had cabooses, a crew member had to walk at most half the length of a train to deal with a problem. Now they have to walk up to the full length of the train and that train is longer.

Jason Myers posted a Flickr link with the comment: "With the temperature hovering around zero it took over nine hours for the crew to get the air pumped up on the train in East Peoria. The empty CN Cedar Rapids coal train is heading South at track speed now a little North of South Pekin, Illinois.
Todd Pearson CN acts surprised when winter hits and this happens.
Sat once for 6 hours in a yard " pumping air" and asked if " are you sure you're pumping air? Can you pump it harder? "

Had a TM come down looking for the " air pumper switch"......
Good times 😂
Howard Keil What is the problem. Air leaks or compressor doesn't work? 
Todd Pearson Good question. Mainly it's caused by leaks because of the cold. In freight you must have at least 75 psi in the rear to perform a set and release. 

A brake pipe longer than say 6,000 feet is a bear to keep charged to that level in this weather. 

The way the air brakes work on a train is to have air at a set level ( depending on service) so let's say 90 psi for freight. When you take air out of the system you remove it from the brake pipe causing a drop in pressure and the brakes to come on. Any increase in pressure above a few pounds will initiate a release.

A brake pipe longer than say 6,000 feet is a bear to keep charged to that level in this weather. 
The way the air brakes work on a train is to have air at a set level ( depending on service) so let's say 90 psi for freight. When you take air out of the system you remove it from the brake pipe causing a drop in pressure and the brakes to come on. Any increase in pressure above a few pounds will initiate a release. 
Here is a technical page with a break down of the system.

Just a few hours after I wrote the above, I came across a couple of videos were a CSX crewman had to do long walks because of problems in long trains: a broken car, probably because of a broken air hose and a broken air hose in an auto train causing a lot of automobiles to be damaged. Also, consider a 2-mile CSX train that got stuck in the snow. (According to the comments, at the beginning of the video the engine is going back and forth to spread extra sand.)

So does the CEO of CSX who ordered that longer trains be run have any understanding that the more air-line joints you have in a train the more leaks you will have and what the implications of those leaks are? And that more air hoses and couplers in a train increase the probability that a train will have trouble. If her crews are having to walk long distances to deal with broken trains, it will take more hours to move the trains which increases labor costs, not reduces them. Plus it reduces the capacity of the track because other trains have to wait for the conductor to fix things.

If you are going to run long trains, you should make sure you put enough horsepower on them to handle the grades of the route. A video of a CSX train stalling on a hill. The second of two units was running, but not pulling because the locomotive design has trouble with sustained, heavy, slow pulling. They had to send helpers to get it over the hill. It took two hours and traffic was disrupted.

A video of a stalled CSX train that was helped by a couple of BNSF engines. Once again, the second of two units could not handle sustained, heavy, slow pulling and gave up.

In contrast, a video indicates that BNSF not only keeps train lengths at a little over 100 cars, they use DPUs (Distributed Power Units) in the middle and at the end of the trains to reduce drawbar forces in the trains.

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