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Buffer Cars

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CSXfoamer1997

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Buffer Cars are commonly seen on certain trains such as ethanol trains, crude oil trains, sulfur trains, and other certain unit trains. They are sandwiched in between the locomotive(s) and the first car, and sometimes seen on the end of the train. The most common buffer cars used are either covered hoppers or boxcars.

Why are Buffer Cars often used on trains with tankers or some other cars? And what are they often loaded with (as they say "Do Not Load")? And when did this become an FRA requirement?
 

CCC1007

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Protection for the crew in case of explosions is one reason, but the MRL gas local uses a company box car that carries cleanup gear in case of derailment so as to protect the rivers and other environmental assets that it travels through.
 

CSXfoamer1997

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Protection for the crew in case of explosions is one reason, but the MRL gas local uses a company box car that carries cleanup gear in case of derailment so as to protect the rivers and other environmental assets that it travels through.
Oh, I see.
 

CCC1007

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Here is a photo of a typical train, credit to Flickr user MRL 390.

5142910457_0a3631f576_b.jpg
 

Devil's Advocate

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Protection for the crew in case of explosions is one reason, but the MRL gas local uses a company box car that carries cleanup gear in case of derailment so as to protect the rivers and other environmental assets that it travels through.
Cleanup is what you do after all your protections have failed. In many cases conventional remediation involves collecting polluted soil/water from a popular/visible/connected area before transporting it to a less popular/visible/connected area over a very long timeframe at an exceptionally high cost. In the long run it would likely be cheaper and easier to mandate substantially improved tanker car designs and operational restrictions. Hopefully the US will eventually follow Canada's lead on this matter, but I doubt it.
 
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GG-1

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Aloha

There is a list of car order when Hazardis material is in a train. So long ago I took a class about this. There are even rules that apply to the location of Live stock in a train
 

Bob Dylan

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There is a list of car order when Hazardis material is in a train. So long ago I took a class about this. There are even rules that apply to the location of Live stock in a train
Best place for Livestock on a Train is being served for Dinner in tbe Diner!
 

Acela150

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Foamer. This is another topic easily answered on Google.

Now here is what Google won't tell you. A Buffer Car is defined as a "Non Placarded Car". It can be a tank car that carries a Non Dangerous product. Such as Corn Syrup or water.
 

cirdan

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In the UK there used to be rules on what position explosives cars may occupy in a train. In the days of steam engines this was about sparks from the engine and the rules mandated a certain minimum distance.
 

Devil's Advocate

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We've hidden a few posts that are under review, as some on the moderating team believe they contain personal attacks or were engaging them.
I'm not part of whatever happened, and honestly I don't have a dog in the fight, but I just wanted to commend the staff on a couple items that are important to me. First, I want to thank you for not locking the entire thread over a personal spat. Second, I want to thank the staff for alerting everyone to the removal/hiding of posts. This kind of moderating is exactly what I felt was previously missing and I'm glad to see it being addressed.
 

Ryan

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Steve posted the highly complicated Google search (railroad buffer car) that lead him to the exact answer sought by our resident Googlephobe.
 

jebr

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We've had this discussion (about asking questions that are easy to Google, among other things) numerous times. There's even a thread in Random Discussions about it. I will say that the moderating team does sometimes address recurring issues via PM as well.

Again, we have hidden posts that, by at least some of our moderating team, have either contained personal attacks or engaged them. (For the record, there was a post before Steve's post that CSXfoamer1997 posted that we hid as well.) Not every post that was hidden had a personal attack, but we did hide posts that were irrelevant without them.

Any further off-topic posts in this thread will be hidden. If there's a question posted that anyone does not want to answer, for whatever reason (including "it's so simple a web search will find the answer,") simply don't answer the question.
 

CCC1007

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Protection for the crew in case of explosions is one reason, but the MRL gas local uses a company box car that carries cleanup gear in case of derailment so as to protect the rivers and other environmental assets that it travels through.
Cleanup is what you do after all your protections have failed. In many cases conventional remediation involves collecting polluted soil/water from a popular/visible/connected area before transporting it to a less popular/visible/connected area over a very long timeframe at an exceptionally high cost. In the long run it would likely be cheaper and easier to mandate substantially improved tanker car designs and operational restrictions. Hopefully the US will eventually follow Canada's lead on this matter, but I doubt it.
In the 20+ years that MRL has run this train, twice per day, there has been only one incident that I know of. In that incident, a runaway car not associated with the train sideswiped the buffer car of the train before the locomotives were attached. This caused the entire string of cars, some 25+, to derail and roll over. Luckily the tank cars were empty, and their tight lock shelf type couplers worked flawlessly. Not a single car uncoupled from the adjacent cars, even when tipping over.
 

NW cannonball

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Aloha

There is a list of car order when Hazardis material is in a train. So long ago I took a class about this. There are even rules that apply to the location of Live stock in a train
Yeah, I kinda remember that there's many many hazmat rules about spacing between dangerous loads, not just the one buffer car we see between the motors and the oil cans.

Like, how many non-haz cars between, say, a load of rocket motors and a load of ethanol, or butadiene, on the same train. Not much livestock on freight trains these days, but yeah.
 

Palmetto

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In railroad parlance, these trains are referred to as "key trains", and the definition of them varies somewhat from one railroad to the next.
 

CCC1007

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In railroad parlance, these trains are referred to as "key trains", and the definition of them varies somewhat from one railroad to the next.
I have never heard this term, and thought that they were called, at least on BNSF, "unit trains."
 

Palmetto

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In railroad parlance, these trains are referred to as "key trains", and the definition of them varies somewhat from one railroad to the next.
I have never heard this term, and thought that they were called, at least on BNSF, "unit trains."
A key train can be a unit train, or a manifest train if the manifest meets the railroad's definition of a key train.
 
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