couple things i didn't know about amtrak operating crews

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yarrow

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had a pleasant breakfast with an amtrak engineer on the cz who was going to chicago for yearly training a couple weeks ago. he told me a couple things i didn't know. first, i thought all long distance trains had two engineers. not the case, the engineer's run was out of, i believe, lincoln, nebraska on the cz and was 5.5 hours. 6+ hours is the time that 2 persons are required in the cab, he told me, so he is by himself in the cab. we were talking about ptc. he thought it would be helpful but didn't think he would see it before his retirement. so, he told me the second thing i didn't know. part of his run through iowa was governed by track warrant. i didn't realize that system was used anymore on mainlines. these things are, i am sure, common knowledge but were news to me
 

amtkstn

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The route of the SWC in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado is ABS territory.
 

saxman

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I knew they operated with 1 engineer in many places, but not others. Seems like some places require two, by law? I didn't know about the 6 hour rules. I think some of their runs are over six hours, such as Minot to Havre. Conductors can go farther, but there are always two of them anyway. On some runs, the engineer and conductors swap together, and others, the engineer swaps separately. Ft. Worth to Marshall they run and layover in Marshall together. But going south from FTW, the engineer only goes to Austin, and then swaps there with a SAS based engineer. The conductors (SAS based) travel the entire SAS-FTW route. SAS-AUS is a pretty short run though. I'm not sure if those engineers are also qualified to run to Alpine or Beaumont too.
 

CCC1007

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The engineer swap in Montana occurs in Shelby, with an away base in Minot and another in whitefish.
 

zephyr17

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As far as I know the 6 hours it is part of the labor contract, it isn't part of the Federal Hours of Service.

And granting authority by track warrent is very common, I can think of a number of mainlines that Amtrak uses governed by track warrent. Just because there are wayside signals doesn't mean there are not track warrents. In ABS, Automated Block Signal, territory signal indication does not convey authority to occupy track, a track warrent from the dispatcher is necessary to occupy that track. ABS is a safety system that detects the presence of a train in a block and the dispatcher does not control the signal aspect. Centralized Traffic Control, the switches and signals are directly controlled by the dispatcher as well as showing whether a block is occupied. The indication of "absolute" signals in CTC territory DOES convey authority to occupy track ("proceed by signal indication").
 

Hytec

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I didn't know of the 6-hour single engineer rule, but that explains the northbound Crescent's (20) one person crew changes at Hattiesburg, Birmingham, and Atlanta 10-20 years ago when you could set your watch by Crescent's time keeping. Currently both 19 and 20 are being delayed by up to 2-hours between Meridian and Atlanta due to increased NS and KCS freight traffic. So I wonder if Amtrak has added second engineers as insurance for the 6-hour rule even though the schedule doesn't indicate these delays...?
 
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yarrow

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And granting authority by track warrent is very common, I can think of a number of mainlines that Amtrak uses governed by track warrent. Just because there are wayside signals doesn't mean there are not track warrents. In ABS, Automated Block Signal, territory signal indication does not convey authority to occupy track, a track warrent from the dispatcher is necessary to occupy that track. ABS is a safety system that detects the presence of a train in a block and the dispatcher does not control the signal aspect. Centralized Traffic Control, the switches and signals are directly controlled by the dispatcher as well as showing whether a block is occupied. The indication of "absolute" signals in CTC territory DOES convey authority to occupy track ("proceed by signal indication").
interesting. makes it sound like air traffic control(which i know nothing about either)
 

chakk

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TWC is used on rhe route of the CZ in California's Sierra Nevada. And the sole engineer on the CZ across Utah will often take a bio break during the stop at Green River, UT.

And he/she will enlist the help of the conductor to occupy one cab if the engines must be swapped in their order at the top of Soldier Summit ...
 

FormerOBS

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Modern locomotives have restroom facilities, but they are not in the cab. They are located in a separate enclosure behind the cab's rear bulkhead, as on a P42, or down in the nose, as on most freight locomotives. It is "bad form", as Captain Hook would say, to have a train operate on its own, with no engineer at the controls, and nobody even in the same room as the controls. A station stop can be a convenient place to make such a stop. But if you're all alone in the cab and nowhere near a scheduled stop when nature calls, you have to stop to answer the call.

If there are any exceptions, I'm willing to be educated.

In steam days, the coal pile in the tender was the place because everything was going to end up in the firebox. I have no idea what the crews did on oil burning steamers. History ain't always pretty.

Tom
 
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Thirdrail7

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Modern locomotives have restroom facilities, but they are not in the cab. They are located in a separate enclosure behind the cab's rear bulkhead, as on a P42, or down in the nose, as on most freight locomotives. It is "bad form", as Captain Hook would say, to have a train operate on its own, with no engineer at the controls, and nobody even in the same room as the controls. A station stop can be a convenient place to make such a stop. But if you're all alone in the cab and nowhere near a scheduled stop when nature calls, you have to stop to answer the call.

If there are any exceptions, I'm willing to be educated.

Tom
Ummmm. Who said anything about leaving the cab? Did you ever work the Metroliners when they had an on time performance guarantee? Do you remember the express Metroliners, that ran from NYP to BAL without stopping?

I'm not going into a lot of details here but there was a gentleman that operated a "bladder buster" and his nickname was "Socks,"

Nothing delayed a Metroliner.
 

Thirdrail7

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Modern locomotives have restroom facilities, but they are not in the cab. They are located in a separate enclosure behind the cab's rear bulkhead, as on a P42, or down in the nose, as on most freight locomotives. It is "bad form", as Captain Hook would say, to have a train operate on its own, with no engineer at the controls, and nobody even in the same room as the controls. A station stop can be a convenient place to make such a stop. But if you're all alone in the cab and nowhere near a scheduled stop when nature calls, you have to stop to answer the call.

If there are any exceptions, I'm willing to be educated.

Tom
Ummmm. Who said anything about leaving the cab? Did you ever work the Metroliners when they had an on time performance guarantee? Do you remember the express Metroliners, that ran from NYP to BAL without stopping?

I'm not going into a lot of details here but there was a gentleman that operated a "bladder buster" and his nickname was "Socks,"

Nothing delayed a Metroliner.
To further illustrate my point, may I present a quote from 12 Surprising Secrets From a Former Train Conductor:

2. What's the weirdest thing you have seen on train?

"I once watched my engineer poop into a plastic trash bag while still at the controls."
That's takes serious talent....and a serious lack of shame. :)
 

Steve4031

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I was on 21 and the engineer had to stop the train so he could use the bathroom. I had the scanner on so I heard the conversation.

I was on 49 and the train stopped between Waterloo and Elkhart so the engineer could copy orders. This was explained over the PA.
 

AmtrakBlue

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Modern locomotives have restroom facilities, but they are not in the cab. They are located in a separate enclosure behind the cab's rear bulkhead, as on a P42, or down in the nose, as on most freight locomotives. It is "bad form", as Captain Hook would say, to have a train operate on its own, with no engineer at the controls, and nobody even in the same room as the controls. A station stop can be a convenient place to make such a stop. But if you're all alone in the cab and nowhere near a scheduled stop when nature calls, you have to stop to answer the call.

If there are any exceptions, I'm willing to be educated.

Tom
Ummmm. Who said anything about leaving the cab? Did you ever work the Metroliners when they had an on time performance guarantee? Do you remember the express Metroliners, that ran from NYP to BAL without stopping?

I'm not going into a lot of details here but there was a gentleman that operated a "bladder buster" and his nickname was "Socks,"

Nothing delayed a Metroliner.
To further illustrate my point, may I present a quote from 12 Surprising Secrets From a Former Train Conductor:

2. What's the weirdest thing you have seen on train?

"I once watched my engineer poop into a plastic trash bag while still at the controls."
That's takes serious talent....and a serious lack of shame. :)
When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
 

Devil's Advocate

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And granting authority by track warrent is very common, I can think of a number of mainlines that Amtrak uses governed by track warrent. Just because there are wayside signals doesn't mean there are not track warrents. In ABS, Automated Block Signal, territory signal indication does not convey authority to occupy track, a track warrent from the dispatcher is necessary to occupy that track. ABS is a safety system that detects the presence of a train in a block and the dispatcher does not control the signal aspect. Centralized Traffic Control, the switches and signals are directly controlled by the dispatcher as well as showing whether a block is occupied. The indication of "absolute" signals in CTC territory DOES convey authority to occupy track ("proceed by signal indication").
interesting. makes it sound like air traffic control(which i know nothing about either)
Listening to my scanner makes it sound like redneck traffic control. Track warrants are also used when the signaling system is down or undergoing maintenance. Even PTC will presumably need periodic downtime for maintenance and repairs. On busy mainlines that might mean a temporary waiver and track warrant authority for the section in question.
 

KmH

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For those, like me, that didn't know about Track warrants.

The route of the SWC in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado is ABS territory.
I believe the UP Santa Barbara Sub between Capitan and Grover is(was) TWC/ABS. Coast Starlight/Pacific Surfliners between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo run along the coast here.
What is TWC/ABS territory? I can't find any info.
OK. Found it: TWC = Track Warrant Control. ABS = Automatic Block Signals.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_railway_signaling

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_block_signaling
 
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FrensicPic

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For those, like me, that didn't know about Track warrants.

The route of the SWC in Western Kansas and Eastern Colorado is ABS territory.
I believe the UP Santa Barbara Sub between Capitan and Grover is(was) TWC/ABS. Coast Starlight/Pacific Surfliners between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo run along the coast here.
What is TWC/ABS territory. I can't find any info.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absolute_block_signalling (not sure this is up-to-date, correct for the U.S., etc.)
 
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FormerOBS

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I realize this is an old thread and the info is stale by now, but for the record, I specifically mentioned toilet facilities on P42's. Last I heard, they don't haul Metroliners so the comment about Metroliners has nothing to do with what I said. If you see one on a Metroliner, I'm sure there are a whole slew of RR fans who will want to know about it and get a picture. P42's are used on trains that operate over longer distances and longer schedules. I have yet to meet the engineer who can hold it all the way from Lorton to Florence, or Florence to Sanford.

Good luck to anybody who thinks he can.

Tom
 

chakk

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Altamont Press sells railroad timetables for many of the states in which Amtrak LD trains operate. Route segments using track warrant control are marked in the timetable, and a TWC template is printed on the back cover of each timetable. If you are listening in to dispatcher-engineer Communications with an earbud on your scanner, you can write your own warrant as you following along.
 
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