What is "The runner" mean when departing crew change points?

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I have a terminology question. When departing St Cloud, MN on the Empire Builder route, someone on the radio says "Here comes the runner", you may think this means there is someone who missed the train who is running after the train, but this is not the case. Every time crews depart St Cloud, if they are on time or late, no matter what, after they have highballed out of the station and are moving in either east or west direction, someone will say "Amtrak here comes the runner". I think this is the Engineer or AE. Then the conductor or AC, will say "Amtrak highball the runner", I have not noticed crews doing this at other crew change points. They always mention this "runner" after the previous conductor has given an OK roll-by inspection, and after the Ar/Dp times are stated on the radio. I have a video of this "runner" being mentioned as the train departs St Cloud. There are also many videos on YouTube that this "runner" is mentioned on the radio. If there are any employees that know what this term means, please; enlighten me. Thank you.
View attachment C0040-1.mp4
 

OBS

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I don't have an explanation but wondering if a crew person has to hand throw a switch to get in or out of the station and then runs to get back on the train? just a guess. Usually "you have a runner" is a term meaning someone running to catch a train as it is leaving....
 

railiner

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Could it possibly be a notice from the engineer to the conductor that he is performing a "running air test"? After seeing that all the brake lights are green, the conductor is telling the engineer, "highball the runner", meaning the test went okay? Not sure, just a guess.....
 

AmtrakBlue

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You might get a answer if you post your question on one of the many FB Amtrak fan groups (if you're on FB). I know there are conductors/engineers on some of them. If you do get an answer, please let us know what it is. :)

Here's a link to the one for the Empire Builder: Facebook Groups
 

FrensicPic

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Could it possibly be a notice from the engineer to the conductor that he is performing a "running air test"? After seeing that all the brake lights are green, the conductor is telling the engineer, "highball the runner", meaning the test went okay? Not sure, just a guess.....
Correct...."running air test". While the train is moving. Always done at a crew change.
A running air test may also be performed as the train is approaching a summit as a check before continuing downgrade.
 
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FrensicPic

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So calling a running air brake test on the radio a "runner", is similar to calling a dragging equipment trackside scanner, a "dragger", as in "highball the dragger, number six"....
The first place I heard that on my radio scanner back in the seventies, was on the SP between Oakland and Ogden. Now it is ubiquitous...
Not to be confused with "We have a runner on the platform"
! Heard that on the scanner as we departed Eugene, OR a while back. Yes, he made it back on the train.
 

Palmetto

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Yes, the only time I heard the term was when the engineer stopped the train upon leaving a station. I supposed it was a passenger who had missed the train. The other explanations sound very plausible, too.
 

railiner

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My regular morning journey to work is - or “was” pre-pandemic - from a station where the train reverses. It took me many months before I worked out why the train always braked under clear signals just as it was getting going - running brake test.
Even New York subway trains do a running brake test when departing their initial terminal...
 

railiner

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A running air test may also be performed as the train is approaching a summit as a check before continuing downgrade.
In the steam era, they often also had to set retainer's before descending steep grades. Nowadays, with locomotive dynamic braking, it is not done much, except maybe before extreme grades with heavy loads. Timetable Special Instruction's tell where and when....
 

RebelRider

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Running brake tests are required any time a new engineer takes charge of the train to confirm they are working as intended and to get a feel for how that particular train is braking. Running brake tests also occur enroute after striking anything in the way such as an animal or vegetation that has strayed onto the tracks.

Failure of the conductor to acknowledge a running brake test is an FRA failure and will result in the conductor losing their certification. 49 CFR 242.403
 

Michigan Mom

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In the steam era, they often also had to set retainer's before descending steep grades. Nowadays, with locomotive dynamic braking, it is not done much, except maybe before extreme grades with heavy loads. Timetable Special Instruction's tell where and when....
As long as we're having this discussion, I'd love to know what "Metroblue? Okay on the blue" means...
 

OBS

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As long as we're having this discussion, I'd love to know what "Metroblue? Okay on the blue" means...
Probably in relation to being in a station where mechanical forces are working on a train. Before any work can proceed "blue light" protection is established which basically prohibits the train from moving as well as any other train moving within the area where a blue light is posted. When mechanical clears from the train the blue light protection is released and the operating crew is notified the blue light protection is removed or often "OK on the blue light"
 

Bob Dylan

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Probably in relation to being in a station where mechanical forces are working on a train. Before any work can proceed "blue light" protection is established which basically prohibits the train from moving as well as any other train moving within the area where a blue light is posted. When mechanical clears from the train the blue light protection is released and the operating crew is notified the blue light protection is removed or often "OK on the blue light"
That's correct!
 

railiner

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Actually it has nothing to do with Rule 26 (blue flag protection)...

Back in the Penn Central era, When the MU Metroliner's departed Washington Union Station, The Conductor would get on the P.A. and ask: "Metroblue?" After checking the blue door indicator lights, the brakeman would answer: "Okay on the blue"...

I suppose it may be time to come up with some more modern tag line...like "highball the runner"....😁
 
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OBS

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Actually it has nothing to do with Rule 26 (blue flag protection)...

Back in the Penn Central era, When the MU Metroliner's departed Washington Union Station, The Conductor would get on the P.A. and ask: "Metroblue?" After checking the blue door indicator lights, the brakeman would answer: "Okay on the blue"...

I suppose it may be time to come up with some more modern tag line...like "highball the runner"....😁
Interesting! I've never heard it used in that context.....But I wasn't there in PC days...
 
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