Wednesday, January 23, 2008

RR trip report - Winter rules

Tied up in Helena at 0450 after 13'50" on duty... on the Coal train
I'm going to bed... more later

We got on the 1500 coal train yesterday at Spurling. 3 big units, an older EMD SDMac70BNSF9956 to lead 2 new GE's. It ended up being poor slip prone power and 115 cars with 16425 tons. High wind and snow didn't help. The switches at Big Timber were snowed in. It took us 45 min of digging snow to get into the siding to meet the Q train and a Coal mty. Picked up the MRL313 at Livingston and waited just a bit for the helpers. Stopped to cutoff the helpers at West End. Train went down the mountain with no struggle but after the air release it took 22 lbs to slow for the 35 at Bozeman and 22 again to stop at Belgrade. A high speed dynamic brake fault caused a brake warning light requiring more air brakes than usual. We were relieved at Townsend by the helpers... It was minus 8 at Toston. I didn't want to leave Toston with only 20 minutes to work... I knew our train needed helpers on the rear... I told the helper engineer who was instructed to put the helpers on the head end, that this coal train was a break in two waiting to happen without helpers on the rear... the chief knew it as well, but supposedly we were 15 tons under the "cutoff" guideline for helpers on the rear... I knew there was at least 15 tons of ice and snow on the train
Sure enough they broke in two on Winston hill I found out later.

And while I was asleep in Helena there was a derailment in Billings.
We deadheaded home 1330-1640

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