Ever see a tractor trailer on the highway with a sign saying "Wide Load"?  Well, did you know that we carry those too?  Now although we don't have a large sign, we are aware if they are in our train, and we have to warn passing trains of the danger too.  To start, our train profile will tell us:

The car that is restricted (name and number)

The location in our train (usually the head of the train so we can visually keep an eye on it)

What we are carrying (wide sheets of steel, generators or even military equipment, etc)

Size, speed restrictions, and other hazards.

On our orders, it lists locations we can NOT pass another train, or one train must be stopped, while the other passes, no faster than 10 Mph.

We also communicate with the chief dispatcher and our dispatcher to arrange so that we either pass at unrestricted areas, or who gets stopped and where.

It is very stressful on everybody, and you'd think they'd widen the space between tracks in those areas...but then, how could they charge the customer more? wink wink.

Here you'll find information on how the real railroads operate.  

I can not, nor will I give out sensitive information (I need to keep my job), but I will be posting info to help you run your layout more prototypically.




This week I was one of the first trains to work the new intermodal facility at McKees Rocks, Pa.  Although we only set off one car, this will be a busy place soon for the Q135, Q015, Q136 and Q016.  The bridge above the yard provides a good photo opportunity.

On Monday, March 7th, I was driving a 100+ car mixed freight train towards Pittsburgh.  I had an approach signal before entering J&L tunnel in the southside.  I had the speed down to 5.1 mph, and was prepared to apply the air brakes if the signal outside the tunnel was red.  As we were a little over 1/2 way through, I caught an orange light in my peripheral vision, and turned my head to see our engine CSX 366 was fully engulfed in flames.  I yelled to the conductor we are on fire and to get the extinguisher ready.  I told him I was going to pull us through the tunnel and then stop, and we will run.  I yelled for God to get us out of this tunnel as the flames got closer.  When we got the 2 engines and head 5 cars out, I applied the air brakes, hit the emergency fuel shut off, and grabbed my bag and we left through the nose of the wide body.  I couldn't reach the dispatcher, chief, nor road foreman by phone, but got ahold of the yard master who relayed the message.  I then called the Pssc emergency number and assisted in directing the fire departments to to fire.  The fire chief thanked me for getting the engine out, because had I left it in the tunnel, they would not be able to get to it.   I took the next day off to clear my head, but to be honest, I hate fire, and have relived that moment in my head a few times.