Short line horror stories

A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby scharnhorst » Sun Jan 15, 2012 11:06 am

no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby mtuandrew » Tue Jan 17, 2012 1:54 pm

scharnhorst wrote:Here's a railroad with a poor maintaince program
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g11qWro1 ... plpp_video

The Minnesota Prairie Line has done a lot of work to refresh the line from its Minnesota Valley Railroad days. I'd be willing to bet that the segment shown hadn't received maintenance since it was a C&NW line, and possibly not since the Minneapolis & St. Louis owned it! I have no idea what it is like to work for TC&W or its MPLI subsidiary, other than that they have the reputation of being something of a maverick railroad in the area. :grin:
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Re:

Postby fauxcelt » Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:16 pm

We built our woodchip trains, on top of the mountain, in Warren, and ran them to McGehee.

Would that be Warren and McGehee, Arkansas?
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby The Man » Sun Mar 04, 2012 2:03 pm

My horror stories come from the south, and don’t take this the wrong way if you are from Florida or Ga. I was working for a railroad that was running passenger trains on a shortline. We had junk for power, cars that needed help and a GM who needed an MRI to see if he even had a brain in his head anymore. One night they had two trains running at the same time, one was about 5 cars loaded for diner and the other was a coach and caboose, we had to meet at a wye and I was on the bigger of the two, we tried to raise the other train for around 15 minutes with no luck. Then at the wye I was on the tail end (The railroad in question required us the refer to the rear end or tail end as the “Bottom” of the train) and I felt to train go in the hole, I called the head end to get the engineer yelling (he may not have been using the radio and simply been yelling out the cab window) about the other train trying to run into us at the wye. This was a bad night and management told us “you’s guys can’t be on the same radio channel as you might interfere with the other train” (That was just how he said it, no joke) On another occasion the Engineer was cold since it was about 65 out and he wanted to turn on the heat in the cab and it was a hot water system and not the prime electric heaters. About halfway into the trip we come to a stop, I called the head end and with no response, I decided to go find out what was wrong. Once I got to unit I realized it had been shut down, I asked the engineer what was wrong? So he told me we had tripped the low water shut down. Since I did most mechanical repairs (Not proud of what I was forced to do to keep my job, and not my best work) I looked around to find the feeder line to the heater had dry rotted out and was leaking. Lucky for me we had a hose and two sources for water, one was the 600 gallons of water in the baggage car, and an industry was right next to us. So I hopped the fence and we watered up the engine and went on our way. The same railroad had a JUNK dome car, I mean this thing missed it’s calling as an office at a scrap yard! Anyway, before I came to the railroad I worked as a car knocker and was a certified air tech. At one point someone had installed an air compressor to feed the restrooms in the dome and run the water raising system. They piped it right into the brake pipe! So someone would flush the toilet and the train would go into release! Then the car needed a COT&S and I found water in the cylinders, The hand brake was useless and I was told “Don’t worry, we’ll keep it in the middle of the train and we will not need the hand brake” How these yahoos never got dinged by the FRA is beyond me. But it was hell on rails.
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby kevin.brackney » Thu Mar 08, 2012 12:54 am

I once caught a trainman on my crew riding point shoving empty flat cars by sitting atop the drawbar of the lead car. I could see him about 20 cars away when the point started around a curve. This was a military situation (Ft. Bliss, TX); so, after easing to a stop, I sent the head brakeman (a sergeant, E-5) up to the point to counsel this individual (an E-4) on the proper procedure for riding the deck of an empty flat. I still felt by the end of the shift that he was unrepentant, so I had him practice changing knuckles for about 20 minutes; my version of, "Drop, and give me twenty!"
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby scharnhorst » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:24 am

kevin.brackney wrote:Remember the big black-out that stretched from New York to Chicago back in late summer of '03? We had just checked into the hotel waiting to be called back out on our rest to take a train from Flat Rock, MI to Lima, OH. I had been taking a nap and woke up to voices outside my room talking about the power being out. I remember thinking that it probably wouldn't last more than a couple of hours. This was about 4:00 PM. Everything was out; nothing around us seemed to have emergency back-up generators, to include our hotel. There were people stranded because the local gas station's pumps were dead, and they didn't have enough gas to get out of the black-out to a location with electicity. People were checking into the hotel full knowing that there was no electicity; no AC, lights, and eventually the phones went dead too.

I continued to call the my railroad's dispatcher/customer service and they told me just to hang on and wait it out. I continued to call to ask what the railroad was going to do since it didn't look like the juice was coming back on any time soon, but they continued to tell me just to wait it out. On my last call to the railroad I told them my phone was about to die, and I would have no way to recharge it, and that the land lines were out; yet they told me just to hang on a little longer.

We had to sleep in our rooms with the doors open for air, as the heat would have been unbearable. The windows were permanently sealed shut. I kept a chair and some other stuff propped against the open door so as to create an obstacle for anyone trying to enter the room in the middle of the night. I slept with one eye open and my lantern in my left hand all night. Surprisingly the night passed quietly without incident. I didn't hear any stories of looting, break-ins, or other crimes related to the power outage in the neighborhood either.

We were there so long that I got bored and started cleaning bugs and leaves from the hotel's pool. I think that was the first and only time I was in that pool. 27 hours, and 30 minutes after arriving there, the railroad finally sent someone to pick us up. Two hours, thirty minutes back to lima in the cab, and then another 90 minutes driving home. I think I was called back out on my rest after that adventure, too.


FYI Black out was August 2004
no matter the weather or the country I'll still be trackside!
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby Sir Ray » Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:35 pm

scharnhorst wrote:FYI Black out was August 2004


No, Kevin was correct, that Blackout covering most of the Northeast US was indeed 2003
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Re: Short line horror stories

Postby Aji-tater » Thu Mar 08, 2012 7:35 pm

"The Man", that's fantastic stuff there! Sounds like management came from an HO set and had no clue about the real world! :P Somebody needed to drop a dime to the FRA fer sure!

Speaking of radios, anybody else had the "pleasure" of working in a yard with two crews, and the guy on the other crew was a jabbermouth? Worked for a line like that, other conductor was a wonderfu, nice guy but just would not shut up. We'd be coming in for a joint and the other guy would come on and tell his engineer every move he was going to make for the next hour. When he finally paused, my conductor came on the radio and asked why I stopped, we still had three cars to go. I said "Well, I had some interference on here, somebody talking non-stop, so I stopped the move because I could not hear you and didn't want to kill anybody!" That got the point across but only for a day or so and the guy went back to babbling just like before. (Of course the company never enforced proper radio rules, we were kind of on our own on that)
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