The WS trains (WS-5, 6, etc.) - how do they work?

Discussion related to New York, Susquehanna & Western operations past and present. Also includes some discussion related to Deleware Otsego owned and operated shortlines. Official web site can be found here: NYSW.COM.

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The WS trains (WS-5, 6, etc.) - how do they work?

Postby Snowmojoe » Fri Jun 21, 2013 7:23 pm

I walked over to the train station tonight to have a look at really mint-looking '56 GMC pickup that went past my house, and as I was walking over, tonight's WS-something happened to go by. I had my camera, so I took a picture of it just before it crossed Newtown Rd. just before the Wortendyke Station.

This makes me wonder though - how do these trains work? How do I know if I'm looking at a WS-5, or a WS-6, or whatever? Is there any logic to it? Perhaps it's like the SU99/100, where one is coming and the other is going?
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NS5294-WS5-062113.jpg
Tonight's WS-something, brought to you by Norfolk Southern #5294
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Re: The WS trains (WS-5, 6, etc.) - how do they work?

Postby NaDspr » Sat Aug 24, 2013 8:43 am

Snowmojoe wrote:I walked over to the train station tonight to have a look at really mint-looking '56 GMC pickup that went past my house, and as I was walking over, tonight's WS-something happened to go by. I had my camera, so I took a picture of it just before it crossed Newtown Rd. just before the Wortendyke Station.

This makes me wonder though - how do these trains work? How do I know if I'm looking at a WS-5, or a WS-6, or whatever? Is there any logic to it? Perhaps it's like the SU99/100, where one is coming and the other is going?


Here's a little history on the NYS&W Railway local train numbering system. Back in the mid-1980's, and especially when the NYS&W was rebuilding the dormant route between Butler, NJ and Sparta Jct, NJ, it became increasingly difficult to continue using the symbols that the NYS&W had assigned to its crews. When the Delaware Otsego System took over the NYS&W RR in 1980 and began operating the Northern Division in April 1982, they used job symbols SU-1, SU-2, SU-3 and SU-4. SU-1 and SU-2 were the Binghamton and Utica based crews and SU-3 and SU-4 were the Little Ferry "day" and "night" jobs.

If there was another crew on duty on a specific calendar day not covered by this symbol system, they became an A or B or C symbol, such as SU-1A and SU-1B, etc.

As the railroad expanded and the Sea-Land stack trains started up in 1985 and work trains started popping up rebuilding the Southern Division especially, it became harder for the dispatchers to keep track of where crews went on duty and who needed a taxi to return back to their home terminal, etc. So there was need for a change.

That was when we devised a new system that is still in use today. The first 2 letters in the symbol indicate at what location the crew comes on duty using the 2 letter designation for the location (using old telegraph codes primarily). The number after the 2 letters indicates whether they are the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc crew on duty at a particular location on a specific calendar day.

Therefore a job that starts with WS (the old telegraph code for Little Ferry yard) indicates the location the crew reported for duty. If it is the regular local freight and the first crew on duty on a given date, it would be WS-1. If it was a work train on duty at Little Ferry it would be WS-WX for Little Ferry Work Extra. If it was a passenger extra, it would be WS-PX. The same holds true for Utica (UT) symbols), Binghamton (BH), Cortland (CL) and Syracuse (SY). These 2 letter designations are in the NYS&W employee timetable.

When the Delaware Otsego System took over the Staten Island Railway in April 1985 from the Chessie System, the jobs were initially symboled was SI-1 or SI-2. Eventually they were changed for consistancy to their on duty location at Arlington Yard on Staten Island to AL-1 and AL-2. When the Rahway Valley Railroad was in operation under the Delaware Otsego flag, that job was RV-1.

When the Sea-Land stack trains started running in 1985, the NYS&W used the symbols used by Sea-Land. Originally NY-9 and NY-10 were the double stack trains. SLN-3, SLN-4 and SLN-5 were the conventional COFC (container on flat car) single level trains. As time went on, one could find a mixture of stack cars, flat cars and freight on any of these trains.

The next intermodal company to run on the NYS&W was Hanjin Lines. Since the Sea-land trains already used the 3, 4, 5, 9 and 10 designations, we started filling in the gaps. HAN-1 and HAN-2 were assigned to the west and eastbound Hanjin trains, respectively.
The next steamship line was NYK Lines. Their trains became NY-6 (eastbound) and NY-7 (westbound).

Once the line between Butler, NJ and Warwick, NY was open, SU-100 and SU-99 were the symbols assigned to the Binghamton - Little Ferry general freight train. These are the last holdouts of the "SU" designation.

The other symbol used was "BLT" for Binghamton - Lackawaxen Turn. This train ran on an as needed basis to deliver cars from Binghamton to the LASB RR (Lackawaxen & Stourbridge RR) which was also operated as a Delaware Otsego System railroad. Moore Business Forms in Honesdale, PA was the major customer on that line.

Even though the intermodal business is gone from the NYS&W today, the train symbol system is still in use 25+ years later.
Hope this helps explain a little about the NYS&W train symbols.
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Re: The WS trains (WS-5, 6, etc.) - how do they work?

Postby Steve F45 » Sun Aug 25, 2013 8:27 pm

Awesome explination!!!
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Re: The WS trains (WS-5, 6, etc.) - how do they work?

Postby Snowmojoe » Tue Sep 10, 2013 4:01 pm

Thanks very much for the explanation!
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