Tommy Meehan wrote:What surprised me is, Hyndman PA is the east end of the Sand Patch grade. A 178-car train sounds pretty big to be operating in that territory. Does anyone know if they increased the train size since Hunter Harrison took over or was that already the norm?
I’ve been down to that area railfaning many times over the years. Last time I was down there was about three years ago and the largest trains were some coal drags with around 100 cars and they always had helpers on the rear of the east bounds for climbing the west slope from Meyersdale up to the summit of Sand Patch and to help with dynamic braking down the east slope to Cumberland.
They may have started running longer trains over there before EHH as that was what Ward was doing on the system as a whole before EHH. From other posts part of EHH’s restructuring was to eliminate all helper districts. What amazes me is that a 178 car train with 130 loads and all the power on the head end didn’t pull any drawbars on the climb up the west slope. Also right after sand patch tunnel and at the beginning of the east downgrade is Mance curve which is a sharp horseshoe curve. I would think that train handling around that curve would be very tricky trying to control the slack run-in without manned helpers on the back. Of course we won’t know what caused the derailment until there is some kind of preliminary report from the NTSB.
It still amazes me why running a Chicago-Selkirk manifest over Sand Patch instead of over the more direct water level route is a more efficient use of your resources.