Discussion related to commuter rail and rapid transit operations in the Chicago area including the South Shore Line, Metra Rail, and Chicago Transit Authority.

Moderators: JamesT4, metraRI

  by wilmette2008
 
Good evening, I have noticed that conductors on Metra trains seem to change every six months or so. Why is this? For example I take the five ten forty seven train out of downtown and Will who was the regular conductor was not there instead it was someone ells, when I asked what happened he said he bumped Will. And this was Late March/early April. Could some please enlighten me and explain what bumping/bidding is. Thanks
  by qboy
 
Bumping is all part of working on the railroad be it freight or passenger. That regular conductor U had previous was junior to him in seniority. That new conductor was on another that job previously before being bumped himself. Just about for everyone working where seniority is the name of the game theres always gonna be a bigger fish out there unless your the biggest fish or the top man in seniority. It basically cause a chain reaction of bumping till the low man has no place to go. Like myself I'm currently hold the UP west line extra board by choice If someone older than me wants to come to the extra and there are only 10 slots on that board and I'm the low man I get bumped and I have find spot or assignment to bump onto. So I would bump onto a job that I would prefer, or I can also go back to freight as long as there is a junior man to me on that job. I get 48hrs to decide where to use my bump. If let it expire then the caller can force or place some where I might not want to go.
  by lstone19
 
How bidding and bumping works can vary by railroad and contract. You didn't say what line you ride and that probably does make a difference. My railroad service was over 30 years ago but where I worked, there were some practices I've never heard of elsewhere. For instance, for yard jobs, every so many months, everything expired and had to be rebid. OTOH, under many contracts, once you're on a job, its yours until you either successfully bid another vacant job or you get bumped and exercise your seniority to bump someone else (bumping means someone's job was eliminated and they now need to find another job. Generally, if you're holding a job, a senior person can't just bump you because they want the job. To bump, either their job must be eliminated or they have been bumped by someone else. In any event, a job elimination is what kicks off the bumping process).

Assuming the number of jobs are stable, generally everyone stay where they are until someone retires, quits, etc. Then that person's vacancy is bid. That opens up the successful bidder's job and that vacancy is bid. Lather, rinse, repeat (where I worked, everyone had to maintain a bid list of what they wanted so the chain of bids to replace a retiree, etc. all happened at one time. Only new positions were posted to give people a chance to update their bid list).

Currently, I ride the Milwaukee West. Under that contract (Metra), from what I've learned from talking to the trainman, in addition to the normal bidding and bumping, they can bid a vacation relief when the regular person is on vacation for a week. So a couple of weeks ago, my regular conductor disappeared for a week. I assumed he was on vacation until one day I took a different train and found him working it as a vacation relief job. Why bid a vacation relief job? To temporarily hold a more desirable job.

Passenger jobs tend to be stable. But freight service can vary considerably. In my day working for a railroad as an assistant trainmaster, I once had to make the call to emergency annul half a dozen full-crew jobs (all but one) in our yard due to a fire that temporarily shut down 99% of our yard business. That was a bumping mess but is unfortunately what can happen on a railroad.
  by wilmette2008
 
This was on the UP Northline, FYI.
  by Engineer Spike
 
The train and engine crews on the UP/CNW lines are UP crews. They can also bid freight jobs too. BN crews run that line too. The BN engineers can get bumped due to job establishment, elimination, or change, as has been posted. Additionally, they have a bump available if they have been on a job for thirty days. In my time at BN, the engineers had the 30finish day bump, but conductors did not.
  by MACTRAXX
 
Everyone: Thinking of METRA Crew assignments: Noting that METRA operates all of its services except the BN and UP contracted routes
can METRA's train crews work on any of Metra's owned and operated routes? MACTRAXX
  by lstone19
 
MACTRAXX wrote:Everyone: Thinking of METRA Crew assignments: Noting that METRA operates all of its services except the BN and UP contracted routes
can METRA's train crews work on any of Metra's owned and operated routes? MACTRAXX
Not sure how much cross-assigning they can do except I know we've had NCS extra board trainman from Antioch working MD-W jobs out of Elgin. And if they do that, I'm sure they can work MD-N as well (particularly due to the one evening inbound NCS train that runs via the MD-N from Prairie Crossing to A-5 so they have to be qualified there).
  by metraRI
 
MACTRAXX wrote:Everyone: Thinking of METRA Crew assignments: Noting that METRA operates all of its services except the BN and UP contracted routes
can METRA's train crews work on any of Metra's owned and operated routes? MACTRAXX
The 7 Metra operated lines are divided into 3 districts. These probably do not surprise anyone.

Crews are pooled into one of the following:
-RI District: RI, SWS, HC* (Extra Boards out of Joliet/Orland Park)
-CUS District: MDW, MDN, NCS (Extra Boards out of Elgin/Fox Lake/Antioch)
-ME District: All Electric Subs/Branches (Extra Boards out of Randolph/Blue Island/University Park/possibly Ritchton Park)

*Engineers from HC come out of the ME District due to a prior agreement between IC/Metra.

Extra board crews are qualified for every line in that district and can work any assignment in that district regardless of the board they are on (IE: Conductor on Elgin board can be called for an Antioch job, etc.) It is possible to be qualified on multiple districts, but must remain on a district minimum of 90 days before making a move. Once seniority allows to hold a regular job, it is only required to be qualified on that line.