• Staggers Act - A Revisit

  • For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.
For topics on Class I and II passenger and freight operations more general in nature and not specifically related to a specific railroad with its own forum.

Moderator: Jeff Smith

  by Engineer Spike
 
Right again John from Jersey. The staffing problem, as I've mentioned has multiple issues. Over the years prior to PSR many railroads had bee going towards schemes where there was more predictability for crews. In my time at BNSF they had a scheme where the engineers were on call for four days, but then had a couple for off days. Other methods were tried, such as half of the on call guys being subject to call in the daytime, and the other half at night. All of these have been thrown out the window. Boards were cut to the bone, and strict attendance policies have been implemented.

In the past there have been slack times where guys have gotten cur, and others where we were short. The present shortage seems to have been ongoing since PSR was installed. A friend who is a general chairman retorted how a crew shortage of 8 years in not an emergency. He's right! They have hired countless guys over the last several years. Few last. Why would they? Officials are often trying to write them up over petty errors, most of which have no safety implications. They don't have a competitive pay scale anymore either. Lots of the guys who pinned themselves ahead were smart and good workers. One guy was fairly new. The managers started picking at him over mostly trivial points. This kid was a good railroader. Every time that I worked with him he had his books open, in an effort to become more proficient. He finally had enough and went into heavy equipment. That likely puts him on par pay wise, but no more 24/7, no more A-hole Trainmaster....
  by eolesen
 
JayBee wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:31 pm I have put this in discussions in other forums, but I think people need to understand the implications of demographics in this discussion. First the US working age population has been shrinking since 2007. It started slowly but is now accelerating. The working age (18 - 65) population this year is 400,000 fewer workers than there were last year.
Yes and no... I'd say the "working age" definition has been redefined quite a bit -- that started when 401K's imploded in 2008, but continues today given advances in overall health and attitudes towards older workers. Social Security has pushed the age for full benefits up to 67 for those born after 1960, so I won't be surprised if that turns to 69 for those born after 1990.
JayBe wrote: The point of this is that the railroads are going to have to compete very hard for workers in a shrinking workforce. Higher pay and better working conditions may help, but it might not be enough.
Perhaps it's time to revisit attitudes towards encouraging people to consider trade education vs. entering into loand with six figure debt to get a degree in French Women's Poetry (and a minor in Native American Gender Studies) which don't guarantee any form of meaningful employment that can pay those loans back...

In that light, the railroad's a great place to work. So is being an iron worker or an electrician. You'll have to punch your ticket doing crap jobs for a couple years, but long term it's not such a bad gig.
  by JohnFromJersey
 
Engineer Spike, PSR has been pretty disastrous for railroads. I'm not sure how many of the Class I's stick with it, because it's pretty obvious PSR is slowly wearing down and burning RR's that use it. Executives will never feel the fire until there's no more revenue coming in, sadly, so they won't do anything until it's too late.
eolesen wrote: Mon Jul 04, 2022 4:17 pm Perhaps it's time to revisit attitudes towards encouraging people to consider trade education vs. entering into loand with six figure debt to get a degree in French Women's Poetry (and a minor in Native American Gender Studies) which don't guarantee any form of meaningful employment that can pay those loans back...

In that light, the railroad's a great place to work. So is being an iron worker or an electrician. You'll have to punch your ticket doing crap jobs for a couple years, but long term it's not such a bad gig.
Someone with a degree in "French Women's Poetry (and a minor in Native American Gender Studies)" has a better chance of having a better, more flexible schedule than someone who works in Class I. Class II and Class III's are definitely better to work for, but many of them don't offer the lucrative benefits and pay that Class I's have. Trades are definitely the way to go for someone who's not going into Business/STEM/Medicine, as the white-collar job market for everyone else is getting pretty full these days.
  by west point
 
This class one behavior smacks of a monopoly unbridled. Too many squaks from others than RRs will Railroad the RRs into places they do not want to be.
  by Gilbert B Norman
 
Mr. (Officer, Captain?) West Point, you do have a "point".

I think all of the "Big Seven" (soon to be Six), realize that "the Gospel" (PSR) has its limitations, especially when it affects customer service ("hey, I give you fifty cars a day and you're telling me you switch me when it's convenient for you? Need you be reminded there are guys with eighteen wheels who are at my dock when I tell them to be").

But much of Saint Elwood's teachings will remain such as operating trains to meet where crews can be swapped and get home at night rather than being held away, and operating trains so that one isn't held on the main with a crew "dying" because the yard is full up.

Even BNSF that never claimed to embrace Saint Elwood to the extent of the others, have adopted some of his "teachings". For example, by my house, mostly covered hopper agricultural trains will often have general freight (manifest) included in the consist, and manifests will be held to 25mph when there is no reason to run them faster (hey, we got a fresh crew that's just going to Galesburg to tie up, so why burn up all that gas to run at 50?).

So, I hold many of Saint Elwood's teachings will live on.

disclaimer: author Long UNP
  by JohnFromJersey
 
Another thing to consider is how dismal the infrastructure of many lines has become due to PSR. Every day, it seems like there is some sort of derailment, not to mention tons of branch lines that are left in really abhorrent condition due to the fact that some of those branch lines are not super profitable. For example, I live by a line that has had a solid anchor tenant for decades now, but because it's a small-ish lumber yard that only needs service once or twice a week, CR (ran by CSX and NS) ran it into the ground by not doing basic maintenance on it. Many of the crossings don't work, and there have been some derailments in recent years... They eventually passed the buck onto a shortline, and who knows if said shortline will come to realize that NS and CSX are forcing them to bite more than they can chew with all the work to be done...
west point wrote: Sat Aug 13, 2022 9:09 pm This class one behavior smacks of a monopoly unbridled. Too many squaks from others than RRs will Railroad the RRs into places they do not want to be.
Break them up, or let them continue to screw things up until they inevitably collapse and have to re-organize, hopefully with different executives that learned their lesson. Any regulations that are put on the Big Seven will trickle down onto the Class II's, III's, and shortlines that have been behaving themselves, especially compared to the Big Seven. Regulations that are targeted towards the big guys in an industry rarely don't affect the smaller guys in said industry, and ten years from now, if the government plays too heavy of a hand, they may make the situation worse. With the Big Seven crapping the bed and smaller railroads coming into the picture to save the day for many railroad customers, Congress should use this as an opportunity to do some long-needed trust busting. Doing so punishes Class I's but leaves the other railroads alone.

There is a strike being planned in regard to the new contract Class I's are offering the employees. Well, more of a walk off than a strike. Hopefully that will send a message to railroad management and executives to get their heads out of the sand. But IMO, the only thing these Wall Street guys listen to is money, railroad unions and organizations should focus on trying to get a few guys onto the executive board/get some significant shareholder status so they can start calling shots...