• Are Scout Trains real?

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by daveya17
My friends and I have been in a heated argument over the existence of scout trains for some time now so I thought that I would come and ask the experts so we could end it once and for all. We are wondering if scout trains do or have ever existed. A scout train as we call them are trains or an engine car that goes ahead of another train that has important cargo of some kind and scouts the tracks to make sure that they are clear. If the scout train sees anything then it radios back to the other train so it has time to stop thus protecting the important cargo from harm. I apologize if this is not the correct location for a discussion like this but we really want to know. Thanks for the help and if you could site specific examples or further reading that would help a lot.

  by John_Perkowski
Pilot trains have been used in the past. Generally, they're used in advance of very high profile passenger trains, such as a President of the United States movement.

One of the most important examples in my lifetime was a pilot train running ahead of the funeral train for Senator Robert F Kennedy in 1968.
  by Ocala Mike
Also, the Alaska Railroad commonly employs pilot cars ahead of their trains to try to minimize collisions with moose (yes, moose), which is a real problem up there.

As far as pilot trains, I'm sure it was done commonly stateside during WWII, where the threat of sabotage to high-value military cargo (mechanized and human) was real.
  by Gadfly
These days its more likely a Hi-Rail pickup truck or Suburban. If needed these can have armed RR police aboard. Less expensive than an engine/cars.

  by Lincoln78
How fast can hi-rails go? I've never looked closely at one - understand the traction is provided by the tires and the rail wheels are just along for the ride?

I just saw one of the series on the Alaska Railroad that showed a rail-capable truck making propane and diesel deliveries (drums/tanks) to people along the line.
  by Backshophoss
Depending on the RR,a pickup truck type to some of the Class 8 trucks in Rail mode is 25-30 mph max foreward,
5-10 mph in reverse.
Most of the vehicle's weight is carried by the highway wheels+ tires,the small flanged wheels are only ment to
guide the vehicle while on the rail,and do not shunt track circuts as well.