• Mil Comm Line Cherry Pt/Cmp Lejeune and MOS Occupations

  • A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads
A general discussion about shortlines, industrials, and military railroads

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by Jeff Smith
Leatherneck Blog

ENC Article

Very interesting. I know the Army has or had specialties in railroading, but I don't know if they still exist today. I think they may be in the reserve component (in CT maybe?) I wonder who would operate? I would think they'd want a private contractor, and could use it for training as well. Of course, these are USMC posts as well.

I love the idea: Troop Trains!
HAVELOCK - Instead of driving to work, some Marines could take the train.

A transportation committee of the Military Growth Task Force is suggesting the idea of commuter rail service between Cherry Point and Camp Lejeune.

Danny Walsh, a Havelock commissioner and member of the task force, said a train would run in the morning and the evening along the 26-mile rail spur between the two bases.

He said a commuter train would decrease the number of cars on the road and would also offer military members a chance to get some work done on the train.

"A lieutenant colonel that's going to Camp Lejeune every day could work on his laptop for the 35 minutes that he's riding down that railroad track," Walsh said. "He can talk on the telephone. He can rest. He can do everything except hang on to the steering wheel."

He said command changes have created a lot of commuters between the two bases that rail service could help.
Last edited by Jeff Smith on Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
  by CJPat
Yes, the Army used to have a number of Railroad specialties (88X,T, U, & P series) where they were trained out of Ft Eustis (seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Eusti ... y_Railroad. But it is all but ghost occupation now. There are 1 or 2 small USAR units with rail designators. I am not sure why they keep these units on the roster since the type of trained personnel are to few to spread the knowledge and too small to perform any self supporting missions. All still exisiting Army rail equipment is handled by civilians & contractors.
  by RailVet
The CT-based 1205th Transportation Railway Operating Battalion was inactivated in Sep 06. The last rail unit, the Army Reserve's 757th Trans Bn (Rwy), with HQ in Milwaukee, WI, and subordinate companies and detachments located in various locations, is organized as a deployable unit and would not have any role with a full-time commuter operation at a Marine base.

If this base-to-base shuttle operation ever becomes a reality (doubtful), it would almost certainly be operated by a contractor - definitely not with USAR soldiers.

I suspect this will be a "nice to have" item on the USMC's budget request list and will probably never move over to the "must have" side. A look at the daily newspaper shows that money is tight and, even if this project has merit, it may never go far.

Army rail MOSs still exist in the rail units and training courses are still conducted in the second-floor classroom of the Fort Eustis enginehouse and on the post's railway system. The purpose of USAR railroaders in the 757th is not to provide support to base operations, but instead to conduct rail operations overseas in combat theaters. (The mission of the 1205th TROB was to augment the civilian employees at Military Ocean Terminal Sunny Point, NC, in rail operations and track maintenance during periods of high operations tempo. It was a completely different unit that was not intended for overseas service.)
  by Jeff Smith
I retitled the thread to encompas military occupation specialties (MOS as they are known in the Army) as well. I thought that USAR unit was in CT. Shame it was inactivated. A lot of the draw-down in the NE reserve components has to do, I think, with a man-power shortage in that area.

It's nice to know that the Army still plans for that type of contingency, though, and has a remaining unit. It would be interesting to know the civilian backgrounds of the remaining unit's personnel. I would guess that they would be by and large railroaders both in uniform and out (hey, why waste that good army training?).

I guess I thought that if DOD possessed this rail line, they might make it available for training usage. I'm sure day-to-day operations will be contracted out.

I tell you, I would unretire if they would cross-train me in any of the railroad MOS'
  by RailVet
Regarding manpower shortages in the NE area, I recall hearing that the New England-based 94th Regional Readiness Command, the parent unit of the 1205th TROB, had the lowest retention rate of any USAR command. The biggest reason, though, for the 1205th's inactivation was simply that USAR is focusing on deployable units and not those that would support CONUS functions.

Personnel background of those in the remaining rail battalion - I would guess that few actually work on railroads in their civilian careers. Unionized railroad employees must "mark off" when going off for drill weekends, which actually costs them money. USAR pay isn't enough to make up the difference. There were very, very few in the 1205th who fit in this category. Many were subway train operators in New York City, and their contract for handling Reserve duty was much different. Many decades ago, railroad companies sponsored railway battalions, so most members were railroaders in civilian life, but those days are long gone.

A friend in the Milwaukee area who once served in the 757th described visiting the unit a couple of years ago and found that there wasn't a single Transportation Corps officer in the entire outfit. All had different specialties but were assigned to the unit just to continue their USAR affiliation until something else opened up. A past commander with a combat arms background was (in)famous for saying, "Railroading isn't rocket since. We're going to train as infantry!" Rail training went to almost zero and people left the unit in droves, driving its manning down to about 40%.

Don't come out of retirement for any promises of USAR rail training. There isn't enough to begin to make it worthwhile.

It's unlikely a USAR rail unit would ever operate over the proposed MCB Camp Lejeune-MCAS Cherry Point commuter line. The money involved in spending a couple of weeks in the summer on Marine rails in NC would come out of the Army's budget, so the Army would want to make sure that any support given to a host base would go to an Army post or depot. Also, since the proposed commuter line would be contractor-operated, there are additional complications. Finally, there's no way freight train reservists would be used for passenger train equipment. No one in the military food chain or contracted company would see any benefit to it, when instead the reservists could spend their time elsewhere, focusing on their primary tasks.
  by Jeff Smith
All very good points. That's disappointing to know about the training levels. While every MOS is cannibalizable as 11B Infantry, it's a shame given the logistics needs of the military and the potential for using host or target nation rails in operations that the military doesn't treat this field more seriously.

And, of course, troop trains are non-existent now (I thought it was very nostalgic getting an Amtrak ticket from Newark to Anniston when enlisted in 1979). So yes, there'd be no need for passenger train specialties. Still, familiarity with train operations, both passenger and freight, in a "Homeland Security" sense, would seem important to me.

Your correct about the 94th; I was in an independent unit directly subordinate to them. The retention rate was pretty bad; mostly folks just in it for the bennies. I think a big part of that is the almost complete lack of an active military presence in the Northeast, with the exception of MD.

Does the military still transport a lot of equipment via train to ports of embarkation? I was also in a Port Security Unit that trained in Savannah every year, providing security for shipments to Europe for excercises. A lot of it came in on rails. It would seem useful to have rail units trained for this type of thing.
  by Mikejf
A lot of the military lines that were once operated by a military transportation unit are now run by Civilian DOD personnell. The last time I saw any in person, They were using older Geeps in excellent condition.
  by RailVet
RE training in USAR units - About five years ago I read a column by the three-star then in command of USAR and he wrote that most weekend training was worthless. I was surprised, not because it wasn't true (it was), but because someone at the top of the chain actually acknowledged it. For all too many members of the Reserve, their paycheck is glorified welfare. A handful of people in any unit are the only ones keeping it going and most of the rest are dead weight. If you're hardworking and reliable, your reward for coming in on time during a weekend drill just might be to get tasked to sit down at a phone and start calling all of those who didn't bother to show up that day and find out why they're not there. (Probably not what you had in mind when you signed up.) Numbers are given priority, so instead of unloading them, the unit will keep them on the roster for years to come. In reality a unit would be better off undermanned with reliable troops than pushing the slugs to show up and actually do something useful when they do.

A typical weekend for one USAR rail unit was to take two switchers out to opposite ends of the rail yard and hide behind boxcars, snoozing away until lunch. After lunch, it was more of the same until the end of the day. Others would lounge around the yard office all day. After carousing in the local bars on Saturday night, they'd come back on Sunday to do it again, possibly leaving early. To top it off, USAR was paying the host base for the use of their rail equipment and oversight by civilian employees.

The military still does transport equipment via train to ports for overseas deployment, as well as rotating armored and mechanized infantry units in and out of the NTC at Fort Irwin, CA. Trains come and go from Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow's Yermo Annex and units travel via road between the base and the NTC. While rail units have supported civilian rail employees at Yermo Annex during heavy workloads, they would not do so at civilian ports, which are typically under the control of private companies.

While Army posts sometimes had military personnel assigned to operate a post railway, they were not part of a railway unit per se (with the exception of the schoolhouse operation at Fort Eustis decades ago) such as a railway battalion. Today all base railway operations are conducted by civilian employees or contractors. Exceptions: I saw junior enlisted personnel at Fort Bliss being used for basic brakemen tasks at Fort Bliss. These weren't true railway troops, but were instead personnel on medical hold or awaiting processing out of the Army (i.e., due to disciplinary actions, training failure, etc.), and this was something to keep their hands busy until they were gone. Some years ago I briefly met an airman from Shaw AFB, SC, working with the base rail crew, but he was not in a USAF railway AFSC (which doesn't exist). A member of the base's transportation squadron, he had been tasked to augment the rail crew as needed.

RE today's military geeps, here's a good webpage portraying them: