• Remote Control operations

  • 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 rustyrails

I have a question for any railroader who may be able to comment

CSX has embraced remote control engines for yard operations. It was believed that this technology would be efficient and safer. It has been noted that CP rail was instrumental in developing the remote control technology and convincing other Class 1 ‘s to follow suit.

The results on CSX have been very disappointing. Many more hours are required to complete jobs that were quickly handled by conventional crews. A conventional crew is often used to clean up the work a remote crew could not finish. Management is under orders to make the technologies work at any cost. Often operating rules are over looked and many carrots are dangled out to the remote crews to get work done in an expeditious manner. Most accidents and mishaps are swept under the carpet. This is very common knowledge to operating employees on CSX

This week we lost a fellow Railroader in Syracuse NY to a remote accident.

I am wondering if any railroads have given up yet on this technology? I have heard rumors that NS and maybe CP are backing away? Any other info would be helpful


  by git a holt to it
We stopped using remotes earlier this year and I heard a few other terminals went back to conventional switchers, but of course it's going to short lived they're coming back after the 1st of year(seen a box of new OCU's in t/m's office). I guess it's back to the road with me. Thanks for selling out the hoggers for $18 UTU.....NOT!

  by Noel Weaver
The UTU made a deal with the railroads to use this junk whether it was
safe or not. They did it to try to put the screws to the BLE and to
locomotive engineers in general.
This so called union has had a history over the years of short changing
people, sometimes even their own members over stuff like this. I can
sight other examples where this has happened in the past and I think it is
only a matter of time before they will try to do something again to hurt or
affect other crafts including the engineers.
The railroads know that remote control operations are not generally as
safe but they are going to ram this thing through with the help of the UTU
at all costs and no matter what the consequences are down the road.
Noel Weaver

  by gp9rm4108
Here we go again ... enough with the Beltpack bashing ... they are perfectly safe if used properly.

  by usmcdevildog
It seems to me that running a remote controlled unit would be fun...

  by git a holt to it
I agree on the coment that they are safe or at least just as safe as conventional switching, but fun? never thought i'd hear that one.LOL :-D
$18 for no hogger $21 for no brakeman on thru freight, you just got to wonder what the heck the UTU was thinking.

  by Aji-tater
You want fun, get an HO set. They're remote and when things don't go right you can unplug it and walk away. We're dealing with real life and death situations here, not fun.

I'd add one very important addition to 4108's statement they are safe if used properly. That is - not only must the operator use the controls properly, but the company must use the remotes in the proper place and job. If you have a small operation repeatedly spotting cars for loading, or repositioning cars around a shop or industry, that might be a good use for a remote. But when you put them in busy yards with lots of activity and handle long cuts with them you're asking for too much.

I had another fatality, via remotes sent to me on Monday, but it is "locked" into a part of the computer, that has been having "issues". I remember this much, the remote was making a shoving movement, in a yard, and it ran into an occupied vehicle, containing either a carman, or a mechanic. The remote shoved the truck over 600 yards, ultimately killing the driver. The remote operator was completely unaware of what had happened. Remotes ARE safe, if used in an enviroment, that is free and clear of any and all other movements, equipment and persons. This would mean an area that was seperate from the general system, and could not be accessed, unless switches and derails were opened, to permit access, only after receiving authority. If there is ANY possibilty for any other movements to accidentally enter a "zone" (in some places, the zone is the entire mainline) or for persons to walk, or drive onto tracks, in a "zone", then it is unsafe. There are places for remotes. In the yard, where other crews are working, isn't that place though. Mines, mills, graineries, tank farms or detatched SIT yards come to mind. It really wouldn't matter who was running them, if they did it away from the general system.

  by Sir Ray
GOLDEN-ARM wrote:The remote operator was completely unaware of what had happened.
This is something I am wondering about - isn't it the intent that the remote operator should know exactly what is in the path of the train he is operating? I was under the understanding that the remote controlled train should NOT move unless the operator has a clear view (either from the ground, or a locomotive walkway (or, I guess soon, temporarily positionable cameras) of the train's path - it's not to be handled like a big-rig operator backing up his tractor trailer blindly (one check, and then hope nothing gets in the way). It seems from the various 'war' stories posted here that this rule is often ignored, and the RCO will simply stand in one spot and hope nothing wandered onto the tracks in the 15minutes since he started.
So, is this a rule (keep the ROW in clear view while the train is moving)'
Is it often 'ignored' (because I really can't see why there are as many collisions as there are)?

  by ExEMDLOCOTester
The EMD yard switcher was converted to an RC unit. I found that the only advantage to the RC was on blind side curves, because I could operate from the other side of the unit. When we worked in areas where the switches were, while reversing direction I lost lots of productive time walking around to check the blind side, where as operating in the cab it was a short walk across the cab. We always switched with 2 people so the RC unit was no real advantage. The advantage for EMD was that a switch crew was reduced from 3 people to 2.

  by usmcdevildog
So when I start training with the UP and it comes time for the RCO class, are you saying that I shouldn't volunteer to be an RCO?

  by gp9rm4108
The vehicle that got hit by that movement would be at fault. The fact that its a remote has nothing to do with that. If it was a shove, then the units on the other end ...

If its a place where the crew do not have to be on the point, eg they know they will fit in that track and there are no cars to hit, then they dont need to be on the point.

In most places where there are remotes, they have exclusive use of the track they are operating on and other movements have to talk to them.
Here where I work, the carmen talk to use before they go into tracks to make sure we wont be shoving over top of them.

Take the RCO, its something you HAVE to take at CN if they use it there in the yard. Don't let people tell you its dangerous. It isn't. Not at all, use it properly and apply the rules.

It doesn't matter how much traffic is around it either, you just have to know where both ends of your movement are and whether or not you need to watch the point.

  by Engineer James
CSX Has been using them especially in Rouge Yard. A Chessie RCPU was down there earlier this year.... also a Few Geeps have been made into RCPU's.

  by conrail_engineer
gp9rm4108 wrote:Here we go again ... enough with the Beltpack bashing ... they are perfectly safe if used properly.
The problem with remotes is there's no feel. Anyone who's been running for more than a week gets a seat-of-the-pants feel for when things aren't going right; when it's pulling or pushing hard, when the cut of cars starts running away, that you need to ease it down.

The remotes offer none of that. Even standing on the power...it's not the same.

Nothing can replace that human feel, that man/machine interaction.

As noted, remotes can be safe - but only with small cuts in controlled spaces.

  by powerpro69
I just got RCO qualified today and I agree, the guy who qualified me, said it won't be long before they are on the main lines running local industry jobs, now thats just plain crazyness IMO