• Train Dispatchers

  • 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 UPRR engineer
Anyone on a first name basis with one? I know some have figured out the dispatchers names and what not, thats not what im talking about. Does a dispatcher know you by name or recognize your voice and give you special treatment? Stuff like that kinda separates they guys you work with right?
  by thebigc
UPRR engineer wrote:Anyone on a first name basis with one? I know some have figured out the dispatchers names and what not, thats not what im talking about. Does a dispatcher know you by name or recognize your voice and give you special treatment? Stuff like that kinda separates they guys you work with right?
I'm on a first name basis with all the ones that have been around but half of them would walk right by me if they saw me. But they know my voice instantly. Funny, that.

Probably alot different for you class one guys who's dispatchers are located thousands of miles away in some cases. You'd probably never get to meet any of them in person.

I always try to get to know the Dispatchers, if at all possible. You can't help not knowing someone, you talk to every day, for years. I always make it a point to go to the Dispatchers center, office or room (depending on the size of the road), and letting the guys know who I am, and that I appreciate the job they have to do. Now, if that gets me moved to the next siding to make a meet, instead of sitting and waiting, so much the better. On occasion, a DS will even be cool enough to hang with, after hours. (my last gig in Ohio produced a couple that even came out for cab-rides, in their off hours. Not in any official capacity, but just to get out and GERF) A little kindness goes a long way with most of them, as they sure have a God-Awfull, thankless job to do. I wouldn't sit behind their desk for any amount of money. Some guys can't meet them, due to geographical restraints, but I have been lucky in that respect, so far. If you get the chance, call them up, let them know you want to visit, and see what happens on the other end of that radio, or Block-Line. It will really open your eyes !!! Regards :wink:

  by UPRR engineer
Alright guys i better go to bed, gonna get called called tonight, much later i bet.

Id reply there ARM but im too tired. Im sure they know when im out, the tower tells them im sure. I'll tell more tomarrow.

  by UPRR engineer
Oh sure your both on here now. (LCJ and the ARM) Later Guys!!!

  by jmp883
I've been an emergency services dispatcher for 15 years and spent 1 year as a train dispatcher. While it is nice to know who your train crews are that shouldn't dictate whether they get special treatment. Nor should them knowing who you are dictate how they treat you. In the real world, however, it usually doesn't work out that way.

I worked for a commuter railroad that also runs freight. The commuter trains ran first, last, and everywhere in between simply because they were scheduled. The freights and track maintainers were worked around the commuters. Most of the freight crews were regulars on our railroad and gave us good moves when we did let them run, but there were one or two regulars who regularly griped and complained all the time. Never mind it wasn't their railroad..... We were aware of crew time expirations (our commuter crews are under the same law), and that they had businesses to switch that needed cars picked up or dropped off. Those few crews just thought that because they were who they were, working for as many years as they had, deserved special treatment. Well let me tell you...it doesn't matter who you are or how long you've been employed, you move when I can safely move you. Since it was our railroad, the scheduled passenger trains took priority over the freight trains. My job as a train dispatcher was to move trains safely and on-time.

As a public safety dispatcher I do know all the PD officers and most of the FD and EMS officers. Likewise they know me. Same rules apply though. No special treatment. It's not my problem if your zone is getting hammered with calls while the other 8 zones are dead. Too bad....Ask your shift commander to be assigned a different zone tomorrow. You want to eat? Ok....as long as nothing is pending in your zone AND the 2 adjacent zones are available. If not, too bad.....you don't eat. It's tough being that way, especially when you know the people involved, but we have S.O.P.s to follow and I'm not going to get written up for violating them. In 15 years the only S.O.P. I've violated is not taking all of my time off in that year. And yes, I did get a letter of reprimand in my file for it. If I got a letter for that you know I'll get a letter for preferential dispatching!

Anyway, got slightly off-topic here. I apologize :-D

That kind of stuff might "fly", when it comes to dispatching police, fire or ambulance calls, but freight railroading is a whole other deal, entirely. Anyone that gets to "know" the guy at the other end of the radio (either end) gets put into a position of not wanting to "hurt", or offend his friend. If I am train "A" waiting to go west, and Joe Blow is on train "B", and the DS knows that I will get out there, as soon as the signal lights for my movement, and haul-ass off of his territory, whereas "Joe" will wait for this and that, pull slow, and never even get up to track speed, who do you think gets the signal, if we were both at the junction, at the same point in time ? The DS has to "know" me, and remember that I was one of his "hot-runners", for him to turn me loose, in the first place. Many were the times I was sent out, ahead of a scheduled passenger train, WB at NK tower, due to this very fact. The operator would turn us loose, because he knew us, and knew we were going to get the hell off his "property". Same thing applies to meets. You get the DS to run you to the next siding, to meet, instead of this one, because you say you can do it. Anyone can say what they will do. I know this guy personally, and my word on the job is the same as my word off the job. I am not going to "stab" my friend, ever. I don't ask for the run, unless I know I won't hurt the opposing movement, or following movement. We are not taking calls to save lives, put out fires, etc. We are putting our name/friendship on the line, with the OP, or DS, when we say what we can/will do. Sure, there are guys who say they can run, then go out there and just drag 'em down the line. Those guys get remembered also, but for all of the wrong reasons. Those same guys will hear words on the radio like "you are going in at Haverstraw, for 4 southbounds", one of which hasn't even left the fuel pad at Selkirk yet. Don't kid yourself into thinking this does not happen. It happens every day, on lots of roads. You want to help your friends, and they want to help you. That's what a friend is all about. Right or wrong, it does happen. I wont even mention befriending the crew callers, and being called for light engines, every sunday, or one way & deadhead coaltrains every tuesday,or piloting crews from North Bergen to Oak Island , or........Regards :wink:

  by jmp883
I would imagine that 'dispatcher flexibility' is much more common on freight-only roads :wink: . When you're running scheduled passenger trains around the clock you just can't play those games (at least no to the same extent, anyway :wink: ).

But I definitely see where you're coming from.

  by SteelWheels21
I know for a fact that the dispatchers in my neck of the woods give preference to the hogs who run fast. Other than that, they are an EXTREMELY friendly and helpful bunch, I've had more problems with certain idiots in the tower than I've ever had with a dispatcher. Even BN treats us well on the Portland-Seattle track we share.

  by Jtgshu
Try to get to know the dispatchers, I know a few of them know me adn my crew personally and we give them good moves when possible.

Also, espeically with Amtrak dispatchers at PSCC, a lot of them ride the trains back and forth to work in NY, and you get to know them - even though NJT and Amtrak are a "scheduled" operation, there are still things you need to do to get good moves by the dispatcher, because your train will sit somewhere for a LONG time if you piss them off!!! "We're gonna run the Amtrak around you at Metropark - they are at County" (approx 10 miles away)

I had a few favors done in my behalf by dispatchers, becuase they knew who we were, what train we were, and its greatly appreciated (I waited for your train to pass before we took the track OOS and you would have had to low level - We made you the last train over Portal draw before we HAD to have an opening - we're gonna give your extra train a good move through the detour - give me a good move, im gonna have a westbound and don't wanna hold him, etc)

Just because its a "scheduled" operation, don't mean that politics doesn't have its part!!!!

  by UPRR engineer
When i was a regular conductor on a night local (LCR02), me and the dispatcher knew each other without calling each other by our first names. She never took a liking to me until the first time she thought we werent going to make it back to town if we got out. Like the Arm has said, i kept my word. After that i noticed we spent alot less time waiting, and i really stepped up on my end also, we only played casual when we were off her main.

It's not really to hard to stand out like the Golden Arm and SteelWheels said, and its even easier when your not always running threw freight. If a guy has the ability to run fast get the work done and then get in the clear in the twenty minutes like you promised.

I once worked the local that goes out to mines and picks up all the loads bound for NP (LCR04). I had to meat heads with me so i had to play casual. At a place called Solvay we finally picked up the last few cars to fill to a 105 cars. I didnt look at the clock until we started the air test and noticed we were gonna die unless something great happened. I asked the conductor if i should call the dispatcher and let her know. I told her that the only way to keep us from dieing was for her to line us twards one track at Peru and give us a straight shot into town, and let us run around everyone trying to get into town. "Your sure you can make it???"... "Im sure".... "Here comes your lights" She was still unsure, she asked me three times in the thirty minutes it took me to get it in. I heard the words "Good Job" over the radio from the tower as we flew past the depot. Im thinking he gave his word also that i was the type of engineer that keeps his word. I should have called her when i got in and thanked her for the good help, but i didnt. That would have been a good time to bro with the dispatcher. Work is fun when things like that happen.

  by Jayjay1213
I run freight on the LIRR up here in NY. Getting to know the guys on the other end of the radio definitely helps. Like UPRR engineer and Gloden Arm says, if they know you run hot, you will get tons of moves, a lot of my coworkers get stuck following locals, but me and a few guys are known to run on the money, and we run ahead all the time. I have one that gives me all types of sick moves, I asked him one day if he likes making my nerves goes nuts, he just replied, "have you banged any trains, no? then shut up and take the signal."

Some getting to know them, and some snacks on occasion goes along way.


  by jmp883
After reading a few of these posts I can recall that there were certain crews we did give special consideration to because they did give us good moves. I just don't recall doing it a lot, due to the constraints of the schedules we ran.

Old age can be a real bitch...... :wink:

  by JLJ061
There have been times on the BNSF out here when traffic was light I could actually hear the dispatcher and a train crew BSing each other for a few minutes.

Might not sound profressional, but I'm sure it does make an otherwise hectic day seem more tolerable! :)

  by Aji-tater
It works both ways. Crews soon learn which dispatchers will give them a show and which ones play it safe and make them sit for some hotshot due in several hours. If you're on a traveling switcher and KNOW you're going to be held where you are instead of getting out of there, you can factor that into how fast you do your work.

Just as there are some crews who will get the job done and some who won't, there are also some dispatchers who will take a chance on the right crew and others who don't care who it is, you ain't going anywhere. Once had to cross a light engine from one side of the main to the other, got held for Amtrak which was 55 minutes away. This was no reflection on that particular crew, just the way that guy did business with everybody.