• BNSF Operates 10,000 Foot Intermodal Train

  • Discussion related to BNSF operations. Official site: BNSF.COM
Discussion related to BNSF operations. Official site: BNSF.COM

Moderator: Komachi

  by lock4244
On CN's mainline between Toronto and eastern Canada (Quebec and the Maritimes), mid-train DPU's are now common on general freights. They started this in late 2006 / early 2007. It is not uncommon to see a 16,000 ton freight behind three units, either all up front or two plus a mid train DPU. Intermodals fare little better... typical to see 10,000 to 12,000 feet of intermodal with two units.

Remember, CN intermodal service and BNSF intermodal service are apples and oranges... can't really be compared. If BNSF ran their intermodals like CN, you'd have one or two Chicago - Californial trains a day, and they'd switch every terminal allong the way and carry a block of carload freight on the head end, too!

If a 10,000 ton CN train got more than two unit's, the crew might think they've died and gone to heaven! :-D

  by t.winks
Kinda weird how CN treats the intermodals, isn't it? Seems like the carload trains are of higher priority - they're the ones not picking up at every terminal on the way, at least not in Stevens Point WI where I live.

I had no idea they were running DPUs elsewhere around the continent. Is that line real challenging, the topography really hilly or something? I'm pretty sure they've never tried that here.

  by lock4244
No, the DPU's are running on lines that are not overly challenging to run. They are using the DPU's to combine trains and eliminate crew starts. Example, the Kingston Sub between Montreal and Toronto follows the St. Laurence River and Lake Ontario for it's entire journey. It is essentially a water level route. The problem is that the trains are HUGE! A 16,000 ton train has a tendancy to snap couplers if everything is not perfect (and it never is). I rememeber recently a 160 plus car, 16,000 gross ton westbound without a DPU that, when a slight brake application was made, broke couplers at the 47th car AND second from the tailend. There was a car with problematic brakes on it that was the likely culprit.

The DPU's are supposed to improve train handling. Likely benefit is having an air compressor mid-train on a -20 degree winter day. There are hogbacks on a portion of the line, and other places with undulating topography that cause issues. Everything on CN seems underpowered, so I'm pretty sure this isn't the reason. It goes like this. They can run longer trains using the DPU's, meaning fewer trains. Big $$$ savings.

This is a link to a shot I took of a DPU on the Kingston Sub east of Toronto. I think it's neat to see them mid-train... most roads tend to put them on the rear http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=188746

It's been my observation that everything on CN makes lifts and set-outs everywhere there is work to perform. Trains 148/149, the Chicago - Halifax intermodal pair not only work Montreal, Toronto and Durand (MI), but they often have a block of aluminum ingots lifted at Belleville, ON. This is to "expedite" them to Chicago... avoiding MacMillian yard near Toronto. Long distance intermodal locals.

I wouldn't say intermodal is treated as a lower priority that a general freight, but they don't get preferential treatment. Might explain why in the Chicago - Toronto - Montreal - Halifax corridor there is just one a pair a day each way. Pretty sad.

  by Hawko
Thanks for the info on the CN. DP is great when it works. When it does not, it is a royal pain. Not only does the engineer have to figure out what the problem is, he/she may have to walk over a mile each way just to check out that DP unit.