• Working on a shortline

  • General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.
General discussion about working in the railroad industry. Industry employers are welcome to post openings here.

Moderator: thebigc

  by steam371
How do the rest of you shortliners like working for a shortline. Myself, I like being in my own bed every night! The only downside is hearing from the "Class 1" or "big railroaders" that we're not a real railroad. Anyone?

  by UPRR engineer
Hey steam buddy, you pointing a finger at me? just kidding. I dont look down at you buddy, who is that you work for? how long is your branch or line? is it just a daylight operation? what kinda power? you do you interchange with? im curios about the work you do. Railroads give up lines and plants to switch because there a pain in the ass, so im sure the work you guys do is rough duty, ive been there before, its tough.

I was the hog one afternoon when i was a third party switcher, showed up early to change and adjust the brake shoes on the units so i would be able to stop better. A local was picking up cars at the time, conductor walked over to me and said "you got to change your own brake shoes"? I dont know if he was looking down on me, or feeling sorry for me. Things are just so much different when your not part of the "big show".

I know shortlines are under the FRA, but third party switcher arent. So anyways i showed up to work one day and none of us (three guys) knew how to run the locomotive. Id been there the longest, three months or so, so i decided i was gonna be the hog. I was 18 then if that makes it more scary, i made some of the worst joints id ever seen. On those SW style units if ya slammed them good enough it would kill the engine. In 8hrs i spent more than an hour just restarting the power. Stuff like that doesnt happen on a class 1 RR.

Speed and tonnage is another difference, two loaded up double stacks passing each other both doing 70mph in a curve will make the hair on the back of your neck stand up sometimes, but a shortline crew spotting cars next to a bumper on a steep grade can be just as hairy. Two different things, two different worlds.

Tell us about your shortline tho buddy, id like to hear what you guys do up there.

  by UPRR engineer
Thanks for the info steam, looks like a nice piece of property to work on. I have kicked your lumber cars around, didnt look threw the website you gave me yet but im gonna soon. How fast do they let you zip around up there? From the pic on the site it looks like they take care of what they own alot better than i thought they would.

  by UPRR engineer
Guess i could have put it up for everyone to see, here it is. http://www.sryraillink.com/

  by UPRR engineer
Another question buddy, on those old SW style units, do they have the old dinosaur automatic brake valve still, non-self lapping?

  by steam371
Speed? Depends on track restriction, 5-30 mph. As far as self-lapping?, could'nt tell you. Not my department! Got to wait 5 years

  by UPRR engineer
Wish i knew the correct name for those old style air brakes, someone looking might know though. L26 or R23 something like that. Newer style automatic air brake go threw these settings starting at released, initial, service zone, full service, supression, handle off, and emergency. Running with the old style that was on the SW units i ran went starting from release, lap, service zone..... i dont even think they had supression, maybe they did though, handle off, then emergency. So on newer style brakes when you move from the release position to initial or all the way to full service nothing else is required to hold and maintain the air you have set (unless the pressure maintain feature is bad, then you move it into the PASS postion). On the older style you would come out of intial past the lap position into the service zone till you've drawn off the amount you want, then shove the hand back, into lap, or it would continue to suck the air out of the cars, crappy crappy set up. Even in lap it would blead off and set more air. We use to come off some scare hills with Hazmat cars at the plant. Keeping her at 10 was nearly impossible, you had two choices, tip toe off the top, let her rock and roll till you got close to the bottom and then use the air, or scream off the top with a couple pounds set hold her in the 8th run and you might make the bottom without having to kicker off. I had my share of rides in the cab and riding the last car. I had to do the moves up on the caustic hill that first time i got to play hoghead all by myself. So steam if you heard a hog complain about the air on those older SW locomotives you know what there talking about.

  by MikeF
The old brake valves to which you refer were type 24RL. No, they didn't have suppression. The positions, counter-clockwise, were release, running, lap, service and emergency. The handle could be removed in the lap position. The deadman feature was automatically suppressed when the brakes were fully applied (about 30 psi cylinder pressure).

The newer self-lapping valves are type 26L (or 26C on a lot of commuter cab cars and MU equipment).

  by UPRR engineer
Thanks buddy, knew i had it all wrong on the handle positions.

  by Shinky
I enjoy working for a short line. I've been working at one on the south side of Chicago now for about 12 years. My dad worked at the same railroad for over 40. We're one of the worlds busiest as a matter of fact.

I have gone on road type runs before. In fact, I used to do that quite often when I was an engineer. I've gone on coal train runs to Proviso yard before, high speed, tons of tons. It is pretty exciting.

But to me, nothing compares with kicking cars and dropping cars. Old school style. And as mentioned before in this thread, nothing beats being at home every night. And another great aspect of where I work? I make just as much as the "road toads" (no offense gang! :-D )

I also like working with different people everynight, and not being stuck on a 30 day mark up. Yikes, I think about having to work with some of the people at my railroad for 30 days straight and I get hives.

  by Shinky
As far as the brake valves are concerned?

When I first started out at my work, and through some of my engineering days, we had 6BL non self lapping brake valves. MAN, I hated those things. Yes, they were really old engines!

Damn. My memory is really garbage lately. I am pretty sure that's what those old brake valves were called. Sheesh....

  by wess
I just finished my first year on a shortline and can say it is hard, unforgiving work, but I,ve also been able to find it fun still. It is a small challenge to find yourself adjusting the brakeshoes on a GP-30 when all you had done before that was work on the track, or still getting familiar with track inspecting. The only thing I have found surprising is the amount of folks who come looking for work, and they last 2 days, a week maybe just a little bit longer, then they're gone. Not very many people are willing to put in that kind of time and labor commitment. One thing is, you definitely can tell the men from the boys after one season
  by ADBF1752
I worked on Class I and now work on a shortline. Difference is night and day and the shortline is so much better. Easy laid back kind of operation without all the management hassles for the Class I. Monday - Friday daytime job with occasional Saturday night dinner train. Very happy doing it this way.

  by ShortLiner
Plus on a shortline we can do all the classic railroading moves that the guys on the class 1's would get in big trouble for. The company i work for has an interchange with Uncle Pete and we usually hear things like, "you guys get away with murder". they have more power but we have more fun.
  by SanDiegoYard14
I'm seriously considering making a move from the big bad class I to the shortline gig. Working for BNSF here in San Diego is a drag. And the idea of working with different people everyday would be a great breath of fresh air. The shortline I'm considering is the San Joaquin Valley Railroad in central CA.