Re: Car travel

Malcolm Laughlin <mlaughlinnyc@...>

Russ, I read your response with great interest. There were many different practices, and I think we are closing in on the array of options which modelers can choose among for their own railroad. It has a lot to do with assupmtions made about management attitude and operating discipline. I’ll make a few comments on your comments.

Posted by: "Russ Strodtz"

> On the CB&Q all cars were supposed to move on individual waybills. There were pads of "Slip Bills" available for empty cars and there was only supposed to be one car on each slip bill.

The NYC was not so well organized in movement of empties as to always require a piece of paper. There were case in which that probably hurt efficiency and others in which it helped. It is my personal opinion, backed up by a boss with much more field experience than the little I had, that requiring waybills for general service cars woudlbe helpful in maintaining car distribution discipline. As we in system headquarters in the 60’s were pushing for better empty car control, one of the rules that we began to enforce was that an empty car must always have a destination. That was revolutionary ! We did it through the car reporting system and at the time of the apocalypse we were beginning to look at daily reports that could tell us when yards violated the destination for a car.

An example of a situation in which empty waybills would have been a waste of clerical time was the flow of empty hopper cars. Each yard had orders as to the number of cars to go to each mining area. The count was the key and it didn’t matter which cars, as long as they weren’t restricted marks like N&W and C&O.

> It was not considered acceptable to use the waybills of whatever form received from the connecting carrier. Only exception there would be tank cars or similar moves.

That was true for us for general service cars. But it was different for revenue waybill forms used for tank cars and special equipment. That covered all equipped box cars, covered hoppers, coil cars and others that were required to move on a “revenue form of waybill with out charges” as per AAR Car Service Directives..

I find your "System of Trust" rather interesting. I think we are talking about exactly the same thing. The foundation of that "Trust" was that if the GST's office put out instructions they would be followed. Isn't that the way it was on the NYC?

Quite right. As president Reagan said “trust, but verify”. We expected that people in the field would do their work following instructions. But we did have a field force of freight transportation inspectors who roamed around the railroad checking car handling procedures at yards. As we part of the management training program, we trainees spent three months traveling around with them. It was a great way to learn the railroad.

Training of Yard Clerks? Who did that? All the training I ever got was before I became an Employee. There was minimal on the job training. Most of such training was simply instructions on how things were done and
That was a big problem. It was in the late 60’s that the NYC began to hold classes for new yard clerks. We also had sessions to teach the clerks how that computer car reporting system worked. When I was Manager of Car Distribution Systems one of my activities was to go out to terminals and give a presentation on how the system worked. A group of clerks would be invited to come in to a nice conference room where I would make a view-graph presentation. Doing that was quite innovative at the time and it was very much appreciated by the yard clerks that the management was trying to give them an understanding of why it was important to do their work accurately.

>an emphasis that everything needed to be done the same way it was always done.

That is true, and it was a big problem as we worked to improve car distribution procedures. IT was especially true with old-time superintendents who had the attitude of “you can’t run a railroad with computers.” While that might have been literally true, it ignored the fact that you could run a railroad a lot better if you thought about how to use the information from computers.

I will acknowledge that the policy of retaining all foreign 40ft box car, (with a few special exceptions), gradually died off during the 60's. That is beyond the scope of this group. The reason it died off was that starting with the C&NW the Railroads finally "broke" the Grain Inspection track system.
Definitely outside my scope of knowledge.

As to cars from Canada the NYC had direct connections with both Canadian roads. The CB&Q did not.

That’s true, but laoding a Canadian car to a point in the US was just as much a customs violation for a road with no Canadian connections as for one that did connect.

You say you were involved in car distribution. Did you ever move empty cars away from points where they could be loaded? Sounds like that is what you are advocating.

Yes, but let’s not say I’m advocating it. It should be done when that will reduce car hire costs. I’ll give one typical example, made up because I don’t recall any specifics.

In western New York we unload more box cars than we unload so there is a surplus. At one place in that area, Buffalo, we need more cars for flour than we unload in Buffalo. Because most of the traffic from Buffalo moves east, we direct to Buffalo eastern marks unloaded in western NY, e.g. NYC, NH, B&M, BAR, PRR, CNJ, DLW, LV, SOU, ACL and SAL. We direct Buffalo to send all western marks home. So Buffalo will send cars out empty to get them off line and off per diem. At the same time they will receive enough eastern cars from other locations to cover their needs. We can save a lot of per diem that way.

This represents a revolution in car distribution practices, pioneered by the Southern Railway. That was a railroad with ferociaous operating discipline. They analyzed fows of box cars and issured flow control orders to all major yards in a manner to minimize total per diem charges while covering loading requirements. This was dirrerent from the old system where each local agent would try to keep enough cars to cover his loadings. It was using the information from the computer to optimize the system as a wholerather than having each local area doing its own sub-optimization..

Malcolm Laughlin, Editor 617-489-4383
New England Rail Shipper Directories
19 Holden Road, Belmont, MA 02478

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