A day in the life of a "paper railroader" UPDATED 3/17

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A day in the life of a "paper railroader" UPDATED 3/17

Unread postby SD80MAC » Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:09 pm

The call comes in at 0600 sharp. You are called for Pere Marquettes Grand Rapids-Durand freight, the GRDR and will be on duty by 0800. After a quick breakfast and a read of the morning paper you hop in your car and head down to PM's Grand Rapids yard. Upon entering the yard office your conductor greets you, a good friend whom you've worked with for years. As he goes over GRDR's paperwork, you make your way to the engine house to get your power. The hostler has PM SD50-2 #3014, SD40-2 #3007 and SD40-3 #3029 waiting for you. After inspecting all 3 of the engines, you pull the throttle of #3014 to notch 1 and make your way down the house lead.
Your conductor's voice crackles over the radio as he mounts the rear unit tells you the train is in track 4. As you back down to track 4, you pass the GR yard switcher, the GRY, toiling away with a big cut of tank cars for Dow in up in Ludington behind PM's newest power, a pair of NRE 3GS21B-DE's. The new NRE's are being tested in yard service before being sent out on road switching jobs. The conductor lines you into 4 track, and you back in next to a loaded coal train that had come in the night before, with a trio of SD70ACe's. "3 cars... 2 cars... 1 car... half...that'll do on the 3014" your conductor says, "3 step". You apply 3 step protection and wait for him to hook up the air hoses, then begin to pump up the air. Soon the car department comes over the radio "You've got a good set on the rear, GRDR. EOT's in place, have a good trip". Your conductor enters the cab and takes his seat, calls the dispatcher and informs them that you're about to go. Time to get moving.
The conductor turns to you and informs you that you've got a monster of a train today, 119 cars. Even with 3 units, it is doubtful you will make the hill out of town. You call the GR Yard master and ask if they have a helper lined up. "Roger, GRDR, X4002 is heading to your rear right now". Help arrives in the form of leased Marquette, Ontanagon & Western SD70 #4002. The big 4,000 HP EMD's are leased from the MO&W every winter to help with the winter coal and grain rush, and they also made excellent helpers. "X4002 here, GRDR. We're all hooked up back here and ready to go." You inform them you'll let them know when to start shoving. The signal ahead flashes from red to yellow, and you notch up your engines. Turbo charged 645's wind-up as the train slowly begins moving forward. As you pass by the engine house, you see the crew of the LGRIO is waiting for you to clear up so they can move their power, GP38-2 #2007 and GP40M-3 #3054, into the yard to assemble their train. You might meet them later today on your trip back west depending on how much work they have.
You reach for the horn valve and blast the required long long short long from 3014's melodious K5LA for the 2 grade crossings between the yard and the CSX. The signal for the CSX shows a diverging clear, so you notch up some more. The train grinds around the wye at Sunnyside and soon you're rolling past the Amtrak depot and across the bridge over the Grand River, back on PM tracks. 15 mph is all you're aloud until you reach Fuller, so you hold the engines in notch 4 while you grind past the GVSU Pew Campus. Several grade cossings later, you're rounding the wye at Fuller and are onto the Grand Rapids shove. You grab the radio and tell X4002 to start shoving.
Your 3 units are howling in notch 8 to muscle the 119 cars up the 1.3% grade out of the Grand River valley. Your speed is at a steady 14 mph, a bit below the max of 25, but atleast you're moving. You yank on the horn for the many grade crossings ahead as you approach Spaulding siding. The siding was put in by PM a number of years ago and stretches from about a 1/4 mile east of Plymouth Ave. to Spaulding Ave. for a total of a little over 2 miles. A westbound coal empty is in the siding at West Spaulding behind an SD70ACe and an SD60. The PM dispatcher no doubt routed the coal train into the siding so you wouldn't have to stop and risk stalling out. Your 3 engines roar past the idling 710's on the coal train. "PM 3014 east, clear east end Spaulding, GRDR08 out" Your conductor calls out a signal. Soon the battle with the hill is won and you can finally begin notching down, telling X4002 to do the same. Soon you reach the siding at Ada, which isn't really long enough to meet trains, it's normally used for LGRIO to duck and cover while switching Amway and for cutting off helpers. You slow the train and inform X4002 they can cut off when ready. PM trains usually cut off helpers on the fly to avoid stopping and wasting fuel starting back up. "X4002 to GRDR, we're looses back here. Have a good trip." You tell them to do the same and throttle back up. X4002 will return light to GR and might push that loaded coal train back in the yard out of town later on.
East of Ada, track speed rises to 50 mph. You've got the train rolling along nicely and flip a wave to some swimming kids as you rumble across the Thornapple River. Up ahead a car darts across a crossing as the gates go down and you blast the horn. Idiots, you think, but you know it's nothing new. You take a look back at your train as you roll along at 48 mph and everything looks good. "PM 3014 east, entering Lowell yard limits, GRDR08 out". You slow the train to 30 mph as you roll into Lowell. Up ahead you spot Flat River Railway GP9 #2 siting on the interchange track. It's going to Owosso for work, and needs to be picked up by your train and set out there. You bring the train to halt and the conductor walks back to uncouple the power. You'll be cutting in the GP9 behind #3029. After backing down and grabbing the GP9, you reattach to your train and pump up the air. You atleast want to make it to St. Johns or Owosso before you meet the morning trailer train.
With two toots on the K5LA you're on your way again, the 3 6 axle EMD's screaming in notch 8 as you accelerate back up to track speed. Motorists stop in their tracks as you blast across M-21 east of Lowell. Up ahead you spot a railfan, tripod and all, lining up his shot. You throttle up a bit more and the 3 units belch exhaust, the railfan gives you a thumbs up and you do the same. Soon you're rolling through Ionia, raising hell with 3014's horn as you blow for several crossings. The dispatcher calls your train, you're going to be meeting westbound KTLMN, the lime train for Manistee, at the siding at Pewamo. You slow your train with the dynamic brakes and roll into the siding at 10 mph, a chirp from your EOT tells you you're in the clear. A headlight appears in the distance.

To be continued...
Last edited by SD80MAC on Tue Mar 17, 2009 10:57 am, edited 2 times in total.
"Remember, 4 mph is a couple, 5's a collision!"
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Re: A day in the life of a "paper railroader"

Unread postby AARR » Sun Mar 08, 2009 2:15 pm

Will be waiting for the rest :)
PatC created a monster, 'cause nobody wants to see Don Simon no more they want AARR I'm chopped liver, well if you want AARR this is what I'll give ya, bad humor mixed with irrelevant info that'll make you roll your eyes quicker than a ~Z~ banhammer...
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