TT00002          NCL Locomotive Assignments and Crew Assignments





12/27/02 11:06

Jim Betz

  You say that the selected 'engine sets' ran for 16 days and then they got a 24-hour rest in Livingston.  My questions are (I tried to figure these out from your posts and couldn't be sure I had it right):  1) If an engine set was assigned to the NCL did it tend to stay     with the NCL passenger car set it was coupled to for the     entire 16 days?  Same with the Mainstreeter?  2) Did that 16 days represent 'two complete round trips across the      system'?  (Ie. Livingston to Seattle - to St. Paul - to Seattle      - to Livingston).  3) How many miles traveled were 'typical' for that 16 days?  4) Any idea how many 'crew sets' it probably saw in that 16 days?  5) Were the operational crew members and the passenger support     crew members 'swapped out' at the same locations?

12/28/02 11:07

Bill Kuebler

I'm replying to your post by use of a hotel computer in Brussels, so don't know if I'm doing this right. Will send a more complete answer after I get home two days from now. For now... In 1959, each 16 day cycle for a given set of diesel units included ALL the transcontinental passenger trains, plus some locals, such as 3, 4, 5, and 6, plus pool trains 407 and 408. On Day 2, the set arriving Seattle on train 25 went out later that day on train 408, then returned on 407, then two of the three (or four) units did a two-day turn on trains 5 & 6...etc. Trains on the east end of the system (25, 26, 1, 2, 3, and 4) were handled by this same set later in that 16-day cycle. Thus, locomotives were not assigned to one particular train-pair (e.g., 25, 26) for a cycle. These 16-day cycles were designed for maximizing locomotive utilization, and if you study the trains' schedules in effect at any given time, you'll see why it was smart to do it this way. If the NP had assigned a set to just one train-pair for 16 days, the units would be spending way too much time sitting around between runs, and the number of units needed for the pool would probably have been much higher. As locomotive assignments go, the NP's transcon passenger diesel pool arrangement was really well done. Average mileage per day in 1959, for example, was 613. Not bad. Will put out a sample cycle later, time permitting, so you can see just how it all fit together.

12/28/02 11:16

Bill Kuebler

Crew change points were several: there were 16 engine crews and 10 or 11 train crews involved in one trip of a transcontinental passenger train from St. Paul to Seattle, or the other way. The only engine change points associated with this transcon locomotive pool operation were St. Paul, Livingston, and Seattle, with Livingston being the base of locomotive operation. The transcon passenger units were assigned to the Rocky Mountain Divn., and were maintained there, but they operated system-wide. Will put out crew change points when I get home. I'm not even sure these replies are getting sent properly. Using a system that is quite weird.

12/30/02 7:30

Bill Kuebler

Question 1) [If an engine set was assigned to the NCL did it tend to stay with the NCL passenger car set it was coupled to for the entire 16 days?  Same with the Mainstreeter?]  No. Each 16-day cycle involved ALL the transcontinental passenger trains, plus pool trains 407-408, plus locals 3,4,5, and 6. See sample cycle below.  Question 2) [Did that 16 days represent 'two complete round trips across the system'?  (Ie. Livingston to Seattle - to St. Paul - to Seattle - to Livingston)].  It represented much more than that! Only two complete round trips across the system in 16 days would have been very poor utilization--although it is true that some roads managed only that kind of utilization of their passenger locomotives. NP's passenger locomotive pool scheduling was deemed to be one of the most efficient in the railroad industry at the time. The NP was lauded for it in some industry publications.  Question 3) [How many miles traveled were 'typical' for that 16 days?]  9,225 miles, or about 18,000 miles per month per unit.  Average was 613 miles per day per unit. That was an outstanding figure in the industry.  Here is how the 16-day cycle looked as of June 1959:Day 1 Lv Livingston Train 25, 12:33 pm Day 2 Arr Seattle Train 25, 7:30 am Day 2 Lv Seattle Train 408, 12:30 pm Day 2 Arr Portland Train 408, 4:30 pm Day 2 Lv Portland Train 407, 5:30 pm Day 2 Arr Seattle Train 407 9:30 pm Day 3 Lv Seattle Train 6, 8:25 am   (Note: Only two units, usually an A-B pair; the third unit stays in Seattle)Day 3 Arr Spokane Train 6, 6:50 pm Day 4 Lv Spokane Train 5, 7:25 am Day 4 Arr Seattle Train 5, 6:10 pm Day 4 Lv Seattle Train 2, 9:25 pm  (Note: the third unit that waited at Seattle joins the two that ran on trains 6and 5)Day 5 Arr Livingston Train 2, 10:48 pm Day 6 Lv Livingston Train 1, 7:25 am Day 7 Arr Seattle Train 1, 7:40 am Day 7 Lv Seattle Train 26, 1:30 pm Day 8 Arr Livingston Train 26, 10:56 am Day 8 Lv Livingston Train 2, 11:06 pm Day 9 Arr St. Paul Train 2, 10:15 pm Day 10 Lv St. Paul Train 1, 8:40 am Day 11 Arr Livingston Train 1, 7:00 am(Note: A diesel unit might be taken out of the cycle at this point, for major overhaul. The pattern usually went like this: If a cab unit off of train 26 was to be taken out of the set later this day, for major overhaul, then a cab unit off of Train 1 was usually taken out of the set here, replaced with one fresh out of overhaul, and the one taken off Train 1 became one of the units on train 26 later that day). Day 11 Lv Livingston Train 26, 11:06 am Day 12 Arr St. Paul Train 26, 6:40 am Day 12 Lv St. Paul Train 3, 9:30 pm (Note: Only two units, usually an A-B pair; the third unit stays in St. Paul)Day 13 Arr Mandan Train 3, 9:55 am Day 13 Lv Mandan Train 4, 4:40 pm Day 14 Arr St. Paul Train 4, 7:25 am Day 14 Lv St. Paul Train 25, 7:15 pm (the unit that stayed in St. Paul rejoins the set for this run)Day 15 Arr Livingston Train 25, 12:23 pm24-hour rest, inspection, and minor maintenance as required Day 16/1, the same set begins another, identical cycle on train 25, unless there is scheduled shopping of any of the units.  Total number of units required to fill this schedule was 45 units, assuming that all the sets where not indicated otherwise were three-unit sets. In June 1959, there were 52 units in the transcontinental pool. The seven extra units were either run with the regular sets, so as to create four-unit sets where desired, or they were undergoing overhaul etc. Scheduling was tight, to say the least. The total number of units in the pool increased slightly over the years, until 1964, when it leveled off and even decreased slightly toward the end of the NP era. The total number of trains using these units decreased over time. Trains 5 and 6 were discontinued in 1960, and trains 3 and 4 in October 1967. Passenger train schedule changed periodically, and trains 1 and 2 were finally given a "fast" schedule in 1968.The 16-day cycle was altered periodically over the years, and in some years involved a couple of freight trains on the west coast. Reasons for cycle-changes were: train schedule changes and train discontinuances (or additions, such as the Mainstreeter in 1952).Question 4) [Any idea how many 'crew sets' it probably saw in that 16 days?]  Many, and I don't have the time to figure it out, as that would be a complicated task! One trip of train 25 or 1across the system involved 16 engine crews and ten train crews. Eastbound trains 26 and 2 involved 16 engine crews and 9 train crews. The system of crew rotations had little to do with system-wide scheduling of trains, but had everything to do with district-wide (division or subdivision, whatever the relevant crew's district was) scheduling of those trains. Actually, crew rotations were based on whatever was accomplished at the negotiating table, at which the following interests were negotiated: For the crews, the interests were: pay, schedule, time off between trips, in some cases monthly mileage accumulation, and general work conditions caused by trip pairings. For the Company, the interests were essentially: productivity of crews and minimization of costs (those two interests were usually so directly related as to be one and the same thing)Obviously, the NP wanted to have as few engine and train crews as possible, and the crews wanted to have the best possible work conditions. In most cases, crews rotated in such as way as to work all the main line passenger trains that operated over their seniority districts, rather than be assigned to one specific train-pair--although there were instances were the most efficient scheduling on a district also happened to result in specific train-pair assignments (such as on the St. Paul Division). Again, you can almost predict what those crew rotations would be by carefully studying timetables for a given district, and figuring out what rotation would result in minimum number of crews assigned, minimum time at the away terminals, etc. Here are a couple examples. Again, these are from the late 1950s:At Dilworth, the rotations for engine crews was: First Trip: Out on No. 1, 7-hour layover, back on No. 26,then 26 hours off. Second Trip: Out on No. 3, 12-hour layover, back on No. 4,then 25 hours off. Third Trip: Out on No. 25, 13-hour layover, back on No. 2,then 21 hours off. Then this rotation was repeated. I believe this required five engine crews, but would have to go back and check. It might have been four, but five sounds more likely. The home terminal was Dilworth and the away terminal was Jamestown. Contrast this with the engine crew rotation at Dickinson, for example (same time frame). The home terminal was Dickinson and the away terminal was Glendive, 106 miles west. Here's what it looked like: First Trip: Out on No. 1, 6-hour layover, back on No. 2,then 21 hours off.  Second Trip: Out on No. 25, 11-hour layover, back on No. 26, then 24 hours off.  Then the rotation was repeated. This required three assigned engine crews. Trains 3 and 4 did not operate west of Mandan in the late 1950s, so fewer passenger engine crews were needed at Dickinson than were needed at Dilworth and other terminals east of Mandan.  Train crews had their own rotations, and they may or may not coincide with the engine crews' rotations. In fact, they seldom coincided. Here was the Fargo Division passenger train crew rotation in the same time frame. The home terminal was Fargo (and not Dilworth, surprisingly--and there was no compensating mileage agreement with the St. Paul Division, amazingly):First Trip: Out on No. 25, 12-hour layover at Mandan, back on No. 4; then 17 hours off.  Second Trip: Out on No. 1; 18-hour layover at Mandan, back on No. 2; then 12 hours off.  Third Trip: Out on No. 3; 11-hour layover at Mandan, back on No. 26; then 22 hours off.  Then the rotation was repeated. Thus, a train crew may not have the same engine crew from one trip to the next, or even from one train to the next on a given trip. All these crew rotations were completely independent of engine set assignments and transcontinental locomotive cycles. And, of course, different labor unions were involved with the different crafts in those years.  Question 5) [Were the operational crew members and the passenger support crew members 'swapped out' at the same locations?]  Not sure what you mean by "passenger support crew members".  Do you mean porters? They worked for Pullman (until 1969),not the NP, and were based in Chicago. They could work NP trains as well as other roads' trains. If you mean dining car personnel, they were based in St. Paul and worked transcontinental trains according to the dining car department's own schedules. Dining car crews were usually assigned to specific trains, such as 25-26 and 1-2. For trains 25-26, they worked a five-day trip: St. Paul-Chicago (24-hour layover) then Chicago-Seattle (6-hour layover), then Seattle-St. Paul. Then they had five days off, though the fifth day off was technically a half-day of work, during which time (all afternoon) they went to the commissary and prepared the diner off of that morning's train 26 for the next-day's trip out on 26. Coach attendants were NP personnel, and they worked for the dining car department and, on the train, answered to the dining car steward (as well as the conductor).  Stewardess-Nurses on trains 25 and 26 were based in Seattle. There were ten on-staff at any one time (albeit some quitting while some were being hired and trained so as to keep ten on staff) and these ten worked a six-days on, four days off, rotation: Out on 26 all the way to Chicago, then a 48-hour layover at the Palmer House (each Sue shared the same hotel room with the Sue who had come in the day before, so they overlapped), then out on 25 to Seattle, then four days off.  Bottom line: Everything the NP did was intended to maximize efficiency and utilization of personnel and equipment.  Well, there was one notable exception, for which I have never been given a full explanation. The passenger engine crews at Parkwater terminal, who worked passenger trains from Spokane to Paradise and back, came up with a steal from the company. They successfully negotiated a 26-25 and 2-1 trip pairing for crew assignments. Parkwater engine crews were permanently assigned to 26-25, and other Parkwater engine crews were permanently assigned to 2-1. The 26-25 pairing was nothing special, for it was all night work with a long daytime layover in Paradise--although crews who liked to go fishing all day in Paradise liked this job. The main reason for negotiating this rotation, however, was that it created the best engine service job on the entire NP (in the opinion of many), and that was the "east end 2-1" assignment, nicknamed by some crews "the golden chair."  Get this: Out at about 8 am on train 2, arrive Paradise about three hours later, followed by a three-hour layover, then out on train 1 and arrive Spokane in time for supper—and then THREE days off. That was a real gentleman's schedule, if ever there was one, and it paid reasonably well to boot, because of all the mileage. They reached their monthly mileage maximum right at the end of the month, too, so pay was maximized. This job was so good that it typically went to the three most senior passenger-qualified engine crews in the district. It was rare for the assigned engineer on trains 2 and 1 between Spokane and Paradise to be under 64 years of age, and he was often close to 70. That was a "retirement job"! What is so interesting is that this was a relatively inefficient set of trip rotations, for it required at least one, and arguably two, more engine crews than would have been required by the logical pairing of 26-1 and 2-25. (Study train schedules to see why this would have been more logical.) I don't know how the unions pulled this off, but I'm sure they had to give up something to get this. I think this rotation was negotiated right when the November 1952 schedules went into effect, so as to preserve the old 2-1 job that was in existence prior to November 1952 (back when train schedules made that rotation logical).Hope this clears up some questions. It probably raises a few.

12/30/02 13:56

Bill Kuebler

A question came up regarding steam generator use on passenger trains. I recall seeing a steam generator from time to time on trains 1 and 2, The Mainstreeter, in extremely cold weather, but I never saw a steam generator on trains 25 and 26 during the observation car era, which lasted until the spring of 1967. After the obs was dropped, a steam generator car did appear on trains 25 and 26, but only on rare occasions. Coupling a steam generator to the head end of the train would do little good for the rear cars--assuming that the locomotive units' steam generators were operable. If the steam generator car was needed to supplement the locomotives' steam generators, then it would have done the most good being coupled to the rear of the train--and rules prohibited coupling one behind the obs, except in emergencies.  GN's Empire Builder lost its obs back in 1960, and after that, during very cold weather it was not uncommon for a steam generator to be coupled at the rear of the Builder. More comments below:  ["baton580 " wrote: I do seem to recall a  few rare times when a steam heater would be on #26 at  Dickinson when  it had been extremely cold for several days.]  This was probably after the obs discontinuance in 1967, as your account above suggests. I doubt this sort of thing happened before that, except in emergencies when freight units were used on the head end.  

12/31/02 5:52

Bill Kuebler

Regarding that 16-day cycle for passenger locomotives... Slight correction to the above parenthetical note for Day 11's arrival of train 1 at Livingston. The note should read: "A diesel unit might be taken out of the cycle at this point, and replaced with one fresh out of overhaul, because a unit off of Train 25 arriving later that day was scheduled for major overhaul. The unit off of Train 1 on Day 11 joined the set that lost a unit to overhaul and thus went out on Train 25 the following day." The original note makes no sense, because all the units in on Train 1 Day 11 went out on 26 later that day anyway. Don't know what I was thinking... Sorry about any confusion. But then...maybe you've lost interest by now in all these details. 

12/31/02 10:30

Jim Betz

MY HATS OFF TO YOU – Bill!!      Quite the contrary - all of the details make it much more understandable than if you had just "netted it out" and said "the crew and locomotive assignments were unrelated, and the crew assignments - and changes - were different based on the  type of work that the crew did (operations, nurses, porters,  dining car, etc.)."   Although my 'net it out' statement is essentially correct - if you had only given me that ... I would have been able to quote it chapter and verse - but would not have had an appreciation for how complicated and fluid (for lack of a better word) the 'assignments' were.     And there were lots of surprises in what you said that I would not have gotten out of a 'net it out' statement.  Stuff like the fact that the locomotives on the passenger trains were swapped out several times in a single run.  Or that a set of locomotives might 'stay on the West end of the system' for a long time.  And that the 'face of the crew' (to the  riding public) would have been an ever-changing group - that  still maintained a shared 'level-of-service' throughout a long trip.   And lastly, your description of role of the union(s) role in all  of this makes a lot more of some of what I've heard over the  years jell into some kind of cohesive quantity.    This was a truly valuable set of posts and I appreciate - and value - the time you spent composing them.  Thanks!   - Jim (in rainy California) 

1/1/03 14:32

Chris Marshall

Bill,     I have been enjoying your posts on the Locomotive assignments in the passenger pool, they are great.     I have a question about the pool trains between Seattle and Portland (407/408).  I grew up in Seattle and all my grand parents lived in Portland so I periodically rode these trains, I think the first time when I was 4 or 5 in 1956.  Why three units on these trains?  I can understand keeping the consist together and cutting down on the switching but if they were pulling a unit out for the trains 5/6 to Spokane, why not the Portland trains?  Three units always seemed more than needed and the GN train always used two F's until the SDP-40s arrived and then it was a single SDP-40.  Turning the engines in Portland shouldn't have been an issue as the GN power was turned. 

1/1/03 15:13

Bill Kuebler

Most of the pics I've seen of 408 or 407 show at least ten cars, sometimes several more than that. Three units was standard for trains of eight or more cars. Right before the merger, trains 25 and 26 were running ten cars during the off season, and they had three units. I think trains 5 and 6 during the late-1950s had only two units and four to seven cars most of the time. When trains 1 and 2 had only seven cars in 1968-69, it usually had only two units. When train 5 collided head-on with the 5119 at Cheney on 8/15/55, No. 5 had eight cars and three units. So even trains 5 and 6 had three units at times, especially in the earlier years of the diesel era when those trains were longer. It looks as if eight cars seems to be the point where a third unit was typical.   Perhaps Jim Fredrickson can give more examples or shed some light on what the dispatchers were told regarding power for these trains. 

1/1/03 16:38

Bob Plaehn

I started to regularly see 1 and 2 during that time period and the consist was only six cars total.  If you consider I saw the trains at Dickinson and one of the cars was the Mandan-Glendive 'milk/cream' baggage on the rear, the thru consist was only five cars with two units.  Did 1 and 2 gain cars somewhere East of Dickinson?  As an aside, I actually preferred to ride #1 overnight between Dickinson and Missoula because you could buy Slumbercoach space and have about an 80% chance of a regular Pullman berth due to the regularly assigned Slumbercoach running as an extra car on 25-26 conveying recruits to military training at Ft. Lewis. 

1/1/03 16:43

Bill Kuebler

I doubt it. Yes, it was usually a five-car train, but quite often during the summer and Christmas seasons it was as long as seven cars. Referring here only to 1968 through merger, as it was considerably longer before that.

1/1/03 20:51

Jim Fredrickson

It was the one percent grade up Napavine Hill.  408 would often have 15 to 18 cars and had a brisk schedule which included a number of slow downs for corporate limits (KN-AU-SN-PY, etc.) which required getting back up to speed quickly. Wouldn't have been able to make running time with two units. My engine assignment filed is buried and when it comes to the surface I may have more input.

1/1/03 22:14

Alan Eisenberg

RE:  407/408    It was my understanding that the power for this train was a rotation from 25/26 from Livingstone West.   I can't remember where I read  this, I'm think NP Color Pictorial Volume One.   Perhaps Jim can enlighten us?