Jul 6, 2023
"Oh, you want that train to go from Chicago to London? We can do that!"
The only bummer is that the westernmost track is pretty much hidden behind the building edge. If they could just get the camera out over the edge a bit...
CSX, in the final 26 years of may career when I was an Asst. Chief Dispatcher, endeavored to get 'regular' Train Dispatchers out on Road Review of their territories from time to time. There was no set period of time between Road Review episodes; there are 'normally' not big changes in the characteristics of a territory over time. Road Review did happen more frequently when the offices were decentralized between 2008 and 2017 as Dispatchers didn't have to travel as far from their headquarters to do the Review.
Extra Train Dispatcher were normally not offered the opportunity of Road Review. Extra Dispatcher's learn new territories by training on a territory with the existing Train Dispatcher for that trick on that territory. Extra Train Dispatchers must become 'knowledgeable' on the operation of a territory for each trick and each day of the week. New Extra Train Dispatchers that completed CSX's Dispatcher Training Program that dealt mostly with application of the Book of Rules to dispatching as well as learning how to properly manipulate the CSX CADS (Computer Aided Dispatching System) computer application. At the time I retired, a New Extra Train Dispatcher was required to become 'qualified' on two of the seven desks in our office before they could work a desk on their own. After being qualified on those two desks, on days they weren't actually working on those desks they would be assigned to a third desk to learn. If they get qualified on the third desk they will train on a fourth desk when not working one if the three desks they are qualified on. Part of the OJT on each desk is learning the 'quirks' such as the things you mentioned in your second sentence.
When I earned my Train Dispatcher's Seniority in 1970, all my 'Road Review' was done by actually riding trains, both passenger and freight. This was done on 'my own time' as a part of the qualification routine that was in effect on the B&O at the time I qualified. In the 21st Century riding trains is far down on the hierarchy of options to review territory - for the most part 21st Century Road Review is done by Hi-Rail riding with the Roadmaster's of the various territories. The theory being that the Dispatcher can view more territory in less time by hi-rail versus train, as trains can go on Hours Of Service from time to time and spend time in sidings or being held out of yards. My personal feelings are the hi-rail is not the way to go, however, I wasn't in a position to call the shots.
CSX hired a weather service to monitor conditions systemwide and notify appropriate personnel in anticipation of bad weather, be that weather be wet, wind, heat or cold. MofW Officials will instruct Chief Dispatchers to issue Train Messages on the territories affected when necessary.
With CADS being in effect on ALL Territories, the Train Dispatchers 'vision' is centered upon the display screens in CADS for their territories, both signaled and dark, as the CADS screens display Train ID's and all Track Occupancy Authorities on the Dispatcher's territory.
Train Dispatcher's have a communication display screen that operate the telephone lines and radio transmitters that apply to the territory. That is normally two phone lines and up to a dozen or more radio transmitters with access to at least two and sometimes three radio channels. The Road Channel, a Dispatchers Channel, a MofW Channel. CSX Rules require trains and holders of track occupancy authorities to announce signals and/or block occupancy over the road channel. When necessary, Dispatchers will contact a train on the Road Channel and instruct them to go to the Dispatcher Channel so their conversation can take place without being 'walked over' by other transmission taking place on the Road Channel.
Hmm, the north and south views aren't down. They work on YouTube, just not from here, for me anyway.
Thank you for outlining the qualification process. A challenging line of work, no doubt. Dispatchers are union positions, right?
Yes, that's great information. Thanks. Sounds complex.
On CSX they are represented by ATDA (American Train Dispatchers Association)
On UP they are non-contract employees.
I think BNSF and the other Class 1's all have contract Dispatchers, but I won't state so categorically.
I also accidentally "discovered" this:
I wonder if the guy who shot that footage had to get approval. Not too many years ago, Metra received unwanted national attention in the rail press for accosting fans on suburban platforms. Metra produced some carefully crafted rhetoric as a defense, but soon backed down in their overzealous enforcement.
Was that during the lingering paranoia after 9/11? Probably justified paranoia, I might add.
I imagine, even under normal circumstances being right down there among the trains, he had to get permission.
Yes, it was post-911, but well past it I think. The thing was that the Metra Police responded as if they'd never heard of railfans or people taking train pictures. A few of the platforms extend way out from the terminal building to handle extra long trains those are where he probably set up. These are excellent and are where I stood when I took my pictures in the '70s. I wish I'd had the notion to turn and shoot a few pictures looking back at the terminal.
I did get some of the trains under the train shed though and they are some of my favorites, thankfully captured in black and white, not because it was my preference, but because it was all I could afford at the time. Black and white excels in this sort of light in an artful way that color can't match.
Your pictures of the E and F units in the old sheds are terrific!
I had the same issue when I received my Imperial Satellite 127 camera in 1962. I could also only afford black and white film. It wasn't until a couple of years later I finally got some color film. I know I eventually did because I have a picture of the Twins playing the Yankees when we went to a game at the old Met Stadium in 1964 and it's in color.
Thank you Doug. Another one, the 510. She's an E-8, former UP 942.
Sometimes I see a train with what looks like a bi-level of the kind that I remember from 40+ years ago such as this one. The C&NW and CRI&P had flat sided cars and this sure looks like one. The refitting of an upper and lower level window as seen here would make sense, given new regulations on access in case of a crash. How neat that some of these survive in Metra service. A bunch have gone to museums to haul tourists.
I've noticed some of those, too and they are neat-looking. I have also seen cars with blue tops and even mostly blue with a strip of silver? down the sides. Do you know what those are? Also some silver Metra cars with a full-length blue strip down the side instead of just the short blue"placard" with "Metra" on them. And there's the one with a promotion for, I believe, a sports event? I thought it was graffiti, at first, but I finally saw it was a commercial endeavor.
Chicago's economy remains in a messy state following Covid, office closures, high taxation, etc. and a seemingly pro-crime Mayor who was recently given the boot. I had family there and all have recently packed up and moved to other states, along with many thousands of others. Metra's ridership has been seriously dented, with weekday ridership at only 52% of what it was in 2019. Metra and other transit agencies will face a $730 Million shortfall when Federal subsidies run dry.
I found out the "It's Game On" cars are just to promote taking Metra to games in the city.
Speaking of sports, the Chicago Bears are likely to join the exodus from Chicago with a move to the suburbs. Metra will likely retain some game ridership no matter where the Bears choose. Arlington Heights is a top contender, located on the C&NW's line running northwest from the city. The land housed a popular horse race track when I lived in the area and the C&NW had a stop just for it alone. The Bears bought the property and are proceeding with demolition of it, but they're now at odds over its tax assessment. It's sad to think that venerable Soldier Field might be empty in a few seasons.
Never attended any Bears games. Did go to the College All Star game in 1959 when the All Stars played the NFL Champion Baltimore Colts - winners of the 1958 Championship in 'the greatest game ever played' against the NY Giants. Also attended a White Sox game at Commisky Park in the 1959-60 era.