One Train

Friday, June 10



I decided to run up to Short Line Junction this morning and see if there were yet any evidence that a new crossover was being constructed between the Fort Dodge and Mason City lines. On the way up to Des Moines I heard some discussion of track work (elsewhere, there was no crossover yet) and the dispatcher said that there was a southbound, with a crew called at 5:45, and a couple of northbounds coming.  After a short time looking around the yard and diamond, I saw a southbound pull at Easton Ave. and come down the mainline toward the diamond.  The train, symboled M-CPFW, came by me at 8:50 with UP 7347 and 7323.  Since not much else was moving at this time, I decided to follow this train south and possibly catch its meet with a northbound or two.

As I drove south I heard the train on the radio passing through a Form B around mile posts 66 and 69.  They got to Carlisle at 9:22.  After watching the head end come to the grade crossing and roll around the curve, I jumped on Hwy. 5 and followed them up the hill out of the Middle River valley.

The train slowed considerably on the hill.  I could hear a conversation between the engineer and conductor regarding problems with the second unit.  They decided to stop their train as soon as it was off of the detector at MP 61.6.  The detector reported the train length at 338 axles, equivalent to 81 1/2 cars, but I'd noticed a few articulated autoracks in the consist.

10:04 - The train stopped just south of the Hwy. 5 bridge.  The crew called the dispatcher and the "diesel doc" while experimenting with disconnecting the M.U. cable and going through some of the diagnostics on the computer screens.  I got fuel and used the facilities at a convenience store in Hartford.

10:32 - The "diesel doc" replies and leads the crew through numerous attempts to get 7323 to load.  The corridor manager calls the first northbound, NS 8826, and tells them that a van called to meet them at Beech at 10:15 will be rerouted to Williamson and they are to take the siding there.

10:57 - Just to kill some time while waiting for a decision on the CPFW's fate, I drive to Williamson and check out the opposing M-NLDM, led by NS 8826 and CSX 4737.  On the radio, the locomotive support guy says he will contact GE to see if they can suggest anything else.

11:00 - The van called for the NLDM reports that it is at Beech and heading for Williamson.  I meet them at 11:15, north of Melcher-Dallas, as I return north from Williamson.  I decide to go back to the acreage for a quick lunch, keeping an ear on the CPFW's situation.  Among the options being considered are shoving the train to Beech with the power off of the next southbound, having the MIC come out from Des Moines to work on the second unit, or doubling the train to the siding at Beech.  The MIC is not available, so "UP Larson" comes out to the bridge at Hartford instead.

11:25 - The corridor manager calls the CPFW and asks, "What are you doing up there?"  She says, "I have six north coming against you."  A decision is made to cut the train and double it to Beech.

12:02 -   By this time I was back on Hwy. 5 just east of Hartford.  I hear, "Cut's made, go to Beech", and reverse course, taking S-31 south to Beech.

12:17 - UP 4347 approaches Beech with the first 40 cars of its train and the conductor riding the rear of the cut.  They roll into the siding with more cars than will fit north of the grade crossing, so...

12:33 - The conductor walks up from the rear, cuts the first cut and gets aboard the head end.

12:43 - The power comes to the south end of the Beech siding and rings the dispatcher.

12:55 - A warrant with an Item 4 (work between) is obtained for a mile south of the siding switch, enough room to bring the second cut south and shove it back into the siding.  7347 pulls onto the main, the switch is thrown, and at 1:00 they start northward to get the rest of their train.

1:15 - Authority to pass the red signal at the north end of Beech (CP U053), needed because the remainder of the train is on the main in CTC, is obtained from the Trenton dispatcher.  UP 7323 leads the power out of Beech.

1:34 - Having taken the gravel up from Sandyville this time, I intercept the northbound units at a grade crossing west of Hartford as they near the highway bridge.

1:49 - With the second cut coupled, 7347 starts south again.  By this time there are three northbounds stopped at Williamson, the NLDM in the siding, a KSCP on the main led by UP 2196, and another (7313?) waiting south of the siding.

2:05 - Back at Beech, 7347 stops by the first cut to drop off the conductor, who then gets on the rear of the second cut.

2:12 - The train pulls south, with the conductor riding the rear of the cut.

2:16 - The switch is thrown and the second half of the train is shoved back into the siding toward the cut sitting south of the grade crossing.

2:20 - The head end passes through the switch, into the clear and north to the standing cars.

2:26 - UP 7347 pulls back south and ties down, the south switch is lined for the main, and the dispatcher is called so the "work between" warrant south of the siding can be cleared.

2:43 - After quite a bit of discussion on the radio redirecting it back from Indianola toward Beech, the crew van arrives to fetch the CPFW's crew.  Assuming they were the crew I heard called at Des Moines earlier, they'd now been on duty for nine of their allowed twelve hours.  Their train had moved about 20 miles.

The crew that was to be put on the NLDM was moved over to the KSCP at Williamson and at 3:08 the first of what was to be a long parade of waiting northbounds reached the south end of Beech.  On the point were UP 2196 and 3696.  I watched them as they passed the CPFW and then headed for home.

On the radio, I heard warrants given to UP 7313 at milepost 44, UP 2208 at milepost 33 and NS 8826 at Williamson.  A southbounder, UP 7372, was told that it would wait at Carlisle for four trains.

That's It!