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ParanoidAndroid

What happens if an engineer or conductor sleeps in?

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What if, for an early morning shift (say NE Regional 190 or Pacific Surfliner 759), one of the key employees like the engineer sleeps in and doesn't show up on time? I'd doubt there's just an idle engineer sitting around the station at 3 or 4am, and I don't know what else they'd do.

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As a former crew dispatcher ( not for Amtrak ) I dealt with stuff like this often. I worked for a commuter line, when numerous other crews were likely in duty. I would pull somebody off another assignment. Or perhaps call an engineer who I knew lived nearby. If necessary, sometimes a road foreman who might be handy would run the train for part of the assignment. What was to be avoided was to delay the train. I have a funny story about me having messed up one morning , but that is a take for another time.

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Had that happen on my early morning LA area commuter train (first train of the day).

Needless to say, the train was late. I drove to work.

I learned later that the engineer had overslept.

Edited by FrensicPic
Added last sentence.

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They do keep spare crews sitting around, several crew bases even keep a few OBS attendants to "protect" the trains.

I can't speak for the Surfliner, but using the example of 190, it's actually a NYP crew that is napping in the crew base. They start working again approximately 45 minutes before departure, and if the clerk didn't see them, she'd go looking.

In the Surfliner example, there may also be another crew around layover over in the crew base, or who is just coming inbound, and as greatcats said they may be requested to go in place of the scheduled crew.

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They may use a yard crew if there is one on duty. 
Didn't even think of that.


This morning something happened to our engineer in Vancouver, so they called the engineer for the crew that had just came up a few hours prior to our scheduled departure, and asked him to come take us.

The world moves on. It's the railroad. It's happened before!

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In the airline industry there is a ready reserve which if I remember right are at the airport in case a flight needs someone. And it doesn't surprise me major terminals like Chicago, or New York would have one with Amtrak.

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There's a world of difference between qualified airline pilots and copilots 'in reserve' and qualified railroad crews 'in reserve'.

First and foremost, the pilot has to be qualified to fly that particular model aircraft.  I once sat beside a uniformed Northwest Airlines pilot that had a Boeing  727 manual he was busily studying.  He told me that all pilots get tested every 6 months on every type of aircraft they are qualified to fly and his test for the 727 was the next day.  In other words, a 727 pilot is NOT automatically qualified to fly a 757.  I don't think pilots have to be 'qualified' to fly into an airport they've never flown into previously.   But there are airports, such as WAS (DCA?) (aka Reagan Airport) that I certainly would not want a pilot unfamiliar with that airport flying ME into the place!

On the other hand, an engineer must be qualified to run on the route before being allowed to do so.  An engineer at NYP, for example, might be qualified to take any non-Acela train to WAS or BOS.  But if he/she has never 'qualified' on the route to ALB, they cannot take the engineers' seat!  Qualification on each route entails learning the characteristics 'first hand' including speed limits, permanent speed restrictions, stations, grade crossings, signals, hills, valleys, etc.  

Federal law also specifies the length of rest periods between working for both airline flight deck crew as well as RR operating crew.  We've all read accounts on this forum as well as others about the lack of 'rested' crews causing delays.  From various threads I've read, the crew for the Cardinal departing CHI was often not sufficiently rested to take the train to IND.  Reason?  There is/was no 'spare' crew in CHI that was both qualified and rested to take the train out!  The end result?  Departure is delayed until someone meeting both qualifications is available (or scheduled) to take the train! 

 

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Brat kind on - I concur with your information. Earlier this year I was on the Cardinal from Washington to Chicago. We were on time until the private car on the rear derailed as we stopped in Indianapolis, which delayed us about two hours, then we were further delayed by freights, arriving Chicago four and a half hours late. It used to the crews were setup to make the round trip from Indianapolis to Chicago in one day. This would work if matters went close to schedule. But because of so many delays and revered it was changed a while ago so that the crew overnights in Chicago.

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I believe that derailment was caused by track which could have been any car in the station. The car in question was Blunt End Observation Frank Thomas ex Pennsy.

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On 11/17/2018 at 8:29 PM, bratkinson said:

There's a world of difference between qualified airline pilots and copilots 'in reserve' and qualified railroad crews 'in reserve'.

First and foremost, the pilot has to be qualified to fly that particular model aircraft.  I once sat beside a uniformed Northwest Airlines pilot that had a Boeing  727 manual he was busily studying.  He told me that all pilots get tested every 6 months on every type of aircraft they are qualified to fly and his test for the 727 was the next day.  In other words, a 727 pilot is NOT automatically qualified to fly a 757.  I don't think pilots have to be 'qualified' to fly into an airport they've never flown into previously.   But there are airports, such as WAS (DCA?) (aka Reagan Airport) that I certainly would not want a pilot unfamiliar with that airport flying ME into the place!

On the other hand, an engineer must be qualified to run on the route before being allowed to do so.  An engineer at NYP, for example, might be qualified to take any non-Acela train to WAS or BOS.  But if he/she has never 'qualified' on the route to ALB, they cannot take the engineers' seat!  Qualification on each route entails learning the characteristics 'first hand' including speed limits, permanent speed restrictions, stations, grade crossings, signals, hills, valleys, etc. 

 

While you are correct about engineers being qualified on the route, they also MUST be qualified on the equipment. Using your example above, an engineer may be qualified to take a non acela train to WAS or BOS, but if they aren't qualified on the Acela, they would not be allowed to operate it without a pilot despite their route qualification.

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