Denny D’s Did You Know

Denny D’s Did You Know


Changing Directions Within a Control Point


6.4.2 - Movements Within Control Points or Interlockings


A: Control Points Outside Manual Interlockings


Except within track and time limits, if movement stops while the trailing end is between the outer opposing signals of a control point, the movement must not change directions without permission from the control operator. However, after a job briefing has been conducted and the control operator has a clear understanding of all movements to be made and tracks to be used, the control operator may grant permission for all movements.




Quite often I hear crews asking for permission to change directions while in a control point when it is not necessary. Thinking of the potential delays caused by this, I also worry about crews not asking for permission when it is required. Understanding proper application of GCOR 6.4.2 is crucial for a couple of reasons. Most importantly, knowing when permission is needed is critical to avoiding a potential main track authority violation and a possible incident. Also, knowing when permission is not needed eliminates unnecessary delays. Understanding this rule depends upon knowing of a couple of terms found within this rule, change directions and trailing end.


Change Directions


When the term change directions is used in this rule, it simply means a reverse move. This rule is the second part of GCOR 6.4 - Reverse Movements. A reverse move is defined in the GCOR Glossary as movement in opposite the authorized direction. This could be whether you are shoving or pulling. In a control point, your authorized direction is determined by signal indication or verbal authority from the control operator. In CTC, this also determines your authorized direction into the block beyond that control point.


Trailing End


The other term for understanding proper application of this rule is trailing end. You trailing end is determined by your authorized direction. If you are pulling, this would be the very last car. If you are shoving, this would be your locomotive. However, it is important to remember that your trailing end is not determined by pulling or shoving. It is determined by your authorized direction. Also, it is important to remember that your trailing end and authorized direction does not change simply by changing the direction you are moving. It is always determined by the direction you are signaled or verbally authorized.


With these two terms clarified, it now becomes simple to remember when permission to change directions in a control point is needed and when it is not. 


To help clarify, here are couple of examples. Before moving, think to yourself, “what is my authorized direction and what constitutes my trailing end”. In the examples, when you see the term, between the outer opposing signal of the control point, this simply means the entering signals at both ends of the control point. You may also hear the term OS used, this is basically the same thing.


Permission Needed


For the first example we will use North Dupo, CP D004. In this example you are given a signal to shove south into the yard onto the Seldom Used Lead to switch a cut of cars at the intermodal ramp. As you come to a stop after shoving, the locomotive is between the outer opposing signals (in the OS). Before you can change directions you must get permission from the dispatcher. 




You were signaled southbound into the yard at the control point, so that is your authorized direction. Also, your trailing end, the very north piece of equipment, which in this case is your locomotive, stopped between the outer opposing signals. In this example, the dispatcher can give a train a signal at Parks CP D002 to come south down to CP D004 while your engine is still in the control point. Think of what could happen if you were to pull forward back into the block. Another point to remember is had your locomotive stopped while in block the ahead of the control point between Parks and North Dupo you would not need permission. This would be a reverse move in the block accordance with GCOR 6.4.1. However, if you were going to leave northbound from this location, you would need permission to depart ahead of the signal.


Permission Not Needed


In the next example we will again use North Dupo, CP D004. This time you are in the intermodal yard switching and the dispatcher gives you a signal to poke north out of the yard off of the Seldom Used Lead. You pull into the control point and into the block between CP D004 and CP D002. When you stop, the cut of cars you are attached to are still in the yard. The crew shoves you back to make a cut and your locomotive stops in the control point between the outer opposing signals (in the OS). In this example you do not need permission to change directions. 


Why Not? 


The signal to poke north determined your authorized direction in the control point and also into the block between North Dupo and Parks. Even though you were shoving south, the locomotive was not your trailing end and your authorized direction for that control point and that block did not change just because you changed directions. In this example, even though your engine stopped between the outer opposing signals of the control point, you did not give up the block. Your authorized direction did not change. Your trailing end is still the very south piece of equipment, the cars, which are back in the yard, this does not change whether you are pulling or shoving. If you pulled completely out of the yard and received a signal to shove back into the yard, then you would need permission as with the first example. It all hinges on your original authorized direction given to you by the signal or verbally..


Additional Information 


If you get behind the signal, obviously you need another signal to go back into the control point. It is also important to know where your wheels are at if your engine is right at the signal when you stop. It may appear as though you are still in the OS because the front of your engine is beyond the signal, but your leading wheels may be just behind the insulated joint. You could actually pull past a stop signal not realizing that you had. It is important to always stay focused.


If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.  

Dennis Dunn: (314) 609-2164 / [email protected]

GXB Issues we are working on.

"FD" Issue, for the record any extra board employee that is marked up the entire half is allowed to take one 24 hour non compensated day off with only the loss of the bonus day. I know, in the past they have taken the bonus day along with an additional day of guarantee. If you took an LP or LS, as long as the period falls into the provisions of not first out at the time of layoff and the layoff does not exceed 24 hours and is between 12:01 AM Monday and concluded by 11:59 PM Thursday.  THIS IS NOT CORRECT. If this happens let me know, I can get your day paid back to you. This has been an on going issue for a long time, I was able to get Labor Relations to understand our position and the agreement on this issue. 
FD is a status that CMS created, it means nothing to the agreement, there is also nothing within the agreement that says due to manpower restrictions. Therefor this layoff can not be denied. With all of that said we are working to get FD status on the web site to be able to layoff and it wont be able to be denied unless its outside of the provision above. Stay Tuned.... 
Rotation at 12:01, Those who have been involved with the system rotating the wrong person at noon are well aware of this issue, We have LR looking into this and hopefully getting the system fixed. For clarification the first out person in OK Status at 12:01 rotates 

CSX - Roselake


    It has come to my attention that the new "van policy" at rose lake, is to drop the crews off at the tower, the CSX yardmaster will arrange a ride for us with their yard shuttle. 
   It has also been made aware to me that there have been a few cases where the UP crews have been instructed to go east of HN cabin to Black Lane / Exermont or farther. If you are instructed to do this make sure you are qualified, if not request a pilot, also this constitutes a claim for running off seniority district. 
Any issues getting this paid let me know. 

Senate companion bill to HR1748 Safe Freight Act

Two-person crew bill introduced in United States Senate

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, June 27 — A two-person crew bill was introduced in the United States Senate on June 26. The Safe Freight Act, a companion bill to H.R. 1748 in the U.S. House of Representatives, would promote rail safety by mandating at least two-person crews on all freight trains in the United States. The bill was introduced by Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.). 

According to a press release from Senator Markey’s office: “The bill is designed to correct the Federal Railroad Administration’s recent rollback of a proposed rule that would have established these necessary safety standards. The Safe Freight Act will specifically require that all freight trains have at least one certified conductor and one certified engineer on board, who can then work together to protect the safety of both the train and people living near the tracks.”

Other Senators co-sponsoring the Safe Freight Act are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).

“The FRA abdicated its responsibility as our nation’s rail safety agency when it withdrew the proposed two-person crew rule,” Senator Markey said. “A series of tragic accidents have resulted in recent years from unattended and understaffed trains, making clear that we need enough crew on board to protect both property and the public. I am proud to lead the introduction of the Safe Freight Act with Senator Wyden to address this critical safety concern.”

Senator Markey cited the 2013 tragedy in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec where an unattended freight train carrying 72 tank cars of crude oil derailed and exploded, killing 47 people, destroying much of the town, and causing millions of dollars in environmental damage. The train was operated by a single employee. 

“The decision by the FRA to abandon its planned two-person crew rule makes no sense, especially in light of recent rail accidents,” said Senator Wyden. “This is a matter of safety and security for rail crew and the public, and experts agree. It’s now up to Congress to step in and require freight trains have the staffing required to keep folks safe.”

“The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen has led the fight for railroad safety for over 156 years,” said BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce. “Two-person crews make for safer, more efficient train operations, and two-person crews play a key role in safeguarding our nation’s communities when a serious accident occurs. I congratulate Senator Markey for stepping up to lead the fight for a safer railroad industry and a safer America.”

“SMART Transportation Division has been working tirelessly to promote safety in the railroad industry,” said SMART Transportation Division President John Previsich. “There is no doubt that the safest rail operation is a two-person crew operation. After several major train derailments, we must send a clear message to our lawmakers and the general public that multi-person crews are essential to ensuring the safest rail operations possible in their communities. I would like to thank Senator Markey for his leadership on this critical issue as we continue improve safety on our nation''''s railroads for both our members and the general public.”  

In the U.S. House of Representatives, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) introduced H.R. 1748 on March 22, 2019. Also known as the Safe Freight Act, the House version of the bill would also require that two certified crew members operate freight trains the United States. It currently has 74 co-sponsors. 

A copy of the Senate’s Safe Freight Act can be found here (PDF).

KCS Reroutes


   The carrier is planning to run some traffic over the KCS like we have done in the past, The agreement for this is in the process of being worked out. In the meantime there will be a Bulletin Posted in CMTS in the next day or two taking bids for peer trainers. 
   The number of peer trainers is not yet known, If you wish to apply the peer trainer agreement will be used. The Bulletin will run for 7 days. 
   Crews off the C 015 RE06/RT06 will operate the trains from STL to Mexico, then tie up in the hotel in Jeff City. 

Dropped Turn Claim Language

   Here is the claim language for use when a turn is dropped. 

Claiming 4 hours pay due to turn (Turn ID) dropped in front of my turn (Turn ID) Per the May 2019 Extra Board Regulation and Dropped Turn Settlement. 

Documentation to include with claim: 
Snapshot of the boards. 
Job History of the dropped turn showing it was dropped. 

Dropped Turns and GXB Regulation - 11 Million Dollar Settlement



    There have been some changes made to the Guaranteed Extra Board Regulation as well as how vacancies are handled in the pools.


 Guaranteed Extra Board Regulation-


     For the past 21 years our General Committee has been in dispute with the carrier over the regulation of the Extra Board's. With the amount of time claims and countless disputes this issue has gone to arbitration. The resolution has been a 11 million dollar payment for the outstanding time claims, along with that a settled arrangement on how the Extra Boards are to be regulated:


  • They will be regulated at 3200 miles on a 20 day look back.


  • 60% of Z miles will be used in the calculation.



Dropped Turns-


    When there is a vacancy in the pool and the Primary and Secondary Extra Boards are exhausted, the turn will be dropped. No more stepping up or all day/night phone calls. Once the turn is dropped the second out engineer will be paid an additional half days pay for the dropped turn.


   We  working to have this added to the available claims selection on your tie up.


There is also now a 12 hour minimum layoff for the regular pool along with the extra board, regardless of the status.


The 11 million dollars is payable only to our General Committee, to those who have put in the claims for Extra Board Regulation and Dropped turns that have already been declined by Timekeeping and are in the claims handling process.






File attachments: 

Workers Memorial Day 2019

Workers Memorial Day 2019

By Dennis R. Pierce
BLET National President

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 26 — Each year on April 28, unions including the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) recognize Workers Memorial Day and remember American workers who were injured or killed in on-the-job accidents. We commemorate and honor these workers and renew the fight for safe workplaces. 

With Corporate America’s ongoing push to break unions and end the Middle Class, and with vulture capitalists negatively impacting the railroad industry though the pursuit of Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR), it’s more important now than ever before to get involved with your union. The BLET is the leading advocate for your safety in the workplace. Our Brotherhood has secured regulations, safety standards and other protections that have made workplaces safer our members. 

But many railroaders have no union protections, like the workers at numerous short line railroads throughout the United States. Their jobs are just as dangerous as those who work for Class I railroads, but they do not have the backing of a union or the protection of a union contract, so they are often afraid to speak out. And when they do, many short line workers are fired or harassed by their employers for simply voicing job safety concerns or reporting injuries. Through the foresight of our delegates at the Fourth National Convention in October of 2018, the BLET established a Short Line Division. It was an important first step toward bringing a higher level of safety and union protection to our counterparts in the short line industry. 

On this Workers Memorial Day, I urge you to take a moment to remember those who have been killed or injured on the job. I urge you to get involved with your union, become active and aware, and educate yourself about the issues in Washington D.C. that impact your job and your safety.

Precision Scheduled Railroading: Short Term Gains at What Cost?

By Dennis R. Pierce, BLET National President

(BLET Editor's Note: The following message from BLET National President Dennis R. Pierce has been excerpted from the February/March 2019 issue of the Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen News.)

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio, April 8 - Much is being made in the railroad industry and other transportation media about the Precision Scheduled Railroading (PSR) wildfire sweeping from coast to coast. Proponents of PSR will tell you that it will prove to be the industry's savior. But it also begs the following question; just what does the industry need to be saved from?

d6c20464-6fbb-484d-81b6-d5f530c4baee.jpgAccording to transportation industry news provider Transport Topics, the combined operating income of the Class I railroads topped $16 billion for the first half of last year, based on company reports. The carriers are now well into their second decade of ever increasing profits, setting new records virtually every year.

So, why the stampede toward PSR? And what does PSR really mean for railroad workers, shippers and the nation as a whole? While everyone seems to have a slightly different definition of PSR, there are a couple of common threads in all the definitions.

What the PSR crowd is in unanimous agreement on is that the process will be driven by maximization of every single asset. That includes even the fixed-point shippers, as Norfolk Southern and Union Pacific eliminated more than 425 domestic and nearly 100 international origin-and-destination interline pairs in just the first six weeks of the year.

As a result, hundreds of locomotives and cars already have been mothballed, and that number will increase into the thousands in the next few years. Dozens of shops and yards have already been closed or are slated to be shuttered.

And where a line doesn't pass muster under the profit maximization test it will be sold off or leased to some short line. NS did just that last year with an entire operating division, and CSX has been trying to do with its main line along the Florida Panhandle since last fall.

While all this is unfolding, thousands of railroad workers already have been furloughed.

For BLET members, there are signs beyond yard closures, demotions and furloughs. Increasing numbers of Distributed Power locomotives are used to run trains of dangerous lengths in order to eliminate road jobs, vastly exceeding the train lengths that current communication technology can manage.

Of even more concern is that many railroads refuse to consider the introduction of actual scheduling for our work shifts in road freight service. There is no consistent "precision scheduled railroading" insofar as BLET members are concerned. Predictability for road freight crews on many railroads is all but non-existent, creating avoidable fatigue risks every day. And the carriers continue to complain about crew size even when a single crew of two is moving hundreds of truckloads hundreds of miles every day across America. All of this combined creates the potential for a much less safe workplace, all in the name of short term profits.

What is the purpose of all this asset maximization? At a conference held in Atlanta in February NS identified three key targets for investors.

One was that it plans to reduce its operating ratio, which measures operational costs as a percentage of revenue. The carrier's operating ratio was 65.4 percent in 2018. NS vows to slash that ratio by over 8 percent in just three years' time.

The second is that NS plans a dividend payout ratio of 33 percent. What this means is that one out of every three dollars in profits will be paid to shareholders as a dividend.

On top of that, the third key is that NS plans to continue share repurchases using free cash flow and borrowing capacity. In other words, much of the two dollars in profit that are not paid out in dividends will be used to buy back stock and, if there isn't enough money to do that, then the railroad will borrow money for buybacks.

These financial goals reveal PSR for what it really is ... a scheme to suck up as much of the railroad's revenues as possible and distribute it to investors, particularly to the hedge funds that own an ever-increasing stake in the industry.

PSR is nothing more than what has been called by many industry observers, and with good reason, vulture capitalism. Hedge fund investors swoop into a company and drive down operating costs in order to wring out every possible dime in profits, but don't share those profits with the workers who created them. They buy back stock to pump up the price, and when they run out of cash they borrow against the company's assets to buy back more stock and pump up the prices some more. At the same time, operational downsizing cuts are removing much more than "fat"; they cut into the muscle and bone of the operation and are much harder to repair when the hedge fund investors move on to greener pastures.

And what happens when this merry-go-round stops? Just ask the folks who used to work for Sears, or Kmart, or Toys 'R' Us, to name just a few of the more recent victims of vulture capitalism. Their companies were cannibalized in the name of making wealthy investors even wealthier.

To be sure, it is very unlikely that CSX or KCS or NS or UP will disappear from the economic map the way those companies did. But history instructs what happens when vulture capitalist schemes like PSR have squeezed all of a railroad's assets dry.

In 1968 the Pennsylvania and the New York Central railroads merged to become the Penn Central. When it became apparent that the two operations were not a good match, a system-wide cannibalization and liquidation of assets began so that stock prices could be maintained and dividend payments continued. Penn Central's shippers and workers were mere afterthoughts. Less than two and a half years after the merger, the Penn Central became the largest corporation in U.S. history - to that point - to declare bankruptcy ... and the carcass of the railroad was dumped on the nation's taxpayers to rebuild.

Significantly, Burlington Northern Santa Fe, which is the only privately-owned Class I railroad in the country, has said "Thanks, but no thanks" to PSR. Perhaps BNSF understands this history, or maybe it knows that short-term gain for a few ultra-wealthy investors at the cost of long-term pain for everyone else is not a plan for long term success.


Former Republican President Theodore Roosevelt said in 1913, four years after he left the White House, that "Of all forms of tyranny, the least attractive and the most vulgar is the tyranny of mere wealth, the tyranny of a plutocracy." Time will tell if PSR is what the railroad industry needed. Unfortunately, much harm could come to the nation's railroad infrastructure by the time that question is answered.

Locomotive Daily Inspection Checklist

Brothers and Sisters,

The implementation of PSR on Union Pacific has caused a reduction in the mechanical forces that have historically done the required daily inspections on our locomotives.  The daily inspections are more frequently being done by our Locomotive Engineers that have not been trained to do the inspections. 

Our General Committee has created a checklist for our Locomotive Engineers to use when they have been instructed to do the daily inspections.  This checklist was created using the Air Brake and Train Handling Rules currently in effect, always verify there have been no changes to these rules.   

We are currently in the process of distributing the checklist to your BLET Local Chairman.

You will still file a basic day penalty claim for doing the locomotive inspection where there are mechanical forces on duty. 

Ronnie Rhodes