Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Flag Stop

Today was not a good day for the dispatcher on the Nevada Subdivision of the Union Pacific (Sparks to Winnemucca). Something was gumming up the works in Sparks Yard. I heard him telling crews over the radio, "There's no room at the inn." (That is, there was no room in Sparks to park trains.) With a shortage of relief crews as well, trains were being tied down in sidings, and the crews were stuck there. In some cases, the usual crew vans (run by a contractor) couldn't get to the sidings in question, because they were in places with no road access. So the dispatcher was obliged to use the one train that was able to get through as an impromptu rail taxi service.

Hey, Taxi!

This train was led by Union Pacific locomotive 8000. Normally the trailing locomotives are empty, but in this case many of the cabs contained deadheading crew members collected by this train, which was thus obliged to stop along the way and pick up stranded crews. As I took this shot, the train was slowing to collect the crew of the container train tied down on the siding and visible behind UP 8000. When the train neared East Fernley, I heard the engineer radio back to the deadheads in the trailing units, "We're going to make a brief unscheduled stop here at Fernley. Stay in your cabs. This is not a place for a smoke break." After a short stop, the train continued on its way. Several hours later, a crew van brought a relief crew out and the stranded train continued on its way west.

I'm not exactly sure what caused the problem. I read elsewhere that UP had finally had to break out their big rotary snowplows over Donner (and I hope a television station got a helicopter up to record it, because it's generally spectacular when the rotary starts working up there), but OTOH, Amtrak came through both directions pretty much on time today (unlike yesterday when they were many hours late), so the line presumably wasn't blocked.

It snowed about 3 cm overnight. I cleared snow from the porch and sidewalk before going off to the Wigwam for breakfast, where thanks to interacting free-play coupons and some good luck, I won $29, which paid for that breakfast and the one after that as well. Once the snow stopped falling around Noon and the sun came out, all of the snow not in shaded areas (like the north side of Fernley House) started melting pretty quickly. Nevertheless, I'm glad we didn't have any travel plans for this weekend.
Tags: trains, union pacific
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