Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee
kevin_standlee

Noisy Afternoon

Smoke (apparently mostly from the Creek Fire south of Yosemite based on satellite photos sent out by NWS Reno) has blanketed Fernley. It was heavy enough to lower temperatures (we got up to only about 35°C/95°F versus 40/104 yesterday) but also put enough smoke into the air that I've had a mild headache most of the day, despite staying mostly indoors and keeping the swamp cooler (which does seem to get some of the smoke out of the air) running. NVEnergy has sent out warning asking people to cut our electrical use and avoid using high-energy appliances this afternoon. Meanwhile, we had a train apparently break down here for a while today, and to do so in a particularly noisy way.

Mainline Power Parked at Fernley

"Big BN" (the mainline BNSF trains that stop at Fernley to drop and collect cars for the "Little BN" switch job that takes/pulls cars to local industries) came through to do its work today. I didn't pay much attention because this is fairly routine, but after a while I finally realized that the locomotives were making a whole lot more noise than usual. I wish I'd gotten a picture when I first realized that there must be something not right, as there were two mainline locomotives on the "house track" but one still sitting on the main line. And the two sitting on the house track were idling as loud as I've ever heard locomotives idle.

Mainline Power Parked at Fernley

This isn't the most compelling video I've ever shot, and I don't think it really demonstrates just how loudly the locomotives were running. They're only about 80 m away from our front porch. Now I'm used to having locomotives idling here. The "little BN" job often leaves their power parked here overnight. Sometimes they have the gadget that shuts them down and automatically restarts them when necessary to keep them from freezing (obviously not an issue at this time of the year), but often they do not and they sit here all night rumbling away. But these six-axle mainline locomotives are much bigger and I could swear that they were running really hard while going nowhere.

I did not hear the start of what caused this issue with the locomotives over the radio, but several hours later I heard the end of it. From radio traffic between the crew and the dispatcher, I speculate that locomotive 7742 was originally leading this set but broke down, and that the units had to be shuffled (not necessarily an easy thing to do). I heard the engineer of the train ask to have their track warrant (authority occupy the track) changed from BNSF 7742 to BNSF 8464. He then also told the conductor (who was at the far end of the train doing a brake test) to isolate 7742 as he walked back to the head end.

After several hours of train rumbling, they eventually got everything put back together and headed for Sparks, where a new crew would relieve them and I suspect that an additional locomotive would have to be added. And that means renting it from Union Pacific, as the nearest BNSF base is Stockton, as I recall.
Tags: bnsf, trains
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