Way freights, manifest freights, transfers, turns and other kinds of trains

Affiliate Disclosure: We may receive a commision from some of the links and ads shown on this website (Learn More Here)

RailroadBookstore.com - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section.

ModelRailroadBookstore.com - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

#1
Part of my project as I design the operation system for the San Luis and Rio Grande is that I want to get things more or less prototypical. In various reading, I'm coming across various "types" of trains, and could use some clarity
not sure what they are called, the fast trains that run between major terminals such as what we see on the Virtual Railfan LaPlata cams (they are on the BNSF Transcon Line)
I know what unit trains are -- full trains of a type thinks like coal, sand, grain, oil etc
Way freight - Not sure on this one - Google defines it as a train that stops at way stations
Peddler Freight - also not sure
Manifest freight -- One site defined it as a train that has the manifest in the caboose??? my understanding was a train that had freight (Car Load or LCL) for different industries along a specific route
Turn - train that goes to a designated point and comes back either picking up something at that point (like an interchange turn) or????
Transfer - Moves freight between a couple of points within a specified division (Not sure)
I could really use some help
I have trains that make mine runs, taking empty cars to the mine, bringing back loads, I have trains that go pick up and drop off cars at interchanges, I have pass through trains. I have trains that make runs over various sections of the railroad dropping off and picking up along the way, and I really need to get names on them
thanks
TIM
 
#2
Unit trains are trains of one commodity, generally shipped from one origin to one destination.

Way freight and Peddler Freight are typically "locals", trains that do industry switching on line of road. There are dozens of different names for local trains, dodger and patrol are other ones.

Manifest freight is a general freight train. It carrying all types of shipments between yards or between yards and interchanges.

Turn is a train that originates and terminates at the same location, typically with the same crew.

Transfer is a train that moves cars between yards or could be between a yard and an interchange.

There are basically 3 types of crews, but it can be expanded into 5 types of crews.
- Yard crews work in yards, they have a limited range, can switch (classify) cars and do industry or interchange work, they can handle cars that are not in "their" train. They typically have a set time they go on duty and typically go on and off duty at the same point..
- Local crews operate trains that have a set route, they can do interchange or industry work, they can switch cars that will not be in their train if there is no switch crew on duty at the location. They may have a set on duty time or may have to be called once in a calendar day.
- Thru freight crews operate manifest trains and unit trains (plus automotive trains and intermodal trains). They operate trains between yards or between yards an interchanges. They generally do not do industry work, and make only set outs and pick ups of blocks of cars. They general have no fixed start time and are called on duty as needed. They cannot switch (classify) cars.
The two additional types of crews are:
- Passenger crews, which are a subset of through freight crews. They may have a set on duty time.
- Traveling Switch Engine (TSE) is a hybrid, its a through freight crew that operates over a limited range, goes on and off duty at one point, but can perform the work of a local or switch engine.

I have trains that make mine runs, taking empty cars to the mine, bringing back loads,
Those would be called "mine runs", they are probably some sort of a local crew or if its a unit train, they could be through freight crews making a turn.
I have trains that go pick up and drop off cars at interchanges,
This depends on exactly what the train is doing. It could be a transfer and a yard crew if its coming out of a yard and going 10 miles or so to an interchange. It could be a through freight if its coming out of a yard and going more than ten miles to an interchange. It could be a local if it works industries along the way to the interchange.
I have pass through trains.
Those would generally be "through freight" trains, if they are general freight they are manifest, if they are all TOFC or COFC they would be intermodal trains, if they are solid bulk commodity trains they would be unit trains, if they are all auto racks or auto parts they could be auto trains.
I have trains that make runs over various sections of the railroad dropping off and picking up along the way,
Depends on how you define "dropping off " and "picking up". If they are spotting a pulling cars at industries they would be locals. If it just means setting out or picking up a group of cars as on block at a yard or station, without spotting them at industries, then those would be through freights.
 

Selector

Well-Known Member
#4
Hostlers also keep the fires banked and boilers hot while engines are sitting unused, but which have to be ready inside of 12 hours or so.
 

cv_acr

Active Member
#7
Also note the term "Mixed" train refers to one that handles both freight and passengers.

A freight train handling generic mixed freight is typically referred to as a "manifest" as above.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#8
Part of my project as I design the operation system for the San Luis and Rio Grande is that I want to get things more or less prototypical.
Also in addition to these general terms each railroad makes up its own "Type" of train. Your railroad could have your own unique types. The type of the train can be related to 4 things - type of paperwork the train is running under, type of cargo it is carrying, how it delivers/picks up said cargo, and priority. Here is a real railroad's type of trains one of their dispatcher's can order.
traintypes.jpg

Depending on the time in history there will be different sorts of trains. For example one not seen in this list is a "internal switch". This would be a train that originates in the yard and switches out the cars to an entier industrial area connected directly to the yard such that it never has to go onto the main line.

Today railroads are returning to ancient history as far as operations go. For the last few decades almost all trains have been run as extras as demanded by premium customer's need. Due to Hunter Harrison's rediscovery of scheduled trains, and his precision railroading manifesto, all the class 1 railroads in US and Canada (save 1) have embraced this philosophy. As it works in, I believe the train classifications will change. From the example above there will be many less PREMIUM Z trains and many more STANDARD MANIFEST and all running on a schedule.

Pretty much as David1905 says
  • I have trains that make mine runs, taking empty cars to the mine, bringing back loads. - an industrial turn, or specifically xyz mine turn
  • I have trains that go pick up and drop off cars at interchanges. - interchanges or transfers
  • I have pass through trains. - through or run through depending if it is your railroad's train or another's.
  • I have trains that make runs over various sections of the railroad dropping off and picking up along the way, - way freight, local, peddler ( I think the term peddler was a term used by more eastern roads than western).
 
#9
For example one not seen in this list is a "internal switch". This would be a train that originates in the yard and switches out the cars to an entier industrial area connected directly to the yard such that it never has to go onto the main line.
That's because there is no type "internal switch". Its just a local, zone local, TSE or yard engine.

For the last few decades almost all trains have been run as extras as demanded by premium customer's need.
Don't confuse "extra" the timetable and train order authority with "extra' a train run in addition to the scheduled trains.
TT&TO extras ended in about 1985 when railroads transistioned from TT&TO to track warrants.

The concept of running the freight trains with a service schedule, but not as a timetable schedule (as extras) dates back to the 1920's or 1930's. I worked for a class 1 for almost 40 years and every through freight was an "extra", not listed on the timetable, but 95% of them were "scheduled" freights, they had a service schedule.
Due to Hunter Harrison's rediscovery of scheduled trains, and his precision railroading manifesto, all the class 1 railroads in US and Canada (save 1) have embraced this philosophy.
That's always been a big chuckle about his "scheduled network" philosophy, every railroad I dealt with over the last 40 years had a scheduled network.

As it works in, I believe the train classifications will change. From the example above there will be many less PREMIUM Z trains and many more STANDARD MANIFEST and all running on a schedule.
That's not the train classifications are changing, the train types will be the same, the mix will change, but they will have schedules, just as they have had schedules for the last 40 years. Trains have had schedules and the railroad measures the performance to the schedules. The Mopac was scheduling cars in 1972. None of this is new, and its been going on since the 1970's. It just depends on where the railroad's focus is.
 
#10
I have trains that make mine runs, taking empty cars to the mine, bringing back loads. - an industrial turn, or specifically xyz mine turn
Mine runs come in a couple different flavors, much of it era dependent. If you are modeling car load, non unit train shipments then a "mine run" is appropriate. An empty coal train brings cars to a yard, they are switched into mine runs, the mine run takes cars to mine, brings back loads to the yard. The loads are switched into loaded coal trains and then run out of the yard. If you are modeling a modern era, with unit trains the concept of a "mine run" doesn't really apply. The empty coal train runs from the power plant straight through to the mine, the train is loaded and the loaded trains runs straight through to the power plant. A through freight crew is on the train the whole time. About the only switching is to set out bad order cars and refill the train to length with new empties. That's maybe a car or two every 3rd or 4th trip.

I have trains that go pick up and drop off cars at interchanges. - interchanges or transfers
Once again somewhat era and location dependent. The transfer type train only happens in a major terminal where there are significant numbers of interchange cars. After the 1950's the concept of a "run through" train gained popularity, where one railroad builds an entire train for another railroad and it "runs through" to the other railroad, that is an interchange train, skipping the yards in the terminal. Those type of trains probably peaked in the 1990's and are much less common now. One of the first thing that Harrison did when he implemented "Precision scheduling" was cancel all the run through agreements.
Outside of major terminals and excluding run through trains, transfers are pretty rare. Most interchanges outside major terminals are just a set out and pick up off a through freight or worked by a local. For example in most of the terminals I worked we didn't have a "transfer" train, we just had the switch engine deliver a cut.

Note : "Interchange" is a paperwork thing, its not a physical location thing. A railroad car is in the "account" of a railroad. That means the railroad is responsible for the car and shipment and is responsible for paying per diem/car hire and mileage. If railroad A gives a car to railroad B, its not interchanged until Railroad A sends the proper paperwork to railroad B. A car can be interchanged from Railroad A to Railroad B without even being on Railroad B.

I have pass through trains. - through or run through depending if it is your railroad's train or another's.
Remember that through freights can set out and pick up cars, just because its a "through freight" that doesn't mean it doesn't do any work. On most places I've worked, that's how yards outside of major terminals got their cars, setouts from through freights. Through freights would also do "block swaps" on line. For example. A railroad runs from Houston and Ft Worth to Texarkana and then has lines to St Louis and Memphis. The railroad wants to run trains about 100 cars, but it only generates 50 Memphis and 50 St Louis a day at both Houston and Ft Worth. So it puts all the Memphis cars together in a "block" and all the St Louis cars together as a block at both Houston and Ft Worth. Ft Worth runs a Through freight from Ft Worth to Memphis (FWME) and Houston runs a through freight from Houston to St Louis (HOSL). The FWME carries Memphis and St Louis cars (Cab-Memphis-St Louis-Eng) and the HOSL carries St Louis and Memphis cars (Cab-St Louis-Memphis-Eng). At Texarkana the FWME sets out St Louis and picks up Memphis cars and the HOSL sets out Memphis and picks up St louis. The railroad would probably schedule the trains 12 hours apart so both trains aren't trying to work at the same time.

As far as "other railroads" operating over your railroad, its also highly era dependent. If you are modeling a modern era, its more common. If you are modeling pre 1960's , probably not as common. The big swaths of trackage rights didn't happen until the mega mergers that started in the 1960's and 1970's. The biggest blocks of trackage rights happened with the UP-MP, BN-ATSF and UP-SP mergers. People also confuse the types of "other trains".

There are basically one of 5 things going on if you see a "foreign" engine on a railroad.
  1. Trackage rights - Railroad A has the rights to operate over a specific and limited portion of railroad B. Railroad A owns the trains, uses it's power and crews and the cars on the train are NOT interchanged. The move is covered by a contract and Railroad A may not have rights to serve an industries (most times not).
  2. Haulage rights - Railroad B operates a train for railroad A over its tracks on a specific and limited portion of railroad B. Railroad A owns the trains, uses it's power and Railroad B's crews and the cars on the train are NOT interchanged. The move is covered by a contract and Railroad A almost always does not have rights to serve an industries. Haulage rights are much less common than trackage rights.
  3. Run Through train - Railroads A and B have an agreement that they will run a train through an interchange as a solid train. The two have an agreement on who provides power. The train is interchanged and the crews change at the interchange. The power runs through.
  4. Horsepower hours power - Due to trackage rights or other situations, Railroad A has used more of Railroad B's engines than B has used A's engines. Therefore A owes B the use of engines. A provides its engines to B for them to use until the balance is achieved. The train that has Railroad A's engines on it is all Railroad B's, crew, cars, everything except the engines. Railroad A has virtually no input on where those engines are used.
  5. Detour train - Railroad A has some sort of problem or outage and asks Railroad B if it can operate over its railroad on an emergency basis. If its a short distance, it would be Railroad A's train, power, crew with a "pilot" from Railroad B. If its longer distances, then it might have a Railroad B crew. No interchange takes place. It is done on a very limited basis for a very few trains for a short period of time.
 

Iron Horseman

Well-Known Member
#11
Detour train - Railroad A has some sort of problem or outage and asks Railroad B if it can operate over its railroad on an emergency basis. If its a short distance, it would be Railroad A's train, power, crew with a "pilot" from Railroad B. If its longer distances, then it might have a Railroad B crew. No interchange takes place. It is done on a very limited basis for a very few trains for a short period of time.
oooh, I had forgotten about detour trains. A very interesting situation to run a train of a road name you don't model.
 





ModelRailroadForums.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com

Top