Life on the Mississippi or The Perfect Storm


Precision railroading is the most recent trend. Closing hump yards and running tight schedules increased efficiency by reducing manpower required.

Railroads over trimmed and now have found recruiting people more difficult. They are working on it. One hopes the limitations are temporary. But may run a few more years.

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Precision railroading sounds like just in time inventory. It works perfectly until it doesn’t.


In theory, it works great. In practice it doesn’t work at all because it requires perfection where perfection is impossible.



OCT 11, 2021

Are they really closing hump yards in 2022 when they were touting them in 2021?

The Captain
finally found out why RR yards are so complicated, they are sorting machines!


I always have loved the line, “I want to move to Theory. Everything works in Theory.”


I just read the article and was about to write a serious comment (okay, it was going to be a rant, I admit) but now I’ll just take a moment to appreciate this. Such a clever line!

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@captainccs - Thanks for the link to that BNSF article. It was an interesting read. I found a few points that were interesting to me:

  1. They designed, developed and deployed a “home grown” software solution to maximize efficiency (!!)

  2. They touted this software solution as a solution to increase the safety of the rail workers in the hump yards (?)

  3. The hump yards are mostly located in the heart of the country - make sense (!!)

Thanks again,
==> learn something new every day!!

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Here’s something else to toss in the back of your mind: back in my model railroading days, I had one freight car that was supposed to be carrying some sort of liquified gas. The entire load of the car was a rack carrying a couple dozen metal cylinders. Stenciled on the car were the words “do not hump”.


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My pleasure!

The Captain

In a hump yard each car gets sorted one at a time.

The Precision RR idea is cars can be grouped by destination as they are picked up by a local freight. Then groups of cars can be assembled into trains for departure. This is supposed to be more efficient and require less manpower.

Some closed hump yards have been reopened. Most remain closed.

As part of a much longer story which I might relate here some day, during the summer of 1971, while hitchhiking cross-country with a friend of mine, we spent an night in a boxcar in a Denver hump yard. Our train was smashed going forward and then in reverse as cars were added, before we headed out towards what turned out to be Laramie (where we were chased off the train by the railroad cops.

Somehow, most of us end up surviving our youths (in my case, as I tend to act like a four year old, I’m not so sure)


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I’m sure many of us here can go 1-1 with you on “when I was younger” stories :wink:

===> Sex and Drugs and Rock 'n Roll was my youth mantra