THE TRAINS MUST GO ON

From “Just What is a Train Dispatcher?” Copyright © 1992 Thomas A. White

Train dispatchers, unlike air traffic controllers, must handle all traffic as it occurs, regardless of congestion or weather. Rerouting of traffic occurs only in instances of impassable blockage or destruction of the track by accident or weather. When snow slows traffic to a crawl, when part of the available trackage is rendered unusable by accident or weather or immediately upon partial restoration after complete blockage or destruction, traffic will be operated normally and it is up to the train dispatcher to handle normal traffic with the reduced facilities while concurrently allowing the maintenance or rerailing work necessary to restore the trackage completely. The resulting congestion itself causes further reduction of track capacity for which the dispatcher must compensate while operating as closely to regular schedules as possible and ensuring that an absolute minimum number of trains must be relieved because of the hours of service law. Likewise, such incidents as well as accidents that do not involve destruction of trackage do not fully interrupt a dispatcher’s traffic.


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