avatar_Keith Bear

BNSF Symbols

Started by Keith Bear, April 23, 2020, 11:23:11 am

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Keith Bear

April 23, 2020, 11:23:11 am Last Edit: April 23, 2020, 02:49:35 pm by Keith Bear Reason: Thanks Ted. That makes a lot of sense.
Why does BNSF use lead engine numbers instead of Symbols when on the Phoenix Sub. I do hear DS13 mention Z train from time to time, but not the rest of the symbol. 
Thanks, Keith


I don't have a definite answer on this, however, BNSF and UP both do the same thing.  Over the Radio, they always use their LEAD Engine Number.  Dispatchers will tell the Train Crew "I will have you going after the Z passes you" or "I have about 3 trains ahead of you before I can get you going".  There are times with Track Warrants, they will say that BNSF#### or UP#### is in the occupied space, however, once you see BNSF#### or UP#### pass you, then you will proceed on your warrant.  However, that is only what I heard which is mostly the UP Phoenix Sub.  Maybe the crew does not have their symbol handy or is it just easier to use the Engine Number? I think that @tferk and maybe @dispatcher_dispatcher may know some more information about this topic.


With the Phoenix Sub being dark territory (no signals) under Track Warrant Control rules, the only method a crew of one train has of positively identifying another train that it is meeting or passing is by the lead loco number.  That is why only lead loco numbers are used on track warrants.  There is no way for another crew to positively identify another train by symbol, although they may know its symbol.  Also, the full BNSF symbol is a handful to communicate over the radio, but you will hear symbols mentioned, usually phonetically like Fix-Bell (PHXBEL) or Wisp-Fix (WSPPHX) for example.
Ted Ferkenhoff
Flagstaff, AZ


Thanks Ted that information.  Appreciate your help.


What tferk said.  We say "Z train", "Grain train", "Auto-rack", etc on the radio a lot when we are referencing trains in the general area or when communicating general information.  It's just easier than looking up engine numbers.  If we are issuing a mandatory directive (track warrant or speed restriction) we have to use the lead engine number.  The only exception to that is AMTRAK, we can use the symbol or the lead unit for them.

We probably won't generalize like that if there are multiple of that commodity in the area.  On the sunset there are rarely multiple grain trains close to each other so that one grain train knows your talking to them if you just call out "dispatcher to grain train".  That way we don't have to look up their engine number.  Really it just saves time. 

Same thing with the locals... what's left of them anyway.

Keith Bear

Thanks to all for the information.

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