stalling, setting out hotboxes, doubling a hill*, or even a grade-crossing
accident. Therefore, the dispatcher picks a meeting point at will and then
watches the progress of the trains until they are an hour or so apart.
Then, if necessary, he changes the meeting point by issuing another train
order to supersede the first.
e. Figures. When extra trains leave a terminal on a double-track line,
the dispatcher has the telegrapher send a wire to the destination yard to
acquaint the yardmaster with the details of the train. These include engine
number, conductor's name, number of cars, the tonnage, and the estimated
arrival time or "figure." Often, a breakdown of the train according to the
grouping destinations of the cars may be included.
All of these details,
popularly known as "lineups," make it possible for a receiving yardmaster to
make plans for handling the train.
Dispatchers in general have a remarkable ability for figuring
accurately in advance the time of a train's arrival into a yard 75 to 100
kilometers distant. Often, the actual arrival time does not vary 10 minutes
from the figure. In calculating this time figure, dispatchers include the
capability of the locomotive, the engineer's ability, the train's tonnage,
the stops for picking up and setting off cars, the possible stops for fuel
and water, the train density of the division, and the weather.
track, all of these as well as delays at meeting points must be included in
the figure. Occasionally, of course, operational difficulties may delay a
train, discussed later in paragraph 3.4d.
When a train "falls back" 30
minutes or more, the dispatcher generally calls the yard and gives the
yardmaster a revised figure.
On the whole, dispatchers' estimates are
remarkably accurate; however, this particular phase of their work, which
many yardmasters think of as routine, is in reality one of the most exacting
A dispatching office is generally located at a division terminal, and a
chief dispatcher is always in charge.
He directs train movement over the
division, supervises the men under him, reroutes rail traffic in an
emergency, determines train tonnage, orders motive power, determines rail-
line capacity, and establishes train-movement priority.
He reports to,
receives instruction from, and is responsible to the superintendent; but all
*Taking the train over a hill in two sections.