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Sometimes things get a little creative between dispatchers and train crews. Heard this one today:

DS: "Well, we can play this two ways. You can go in the west end of the yard, or we can share permissions with the welding crew."

TC: "We can go in the west end. Any idea how long they're going to be out there?"

DS: "Well, I can tell you this, they tell me just about much as they tell you."

TC: "Then we've got just as much chance as seeing Big Foot."

Here's another one. A dispatcher is having CTC problems getting a switch to operate:

DS: "Well, I've seen a lot of things over the years, but I don't think the movie "Gremlins" could run a sequel to this." Then proceeds to give the TC permission to operate the switch off power.

Anyone else care to share clever quips?
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Reported to me by a UP employee I know about ten years ago. The UP was having a slow day in the Seattle/Tacoma area the the dispatcher was relaxed and signed of with a crew "Dispatcher out, waaaay out".

About 20 years ago I heard an engineeer checking on his conductor in the caboose on a local. The conductor responded that he and his coffee pot were getting along just fine.


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After scrambling to get ahead of CSX once I waited and waited wondering where they were. The DS wondered too and radioed the crew see what the trouble was.

DS: "I've got a westbound waiting. How much longer will you be?"

TC: "I already told you we're down to one working unit. We can only make 12MPH. Did you find us another unit yet?"

DS: "Uhh nothing yet. Do the best you can."

TC a few minutes later: "We're down to 9MPH now. Should we go ahead and burn this one up to?"

martin burwash

New Member
Not a dispatcher/crew, but a crew to crew. I was up at West Scenic on Stevens Pass on a snowy day. An eastbound had stalled west of the siding, a westbound stack train was holding the mainline, and the westbound Amtrak Empire Builder was tucked in behind them. It took a couples of hours to get the eastbound moving, and in the process, the female conductor of the Empire Builder called to the crew of the westbound asking if there was anything she could do to hurry the process... the conductor off the stacker responded...

"Yeah, bring up some sandwitches...."

Nothing further was heard from the Builder.

Martin Burwash


Forum Host
Staff member
Back in 1989, MRSR ran our 2-8-2 #5 from Seattle to Wentachee for the Washington State Centenniel Games. Even then, steam on BN was rare, but the rules were a bit looser, so we ran without a helper until we got to Skykomish.

We're getting ready to depart Seattle and our BNSF Engineer calls the terminal dispatcher (or whoever it was they talked to back then, it was still local) and says something like this, using official railrod protocol.

#5: "MRSR #5 requesting permission to proceed northbound."

Dispatch: "This is WHO and you want to go WHERE?"

#5: "This is MRSR #5 and we're requesting permisison to head north through the tunnel"

Dispatch: "Uh, what are you going to use for power?"

#5: (Frustrated) "MRSR #5 is the power... We're the steam train!"

Dispatch: "Oh, why didn't you say so!?! Yes, you're clear to head North."

So much for protocol, from then on he simply said "The Steam Train" ;)

Midsouth fan

A few years ago, I was working the Gibsland agent job. I was sitting in the depot listening to the KCS D/S (console 5) giving a DTC authority to a train in Simsboro westbound. It just so happened that another train closeby was having engine trouble. While the crew in Simsboro was repeating the authority to console 5......

Mechanical Desk: KCS mechanical desk to the KCS 651, what kind of trouble are you having? (I just used 651 for fun :D )

Console 5: HEY, can't you see I'm trying to give a DTC authority right now?

Mechanical: Well, this is the radio. I can't see you, but I hear you now! :p


Ex. Train Dispatcher
I've got one for you:

I was a train dispatcher for the South Shore in the Chicago area. Keep in mind, Gary Metro is in double track territory...

Gary Carmen: Gary Carmen to the Dispatcher, Over.

Me: South Shore Dispatcher answering the Gary Carmen, Over.

Gary Carmen: Do you know what track Train 11 is coming in on?

Me: I'm sure it'll be one track or the other.


<The Chief Dispatcher looked up from his desk and just stared at me. Then he started laughing.>

Gary Carmen: Yeah, um. I hope so. Thank you Dispatcher. Gary Carmen out.

Those were the days!


Abandoned line seeker

Yeah, I know his name is not really Blackie, but that is what everyone calls him. He has some interesting stories of being the last steam qualified engineer on the BNSF before he retired.


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Staff member
Dan, you're right, everyone calls him Blackie. I probably would have never known his actual name either, except for having to sign the train register with him. 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 - 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. - 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.

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