N&W vs. Southern Railway

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Mon Oct 24 23:59:12 EDT 2005

First ACL and now Southern. Did I miss something or did the Society put out
an advertisement to fans of other railroads to hurl insults at us once a
Marty Flick

----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 11:18 PM
Subject: N&W vs. Southern Railway

> Having worked for Southern Railway up to and through the 1982 merger,

> let's have a look at the fiscal policy of both roads. As we all know, the

> N&W

> was a financial success frm the outset all the way through the depression

> years of the 1930's. But why in heavens name shouldn't it have been. Like

> it's two counterparts, the Virginian and the C&O, all they had to do was

> lug coal from the mines down to Tidewater for export. Profitable, yes,

> but

> about half of it's westbound traffic consisting of non-revenue empty

> hopper

> trains. Among other things the N&W would squeeze a nickel until the

> buffalo dropped dead. I(n the early 70's while visiting family in

> Martinsville, Va., I would on occasion visit the local N&W operation. The

> operator I talked with was cvrying the blues. THe N&W was beginning to

> install CTC between Roanoke and Winston -Salem and were planning to

> abolish every operator's job between those two points. Anything to save

> a buck, right? O.K., now let's check out policy on the Southern Railway.

> I went to work as an operator for Southern in 1968 on the extra board.

> In October of that year yhey created a new second trick operator's job

> in Gainesville. I bid on the job, got it, and worked it for 18 years

> until I

> retired and NEVER ONCE in that 18 years was I ever rolled off that job

> by an older operator. They ventually added a new third trick operator's

> job at Gainesville which gave continuous operator service during the week.

> For the first couple of years after I went to work there was no relief for

> the first trick operator on Saturday or Sunday. The first trick operator

> agreed to work it on Saturday, and I agreed to work it on Sundays. It was

> 8 hours overtime for both of us. I earned about enough overtime to put

> my youngest son through the University Of Georgia. When I went to work

> for Southern the mast outside of the depot that once held upper quadrant

> train order signals was being used only as a support for the radio antenna

> for the depot base radio station. Southern Railway, mind you, alkready

> had CTC between Atlanta and Washington. About 6 months after they

> put on my second trick job, things began to happen. The C&S Dept.

> re-installed the upper quadrant train order signals, including lighting

> the

> lights on the position lenses. At the outset we were handing up orders

> by

> hand using string delivery with a "Y" shaped train order hoop. For

> safety

> reasons the trainmaster had Coster Shops in Knoxville fashion two metal

> delivery stands, one for either side as it was doubletrack through town.

> And a concrete base next to the track held a receptacle in which to place

> the train order stand. any times I had orders hanging on both sides for

> trains going in both directions. The C&S Dept. also installed flood

> lights

> on each side of the tracks to aid train crews in seeing the orders at

> night.

> And our stationery supplies started including form "19" train order pads,

> with carbon sheets for multiple copies, clearance cards, and balls of

> twine to string up the orders. Of the various jobs we put to work daily,

> one was an 11:00 PM switcher. He was deliberately scheduled to begin

> work at 11:00 PM as during the period 8:00 PM until eleven there was

> Amtrak No. 820 aqnd the dispatcher regularly wanted to meet the "shots"

> as they were called in thaty doubletrack territory,. and a switcher could

> hardly get any track time anyway until 11:00 PM. My tour of duty ended

> at 10:15 PM, with no relief on Friday nights. For a few years I stayed

> until

> 11:15 PM to put that job to work, which meant an hour of overtime. The

> Southern Railway let well enough alone, but not the N&W. That was not

> so much a merger as it was the N&W just taking over the Southern Ry.

> Within three months of the merger one night the trainmaster said "Bill,

> we are going to have to move the eleven o'clock job up to 9:00 PM, as they

> are making noises about your overtime on Fridays." So there you have it.

> Who in blazes is the cheapskate between the two companies? Southern

> Railway could care less about the overtime, but that bunch of skinflints

> on the N&W want to account for every penny. And I defy one of you

> N&W buffs to give me the name of a person in N&W management worthy

> of even holding the coat of Southern Railway president D. W. Brosnan

> when it came to innovations to get traffic back on the railroad instead of

> sitting on his butt hauling coal downhill to the docks, and going back for

> more. It took L. Stanly Crane, another good manager for Southern

> Railway to straighten out that Conrail fiasco and put it on a paying

> basis.

> In the case of Norfolk Southern, it was another case of the tail wagging

> the dog when that merger took place. Bill Sellers


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