N&W vs. Southern Railway

nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org
Wed Oct 26 11:29:07 EDT 2005

Ed Painter and All. The Southern group has only one historical organizaion,
The Southern Railway Historical Assocation, and North Carolina chartered
eductional non-profit IRS qualified. The former Southern Railway Historical
Society was a propriety group based in Georgia. That group disbanded last
year and its materials given to SRHA and placed in the Southern Archives in
Kennesaw Georgia.
W. Calvin Reynolds, President Emeritus, Southern Railway Historical
----- Original Message -----
From: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
To: "NW Mailing List" <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2005 5:44 PM
Subject: Re: N&W vs. Southern Railway

> The Southern Ry has 2 Historical Societies; one in Augusta, Ga and one in

> Spencer, NC. You might wish to join one or both. I'm sure they would be

> more to your liking than all of us coal dust covered N&W folks (Isn't coal

> dust green?). There's also an ACL/SAL Society.


> Increasing Shareholder's Wealth, ROI, ROE, Operating Ratio......... are

> among the true measures of success for management. N&W management was as

> good as any at achieving outstanding results in these areas. They were

> also better than most!


> Out of curiosity, what management level did you advance to when working

> for the ACL or SRR? It's always valuable to understand the background and

> knowledge base for someone providing such critical and valuable management

> analysis!


> Ed Painter, Narrows, Va (Currently Russellville, AR)




> ----- Original Message -----

> From: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> To: <nw-mailing-list at nwhs.org>

> Sent: Monday, October 24, 2005 10:18 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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