Wednesday, November 7, 2012

San Jose Switching Limits: Confirmed!

It's funny that I'm an SP modeler, considering my father spent fifteen years at the Western Pacific Railroad. His knowledge of the business side of the railroad thanks to his time working on rates and doing sales in Oakland means that I know more about railroad tariffs than most kids.

And every now and then, he finds these tidbits and passes them on to me. Just before he joined the WP in 1952, they'd had a tour for the San Francisco salesmen of the San Jose sales area, and the booklet given to each salesman included this neat little map showing the WP and SP team tracks as well as the switching limits.

What are switching limits and how do they differ from yard limits? Yard limits are operational; they tell train crews which areas they can switch with impunity, and which requires the dispatcher's permission. Switching limits affect the rates charged customers (because moving cars within a terminal area has a different price than hauling it outside that area), and affects crew salary. As Jason Hill explained a while back, trains going outside switching limits generally required road crews and were paid by mileage (with a minimum) while yard crews switching within switching limits would get a daily rate.

At least for 1952, the switching limits for the SP in San Jose went to the north end of College Park yard, out (probably) to the San Jose Brick Co. spur on the Los Gatos branch, and down to the GE plant on the south side of town. This suggests that Campbell and Los Gatos probably got switched by road crews, while all the canneries around Auzerais St. on my layout could have been switched by yard crews.\

Remind me during operating sessions to give fewer cookies to the crews doing the San Jose Cannery job, and more to the crews switching Campbell and Los Gatos, ok? We might as well maintain the pay disparity for realism.

And for you WP fans, how about all those team tracks scattered around town?

1 comment:

  1. Actually, I suspect the switching limits on this map are actually the boundaries for reciprocal switching agreements - where railroads would move each other's cars for a smaller amount. Normally, if a freight car was ending up at an SP spur, SP would demand most of the money for handling the car. Inside the switching limits, if WP provided a car at an interchange, they could get the SP to handle the final movement of the car for a small amount. If outside that area, SP demanded to be the final carrier deserving the larger chunk. Salesmen needed to know these regions in order to understand the cost to the shipper, as well as the potential profit for their railroad.

    In contrast, the switching limits for yard crews vs. road crews was something discussed in the union agreement.