Was there a crew exchange/relief point on the Atl-B'ham line?

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Does anyone know if there was a crew exchange point for overhead traffic on the former Seaboard Air Line/SCL line from Atlanta-Birmingham, or did the crews make the entire run from Atlanta-Birmingham in one shift? As most of you no doubt know, the last overhead traffic ran in January 1988 after which the line was partially abandoned.

-- Tom Randall (tkrandall@mindspring.com), June 21, 2000


Tom, To answer your question on a crew change point on the Atlanta to Birmingham S.A.L. line. Crews made the whole trip from either Atlanta or Birmingham with no stop. Extra-boards for engineer's and conductors are still maintained in both cities today on the CSX. There is also still a local switcher that works Cedartown and Rockmart, Georgia that is manned by former S.C.L. crews. As you might know parts of the old Seaboard line are still in use to take unit coal trains off of the W&A and K&A subdivisions to deliver to the Georgia Power plant at Stilesboro, Georgia. An old S.C.L. conductor once told me that CSX cut the Atlanta to Birmingham line in half because Burlington Northern had expressed interest in it when CSX planed it's demise. I hope that this information can be of use to you.

Best Regards, Justin Dzan

-- Justin Dzan (jbdzan@aol.com), July 14, 2000.

Through freight crews worked assignments rather than shifts. That is, they report for duty when their train is ready. Some crews had a regular reporting time, but could be "set back" if the train was not ready. The largest time constraint on ANY over-the- road crew is the Hours of Service Law. In SAL times it was 16 hours of continuous duty. This was lowered to 14 hours in the late sixties and is now 12 hours. A crew with 16 hours (or even 12 hours) to work should have been able to make the 161 miles between Howells Yard and Birmingham. Failing to do so, the SAL would call a a relief crew (known as a "bear crew" on the Wabash) to meet the expired crew and take the train to the next terminal.

In times past, a crew tieing up on the Hours of Service Law caused great pandemonium, but in today's railroading, it's a every day affair. On the ACL, a crew working between Pender and Kinston, NC duly complied with the Hours of Service Law by going off duty after 16 hours. They were then summoned to an investigation for failing to furnish protection for their train.

By my calculation, the overtime component of the Howell- Birmingham run didn't cut in until the crew had been on duty for 12 hours and 54 minutes.

-- Harry Bundy (y6b@aol.com), June 22, 2000.

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