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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada.

    Default Spare Boards

    Railroad related question.

    Do crews on the spare board often base out of one territory or cover multiple? For example are crews in my area that are regulars are on one territory rest in Toronto and come back. Just curious if I can base one out of Toronto for RTS prototypically.



  2. #2


    They very from RR to RR for the most part. Back in my RR history crews covered just a single territory either direction. That was due to learning / knowing every inch of the line in sections. These days in my neck of the woods with faster turn around, quicker trips. many of the old territories have become one the entire length of the line. Rarely call anyone from spareboard, some don't even maintain a spareboard. About the only time another crew called in here is if first crew outlaws, usually return trip. Some days if they know probably going to outlaw, trn stays the night at point B, & same crew returns in the morning to same trn. With both CN / CP pretty much your neck of the woods. Another factor union may also play a roll, whom does what / where if you will.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    New York


    When I was working we called it the "Extra Board". Basically you could be called to work where you were qualified to run. I knew a guy who was qualified all the way from Oak Island Yard in New Jersey to Cleveland,Ohio. The more qualifications that you had the more money that you could make but it was a tough deal as you could turn on as little as 8 hours off and work another maximum 12. I did it when I started in 1985{No Choice!!!} and couldnt wait to get off. I bid on anything and everything to avoid it. I finally worked the "shop goat" for about 5 years before retiring 2 years ago. Some railroads, mostly freight railroads could be "Extra Board" heavy especially if traffic fluctuated. Commuter Railroads were based more on a "Bid and Bump" system where you bid on regular assignments. Brian

  4. #4


    I've always heard it called the extra board, and it's usually the most junior guys on the seniority list. They cover sick calls as well as vacations or LOA, and you can sometimes wind up on a fixed assignment that would normally going to one of the top bid holders.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2014
    Alberta, Canada


    Spare board seems to be a Canadian term. CN and CP both use it (in their Canadian operations at least).

    Addressing the question specifically, spare boards for CP and CN in Canada generally only cover the terminal that they're set up in. So to use CP in Toronto as an example, somebody holding it would cover the north pool, east pool, south pool, and all of the assignments based out of Toronto. I don't think they'd ever have to cover something out of Thunder Bay or Kenora.

    I'm not a railroader though, and I can't be certain. Hopefully one stops by this thread.
    Last edited by SlackAction; 04-30-2021 at 11:59 AM.

  6. #6


    Quote Originally Posted by SlackAction View Post
    I'm not a railroader though, and I can't be certain. Hopefully one stops by this thread.
    xRR Both CP & CN several diff times, along with Regional & several shortlines over the yrs. MoPac several occasions during slowdowns / layoffs.

  7. #7


    Morning. T-Herder. You caused me to have to go back to school. Anyways, here's a page out of my CN (Uniform Code Of Operating Rules). which many of the smaller RRs in my neck of the woods use / follow / observe as well. May be of further interest believe CSX also followed same sort of wording about the time of my retirement. Happy Reading!.

    Extra Board A list of employees who may be assigned to train crews (1) when extra trains are run, (2) when regular crews have not had sufficient rest time before they can legally be required to return to duty, or (3) when relief men are required on regular crews.
    Extra Train A train not authorized by a timetable schedule. It may be designated as: Extra: for any extra train, except work extra. OR Passenger extra: for any extra train authorized by train order.

  8. #8


    T-Herder: Here's the more seat of the pants version.

    Work / life balance on the railroad

    It doesn't exist. Simple as that. Unless you are holding a scheduled yard job, you will always be on call. Forever. And ever. When you are first starting out, unless there is a huge retirement going on and move up in seniority really fast, you will start off on an extra board or spare board (they are the same thing, some people just call them different things). The spare board is an on call board for when there is not enough guys on pool jobs or when someone books off. You really NEVER know when you are going to work or where you'll be going on a spare board. It's really hell on earth. You may be just sitting down for a night out with your wife / girlfriend / family and you get a call to get to work for a train. You have to go, or risk getting fired.
    The lifestyle weighs heavily on many families. There is no work life balance. Sometimes divorces happen because of it. Or infidelity. Stress levels get very high on everyone in the family. Sadly, the divorce rate in the railroad industry is pretty high, as a whole. Above average, to say the least.

  9. #9


    T-Herder: This is more the real-world case Management looking to cut overtime

    Extra-board workers are called when management needs extra workers because additional trains are included in a schedule, regular crews have not had the minimum rest time set by law, or individual workers call in sick or with some other type of emergency.

    Extra-board workers are also used when regular workers are available but management wants to reduce the cost of overtime. A regular employee working overtime might receive up to two or even three times their standard hourly wage.
    If you have a pool of extra-board workers available, you can save money by calling them in instead of offering overtime.

    The term extra-board employment describes a pool of workers who are available to cover for regular employees. These workers are employed under special terms and usually do not enjoy all the benefits and entitlements of regular workers. However, the hourly wage of an extra-board worker is often higher than the hourly wage of a regular worker with the same job description.

  10. #10


    It all depends on the union rules.

    I'd expect that in your example, the Niagara-Toronto subdivision would have crew assignments and an extra board to cover jobs that are called out of both terminals defining the ends of the territory.

    Union rules might require a Niagara crew to be deadheaded to cover the second section of your original train, or they might allow Toronto crews to cover the same movement dispatched under a separate train number... I know at my company both would be legal as long as the number of hours and assignments each crew base is supposed to have remains balanced out.
    Last edited by eolesen; 04-30-2021 at 10:51 PM.

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