My father retired from the Union Pacific railroad as a section foreman. I worked for 15 years as a section crew member and a trainman. Years ago, railroads had section crews assigned to patrol 50 miles of track each. This crew usually consisted of three men working five days a week. Minor problems were immediately solved. Major problems were solved by calling for assistance from the nearest section crew or an extra work gang.
The last few years, the railroads have discontinued the use of local section crews, all in the name of profits. There have been no significant improvements to the railroad tracks as freight cars have become heavier and the trains have become longer.
Again in the name of profits, they have reduced the number of train crew numbers. There is now no one at the rear end of the trains to help spot any trouble with the train. The lack of rail upkeep can be directly related to the problems of operations.
Myron Bishop, Kennewick