AH – 63



Canadian National Railway Company

(the "Company")


United Transportation Union

(The "Union")

IN THE MATTER OF THE reduction of yard crew consists



SOLE ARBITRATOR: J. F. W. Weatherill


There appeared on behalf of the Company:

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xxx –

And on behalf of the Union:

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xxx –


A hearing in this matter was held at Montreal on November 12, 1970.




This matter arises out of the failure of the parties to agree that adequate safety can be maintained with a reduced crew consist of one Yard Foreman and one Yard Helper for crews working in certain portions of the Montreal terminal. The ones in question is that bounded by:

Victoria Bridge: At west end of diversion switch;

Portal Heights: North end of Grotto, Mileage 3.4, Mont Royal Subdivision;

Coach Yard: To west end lead, Dominion Glass Switch;

C. Y. St. Henri: Mileage 3.6, De Courcelle Street, (to allow reverse movement into Bonaventure Yard); including Butler’s lead to and from west end diversion switch, Victoria Bridge, and excluding Cote St. Paul and Canal Bank Spurs; In addition trackage from C. Y. St. Henri, mileage 3.6, to and including Bonaventure Yard involving movement related to the transfer operation.

Exclusions: Switching on tracks 1 to 39 inclusive, Pt. St. Charles Main Yard;

Switching on team tracks 1 to 8 and tracks 7 to 13 inclusive, Pt. St. Charles Wabash Yard;

Switching on wye and lower industrial trackage, Pt. St. Charles.

Article 135A of the collective agreement provides that a yard crew is to consist of a foreman and two helpers, except where the crew may be determined to be reducible. In this case the company seeks to have it determined that yard crews in the areas set out above may be reduced to a foreman and one helper, with maintenance of adequate safety. In addition to studying the exhibits and the representations of the parties made at the hearing of this matter, I took a view of certain of the operations on November 25, 1970, in the company of representatives of both parties. That has been helpful to my understanding of the material before me.

The question whether work in the areas concerned can be performed by a reduced crew with maintenance of adequate safety is to be determined with relation to five matters raised by the union as showing that the crew is not properly reducible. Before dealing with these five matters, it may be said generally that there are some 28 yard crews working within the areas in question. Eight of these have been agreed to be reducible, and have operated with reduced consists for some time. A considerable part of the territory is on an interlocking system, on which signals and switches are operated by remote control. The occasions on which yard crew members are required to operate switches would seem to be quite rare.

Certain other portions of the territory covered in this case are controlled by an Automatic Block Signal system. The matters raised by the union in this case do not relate to this territory.

The first matter raised by the union relates to movements in and around Central Station. Here there are restricted clearances, and at times the engineman will be located on the opposite side of the engine from the platform being used. These movements, however, are made on the interlocking system, with the crews riding inside the cars, and most signals can easily be relayed by means of the air communicating system. In some instances, where hand signals must be used, one of the yardmen receives signals riding on the deck of the leading edge of the engine. Hand signals may also be used for slight movements within the station. It is clear to me from a study of the material before me, and from having seen the equipment in the station, that such moves could be made on hand signals for which a two-man crew would be adequate. The uncoupling of a car in the station is a move which might at first be thought to require an extra man, but observation of the move reveals that a third crew member would simply duplicate signals which can effectively be passed by a two-man crew using existing techniques.

The second matter raised by the union was as to the necessity of crews riding on the inside of certain types of equipment, in which cases it was said it would be necessary to have a man posted on each side of the car at the doors. while such equipment, such as baggage cars, may have no outside platform, any movement can be controlled by observation through open door at the leading end of the car. Even if two men were necessary in the car in such circumstances, communication with the engineman is accomplished by communicating signal. The necessity for a third yard crew member simply does not appear.

The third matter raised by the union involves the pushing movement made from the Victoria Bridge to the Point St. Charles Yard, when cars are moved to the Yard from Central Station. The movement is pulled by the engine (the engineman following centrally controlled signal indications) to a point on the bridge at which he is signalled to halt by a yard crew member. On a further signal the back-up movement begins. Thus, the leading end of the train will be a passenger or baggage car, and the movement must be controlled by a member of the crew, according to the signals displayed. The crew member has a communicating signal to the engineman, and also operates an air hose by which he himself can slow or halt the movement. In passenger equipment these two controls are together at the rear (now leading) end of the car, and one crew member could control the movement without difficulty. In baggage cars, the communicating signal is at the middle, rather than the rear of the car. For this reason, it is my view that for a back-up movement led by a baggage car, there should be two crew members riding in that car. Even if it were required that two crew members ride in the car at all times on this particular movement, however, it still does not appear what necessity there is, during this movement, for a third crew member. There are, as the union points out, curves, block signals and clearances required from switchtenders during this move, and there may be a number of stops. These complications, however, may be adequately dealt by a two-man crew.

Within the Yard, switching may be required, and it may be necessary for the train to be divided at the "midway". The yard tracks themselves are straight, although there are of course curves at the ends. The amount of switching is limited, and is generally for the purpose of setting off a few cars. It must be done by hand signals, and the question is simply one of maintaining adequate sight lines. There is no specification of any particular moves which could not be made by a two-man crew, nor of course would this be expected in the case of operations such as these. It is conceivable that in some cases, because of the length of a train, crowding of adjoining tracks, climatic conditions or the like, there could be difficulty in the proper passing of signals by two men. If such a situation were to arise the answer to it is to be found in the proper application of the Uniform Code of Operating Rules. Adherence to these might result in delay of the movement and a reduction of efficiency. That is a loss which the company would have to bear. On the material before me, however, it must be concluded that these operations could be carried out by a reduced crew with maintenance of adequate safety.

The fourth matter raised by the union related to switching on the repair tracks and the placing of cars inside the repair track building. Access to the repair tracks is controlled and cars standing on tracks outside the repair shop are flagged. Warning notice is given of any movement into the building. The tracks can handle only a very limited number of cars, and any problem of passing signals from the ground to the engineman is minimal. Even when cars are moved in the building, a crew member stationed at the entrance could, without difficulty, pass any signals from a yardman stationed inside the building to the engineman. In my view these moves could be performed by a reduced crew with maintenance of adequate safety.

The first matter raised by the union is the general problem created by the escape of steam, especially in winter, and in adverse climatic conditions. These matters would arise particularly, one would think, in and Central Station, and in parts of the Coach Yard. They have been considered in determining the questions arising with respect to those areas. As has been said before, where as a result of climatic conditions, or for any reasons, moves cannot be carried out by a crew, whatever its size, the only proper course is to comply with the provisions of the Uniform Code of Operating Rules. These possibilities, however, do not detract from the conclusion that the assignments in question can in general be carried out by a reduced crew with maintenance of adequate safety, even although this may be at the cost of some loss of productivity.

For the foregoing reasons it must be my conclusion that the crews in question are reducible, and I so award.


DATED AT TORONTO, this 7th day of December, 1970.

(signed) J. F. W. Weatherill