Frequently Asked Questions
How to prevent trouble when requesting moves on Class 1 Railroads. Full data in the Railinc system to include Umler, FUR, AEI tags properly mounted and working, air brake COT&S test performed by a certified technician, air date uploaded to Umler and stenciled on car, bearing lube maintained by qualified personnel, air hoses in date, reporting mark and number legibly stenciled on car, structural integrity of the car and safety appliances intact, coupling and draft systems can pass inspection, brake shoes/disc pads have more than sufficient material to make the trip, if not curved plate hub stamped wheels there will be issues, wheel tread and flanges have "sufficient meat" to make the trip, full documentation of air work on the car for inspection... You need sufficient lead time in move request to allow inspection by originating Railroad and correction of any deficiencies they find. And lastly, the rolling stock needs to be insured with the registering agency an ‘Also Insured' or ‘Certificate Holder’. And, new requirements for data due to Positive Train Control (PTC) WILL affect ALL cars and locos.
In summary, a passenger car MUST be AAR S-4045 compliant, a freight car or loco must meet all current AAR and FRA requirements, and all data must be properly captured in Umler.
Class One Railroads with restriction:
Additionally for CSX, rotating end cap bearings required - non-rotating end cap bearings of either oil or grease lube not acceptable, and on some Class One railroads, CSX and UP included, locos moving Dead In Tow require alignment control couplers.
Currently, UP has an embargo in place on moving passenger cars on own wheels. They may move cars but only after the owner provides inspection data, full Umler data, and whatever additional data UP decides is required before movement can be approved. Contact GLR for more information on moving on UP.
What is Umler? See the Umler page for the history of the system.
What is Find Us Rail (FUR)? Many questions are asked about FUR.
Why do I or my agent need to maintain this? FUR is now used by industry people from marketing, accounting, and operations to reach you if something goes wrong on a move (derailment) or they have question regarding accounting or if you are using an agent.
They used to look in the Pocket List of Railroad Officials, but many now use this Railinc Application to reach you. You must be willing to take their calls whenever they call. If you don’t want this responsibility, you need to make sure your agent knows how you want things handled, or for movement use a logistics agent to make the move who will watch over and catch problems and correct them per your instructions.
What are reporting marks? Reporting marks are the letters preceding a car's numbers that are stenciled on the side of each rail car and they denote ownership of the car. They consist of two, three or four letters. In order to be legitimate, reporting marks must be assigned by Railinc / AAR. This requires an application process and fees, and signing the AAR Interchange Agreement. Private car owners that are not railroads have reporting marks ending in the letter "X”. An AAR reporting mark is not the FRA Identifier supplied by the FRA for reporting your locomotive maintenance if you do not have a reporting mark.
If you do not have a reporting mark, what now? If you do not have a reporting mark and need to move equipment, there are a couple of options. Apply for your own reporting mark (approximately $525 at this writing plus annual fees), join and ‘aggregation organization’ to use their mark, or under certain conditions GLR may allow use of their reporting mark. Contact GLR to discuss your situation.
Why do cars and locos need to be registered? The AAR field Manual, Rule 90 Section A Paragraph 2 clearly prohibits cars in interchange that are not properly registered in the Umler file, as defined by the AAR Specification Manual. Umler registration helps provide data on car(s)/loco(s) handling restrictions, tracking characteristics, ownership and history. The Class 1 Railroads (BNSF, CN, CP, CSX, KCS, NS and UP) have mandated that all rolling stock offered for movement on the Class 1 portion of the General Railway System of North America must be in Umler. This includes all cars and all locomotives of any type or configuration moving on their own wheels. Illegitimate reporting marks could duplicate legitimate marks, causing cars to become misrouted or lost, or otherwise mishandled. With the new PTC control systems coming on line, the registration provides access to correct data of cars to allow computing the stopping distance.
What is an AEI tag? An AEI tag is a small plastic box containing passive electronic equipment. It is mounted in a specific location, one on each side of every car/loco. When the car/loco passes a special scanner, the tag broadcasts the car's identity and orientation to the scanner. This has become the principal means of reporting car/loco locations and movement on the General Railway System of North America.
How do I get these tags? New and used tags are available from the railroads themselves and from a variety of other companies. Secondhand tags, including programming, are available for about $40/set. GLR can help you get tags. You want to get them mounted before car movement because when the railroads mount them, you pay a premium.
Where do I mount them? Location of the tag is very specific, and is defined in AAR Standard S-918 is available on the web site on the FORMS page. This contains where to locate the tags on a car.
Can I have an AEI tag without registering in Umler? Not on a class 1 railroad. All Class One railroads require full Umler entries to move any rolling stock. You may be able obtain the tag, have it programmed with real or imaginary reporting marks, and mount it on your car. This will give you the benefit of making the car "trackable" by AEI scanners, and may still be acceptable by some railroads. However, the reporting mark and car number the tag responds with will be checked by the computers against Umler, and will be found to not be there, or incorrect. This can cause problems with car movements until resolved. It is much easier to get caught with illegitimate marks this way. Also, Softrail will not program a tag if it is not in Umler, they make sure it matches Umler as a quality check.
What about the reverse? Not on a class 1 railroad. You can have a car registered in Umler and not have AEI tags applied. Some owners and operators have been doing this for some time. This allows a car to move if the carrier requires only Umler registration, but it does not enhance the tracking ability because the car is not automatically reporting its location without tags. All Class One railroads now require BOTH tags and Umler, and if the car or loco doesn't have tags, the RR will apply them for you and invoice you the standard cost via a CRB (Car Repair Billing). This costs about $175, and that also means they may mount them in a way you might not like.
How long does registration take? If you get your own reporting mark and get set up to access Umler, almost instantly as long as you properly register the rolling stock. The railroad may not see it until you request movement. If you are going to use the services of an aggregation group, you need to plan on giving our staff about two weeks to get your car or loco properly registered. Any fatal data errors will prevent the rolling stock from being registered. Please provide full information to help this process go as smoothly as possible. The data marked as mandatory on the data sheet and instructions are so marked for a reason. If this data is not provided, it will be a fatal upload error. Therefore it is useless to try to upload without that data.
What if I buy a car that was previously registered in Umler? The AAR requires documentation that the reporting mark change is legal for any inter-entity (company or person selling to another company or person) change of ownership. To comply with this, there are two ways of doing it. The obsolete manual way is to send a missive to Railinc showing the old reporting mark and number and the new reporting mark and number with bill of sale or authorization of the seller. The modern electronic way is for the seller to allow for a re-stencil to the new reporting mark by granting a permission in Umler. The new reporting mark accepts the permission and the equipment moves from one reporting mark to another by using the Umler re-stencil process. Either way, the seller will need to provide to the buyer a signed authorization stating that the reporting mark change is authorized, which is sent to either Railinc in the first example, or GLR in the second. That way, if GLR is audited, we have the record on file. If this is not available, you need at the very least to send us a copy of the bill of sale. If you are only changing the mark and not ownership, i.e. an intra-company transfer, or moving a car/loco from one assigned reporting mark to another assigned reporting mark within the same entity, you need to provide a letter of authorization (see example below). Don't forget that the AEI tags require reprogramming or must be replaced! If someone tells you a clone will work, you could end up on freight equipment losing your CHARM rate on that car. A clone and re-stencil are NOT the same thing.
A NOTE ON CAR DATA:
For new equipment, the builder should be able to provide all the data required. If not, GLR can upload the equipment from the construction cards or other drawings, including CAD.
For used equipment, most of the car and loco data is available on typical AAR approved designs, including in Umler itself. The seller should have data available. If not, we may be able to capture or perform a re-stencil from Umler if the seller has not already deleted it, or we can identify a "sister" (identical) car or loco still active in Umler, and as a last resort we can manually build the car from library data.
Locos, Maintenance of Way (MoW) equipment and passenger cars can be problematic at times. There is much more information required for locos, MoW equipment quite often gets modified, and passenger cars can be very unique. In 'new Umler', passenger cars NOW have their own Equipment Type Code. GLR can assist with data from our extensive library, at our research rate.
If you are measuring the rolling stock yourself, you will NOT do this correctly with a 3 foot yard stick and a 3 step kitchen stool! If in doubt, GET HELP! There are many contractors and consultants out there that can help as well as GLR.
This has become very important with respect to weight. A wet thumb in the wind estimate is no longer acceptable. If you have not had the car weighed recently, get help.