Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore?
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Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore?

November 6, 2019


Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore? For well over a century, cabooses, the cute
quintessentially red cars at the rear of trains in years past, served an integral function
in train operations. Carrying a brakeman and a flagman back when
brakes were set by hand, when it was time to slow the train, the engineer would blow
the whistle. This signaled to the brakemen, and one would
emerge from the caboose and work his way toward the engine, while another would leave the
engine and work his way back toward the caboose. At each car, the brakemen would stop and turn
its brakewheel with a club. Once the train stopped, the flagman would
leave the caboose with a flag, lantern or other visual display and walk back down the
track to warn any approaching trains. The caboose was also an office for the conductor,
who was responsible for managing the paperwork that accompanied each freight car. Often assigned to a particular man, the interiors
of cabooses would be equipped as temporary living quarters, and even decorated with personal
items like photos and curtains. Considered a home away from home, crews would
sometimes sleep in the cabooses, and many conductors even prepared meals in them. Legend has it, the cupola on top of the caboose
was invented by a conductor who used to stack boxes up, sit on them, and look through a
hole in the roof of his car. Regardless of its true origins, after about
1863, the cupola became a fixture on cabooses, and was used by all of the men to observe
the train and look for signs of trouble (like overheated hotboxes). Also called a doghouse, bone breaker, hack,
hearse, monkey cage, crumm, and snake wagon, the caboose, like the brakemen and flagmen
who used them, became unnecessary as technology was developed that performed their jobs just
as well, and for less money. Air brakes were developed in the 1880s, thus
eliminating the need to turn a wheel. Electric-powered signals, triggered by track
circuits, made signaling other trains automatic, and improvements in bearings made the problem
of overheating a thing of the past. In addition, trains grew longer and the cars
became so tall that viewing much of the train from a caboose became impossible. On top of that, computers eventually took
over the paper-handling duties, so there was no need to store any such paperwork on board. Rather than a cheerful red car, today’s
trains have small boxes that fit over their rear couplers to monitor operations. Tied into the train’s air brake line, these
End of Train devices (EOTs) transmit brake pressure information to the engineer, who
can also adjust the air brakes with the device. This is helpful for emergencies, since even
if the train breaks in two, the brakes of the rear part
can be activated.

100 Comments

  • Reply TGs Train Clips May 30, 2018 at 9:44 am

    IT'S CABEESE

  • Reply Mike McGomer June 15, 2018 at 12:16 am

    My father worked for the C.P. railway and he brought me to work and I would sleep in the caboose untill they finished the shunt. I would start the stove and they would have beer (dry Ice was allways there) and I would sometimes ride the in that cubby hole on top….Then if I was lucky my dad would sneak out the reverser (a tool like key that controlls direction) and let me run the locomotive, but only between the switches as you cant mess it up.

    My god father was also an engineer and would be in the bar car drinking while his fifteen year old son Greg was running the train…. I KID NOT.

  • Reply Herb Tenderson June 16, 2018 at 6:30 pm

    You are my favorite person.

  • Reply scott ri June 29, 2018 at 3:05 pm

    Nope

  • Reply jbooks888 July 1, 2018 at 8:09 pm

    The train on a wedding dress still has a caboose.

  • Reply Jakaboomaddness July 13, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    In the UK we call these Brake Vans…….

  • Reply fritzb43 July 16, 2018 at 4:06 am

    Railroad greed. It certainly didn't help the railroads, did it? Can you say Rails to Trails, boys & girls.

  • Reply Steamloco July 16, 2018 at 11:11 am

    The Norfolk Southern railroad runs a small branchline near my house that still uses a caboose as a platform for someone to stand on while the train reverses, they actually just got a new caboose a few weeks back.

  • Reply Rose Lane Mable July 21, 2018 at 6:33 pm

    I always looked forward to seeing the Caboose at the end of trains. The new flashing light just doesn't have the same affect as the Cabosse had.

  • Reply Robin Roshto July 22, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    I haven't thought about a train in so long I had forgotten about cabooses. Very 🚂 interesting information. Trains need cabooses for decoration if nothing else and think of the children! All of their books about trains have a caboose. My small farming town still has a train station. Although, I've never seen a train there.

  • Reply Josh Jones July 24, 2018 at 5:02 am

    the flashing red light at the end of a train is called a fred, or a flashing rear end device. It is coloquially called a fucking rear end device because it emits a horrible sound which makes a man sick, which I know from getting too close to one.

  • Reply Ribbons Almark July 26, 2018 at 2:59 am

    Here in Bogalusa Louisiana we have a Caboose parked off the track right next to the old train station still as historical landmark now 🙂 gone but not forgotten.

  • Reply Victoria Cyunczyk July 27, 2018 at 3:37 am

    They are still in use, especially on unsignaled lines and long backup moves

  • Reply Today I Found Out August 3, 2018 at 6:16 am

    Now that you know where all the cabooses have gone check out this video and find out Why a Gecko’s Feet can Stick to Almost Anything:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ySPl_WVgvc

  • Reply Norbert Siewert August 15, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    With technology advancing, brakemen became obsolete, so the caboose.

  • Reply join the conversation September 17, 2018 at 2:28 am

    I believe that railroads should bring back the CABOOSE especially for trains traveling a long distance. Engineer or conductor at rest in the caboose and then swaps places with the engineer or conductor behind the throttle. OR if the guy up front starts feeling bad then somebody can take over. How they swap out might be a small ATV? Not to mention that the CABOOSE could carry some kind of emergency gear or extra stuff in case of a problem.  Just sying

  • Reply join the conversation September 17, 2018 at 2:29 am

    BTW? A CABOOSE could not weight as much as normal rolling stock so weight should NOT be a problem!

  • Reply DrDewott September 26, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Meanwhile a "Caboose" in my country would just have been a passenger wagon not in use at that moment If they even needed one at all. Most freight wagons over here also have a short platform at the end that a conductor could jump up on and guide the train from. Though nowadays with the use of Walkie Talkies and radio controlled engines we don't need as much of that anymore

  • Reply Logan Z October 13, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    Hey I have seen one on a union paific passenger train

  • Reply Ham549 October 30, 2018 at 8:17 pm

    Very wrong about the paper work. It still needs to be done and stored but thst is all done in the locomotive now.

  • Reply Ham549 October 30, 2018 at 8:19 pm

    If the train breaks in two the brakes WILL be activated on there own since the train air line will be severed

  • Reply Alex Games November 11, 2018 at 12:38 pm

    Soo line did in fact used their signature red and white M930 caboose up until to CP merger in 1990 both in pre and post merger

  • Reply NC car guy November 14, 2018 at 2:20 am

    I wish cabooses were still around I was born just a few years too late to experience them

  • Reply Kommandant louis November 16, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    if you mean that usa has a lot of natural resosech by invading every nation with oil then yes if not then no

  • Reply Ryan Smith November 29, 2018 at 11:39 pm

    I think when they started using the E.O.T (End Of Train) device they didn't need to use caboose's anymore

  • Reply Exlaax January 11, 2019 at 9:05 am

    there are at least two caboose in my town just sitting there

  • Reply BigGulp 6969 February 8, 2019 at 10:16 am

    lol, top right 2:44

  • Reply cobra3050 March 5, 2019 at 3:12 am

    Wow very interesting

  • Reply Ricky Davis March 15, 2019 at 1:36 am

    Most train set still using caboose lol

  • Reply Joe Madej March 20, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    Railroads no longer have to build or buy cabooses, and the 2 crew positions have been eliminated, both things saving the railroads money.

  • Reply William Eastin March 21, 2019 at 4:44 am

    I like you're voice and the way you talk Simon it has a certain calming and reassuring feeling to it

  • Reply Marie BCFHS March 22, 2019 at 11:25 am

    all of the brakes on a train would activate automatically if the train breaks in two, because a pressure drop due to the broken air pipe would cause all brake valves to activate

  • Reply Smokey Mitchell March 24, 2019 at 5:08 am

    While it’s true they many of the things we used to do with a caboose have changed with technology, the big reason we don’t use them much is actually safety. And I must add we do still have them and occasionally use them. But federal regulations prevent anyone being inside. The doors and windows are closed off these days. But it’s a hassle to put it in a line up so normally we don’t use it. If they were safe we would still use them. Just not in the same way.

  • Reply warhawkjah March 30, 2019 at 4:04 pm

    I occasionally see cabooses or cabeese in south Seattle. They are usually parked but a few weeks ago I saw one on a moving train.

  • Reply bnsf rail fan santa fe productions March 31, 2019 at 9:28 pm

    EOT aka Fred 🙂

  • Reply conrail modeler67890 April 5, 2019 at 12:30 am

    ITS ALL FREDS FAULT

  • Reply Joe Diver April 5, 2019 at 2:57 am

    I see engines at both ends of freight trains. Are, sometimes two or more at each end. What's the deal with that? Are all the engines pulling/pushing?

  • Reply Doug M April 5, 2019 at 8:45 am

    Also as the trains got longer it became more violent to be in the caboose and injuries became more common. There are a bunch of physics that happen in the train.

  • Reply Johnny James April 5, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    the slack action in the draft gear of the cars had the locomotive going 40 mph before the caboose ever started to move hence the crew in the caboose was in serious danger of injury or death. They even put seat belts in the caboose!

  • Reply John-Paul Nagel April 6, 2019 at 10:19 am

    I Miss Cabooses!

  • Reply Zeldafan jolo April 7, 2019 at 9:02 am

    Only got this video recommended because I searched for Starlight express content…I never knew so much about anything regarding trains…I'm impressed

  • Reply shadowsdad903 April 7, 2019 at 7:01 pm

    On the Union Pacific they referred to the caboose replacement as “Conductor FRED” the
    F-ing rear end device !

  • Reply Gaylene Morley April 8, 2019 at 5:08 am

    Trains are incomeplete without caboose. Its not a whole train

  • Reply Rob Ot April 8, 2019 at 2:23 pm

    No, we don't know where the cabooses went.

  • Reply Railroads Across Maine April 8, 2019 at 11:45 pm

    Because the railroads like to spend crazy money on taxi rides, and lodging for the train crews instead…

  • Reply Richard Cranium @ Dicks Inn April 9, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    As a kid I always saw trains with a caboose.
    I dont like the computer world that is taking jobs from a blue collar worker.
    To me, a train is not complete without a caboose.

  • Reply joe woodchuck April 10, 2019 at 3:19 am

    I didnt listen to the audio so i dont know if it was mentioned that cabooses were used more on freight trains to provide a place for crew. On a passenger train they could be in a passenger car. No shelter or seats on a freight train. Im gjessing the following but since at least some cabooses had bunks and stoves i assume thered be a way to accomodate more crew for shift changes on a long run.

  • Reply LectronCircuits April 10, 2019 at 3:25 pm

    Cabooses must be resurrected and reinstated at all costs. Cheers!

  • Reply JOE ENDICOTT April 10, 2019 at 9:45 pm

    Don’t need a lantern waver. We now have Fred and other etds to do the job

  • Reply Alan Strong April 10, 2019 at 11:48 pm

    That would be fun to make a caboose livable. Perhaps one from the former Illinois Central RR.

  • Reply savage1267 April 11, 2019 at 5:52 am

    You beautiful bald bastard.

  • Reply Keith Moffat April 11, 2019 at 10:25 pm

    Not eliminated by technology sir but by greed. The E.O.T. looses communication regularly in valleys and tunnels. It also doesn't have a set of eyes or a brain to see suck things as malfunctioning brakes, dragging equipment or damage. Wayside detectors malfunction more often than not. As a former engineer and conductor I know this to be fact. E.O.T. truly means end of trainmen.

  • Reply George Williams April 11, 2019 at 11:35 pm

    You know they still use the caboose car for it's scenic railroad trains, out at the Stone Mountain theme park in Stone Mountain Ga.

  • Reply Mr. C April 12, 2019 at 3:09 am

    Because they found out they could do the same thing without paying someone? Mystery solved.

  • Reply Joe Smith April 12, 2019 at 3:31 am

    Can’t understand what dude is saying

  • Reply PunMaster April 12, 2019 at 11:35 am

    I love your videos, but your preference for American terms here really annoyed me. You are British, cater to us first.

  • Reply daniel ferstendig April 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm

    omg thomas tank engine

  • Reply Peter Kay April 12, 2019 at 3:41 pm

    they've gone away because of back in the day each crew used to have a 5 man crew, then went down to 3 man crew and and is now a 2 man crew, therefore the need for cabooses was no longer needed, now with ptc the crew may actually become a one man crew, maybe eventually being run without anyone on the train…. only time will tell how far this will go

  • Reply Backyardmech1 April 12, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    I remember hearing the EOT device being referred to as a FRED. F***ing Rear End Device.

  • Reply D Bennett April 12, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    They also had a extended section on each side of the caboose so entire train could be seen. Height of cars didn't make a difference. The bench seats could be flipped in either direction & it didn't matter which end faced engine. In some accidents people were thrown from caboose if in top compartment & that was major reason for eliminating that type & using side view instead.🚂🚃

  • Reply Muddy Mustache 69 April 12, 2019 at 7:03 pm

    The caboose on the show the wild wild west very kick ass.

  • Reply seatheous robloxian April 13, 2019 at 12:00 am

    They phased them out while I was in middle school

  • Reply Raymx slapped y'all April 13, 2019 at 12:35 am

    Anyone else's sound not syncing with guys mouth?

  • Reply Osama I April 13, 2019 at 8:34 am

    We still have them and I love this wagon

  • Reply Tony Beech April 13, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    Whatever reason you have,. You only get the reason they want you to know, history is all different now, hell Eli Whitney is now a white man in the history books now

  • Reply Mark Holmgren April 13, 2019 at 5:16 pm

    As loose as a caboose

  • Reply Squirrel April 13, 2019 at 10:58 pm

    can you do a video on why Simon doesn't have any hair anymore?

  • Reply David Henderson April 14, 2019 at 1:20 am

    I seen a HI-Rail truck (a pick-up truck that can on on both rail and road) pulling one down the track just a month ago doing maintenance work.

  • Reply Hank Bridges April 14, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Train crews need a place to sleep and eat on long trips.

  • Reply JungleYT April 14, 2019 at 7:54 am

    Perhaps they called them "Bone Breakers" – 1:37, because for long train, by the time the slack got taken out and traveled back to caboose of a starting train, the sudden snatch could be so violent it could throw someone against the walls, floor, etc. That's why they supposedly had handles inside for holding on to…

  • Reply Gary Vallone April 14, 2019 at 4:01 pm

    It would be cool to own a caboose and just use it for a little cabin

  • Reply Kermit Mexico productions April 14, 2019 at 8:20 pm

    Did he just say cabooses not cabeese

  • Reply Spencer Greenhill April 14, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    It would be much better to be able to see the video rather than him

  • Reply RICKY GARCIA April 15, 2019 at 12:18 am

    A lot of trains now run dpus distributed power units on the rear they are radio controlled by the front locomotive and fallow the commands of the engineer.

  • Reply Ken Rosser April 15, 2019 at 1:20 am

    Most railroads in the u.s. still use them on certain trains

  • Reply whiteclifffl April 15, 2019 at 4:59 am

    Did the poor caboose died?

  • Reply 12bucklemyshoe1 April 15, 2019 at 11:55 am

    Don’t care. I’m still waving.

  • Reply JinglesTheClown April 15, 2019 at 11:25 pm

    Good thing cabooses exist in the UK!

  • Reply azmax623 April 15, 2019 at 11:46 pm

    There's one in Phoenix, Az used between the engine and freight cars to push freight cars around without coupling to them.

  • Reply ss April 16, 2019 at 2:44 am

    I didn't realise the EOT was so sophisticated and not just a rear light. It's a brake van in a small box.

  • Reply [email protected] yoder April 16, 2019 at 6:26 am

    I know caboose are now rare but I know where one is at and it is in magnificent condition. On the west side of my town.

  • Reply [GopnikMc Blyat51] April 16, 2019 at 11:42 am

    When i first see this video, he look like Vsauce

  • Reply Robert Leyshion April 16, 2019 at 1:54 pm

    I worked on the last order of 500 cabooses ever manufactured in the USA. I welded the air brake assemblies and safety appliances. We manufactured them all at Fruit Growers Express in Alexandria, VA. I remember distinctly the very last caboose rolling off the assembly line.

  • Reply Texassince1836 April 16, 2019 at 2:26 pm

    When a train brakes in 2 the brakes for the whole train are quickly applied in "Emergency" (which cannot be overridden until the train stops and someone walks back to the breaking point)

  • Reply Lyle Johnson April 17, 2019 at 1:32 am

    I grew up in Clinton,Iowa and had a huge Chicago-Northwestern railroad yard for servicing engines and cars. This line ran North and South through the city along the Mississippi River. Union Pacific ran East and West across the railroad bridge across the river. I miss seeing the caboose on the trains.

  • Reply Bubba Parrish April 17, 2019 at 2:47 pm

    F.R.E.D fright rear end device

  • Reply Ramon Gonzalez April 18, 2019 at 9:10 am

    MISS THOSE DAYS WHEN I USED TO RIDE IN IT…AM A TRAIN HOPER AND NOWADAYS I EVEN RIDE THE ARMY TANKS

  • Reply Joe A. April 24, 2019 at 12:49 am

    Some still do!
    https://youtu.be/TfIYRCLijPw

  • Reply LincolnTek April 30, 2019 at 11:34 pm

    Technology killed the caboose.

  • Reply GeRg W May 26, 2019 at 4:08 pm

    Is there really a whole bunch of power running through the tracks of some modern train systems?

  • Reply Giggitee O'Yeah May 27, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    Naughty men kept pinching and slapping the cabooses of pretty slim lady trains.

  • Reply Josh Kusiak July 8, 2019 at 12:51 am

    Bring them back

  • Reply Jon White July 12, 2019 at 3:22 pm

    If the train breaks in two, the splitting of the air hoses automatically applies the brakes not the device on tHe rear!

  • Reply Tyler Murdock July 13, 2019 at 11:28 am

    I remember when I was younger there was an old light orange caboose in my town train yard that just got pushed back and forth to make room for passing trains until one day a few years later it just disappeared. Always did wondered what happened to it. If I could have taken it somehow I would have as a hang out spot for my friends and I

  • Reply Jeffrey Bodean July 14, 2019 at 8:38 pm

    $ave money…the heck with saftey.

  • Reply Mr. Bari Sax August 1, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    DPUs were created so the unit can be able to push a full loaded train uphill, and help Dynamic braking downhill

  • Reply John Lake September 25, 2019 at 6:47 am

    I used to ferry the train crews to and from their needed places. They would refer to the end-of-train (EoT) devices as FREDs which stood for Flashing Rear End Device.

  • Reply John Moar September 25, 2019 at 11:49 pm

    you have cut out the human element from your yarn,the mail they used to sort and gave out throw out in a bag,milk cans ,spare parts etc,the gaurds van had a life of its own,great way to get home with a warm coal fire

  • Reply cliff woodbury October 10, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    I didn't knnow much of that (cabooses were living spaces)

  • Reply john tracy October 13, 2019 at 3:27 pm

    The last time I saw a caboose on a train was about 25 years ago.

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