|Remote controlled train loading grain at Kansas Silo|
In the 1970s, new labor agreements and newer technology started to eliminate many of the crews' positions. First to go was the 2nd brakeman, now only one was needed. Walkie-Talkies made it possible to swithout a train without having to visually see the signals from the other crewmembers. Next, the Firemen, who had managed to somehow hold on to their jobs despite the fact that hardly any steam engines were left, started to be eliminated through attrition. As they retired, they were not replaced. Union agreements continued to weaken crews. A rule calling for trains not to exceed 71 car lengths made it possible to get rid of the remaining brakeman.
Now, there were two: the Engineer and the trusty old Conductor. Well, this didn't last long. The railroad decided that the cabooses were no longer needed and started to seat the Conductor up front with the Engineer. Well, even that didn't hold up for long. Now, even here at UP's Port Laredo Yard, there are remote-controlled engines going back and forth, with no one on board, switching out the next train to San Antonio. Progress indeed. Now you know where the term "I've been railroaded" comes from.