When is a train backing?

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RCH

Been Nothin' Since Frisco
This is a pretty confusing topic for new hire railroaders, so don't feel bad if there seems to be a lot of misleading information or doubletalk. I can't speak to the rules on the NP in the 50's but in general the operating rules regarding authority and movement of trains and engines have not changed a whole lot.

Before a train or engine can move anywhere it must be authorized to move. A dispatcher, control operator or yardmaster may authorize trains to move on a specific section of track or between two stations or on all tracks at the west end of the yard, for example. A track warrant is given to the crew which delineates the limits of their authority, such as station Anna to station Cloy or Milepost 15 to Milepost 48.

Within the limits of the train's authority it may be able to move freely in either direction to accomplish switching moves or to leave the authorized track and move to another track. When the crew is directing the engineer to move within the limits of their authority the communication is accomplished with hand or radio signals and the engineer will respond accordingly. If by radio, the crew will command the engineer to move "ahead" or "back up" relative to the F stencil on the controlling locomotive. If by hand signal during the day, a "come to me" gesture is given or a "go away from me" gesture is given relative to the person giving hand signals. By lantern signal a "go ahead" or "back up" gesture is given by the person giving lantern signals.

Whistle signals are given by the engineer relative to the direction the locomotive is or will be moving. If the end with the F stencil is the leading end of the movement, two long whistles indicate the brakes are released and the locomotive will move ahead. Three short whistles indicate the brakes are released and the locomotive will back up. One long whistle signal indicates the brakes are applied.

In the case of multiple unit locomotives, the unit that is cut in as lead locomotive of the consist determines the direction of travel of the entire consist. It doesn't matter which one is set up for lead (and there can be only one leader of a consist), the F stencil on the leader sets the direction of travel "ahead" or "back up."

Shoving is handling cars ahead of the locomotive, whether the locomotive is moving ahead or backing up. In this case, "ahead of the movement" simply means as the train comes by cars or locomotives not controlling the movement will be the first to pass followed at some point by the controlling locomotive. The key when shoving is that a crew member other than the person operating the locomotive must physically observe and protect the leading end of the shove movement. This crew member will communicate distance and direction to the person operating the locomotive using radio signals or hand signals (lantern signals after dark). The person operating the locomotive acknowledges hand signals with the appropriate whistle signal and acknowledges radio signals with the radio.

A reverse movement has to do only with the direction the train or engine is authorized to move. If the train is authorized to proceed north and for some reason needs to go south, permission must be obtained from the person who granted the authority. For example, train BNSF 1234 West is authorized to proceed westbound (by timetable direction, which may disagree with the actual direction) from station Anna to station Cloy and is only authorized to proceed in that direction. To change direction the dispatcher must grant permission.* In some cases the old authority must be given up and a new authority granted to proceed in the opposite direction. Whichever direction the train is authorized to move, movement opposite the direction authorized is called a reverse movement.

Some trains are authorized to move in both directions between two points and therefore cannot make a reverse movement. Today this is accomplished in Track Warrant Control territory with a track warrant box 4 "work between." In CTC a train authorized to move in both directions will not have a direction associated with its name ("BNSF 1234" instead of "BNSF 1234 North").

The takeaway here is that reverse refers to the train's authority and backing up has to do with the physical movement of the train or engine, such as during switching operations.


* In CTC a train can change direction within the same signaled block, but cannot proceed outside that block without authority.
 

tootnkumin

Well-Known Member
Staff member
It depends on what you want your railroad to be/do. If you are 'modelling', then you probably should pick a prototype and deal with those realities. But, you could always switch it up if it makes sense to do that. Or, if you wish to hold to 'modeler's license', do as you wish to suit your preferences.

Those who paint and decal model locomotives with their own made-up road can do as they please, for example. Suppose, however, that they had trackage rights with the B&O. If they're using their locomotives on B&O trackage, it seems to me you'd want to follow B&O rules for direction of travel for the sake of the host road's personnel doing track maintenance and wanting to keep clear of moving rolling stock.

So, what is your orientation to your locomotives as they are liveried and also your trains? ARE you modeling? Or just freelancing a fictional road? Are you interchanging with a prototype and are you expected to conform to that road's rules, or just when interchanging?
Good to see you're getting in with the swing of things Crandell. Just to theorise on the scenario of what you have put forward there. In order to prevent or minimise as much as possible the confusion that could occur (and probably might) of having one or more locos with these opposing front directional indicating markings, working in close proximity at the same convergence of spatial parameters, would it not be logically fitting to have each designated to it's own classification duties in different sections of the classification yard? So, in fact they never behave in such a manner that there could be the physical risk of collision or mishap occurring, especially to the crews or any switchmen employed. The final assembly of the the 2/two sections of the train accomplished by the use of a switcher or switchers not so encumbered with the directional restrictiveness of an F, or, if none is available a pair of others coupled at the B ends so it doesn't matter, they will always be going forward in a push-me-pull-you consist, depending on which loco has the crew within it's cab and their F's at the furthest apart?

A simple yes/no answer should suffice.
 

Boris

Beach Bum
OK, this is why we now have Crew Job briefings at the start of the tour, and during the tour if the plan changes..to avoid confusion.

When I first started, as a Locomotive Fireman, I was instructed that the front of the locomotive was marked with an F for forward.

I was also instructed that If use of the horn was appropriate, the engineer would sound two short before moving forward, three short to back up, and four short, if he did not understand the hand signals he was given.

I also learned that regardless of the designation F, on a road train the direction of movement was determined by the direction the train was moving.
Example: PRR GG1s and E44s were bi-directional locomotives. the GG1 had two cabs, one on the #1, (F or Boiler), end the other on the #2 or back end.
the determination was determined by the end the engineer was operating from. Since the rules required the engineer to be on the leading end of the movement when practible. The E44 had a single cab (like a road switcher with a long and short end. The cab contained two separate control stands, one for the short hood leading, the other for the long hood leading. The short hood was designated the "F" end, however the front would be the front end for movement, and hand or horn signals would be the end the engineer was operating from. Same criteria would apply to dual control diesels.
Otherwise the "F" for front end applied.

That's why there was another rule, which required the movement to be stopped, if signals were misunderstood.
 
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Ash Pit

Active Member
I need to appologize to everyone, When I get into something, I tend to look at it like I have asked the complete question. Most of the time, when I ask questions, the people here tend to show me that I was not specific enough! I may also tend to wander off track after starting a topic. I also have some reading dislexia and can miss read what someone has said. I am sorry about this!
 

Ash Pit

Active Member
I looked at all three of my diesel switchers and found that all three had "F"s on the side of the decks and at what I would think were the front of the locomotives. So, now I know if a movment is towards the "F", the train is going forward. If the loco's movement is away from the "F" the train is reversing. Thanks to all for the help!!!
 

cv_acr

Active Member
I looked at all three of my diesel switchers and found that all three had "F"s on the side of the decks and at what I would think were the front of the locomotives. So, now I know if a movment is towards the "F", the train is going forward. If the loco's movement is away from the "F" the train is reversing. Thanks to all for the help!!!
Not exactly.

The engine could be oriented in "reverse", pulling the train "forward" in the direction it's authorized to move in...

It's all relative.

The engines all have one end marked as "F"(ront) because: A) the engineer's controls are set up facing that direction (although there are some examples of engines with dual control stands, for either direction), and B) maintenance needs to know, and any issues would be reported as "right rear" etc. for locating problems/work items.

A switch engine in a yard is just operating as an engine. Movement is relative to the engine's direction, or possibly to the yard tracks (e.g. "ahead" pulling out of the track, "back" pushing into the track) while classifying cars.

But a train is authorized in a particular direction. Movement is relative to the train's direction. Not the engine, which could be oriented backwards but "forward" is the direction the train is going.

If you want to describe or instruct a switching move the terms "pull" or "shove" (relative to what you're actually doing to the cars, rather than which way the engine nose happens to be pointing) is nice and clear.
 
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cv_acr

Active Member
Good to see you're getting in with the swing of things Crandell. Just to theorise on the scenario of what you have put forward there. In order to prevent or minimise as much as possible the confusion that could occur (and probably might) of having one or more locos with these opposing front directional indicating markings, working in close proximity at the same convergence of spatial parameters, would it not be logically fitting to have each designated to it's own classification duties in different sections of the classification yard? So, in fact they never behave in such a manner that there could be the physical risk of collision or mishap occurring, especially to the crews or any switchmen employed. The final assembly of the the 2/two sections of the train accomplished by the use of a switcher or switchers not so encumbered with the directional restrictiveness of an F, or, if none is available a pair of others coupled at the B ends so it doesn't matter, they will always be going forward in a push-me-pull-you consist, depending on which loco has the crew within it's cab and their F's at the furthest apart?

A simple yes/no answer should suffice.
Well that was worded extremely confusingly, but I'm gonna go with no, none of what you said matters.

Which way the nose is pointing shouldn't make any difference here in them hitting each other or not. The switch engines are communicating via hand signal or radio to the switchman on the ground who is uncoupling cars and throwing switches. The switch engine backs up or moves forward (whatever relative direction that is) based on the signals from his guy on the ground.

And since trains can't be using the same track at the same time, the only way they can have two trains or engines working the same end of a yard at the same time, is having parallel leads that each serve its own set of tracks. Thus one engine can switch say tracks 1-10 and the other 11-20. If engine one has anything that has to go up into the 11-20 tracks, he has to coordinate with the second crew to make that exchange of cars.
 




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