Question about orders on the fly

Discussion in 'The Inspection Pit' started by MarkInLA, Apr 13, 2012.

  1. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA TrainBoard Member

    Hi gang , in all my many years involving trains I never quite understood just what is happening when the tower man goes trackside and hands a moving loco orders via the pole and string nabbed by fireman or engineer..I understand what's happening physically (pole lifts order on string up to cab/arm snatches string/order spanning the VEE, etc.). What I never got is, what do these messages/orders say ? I.E. Why doesn't crew know all their set-outs and pick-ups at time of departure from where train was first made up ? What, therefore is it they need to know in the middle of the run ? Is it merely that a new order from a client at a spur/industry along the route just a few minutes earlier contacted RR for, say, a pickup of an empty or load which wasn't in original orders at departure ? Did I just answer my own question ? And why couldn't it have been radioed directly to conductor in caboose ( in 1950's and later radio-communication methods ) ?
     
  2. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Mark, I can give only a very summary answer, I will leave the details to experienced railroaders.

    In pre-radio days, written hard-copy orders were the only way that dispatchers could communicate opposing train and passing siding movements to conductors and engineers on moving trains. Then in the early days of radio, communication was often staticky, garbled, and misunderstood, so written orders were still used into the 60's. The dispatcher would trelegraph orders to operators at stations along a line, who then would make three copies, one for the conductor, one for the engineer, and one for the station file. The station operator would then raise a semaphore indicating to the engineer to slow for receiving orders. Train orders were all about safety of movement. They had nothing to do with customer setouts and pickups which, as you say, would have been pre-arranged long before the train left the originating yard.
     
  3. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Probably all such transactions were involved with what is called Time Table/Train Order operations. These were typically orders from a dispatcher to the conductor and engineer of trains. This was a common method of controlling trains where CTC (Centralized Traffic Control) was not in effect. This type of operation existed where stretches of track were dark (not signalled) or even where signals for block control were present, but not under CTC or other centralized control. Some types of orers required the train to stop and the conductor and engineer (C&E) had to sign for the order(s).

    There are many forms of train orders (Form 19, 39, etc.) and you'd probably need to do some research for your particular railroad. A good general description is given in Peter Josseran's book "The Rights of Trains."

    Most trains did not perform what is called "local work." Such work being done by specified local or mixed freights. Many or most freights ran as through freights possibly setting off cars only at the end of a run or possibly a division point, major interchanges or juncions. Back when Time Table and Train Order operations were common, most railroads had local agents. As communications and high ways improved one agent could be the "local" agent for numerouse stations or location along a stretch of railroad. The train would meet the agent at whatever location and he would give the conductor and engineers a list of where to pickup and setout cars, loaded or empty.

    These job titles, work performed, etc. often times varied from one railroad to another. It is fairly involved but research will help you get a handle on it.
     
  4. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Mark-

    Take a look here, my web site;

    http://www.train-orders.com/TDX.html

    Hundreds of examples are posted, showing order content. Terminology and content did vary as the years passed. And also from railroad to railroad. Most, but not all was spelled out by rule books.

    Train orders copied by lineside operators lasted until the late 1980s. Some train orders are still out there. But usually crew copied. Most have been replaced now for over twenty years, with track warrants, manual block clearances, various other "forms". None of which are train orders, but are often errantly referenced as such.
     
  5. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Actually were copied by line side operators into the late 1980s. Although some did hang on, few places still used telegraph by the 1960s. By then for the greatest part, telephone was used. Orders were copied by agents, but also by titles of telegraphers, operators, levermen. Some stations were agent only and limited hours, others were agent daytime operators one or two remaining "tricks" as they were known. Some some places were non-agency, simply train order offices.

    Copying of orders could be one (operator annulment), and three or more. Three= one engineer, one conductor and one file copy. Depending upon other trains needing the same information, slow orders, and(?), they could copy many more at once. But the operator would need to press really hard in order to get clear copies on bottom sheets. If that was not enough, they then did re-copies.

    As Hank notes, they had nothing to do with setouts, pickups and switching. Those instructions could be attached to the set of train orders as messages.

    There is, or I should say was, a lot to the use of train orders. Seasoned pros made it all look so easy....
     
  6. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    The orders were for train movement, maybe a new slow order or other such information. Meet points changed.Trains annulled that are on the Timetable, an extra train coming out of a terminal that wasnt on previous orders.
     
  7. Logtrain

    Logtrain TrainBoard Member

    I remember back in the last 80s BN still using train orders. My sisters were in gymnastics and while they were tip toeing on the beam, I would go a block into town and hang out at the Centralis, Wa depot. Many times I would see the dispatcher walk out and hoist up the orders for the crews. All the time of me hanging out taking pitcures of trains, not once did I take pictures of this operation.
     
  8. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    Didnt Conrail have a few spots that during MOW operations they would have temporary block operators go out to hoop up orders to the trains? I am sure I saw this but cant recall where! I know the Katy ran TO right up till almost the takeover by the UP. This is old school railroading. I have guys with a hard time getting the jist of a track warrant can you imagine a stack of orders??? Then following along in their TT and figuring out which train has right over them? YIKES! Just scared myself lol.
     
  9. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    The thought of that mess would make me want to stop my train, huddle in a corner, close my eyes, suck my thumb, and whimper for mommy....:rn-confused:
     
  10. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    Hank there are days I want to do that now ;)
     
  11. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Not that other railroads did not use them, but those companies which comprised Conrail all had many, many temporary block stations. Probably more than any other companies. Mostly when there was work on multiple track lines, often set up at crossovers. Some are pretty bad. Writing worse than a scrawl, green ink, red ink. Ugh. It got pretty sloppy. Some were just a little phone shack. Some the operator was sitting in a vehicle.

    KATY used train orders right into UP. It was not long thereafter, (1988), when UP discontinued them. BN copied it's last on January 16, 1988. LIRR was and still might be, using crew copied orders. I have not followed that as it lacks some of the interest from years gone by. Tourist operations used train orders at least into the mid-1990s. Some might still do so, but those are usually not really more than for show.
     
  12. Dave Jones

    Dave Jones TrainBoard Member TrainBoard Supporter

    I received my copy of Kalmbach's "How To Operate Your Model Trains." There are two good blocks of articles covering this very subject under the "Jobs And Rules" and "Timetable" sections. Haven't read any of it yet but a quick perusal seems to show good coverage of what's involved with TT/TO operations.
     
  13. fireball_magee

    fireball_magee TrainBoard Member

    The Conrail stuff I was referring to was in this day and age. Saw it in a issue of TRP Mike Bednar was out taking pics of it IIRC. I should e mail and ask. I thought it was pretty darn cool seeing them hoop orders up to huge new diesels! Can I find that issue ? HA! Nope!
     
  14. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Conrail stopped using train orders back in the 1980s. So is whatever remains of that company since the sale actually still using them? I'd be surprised, as they'd then seem to have needed to re-start that process. Nobody I know who followed use of flimsies ever mentions them, except in a past tense.
     
  15. MarkInLA

    MarkInLA TrainBoard Member

    Oh ! I see..! Orders were for events concerning ' going in the hole ' at/near/after, say, mile post, say, 152.. And, thus, order is to roll slowly up to/for this switch, enter siding and await train # such and such in opposite or even same direction to pass..I guess order also stated how long to hang back before re-entering main line. Or, maybe there is a signal at end of siding that crew waits out to show ' proceed ' aspect..Orders were never about last minute pickups/setouts...Though, I wouldn't be surprised if an order sometimes WAS for a client's request.." please do have local remove flats car #s ---- & ---- at spur such & such if time allows "...Maybe, huh ?
     
  16. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Any such instructions were separate from train orders. Delivered as messages. They could be and often were attached to a "No Orders" clearance or the set of orders. Or they were simply hooped up as messages. Or, the crew picked them up at their initial station. Messages conferred absolutely no authority for any train operation. Only a rule book, employee timetable, bulletin, or train order could do that.

    Only in rare, rare instances, usually on a small one train operation, or long, long ago, did it ever get that informal. For example, take a look at the High Point, Thomasville & Denton order in my web site TOUR. But, that is a train order, doubling as a message.

    Or, take a look at the Arlee, Montana train order in my Northern Pacific RR TOUR file and see how a dispatcher used it to assure compliance in getting people properly called.

    Look in the New York Central TOUR area, to see several examples of messages which were attached to sets of orders. There are many more which i have uploaded, but which companies are not coming into mind right now.

    The problem is, it has been twenty five years since last wide spread use of train orders. Very, very few of those still working were ever familiar with them. Couple this with more than a generation of railfans who knew almost nothing about them and errantly calling TW, MBSC, etc, train orders..... :tb-sad:
     
  17. BnOEngrRick

    BnOEngrRick TrainBoard Member

    If it was an established block station, the train would almost always at least receive a clearance form even if there were no orders or messages. A clearance form would be the trains authorization to occupy the next track section regardless of whether or not there were any additional orders or messages.

    On Mike Burgett's C&O layout, all trains received at least a Clearance Form A at each end of the railroad and at the crew change point at Clifton Forge. More often than not, trains got messages versus orders, at least in my experience there as a dispatcher.
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

    Quite true. Temporary block stations could be a different situation. I have seen where they simply flagged a train by. No paperwork. This is not speaking of those situations where a track gang was working and a train was being flagged through. Then the Conrail family of railroads even would see train orders issued to the "foreman in charge" where a gang was busy. Attempting to figure out where some of those temporary blocks were located from years later can also be a lot of fun. Lacking the appropriate bulletins to reference, or train order, it requires a search to locate someone who actually remembers them. Site names such as Fred George, Mike, Black, Green.... :rolleyes:

    This seems to be most of what I have also seen. Essentially using them as messages. But a few guys really got into it and had actual full sized flimsies printed up, then used them appropriately. Somewhere in my files I've an example or two. Darned if I can find them right now.
     
  19. BnOEngrRick

    BnOEngrRick TrainBoard Member

    I believe on Conrail the Daily Bulletin would spell out the location of any temporary block stations, so the crews would know what to look for where.
     
  20. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 Administrator Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter


    Problem is any bulletins are long gone. So when a person comes upon orders from one of those temporary sites, identifying where it was established can be quite a search.
     

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