Marshall Monroe Kirkman.

Railway service; trains and stations. Describing the manner of operating trains, and the duties of train and station officials online

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J. Poster Plagg










Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1878, by

in the office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

Printed by



THE physical life of a railroad, is known in its
entirety by comparatively few, but it is nevertheless
true that a comprehensive knowledge of the laws
that regulate and direct that life is essential to
every railway man of any prominence, or that
hopes one day to become prominent. Many men
connected with our railroads do not, however,
possess the facilities necessary for acquiring this
knowledge. This book, it is hoped, will be of
assistance to all such. It treats of the composition
and movement of Railway Trains and the Laws
governing the same, including an exposition of
the duties of Train and Stationmen.

In pursuing my inquiries in reference to the
subject, I have had occasion to examine into the
regulations of all the great companies of the
United States and England, so far as they affect
train and station service. The results of these
investigations are embodied herein.

CHICAGO, May, 1878.



Preface . iii


The mysteries that underlie the organization and move-
ment of trains The block system Manipulation of
trains upon English roads The force employed The
collection of fares The schedule by which regular
trains are moved Movement of trains by telegraphic
orders The protection of trains. . I


Individuality of railroad companies Dissimilarity of
the signals in use upon different roads The danger
such dissimilarity renders possible Want of uniform-
ity in the rules and regulations governing different
roads Intelligent discrimination exercised by train-
men The conservatism of trainmen The regulations
partake of the character of the men introducing them
Some of the differences observable in the rules and
regulations of different railroads No. uniformity in
the telegraph department Lack of completeness and
thoroughness in framing the rules and regulations The
wonderful phraseology of trainmen Phraseology pecu-
liar to English roads. . . .... 27


Explanation of some of the technical terms in use in
connection with the train and station service of a railway
company. . 51

vi Table of Contents.


Plan pursued in arranging and compiling the rules and

regulations. ........ 65


Signals required by railway companies Train signals
Enginemen's signals Conductors' signals by bell
cord Signals by hand Regulations governing the
use of signals. . ..... 69


Classes and grades of trains Rights of trains How
to protect trains when standing upon the main track,
or when the track is obstructed When trains
break in two Trains running with care Trains
must stop Trains meeting or passing each other

Trains approaching stations Trains following:
other trains Keeping off the time of other trains
Delayed trains Extra trains Construction and wood
trains Wild trains The speed of trains Directions
applicable only to double track lines Third track or
middle sidings Coupling cars Miscellaneous orders
relative to trains The track Movement of trains by
telegraph. . 81


General instructions to conductors Passenger con-
ductors Freight conductors General instructions to
brakemen Passenger brakcmen Freight brakemen

Train and station baggagemen Enginemen
Firemen Inspectors of engines Yard masters. . 147


Telegraph Operators Telegraph Repairers. . . 188

Table of Contents. vii



Agents Rules referring to the passenger traffic
Freight regulations Directions to agents Receiving
freight for shipment Receipting for freight Releases

Loading and unloading freight Care must be exer-
cised in loading freight Delivery of freight Freight
from and to stations at which there are no agents
Waybilling freight Directions to agents in reference
to sealing cars containing freight Miscellaneous rules
for freight agents Directions to agents in reference to
fuel To switches To trains and cars General
directions to agents . 195

General Instructions. 221


Regulations of the Austrian railways governing the
passenger service ....... 228


A chapter devoted to the rules and regulations of the
great English roads General Regulations Condi-
tions under which persons are admitted to the service
Security Privileges Compensation, etc. The Uni-
forms required and the regulations incident thereto

General regulations for working the absolute block
system on a double track road. .... 238





The manipulation of trains never ceases to
be a subject of wonder and speculation to rail-
way men.

To the great bulk of them the secrets that
envelope the construction of the schedule by
which trains are moved are profound and

How the officials are able to control the laby-
rinth of moving trains, how watch them as
they wind in and out like the figures upon a
chessboard, how adjust so nicely the time of
their arrival at meeting and passing points,
how keep them all in motion, regulate their
speed and give to each the exact consideration
its importance merits, are questions that but
few railway men can understand. They

'?/'. Railway Service:

know that there is hidden away somewhere in
the dark unoccupied recesses of the Superin-
tendent's apartments a mysterious chart, where-
on at intervals he works. It is upon this that
he fixes the character, speed, and stopping
places of trains, here he notes where they shall
meet or pass each other, not forgetting the time
they shall start, nor the hour they shall reach
their destination. They have had surreptitious
glimpses of this wonderful chart through partly
closed doors, but their view has been obstructed
and their mental processes deadened by the form
and austere presence of the Superintendent as
he paced the room with measured stride, or
bent over his work, pencil in hand, with absent
air and corrugated brow, like one who sought
in vain the solution of some difficult problem.
They have noted with awe the hieroglyphics
pregnant with meaning that cover the broad
white surface of the mysterious chart, the sta-
tions printed in big black letters of varying
size and type, and seeming to derive a fictitious
importance from that fact ; the broad lines of
different color that traverse its face laterally
and at right angles. Nor have they failed to
note and comment upon the faint irregular
lines drawn with tremulous hand, here and
there, without method or object, apparently,
lines seemingly taking their rise in space and
ending in space, feeble, inconsequential, indefi-

Trains and Stations. 3

nite, like disconnected dreams or half com-
pleted thoughts.

But while they know or surmise that these
faint, irregular, half-obliterated lines forecast
moving trains, that they represent organized
harmonious action, that each line is a fully"
developed, completed idea, they do not know
how these ideas, clothed in the symbolical lan-
guage in which they see them spread upon the
chart, are to be subsequently arranged and
grouped, how condensed into the simple form
they present in the printed time table or sched-
ule, which they have carried in their pockets
for years.

While any of us may without much labor
become acquainted with the charts that the
Superintendent uses in constructing his table
of trains, still we can not without study, and
long association with his duties and responsi-
bilities, understand all the nice distinctions that
govern him in his work. Nevertheless, each
schedule presents many features that seldom,
if ever, change ; certain trains become in time
like the staple articles that a grocer is compelled
to keep, whether he derives profit therefrom or
not; their abandonment can not be contem-
plated, and the most trivial changes in their
organization or time may precipitate upon the
hapless Superintendent the indignation of an
outraged community ; this indignation at once

4 Railway Service :

finds utterance and relief in long petitions, sar-
castic newspaper articles, crowded mass meet-
ings, and waiting committees.

Aside from the staple features noticeable in
the list of trains, the probable amount of busi-
ness that will offer, its source, and the direc-
tion it will take, have to be carefully con-
sidered in constructing the schedule. But
these calculations, made from time to time as
new schedules are constructed, may be said to
have reference only to the freight traffic, and
the number of trains required to do the busi-
ness with reasonable expedition and economy.

The number of passenger trains employed
upon our roads are seldom, if ever, reduced.
On the contrary, new trains are added at long
intervals as the country developes and the
business of the line increases. The various
passenger trains move back and forth on a
fixed course, year after year, with the dull
monotony of an ever swinging pendulum ; each
train has a name and character along the route
it follows, and people speak of it as they do of
their recurring crops.

More or less of the freight trains that are
operated may also be classed with the staple
articles ; a certain number, varying with the
size and character of the road, are necessary to
do its business ; like the passenger trains they
will present at certain seasons of the year an

Trains and Stations. 5

exceedingly meagre, if not beggarly, appear-
ance, bat they are necessary to the conven-
ience of the community and an expeditious
conduct of the varying business that is offer-
ing, and so they escape the inevitable reduc-
tion that overtakes unproductiveness or extrav-
agance in other branches of the business.

Many other things have to be considered and
provided for in arranging the schedule. It is
desirable there should be close connections at
various junctions with other roads. It is this
phase of the subject that tries the patience and
ingenuity of the official. While no one of us,
perhaps, but has felt gratified at being able to
make easy and swift connection at some junc-
tion on our route, not all of us have stopped to
realize that the (to us) propitious conjunction of
circumstances was not the result of chance, but
of much contention, of many long and angry
communications, much bitterness of feeling,
succeeded by many agreements and counter
agreements, these in turn finding, eventually,
definite and final solution in some happily de-
vised compromise that represented approxi-
mately the rights of each company interested.
It is sometimes the case that connection with
other lines has only to be made at one end of
the road. It is thus of the greatest consequence
to the management that trains going in a cer-
tain direction should reach their destination at

6 Railway Service :

a particular hour, but when these trains shall
start upon their return journey is purely a local
question, to be considered only in the relation
it bears to the other local questions of the com-

The experience and skill required to move
trains with economy and safety upon a single
track is infinitely greater than that required
where two or more tracks are available. In-
deed, the ability required to manipulate trains
successfully may be said to be in the inverse
ratio to the number of tracks upon which they
are moved. Upon a double track road there
is no necessity of providing meeting places for
trains. Where there is but one track, this is
of the greatest consequence, as trains can only
pass each other at those points where adequate
sidings have been provided. The sidings at a
particular station may be of sufficient length to
enable passenger trains to meet and pass, but
not adequate to the passage of freight trains.
The nicest calculations have, therefore, to be
made to so arrange the movement of trains that
the meeting or passing places may occur at
points where the accommodations are adequate.

When three tracks are available for the move-
ment of trains, the special provision required
upon a double track line to enable trains mov-
ing in the same direction to pass each other
without delay or inconvenience, is greatly

Trains and Stations. 7

lessened, if not entirely obviated. When it is
necessary for a train to pass another, where
three tracks are employed, the forward train
pursues its way at reduced speed,*upon the third
or intermediate track, while waiting for the fast
train in its rear to overtake and pass it, before
it can re-occupy the main track. It will of
course sometimes happen that a particular sec-
tion of the third track will be required for -use
simultaneously by slow trains moving in oppo- '
site directions. When this is the case, the
opposing trains will be compelled to wait until
one of them can with safety re-occupy the main

When four tracks are employed, the manipu-
lation of trains becomes still more simple. It
is no- longer intricate or elaborate. It is simply
a -matter of calculation, affording abundant
scope, doubtless, for the exercise of good judg-
ment and tact, but not requiring the elaborate
experience and skill necessary where the facili-
ties are more restricted. Trains of the same
class, of equal or approximate grade, follow each
other in endless succession, and only the local
or accommodation trains are required, at long
and comparatively infrequent intervals, to give
way to faster trains of a higher order, but of
the same grade.

Upon a four track railway the danger to life
and property may be said to have reached the

8 Railway Service :

minimum, while the facility of business and
the economy of operation have reached the
maximum. ,

When separate tracks have been provided
for moving trains in opposite directions, it
would seem as if life and property were sur-
rounded with every reasonable safeguard
against the danger to be apprehended from col-
liding trains, but it is undoubtedly true that
disaster perpetually menaces trains following
each other in quick succession at a high rate of

While the results to be apprehended from a
train being run into from the rear do not at
first sight seem likely to be as disastrous as
they would be from trains colliding while mov-
ing in opposite directions, yet a moment's re-
flection makes it apparent that the danger to
life is, under certain circumstances, really
much greater in the former, than in the latter
case. 1


This may be described as a system devised to
secure the expeditious movement of trains upon
a road possessing two or more tracks, without
jeopardizing life or property.

I. " Any one who has examined our reports of train acci-
dents, will have observed that about one-fifth of all those
reported are rear collisions which would be impossible when
working with the block system." Railroad Gazette.

Trains and Stations. 9

Under its workings the track of a road is cut
up into short sections of a few miles in length,
called blocks.

Under what is termed the " absolute " sys-
tem, not more than one train is allowed upon a
block at the same time, consequently a collision
is impossible so long as trains remain upon the

The "permissive" system allows more trains
than one to move upon a block at the same
time, under certain circumstances, but it pro-
vides specifically for notifying each train that
enters a block, whether such block is unoccu-
pied or not.

When a train passes off from a block, it is
noted by the operator, and the fact instantly
telegraphed to the signalman at the opposite
end of the section that is vacated ; the track thus
becomes free for the use of any following train.

Until the receipt of this notice no train is
permitted to enter the block, under the " abso-
lute " system.

Under the " permissive " system, certain
trains would be allowed to enter after having
been notified that the block was already occu-

The block system makes provision for keep-
ing the officials of a train advised when the
track is obstructed by preceding trains ; the
danger of trains being run down is thus ren-
dered practically impossible.

10 Railway Service :

The system is highly esteemed abroad, and is
in limited use in this country.

The enormous cost of the appliances, neces-
sary to the operation of the block system, and
the great expanse attendant upon its workings,
may be said to practically prohibit its general in-
troduction in the United States for the present.
The wealthier companies will in time adopt it,
and it will be introduced upon isolated sections
of road where the business is so great as to
endanger the safety of trains operated under
the ordinary rules.

The system may be said to be indispensable
where the business of a company is such as to
require that trains should succeed each other at
intervals of only a few minutes.

It is relatively of much greater importance
to a company with two tracks than one with
double that number.

The danger of trains running into each
other can not be so great with four tracks as
with two, for the reason that while the num-
ber moving in the same direction upon any one
track may be as great upon one road as the
other, still the trains that succeed each other
upon one line will all be moving at a compara-
tively uniform rate of speed, while upon the
other they will vary from fifteen to sixty miles
per hour.

Besides this, while it is not improbable that

Trains and Stations. 11

the freight traffic of a road may increase pro-
portionately with the number of its tracks,
still the number of passenger trains required
is not likely to be similarly affected and thus
the tracks allotted to such trains are compara-
tively idle.

There is no doubt but what the uniform rate
of speed pursued by trains following each
other upon a four track road affords a protec-
tion impossible upon roads where a less number
are available, but in the event a train is delayed
or one or more of its cars become detached, the
danger is just as great upon a four track road as
upon one .in which only two are employed, sup-
posing the business to be proportionately the
same. It is absolutely essential under such
circumstances that a following train should be
warned that a train or portion of a train is in
its immediate front.

The block system takes cognizance of every
attending circumstance, and if, under its work-
ings, a train were to break in two, and the
forward part continue on its course ignorant of
the fact, the loss would instantly be observed
by the operator and the block would not be
freely opened to succeeding trains until the
facts were fully investigated.

12 Railway Service :


The great English roads are all operated
under the block system, or what may be termed
a modification of such system. Each line is
thickly dotted with signal houses and their
attendant appliances. The great bulk of the
rules and regulations under which our trains
are operated have, therefore, no relevance with

While they provide schedules as we do, yet
the trains are constantly guarded and protected
by the multitude of signalmen scattered along
the line.

These men are ubiquitous ; trains move or
remain stationary as they direct ; they approach
or remain away from stations at their beck or
nod, and when a train has reached a station it
departs or not as the signals indicate. So that
while trains may be behind time, or may not be
recognized by the schedule, they still pursue
their way with undiminished speed so long as
the signals in their front indicate the track to
be clear. 1

i. A very full description of the workings of the block sys-
tem is embraced in a succeeding chapter. This description is
taken fr >m the rules and regulations of the English roads
operated in accordance with the Clearing House Standard.

Trains and Stations. 13

The trains manipulated under the eye of the
signalmen, of course require double tracks
upon which to move.

Upon single track roads in Great Britain the
great utility of the telegraph in .connection
with the movement of trains is practically
unknown, and in that respect our system of
management is immeasurably superior to theirs.

The duties of the conductor abroad are
exceedingly diverse. He may be said to be
the creature of innumerable circumstances.
Frequently without an assistant on board the
train, he is expected to assist in its protection ;
perform the duties of a brakeman ; act as
express-messenger, baggage-master and attend-
ant. Nominally in control of the train when
upon the line, his authority vanishes upon its
arrival at a station. He assists passengers in
entering and leaving the cars, but their fares are
collected by another. 1

The elaborate force which mans our passen-
ger trains is unknown in England. There the
force consists of a guard (conductor), as inti-
mated above.

He does not always have an assistant.

i. "Should a guard have reason to suppose any person is
without a ticket, or not in the right carriage, he is to request
the party to show him his ticket, not with a view to receive it
from him, but to satisfy himself that every passenger has a
proper one. He is under no circumstances to receive money
on account of the company." Regulations English Roads.

14 Railway Service :

The head guard has charge of the train, and
its passengers, baggage and express matter.

The assistant guard has a box in one of the
cars or vans ; he signals the train in case of
danger, attends to the brake, and performs
such other duties as he may be able.

In lieu of these men we usually have a con-
ductor, express-messenger, baggage-man and
two brakemen. Our station service is, how-
ever, conducted with a much less force than

Their apparent extravagance in this respect
is explained in part by the fact that the rules
requiring passengers to purchase tickets before
entering the cars are rigidly enforced by them.
The outlay is, therefore, not an extravagance.

In connection with this subject of passenger
fares and their payment, the regulation of the
Austrian roads, contained elsewhere herein,
that permits and directs the officials of a com-
pany to impose a fine upon passengers who
neglect to purchase tickets, or claim that they
did not have time to purchase them, is interest-
ing and instructive. The laws of England
governing the time and manner of paying
passenger fares are also exceedingly strict. 1

i. " Under the provisions of the acts relating to this railway,
any person who shall travel or attempt to travel in any car-
riage used on the railway, without having previously paid his
fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof, or who, having
paid his fare for a certain distance, shall knowingly and wil-

Trains and Stations. 15


An economical management of railway pro-
perty requires that the printed schedule, in
accordance with which trains are operated,
should provide only for the minimum number
required to do the business of the road. The
schedule specifies the precise minute each train
shall start upon its journey, the time of its
arrival at the various stations and sidings, and,
finally, the hour it shall reach its destination.

A glance at the table tells us where trains
meet or pass each other, such places being
indicated with startling distinctness by great
fat dropsical looking figures that instantly
engage the eye, and arrest the attention of the
most superficial observer; this is doubtless why
they are used, and it is very likely for the same

fully proceed in any such carriage beyond such distance without
previously paying the additional fare for the additional dis-
tance, and with intent to avoid payment thereof, or who shall
knowingly and wilfully refuse or neglect, on arriving at the
point to which he has paid his fare, to quit such carriage, is
for every such offense liable to a penalty of forty shillings; and.
any person committing such offense may be lawfully appre-
hended and detained by the company's officers and servants

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Online LibraryMarshall Monroe KirkmanRailway service; trains and stations. Describing the manner of operating trains, and the duties of train and station officials → online text (page 1 of 17)