Sunday, December 03, 2017

Train orders


The Train Order Book
(The page is a little longer)

The train order books that we used in Edmonton, when I was dispatching for CN, were hard cover and contained 200 pages.  They were used for Train Order territory, CTC territory and also for MBS bulletins (slow orders).  Each desk had its own number series for the territory (group of subdivisions) that it controlled.  The book used for active train orders and clearances used a number series in the hundreds, i.e. 100-199, 200-299, etc. and began at the first number (100 or 200 or 300..) at 0001 (midnight) every day.  If the desk controlled busy train order territory, the number series may have used 200 numbers, eg. 100-299, to prevent duplication of numbers on the same date.  There was a separate book numbered in the thousands, i.e. 1000-1999, etc., for slow orders, which were re-issued, if they were in effect for longer than two weeks.

At the time that I was dispatching, we only used Form 19 train orders and therefore we had to use the letter Y or R following 19 in the first column.  Form 31 orders were not used.  The dispatcher would dictate the order to one or more operators at the same time and he/she would determine whether the order should be a 19Y or 19R.

If the train order station had no train order signal, such as at the originating station for the train, "NS" was used in the response column.  If there was a train order signal, the operator would respond with "SD" along with the current indication on the train order signal for the direction specified by the dispatcher (eg. SDYW).  Each train order station would be addressed separately in the order that the dispatcher decided, based upon the superiority of the trains involved in the order.  That is, the train being restricted by the order would be addressed first.  If an order applied to all trains equally, then the order would be addressed to trains on the road first, then the superior direction and then the inferior direction.


The operator at each station would make as many copies as required in duplicate.  Fortunately for me, by the time I began as an operator, the 19's came with carbons already inserted in bunches of three.  The dispatcher would include the instruction on how many to make by saying "Blue River, 19Y West, copy three" or "Avola, 19R East and West, copy five".  The operator would then set the train order signal, get the correct number of sheets in the typewriter and respond with the indication showing on the train order signal.  If the train order signal was already displaying red or stop, and the order was a 19Y, the correct response would be SDR"direction".  

When everyone had responded, the dispatcher would begin dictating the train order, giving the type of order (19Y or 19R), the the order number (only once), beginning with the first train order station, writing the office signal in the next column, then the address in the larger column.  This continued with each station involved until all had been addressed.  At that point, the dispatcher would say "Period".  Then everyone knew to begin typing the body of the train order.  Once the dispatcher had finished the order, he would give his initials, such as "NTS" (my initials).  At that point, the dispatcher would expect each office to repeat the order, beginning with the first addressed.  Once the operator finished repeating the order, the dispatcher would give him/her a repeated time.  For most orders, this time would also be the completed time.  The operator would write the time in the "Repeated" space, the three letters "Com" after the word "Made", the time next and then sign the order using their last name.  If an order had to be repeated for any reason after the original repeat, the two times would not be the same (eg. signatures required, needed more copies, etc.).  Each operator would do the same in succession.

The Clearance (Form 710-C)
Once the operator had copied the required train orders for a train, the dispatcher would instruct him/her to clear the train.  The operator would fill out the clearance form with all pertinent information, including the orders that he/she had for the train and, if it was in CTC territory, the "void on arrival" portion for directional extra trains only.  The dispatcher would check the information against the active train orders in his/her train order book(s) and would respond with an "OK" time and his/her initials.  The operator would write that on the first line beside "OK at" and sign the clearance with his/her initials and last name.  After receiving an "OK" time, the operator would make up (usually two) sets of orders, with the clearance on the top and the orders in numerical order.  If the train was to receive the orders while passing the station, the operator would insert the bundle in a string that was then attached to a "hoop" (that looked like a big "Y", a longer one was used for the headend).  The operator then stood on the platform as the train approached and "handed up" the orders as the train passed.  After the train passed, the operator would "OS" the passage of the train to the dispatcher.  If there was a train register at that location, the conductor would drop off a register ticket with train information that could be entered in the register and then relayed to the dispatcher.

The Time Table
Each Subdivision had a separate time table.  As you can see from this example of the Clearwater Subdivision, it had schedules in both directions for the First Class trains and the way freights (561/562).  There were three Eastward Fourth Class schedules spaced about 6-8 hours apart.  Because a schedule remains in effect for 12 hours after the time at each station, unless fulfilled, superseded or annulled, most eastbound trains could use the schedules and make it over the road without running out of time.  The schedules were run in sections, sometimes as many as 7 or 8. All of the westbound trains were run as extra trains and could proceed by dodging the eastward schedule trains, but would likely be helped along by the dispatcher using train orders.  At the time of this time table, there were five open train order offices on line and numerous long sidings (10-15 miles apart), so the dispatcher had some flexibility.  There were many good dispatchers and many ways to dispatch.  

Because we operate model railroads, dispatching with time table and train orders can be quite difficult.  The times (fast clock) are also very compressed and people are not trained.  It can work, but time is quite often the determining factor.  I have found, that for my model railroad, a signal system is a much more satisfying approach to moving the trains.

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