ETTs and Registers

Replicating prototype operations on a layout requires prototype paperwork. Over the weekend I took a first stab at developing two more essential tools – an Employee Time Table and a Register of Trains.

An Employee Time Table is more than a schedule of trains, although it certainly includes that. It will also include notes to help get those trains over the line, information that a crew must know in order to move safely over the line, and special instructions specific to the line(s) described.

Things found in an Employee Time Table may include: Rules about where whistling is prohibited (many towns has noise ordinance laws); speed restrictions due to track condition or limited visibility; the location of water and coal facilities; the hours during which stations have on-duty operators and which locations have train registers (see below); the extent of Yard Limits; information on car handling; and more.

A lot of this information is not needed for a model railway, even one attempting to closely replicate a prototype. For example, no visiting operator should need a list of company surgeons, with phone numbers (although it’s nice to know that back in the early 1950s, Dr. D.A. Archibald – Phone 74R2 – looked after the line from Port Rowan to the west switch at Vittoria). And the multi-page Fair Weather Equated Tonnage Ratings table plus calculation examples could make anybody abandon prototype operations in favour of Brio (or Barolo). But there is some useful information that helps answer questions on a layout – and make the operations game more interesting and realistic.

Similarly, there’s information that guest operators need to know about a layout that would never be found on the real thing. For example, the function map for DCC throttles (e.g.: Bell is F1, Long Whistle is F2, Water Fill is F5). Then, there’s information that is useful for both the prototype and the layout – but that must be modified to fit layout circumstances.

My layout represents a portion of the Simcoe Subdivision. This starts in Port Dover, runs northwest to Simcoe, then runs southwest to Port Rowan. To create an employee time table, I started with a prototype example – Time Table 3, effective April 26, 1953. From this (and other resources) I created a six-page booklet. This is much more manageable than the 39-page prototype. I reduced the size to approximately 5″x8″ so it would be easy for operators to carry: They can even fold it in half to stick in a pocket.

I used a scan of the cover to create the cover on my version:

 photo ETT3-D1-01_zpsa051c825.jpg

For the back of my time table, I created a map showing the lines that trains would traverse on their trips between Hamilton and the two Ports – including the Simcoe Sub, the Hagersville Sub, and a short portion of the Cayuga Sub between them:

 photo ETT3-D1-04_zpse540f753.jpg

Since I only model two stations way down in the lower left of the map, this map will help put the layout into context for my visiting operators.

Inside, I re-created the schedule of trains using the table function in MS Word – making adjustments from the prototype as required.

– For example, I moved the Lynn Valley from the Port Dover end of the subdivision to the Port Rowan end, to reflect the move I made when designing the layout. (Regular readers will recall I did this for many reasons, including the opportunity to model two river crossings and a water tank.)

– I also ensured the mileage figures in the schedule match the mileages given on my fascia labels.

The schedule and notes about it face each other on pages 2 and 3. Key info includes the description of Yard Limits, Speed Restrictions, Permanent Slow Orders and so on. Speeds are given in miles per hour, with throttle speed step settings in brackets.

 photo ETT3-D1-02_zps8651dd85.jpg

Special instructions are provided on pages 4 and 5. These are a mix of prototype instructions (e.g.: a description of Rule 93 governing operation within Yard Limits) and layout instructions (e.g.: “Class 80 engines must stop for water at the Lynn Valley tank in both directions. Class 1500 engines must stop for water on the westbound trip.”)

 photo ETT3-D1-03_zps542c844b.jpg

While it looks like a lot of information, most of it is stuff that operators already know. In any case, I’m always around to answer questions. But having it in booklet form is a nice take-away for visitors and can be a handy reference for those just learning the ropes.

As the images show, I finished the book by stapling the pages, then covering the staples with a couple of layers of masking tape to suggest a cloth-tape binding.

A Register of Trains records the arrival and departure of trains at a key point on a railway such as a terminal or junction. The presence of a register is indicated by an “R” on the schedule of trains in an Employee Time Table. On the Simcoe Subdivision, registers are located at Port Dover, Simcoe and Port Rowan. On my layout, I definitely need a register at Port Rowan. (I may also need one for the sector plate, which represents Simcoe – or I may simply assume that any train on the layout is there because the Simcoe register didn’t prevent them from leaving staging.)

Why is a register needed? Well – let’s say you’re running a freight extra. You’ve worked your way to Port Rowan and now you’re ready to head back. It’s 1:15 pm: Are you clear to go?

That depends. According to the schedule of trains, the mixed train – M233 – was to arrive at 12:45 pm and its return counterpart – M238 – will not leave until 1:55 pm. So according to the schedule, the answer is, “Yes”. But what if M233 is running late? A train schedule is in effect for 12 hours after the times listed – so in theory, M233 could still be on the line.

The Register of Trains solves this dilemma: When M233 arrives, the conductor will enter that fact into the register. As conductor of the freight extra you can check the register to determine whether it’s off the line.

At some point, I would love to have a register book printed and bound for Port Rowan. But in the meantime, I’ve created a Register of Trains in sheet format, and will leave a sheet on the work desk at Port Rowan.

I based my register on some photographs of a prototype example provided to me by Jeffrey Smith. (Thanks, Jeffrey!) From these, I built a suitable blank using the table function in MS Word.

My register includes columns for: the date; the train identification (a number from the schedule such as “M233” or “XE” or “XW” for extras east and west); the engine number; time arrived and signals displayed (“Nil”, “White” or “Green” – denoting regular, extra, or sections); the conductor’s signature; time left and signals displayed; and any remarks.

Registers could be quite large books with ledger-sized (11″ x 17″) pages. I opted for the more manageable letter size of 8.5″ x 11″:

 photo Register-PtR_zpscb76ca4e.jpg

(As I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Jeffrey runs an excellent website for those interested in the Canadian National Railways in Ontario, called – appropriately enough – CNRy in Ontario. It’s well worth checking out.)

My Employee Time Table and Register of Trains are still drafts at this point. I’ll start using these tools during operating sessions and solicit feedback from my visiting operators to determine whether any changes or additions are needed.

12 thoughts on “ETTs and Registers

  1. Nice idea about getting your register book bound. It would also serve as a supplemental visitors book, with a little more railroad flair than “had a nice time” in the comments section. It would be a doddle to do with Blurb or Lulu.

    On several layouts that I operate on, operators habitually forget to sign the register. It will be interesting to see if the same happens with the more detailed and relaxed approach that you have on your railroad.

    • Good point about the registers never getting signed, René. I’ll leave it where it’s hard to miss – and as the image shows, I’ve already filled in a couple of trains (I didn’t actually run those) so visiting conductors have some examples to follow.
      I haven’t encountered Blurb or Lulu – but I have encountered Google so I’ll do a search and learn more. Thanks for the heads up.

  2. Fascinating stuff, Trevor.

    Interesting also to see how similar things were over here, too. Generally, we had the public timetable for the passenger trains, and then what was generally called the “working timetable” which list all train movements, but the information about maximum loads, local rules and facilities, and operating instructions were generally contained within the grandly named “Appendix to the Working Timetable”. This is different to the Company’s Rulebook.

    Because the public, and working, timetables might change every six months, or even more frequently, paper was saved by producing the local information as a separate document. These were updated from time to time with circular notices, and then every few years there might be a new issue. One of my personal favourite lines, for example, existed from 1.1.1909 to 31.12.1922, and only issued one appendix to the WTT, in 1916. Prior to that, it would have used the appendix for a predecessor company (if at all). However, the 1916 Appendix carried on in use for some time afterwards – no point in issuing a new one for the sake of changing the name at the top of the page following (Government-forced) amalgamation. I have such a copy, which has had one or two items pasted over, extra sheets inserted, and various things crossed-out as they became irrelevant (no point listing the haulage capabilities of an engine which has been scrapped!)

    We also have a “train register”, which is kept up to date by the signalman (signaller nowadays: some are women). This would be checked everyday by the station master, who would counter sign it. Signalmen also sign on and sign off the register at the beginning and end of their shifts. Such signal boxes are a fading thing nowadays, but my local line still has “bobbies* in the box”, and as it so happens, one of my friends works a box not ten miles from here, although formal visits seem harder to arrange.

    * Signalmen were originally “railway policeman”, and policemen are known as “bobbies” in the UK, after Sir Robert Peel. (They used to be know as “peelers”, too, although that is even more old-fashioned.)

  3. Hi Trevor,
    Nice work on the register and Employee Timetable! You will have fun calculating siding capacity according to 40′ cars. Don’t forget your weight restrictions on the Vittoria trestle meaning grain from Pt. Rowan has to be hauled in Fowler outside brace boxcars with grain doors.
    Incidently, I love your greenery!


    • Weight restrictions in Vittoria – that’s a neat idea. I’ll have to check my waybills to make sure grain is only moved in Fowler boxcars, Monte.

      And I’m going to need more Fowlers…


      • Um, the steel boxcars CN took delivery of in the mid-1940’s were rated at 90,000 pounds capacity–roughly the same as the 36′ steel-frame “Fowler” cars. Both were rated at a gross rail weight of 136,000 pounds, the car capacity being determined by axle and journal bearing size.

        So some relatively new CN steel boxcars could be loaded with grain out of Port Rowan or St. Williams.

  4. As always, an excellent post with great information. I think having the register having some prior entries is a really good idea; it should help ease any anxiety over “Oh shoot, what the heck am I supposed to enter here?” Some folks just hate to ask questions least they appear foolish or less knowledgeable then they want to be.

    I also like the idea of reinforcing your railways identity with the various forms and registers as well as assisting the crew in their work. It also helps emphasize that they are operating rather than just ‘running trains’.

  5. That tape over the staples is a nice period touch – so much so that I believed that I was looking at a Photoshopped photo (modifying the text) until I read far enough down – well done!


  6. The “Printed in Canada” is a touch. Is that a form number in the upper left corner? The remarks column in Hawkestone train register often included OS reports for other stations–some quite distant–not sure if this is something that would have concerned the Pt. Rowan operator.

    • Hi Jeff:
      Yep – that’s the form number. Good eye!
      Thanks for the info about the remarks column. Good to know.

  7. Always enjoy your posts, but this one was especially timely (once I got a chance to read it :^) and informative since I’m in the process of putting together an employee time table for my operators as well. In the meantime, I have a Bulletin Board where I post “Bulletin Orders” (naturally). These include notes that operators need for operating that day. And they also receive a copy along with their Clearance Form A and their Form 19 train order. This all works pretty well until I can create a more formal ETT. Thanks for the inspiration – very well done!

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