Ops session :: Conductor’s Package

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I’m setting up for an operating session and thought I’d share some of the work that goes into that – starting with what I’ll call the Conductor’s Package.

This is the set of paperwork and other information that a conductor needs to safely navigate his train over the line. In this case, I’ll share the contents for a freight extra behind 2-6-0 Number 80.

First, there’s a copy of the Employee Time Table:
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(Click on the image to read more about this document)

This document includes a schedule of trains, notes, and special instructions adapted from the prototype time table. It also includes useful tips to help conductors and engineers do their work on the layout.

(I frequently have to make up some of these before a session, since I’ve started giving them away to visiting operators as a keepsake – which also allows interested operators to study the Employee Time Table in more detail at their leisure…)

Next, we have a Clearance Form and a Train Order:
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(Click to enlarge)

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(Click to enlarge)

These two documents authorize the crew of Engine 80 to occupy the railway. The Clearance Form includes a list of initial Train Orders – in this case, one order (Number 5). The Train Order gives the crew authority to run as an extra from Hamilton to Simcoe, and back to Hamilton. Since Port Rowan and Port Dover are both part of the Yard Limits south of Simcoe, authority is not needed to run to these two terminals – so it’s not given here.

(I created the Clearance and Train Order forms for my friend Pierre Oliver, by redrawing official CNR documents. I don’t think I’ve mentioned the Clearance Forms on this blog before, but they’re done the same way that I did the Train Orders. Pierre then took my artwork to a local printer, which printed up pads for us to use.)

Next, we have the telegraphy cheat sheet:
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(Click on the image to read more about my working telegraph system, including why I use simplified International Morse)

This is greatly simplified International Morse Code, which allows the conductor (putting on the agent/operator’s hat) to OS his train with the dispatcher when arriving and leaving St. Williams and Port Rowan. The information for the return trip – in this case, Extra 80 East – is printed on the reverse side.

Next, the waybills and a blank switch list for any freight cars to be delivered:
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(Click on the image for more information about the waybills)

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(Click on the image for more information about how the switch list is used)

The waybills are presented in the same order that the cars appear in the train. Finally, everything is secured, in the order presented here, to a small clipboard that represents the conductor’s desk in the caboose. This can be seen in the lead photo for this post.

In addition to this package, the conductor requires a pen and an uncoupling tool.

There’s more prep to do for an operating session, though – and I’ll cover that in a future post.

16 thoughts on “Ops session :: Conductor’s Package

  1. Wow this post couldn’t be any more timely since I have my next ops session this Saturday and was just thinking about what all to give the operators. I don’t have a TT yet, but my Bulletin Order suffices in the meantime. I also don’t have waybills yet, so I give the conductor already-completed switchlists. Really looking forward to your next installment – and really appreciate your putting this all together in one place/post!

    • Hi Chris:
      I thought others might find it useful – I’m glad that’s the case.
      I’m looking forward to reading about your ops session on your blog.

    • Hi Dale:
      It’s carbonless copy paper. Any decent print shop should have it. It copies by the pressure from the pen. When it’s in a pad, you put a piece of card stock below the last copy you want to make, to prevent the writing from copying through to subsequent sheets.

      • Prototypical again. The real railways used a piece of sheet metal under the last train order or clearance copy to prevent more copies being made than necessary.

        By the way, extra train order forms were found in phone boxes and cabeese on CN.

    • Hi Bruce:
      Great memory – and no. I suspect the page 1 and page 2 references are the result of the book making multiple copies. One would stay with the agent who wrote it out, the other would travel with the freight. Just a guess… but railways do love their paperwork!

  2. Nice work! An excellent way to bring even the least experienced visitor up to speed on what they have to do to get a train over the layout and do work enroute.

    • Thanks Steve – and I know the prototype paperwork will get even better once we’ve chatted offline. (For the rest of you, stay tuned…)

  3. Hi Trevor, Thanks for this type of post. I’m sure I’m not the only one who didn’t have a clue as to how a real railroad ran a freight. Your details and explanations really help us novices at train operation. Looking forward to more info.
    Cheers, Gord

    • Hi Gord:
      Thanks for the nice note. I’m glad you found this useful. I wouldn’t say that this is how a real railroad ran a freight – but it’s how I interpret it on my layout, at least…

  4. Trevor,
    What about track bulletins? Track bulletins give crews information about the condition of the track, slow orders, MOW, or any other useful information. A bulletin can be as simple as noting “Poor footing next to Port Rowan turntable lead”, or as complex as a 10 mph slow order from MP X to MP Z with a MOW work crew with Foreman So and So in charge, contact before entering limits.

      • On CN, there were a number of different ways to notify train crew and others of temporary speed restrictions.

        UCO Rules 41 and 44 apply on the Simcoe Sub., including trough St. Williams to Port Rowan. This was a rule used on low traffic lines where track sections employed fewer sectionmen than the main line. Section crews would often consists of a foreman and a sectionman only on these lines. From Jeffrey Smith’s excellent CNR in Ontario webpage–


        44. On subdivisions or portions thereof specified in the time table or special instructions, when the main line is found to be unsafe for movements at normal speed but safe for speed of ten miles per hour or more, rule 41 may be modified as follows:

        (a) By day place a yellow flag, and in addition, by night a yellow light 200 yards in each direction from the defective point on the same side of the track as the engineman of an approaching train; also:

        (b) By day place a yellow over red flag and, in addition, by night a yellow light and a red light at least 2000 yards in each direction from the defective point on the same side of the track as the engineman of an approaching train, and place torpedoes not more than 100 nor less than 50 yards apart to cause two explosions 200 yards beyond these signals, also:

        (c) By day place a green flag and, in addition, by night a green light in each direction immediately beyond the defective point.

        (d) Trains must stop and replace torpedoes on each side of the defective point, and must reduce speed to ten miles per hour before passing the yellow signal and must not increase speed until the entire train has passed the green signal.

        (e) When weather or other conditions obscure day signals night signals must be used in addition.

        (f) The foreman must report the condition to the train dispatcher as soon as practicable and when advised that speed restriction has been placed by train must mark the defective point as prescribed by rule 43.


        Paragraph (f) leads us to the next way to notify train crews of a temporary speed restriction. A train order would be used, written per UCOR Form V. Here’s an example from Jeffrey’s website again showing the verbatim wording in the 1951 UCOR–

        Do not exceed ten 10 miles per hour between mileage twelve point one 12.1 and mileage twelve point five 12.5 (or at mileage twelve point five 12.5).

        If the slow track condition was not to be rectified, a bulletin would be issued to train crews and posted in bulletin books at locations where train and engine crews reported for duty, giving the mileages between which or location where the new slow order applied. The monthly re-issue of bulletins per Rule 83 would state the slow order–

        At bulletin stations designated in the time table, conductors and enginemen must read and sign the bulletins or instructions posted before commencing work. Other members of the crew are also required to familiarize themselves therewith.

        Bulletins affecting the movement of trains will be re-issued the first of every month.

        If the track defect still was not rectified, a permanent slow order would be written into the next ETT special instructions from that subdivision.

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