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This section describes how the operating sessions are conducted.

This page was last updated on February 28th, 2012.
Table of Contents

1.     Start of the Session 
2.     Train Operations
3.     Selecting a Train from the Yard
4.     Operating Rules for the Yard
5.     Running Your Own Train
6.     Running Guidelines
7.     Speed Limits
8.     Main Line Operations
9.     Branch line Operations
10.    Switching Guidelines While on the Main Line
11.    Using Car Cards
12.    Talking to the Dispatcher
13.    Completing a Run
13.1  Returning to Yard
13.2  Returning to a Fiddle Yard

14.    Encountering Problems


Figure 1 Maximum Permissible Speed for Track Type or Location
Figure 2 Maximum Permissible Speed for Train Type

1.      Start of the Session

When the layout is ready to start operations, a Briefing will be called for all members present. Briefings take place on both Saturday and Sunday before start of Operations. Any members not present should see the Traffic Superintendent for instructions and read Posted notes.

Topics generally covered are:

Types of Freight trains.

Types of Passenger trains.

Length of trains.

Fiddle Yards available, their use and how to exit and enter.

Any special Main Line Instructions.

Any special Branch line instructions.

Known trouble spots to watch for.

General reminder of Operating Procedures.

Emergency Medical Procedures

Any other Club business that needs to be attended to on the weekend

2.    Train Operations

Before taking a train out on the layout you must have:

A red Operating Pass (good for one trip only) from the Traffic Superintendent when he is on duty.

A radio when a dispatcher (RTC) is on duty.

An apron to hold Car Cards and uncoupling tool.

A map of the layout

The Locomotive Card, Train Card for the train you are taking out, and the Car Cards (with Waybills) for your train.

A throttle with a good battery

A Probationary Member must have an Engineer accompany him.

A Guest must have an Engineer accompany him.

3.    Selecting a Train from the Yard

a)      When deciding what train to run check the Ready Board and/or with the Traffic Superintendent for trains available to leave the Yard and consult the Yard Master as to your choice .  Then confirm with the Traffic Superintendent.

b)      Obtain RED PASS from Traffic Superintendent that matches the train you wish to run.

c)      If a Red Pass is not available at this time for the train you wish, then you will be placed on a waiting list for this train type or you may change your request and obtain a pass for a different train. Inform the Yard-Master of any changes.

d)      When you have your Red Pass select a locomotive from the Engine Yard or if you are using your own place it on the tracks in the Engine Yard.

e)      Select your locomotive on your throttle and ensure that you have control and it is functioning properly. (See Throttle Instructions for selecting your locomotive).

f)       When you are ready, inform the Yard-Master that you are ready to pick up your train and he will give you directions and clearance for moving about the yard. Be patient he is a busy operator and is assembling trains for everybody and the way may not be clear for you to move right away.

g)      Once your train is assembled and before you leave the Yard ensure that you have the Locomotive Card, Car Cards for all cars on your train and Train Card. Go to Running Guidelines.

4.    Operating Rules for the Yard

a)      All Train movements within the Yard are under the authority of the Yard-Master.

b)      All Engines must be placed on the tracks in the Engine Yard unless originating from a Fiddle Yard as described below in 5.

c)      You must take the next available train at the discretion of the Yard-Master and Traffic Superintendent.

d)      You must take all Paperwork with you for your train when leaving the Yard 

e)      You must have clearance from the Yard-Master to depart before contacting the Dispatcher (when on duty).

f)       You must have clearance from the Dispatcher (when on duty) before entering or crossing the Main Lines.

g)  When entering or leaving the yard the switches off the yard leads to the main line must be returned to the normal position just like any main line switch.

5.    Running your own train

a)      If you want to run a train using your own equipment, obtain a Red Pass from the Traffic Superintendent that matches the train you wish to run (Through Freight or Passenger).

b)      Locate the Train Card for your type of train at the yard.

c)      Assemble your locomotive and rolling stock in the Fiddle Yard, not the Coach Yard or the main Yards.

d)      Use only one Fiddle Yard track. Verify that your train is not longer then the limits set during the weekend briefing.

6.    Running Guidelines

a)      The Dispatcher is in charge of the entire layout Main Line. It is imperative to follow his directions for all train movements.

b)      You may not leave the Main Yard until you have clearance from both the Yard-Master and the Dispatcher.

c)      You may not depart from any Branch line or Fiddle Yard without clearance from the Dispatcher.

d)      Contact the Dispatcher only when you are ready to move (Loco selected, train assembled, paperwork done and Yard Master approval if required).

e)      When on double-track Main Line, always follow the "right-hand running rule", unless otherwise instructed by the dispatcher.

7.     Speed Limits

a)      One foot per second equals 60.69 Miles per Hour (MPH).

b)      The following tables show the MAX speed limit for various types of trains and situations. Specific local speed limits and or Slow Orders take precedent.

c)      The minimum following distance is 4 feet behind the last car of train ahead.

d)      The maximum permissible speed for any train is the lowest value indicated from either Track Type or Train Type tables or Local Speed Limits or Slow Orders.

Track Type


Seconds per Foot

Time to cross 4’ Module

Main Line (double or single)

90 MPH

0.66 (8 inches)

2.7 sec

Main Line Crossover (Passenger)

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Main Line Crossover (Freight)

45 MPH


6.0 sec

Main Line single track Diverging to double track

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Main Line double track Converging to single track

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Main Line to Main Line diverging (Wyes)

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Main Line Diverging to Branch line

45 MPH


6.0 sec

Branch line

45 MPH


6.0 sec


15 MPH


16 sec

Figure 1  Maximum Permissible Speed for Track Type or Location

Train Type


Seconds per Foot

Time to cross 4’ Module

High Speed Passenger

90 MPH

0.66 (8 in/sec)

2.7 sec

Regular Passenger

60 MPH


4.0 sec


60 MPH


4.0 sec


60 MPH


4.0 sec


45 MPH


6.0 sec

Through Freight

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Unit Train

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Local Freight (no empty cars)

60 MPH


4.0 sec

Local Freight (with empty cars)

45 MPH


6.0 sec

 Figure 2  Maximum Permissible Speed for Train Type

8.    Main Line Operations

a)      All Main Line Double Track operations are Right-hand running unless you receive specific instructions to the contrary.

b)      The Main Line is controlled by the Dispatcher (when on duty) and Operators must obey his instructions. Failure to do so may incur fines or penalties.

c)      The Dispatcher will give clearances to certain points and you must stop at or before this point so you are not fouling any Crossovers, Branch line Turnouts or Sidings.

d)      On the Main Line all Turnouts to Branches and Sidings are to be left closed after use (failure to reset turnout may incur a fine or penalty).

e)      On the Main Line after transitioning from Single Track to Double Track or vice versa – Leave the Turnout as is after train has passed.

9.    Branch Line Operations

a)      There should only be one Local operating on a Branch line at a time.

b)      If there are simultaneous Passenger Operations in the Branch, then the Engineers of the Passenger train and the Local will communicate between themselves for safe operations.

c)      Turnouts may be left in any position but it is good practice to close them when finished.

10.    Switching Guidelines while on the Main Line

a)      To switch any siding on the Main Line you require the permission of the Dispatcher.

b)      If Main Line is too busy at this time you may not be able to make your delivery and will have to return the car to the Yard.

c)       Main Line switching should be done as a Trailing Point Move.

d)      When possible all cars not required for the Siding should be parked off the Main Line.

e)      Complete the movement in as few moves as possible.

f)    If your Locomotive and car/s will fit into the siding and not foul the Main Line then allow any waiting trains to pass then complete your moves. Co-ordinate this with the Dispatcher.

11.    Using car Cards

a)      DO NOT lay Car Cards on the modules.

b)      It is the responsibility of the train crew to leave the Car Card for the car being delivered in the Car Card Box for that location.

c)      It is the responsibility of the train crew to take the Car Card for the car being picked up from the Car Card Box for the location that the pickup was made.

d)      When you arrive at a location, read and execute the instructions on the Waybill or the specific instructions written on an Instruction Card in the Car Card Box. This also includes Through Freight Trains.

e)      You should keep the Car Cards of the cars that you are picking up separate from those that you are dropping off. Use one apron pocket for inbound cards and one for outbound cards. Keeping cards separate will save confusion later. 

f)   Failure to return correct Car Cards at the end of your run may incur fines.

12.    Talking to the Dispatcher/RTC

a)      Be conscientious. Other operators also must communicate with the dispatcher.

b)      Keep talk to a minimum.

c)      When starting out with a new train, call the dispatcher (when ready to move not before) and provide the Train Number. “RTC this is train 143”.

d)      When the Dispatcher calls you back reply with your Loco Number, type of train, current location, direction of travel (east or west) and next destination or station stop.

e)      Whenever asked for your direction of travel, simply state East or West and refer to the Track Plan. Normally when facing the front of a conventional module East is the right hand direction and West is the left-hand direction.
If you encounter a problem while running, inform the dispatcher immediately that you have a problem. DO NOT go into detail (fourth boxcar has gone off the tracks and the brakeman is trapped underneath and I spilled my coffee). This uses up too much airtime.

f)        Use short sentences. Indicate train number, and current position.

g)      When asked, indicate next destination. Do not explain entire desired route. This is the dispatcher's job. If multiple stops are required (passenger or locals), indicate the next stop only. Once at that stop, then indicate the next stop when ready to leave and so on.

h)      If the dispatcher wants more information he will request it.

13.    Completing a Run

13.1    Returning to Yard

a)      Obtain permission from Yard-Master to enter the Yard.

b)      Follow Yard-Master’s instructions.

c)      Report back to Dispatcher when clear of Main Line and sign off.

d)      Move Van/Caboose to storage track.

e)      Move Locomotive to Engine tracks. Turn off lights, sound, all functions and set speed to zero. Dispatch Locomotive.

f)       Give the Yard-Master all of the Paper Work. Failure to return Car Cards, Engine ID Card or Train Card may incur fines or penalty.

g)      Return the Red Pass to the Traffic Superintendent. Failure to return Red Pass may incur fines or penalty.

h)       Turn off Throttle and Radio and return them to Club Table.

13.2    Returning to a Fiddle Yard

a)      It is recommended that you drive in, rather than back in, unless there are specific reasons for backing in.

b)      Report back to Dispatcher when clear of Main Line and sign off.

c)      Turn off lights, sound, all functions and set speed to zero. Dispatch Locomotive.

d)      Return the Red Pass to the Traffic Superintendent. Failure to return Red Pass may incur fines or penalty.

e)      Turn off Throttle and Radio and return them to Club Table.

f)       Remove cars and locomotive from Fiddle Yard tracks in a timely manner.

14.    Encountering Problems

From time to time, you will encounter problems during a set-up. The key is not to get frustrated and not to make up your own solutions to the problem. The Traffic Superintendent, the Road Foreman and the Chief of Operations are the people to co-ordinate the solution(s) to any problems identified.

If the problem affects the Operations also inform the Dispatcher/RTC.