Thursday, November 12, 2020

Operations - Rule Book

A continuing operations question I see online a lot is how much paperwork and other aspects of prototype operations should you include in your model railroad operations?

It's no secret that I lean quite heavily on the. 'as much as possible,' side of the answer, but the only right answer is, 'as much as you want.'


Now that the basement is coming together and the Agent's desk is good to go, I've spent some time continuing to work on the rule books for operations. 

Rule bookS? Yep. Plural. Why? Well, that's what the prototype had, and that's my starting point. 

Employees had to be familiar with the Book of Rules, the Safety Rules, and any changes via the Employee Timetable, bulletins and circulars. Freight conductors and engineers also needed to be familiar with the booklet on handling explosives and other hazardous materials. In real life, it's a lot to keep track of, and to qualify for a job you had to pass a test on much of the material as well.

I initially considered a condensed set of rules in a single document. But as I was working with it, I found that it seemed more confusing that way. I think that's because the bulk of the rules (those in the Rule Book itself) are fairly well known and won't need to be referenced frequently. So the Rule Book is largely what I consider a 'scenic' element for the operators. It's also something that can easily be shared prior to the session.


The rule book was updated and republished periodically. The one in effect for the entire era of my layout is the 1943 issue. The next update was in 1956. Here's a brief description of each section that I included in the book:

GENERAL NOTICE AND GENERAL RULES. Just part of the scenery, although they do apply. Rules G, H and K are the ones most relevant to modeling. Rule G as it applies to alcohol (in moderation) will be annulled with a circular when appropriate.

DEFINITIONS. Not something that will need to be referenced during the session, but it does clarify terminology used in the rules, and that I'll use. A couple are probably less commonly known, such as, 'in rear/advance of signal,' and the different terms for speed.

OPERATING RULES and TIME-TABLES. Most of this is also well known and won't need to be referenced, but Rule No. 86 is the important one, requiring trains to clear the main for regular trains 5 minutes before they leave the prior station.

SIGNALS. Most won't need to reference these, but it will be easy to flip to them if needed. It is nice to have a reference for use of the lights, and bell.

DESIGNATION AND USE OF TRACKS. Modelers have lots of different ways to identify tracks. This makes sure we're all on the same page.

SUPERIORITY AND MOVEMENT OF TRAINS. All rules that are well known and probably won't need to be referenced, but good to brush up on ahead of a session.

AUTOMATIC BLOCK SIGNALS. The signal aspects are a nice reference to have for those not used to running trains following signal aspects. The info on the speed boards is important too, because I expect crews to follow them. 

ADDITIONAL GENERAL RULES. Rule No. 737 is important - don't block a crossing for more than 5 minutes. I've heard 10 minutes, 15 minutes, and this clarifies it for my layout. But what I particularly like in this rule is that cars on yard tracks should be pushed as far from the crossing as possible is something many may not know.

The rule that the whistle should not be used when passing a passenger train is another one that most will not have seen before. 

The only other rule in this section that's of particular interest is under FREIGHT SERVICE. It includes where to place specific types of cars in the train (and we'll see later on that this is modified in many of the employee timetables).

So there are 9 pages of rules, but 99% of them are best read prior to the session, and probably won't be referenced during the session. While a few are included for completeness, it's been narrowed down to the most important rules that help define the 

Here's a link to the book. This will probably work for any New Haven layout, although many will need the Time Table & Train Order portions, and possibly the Manual Block Signal sections depending on what you're modeling.

New Britain Station Book of Rules

Set your printer to print landscape on both sides, flip on the short edge. That will allow you to stack them and fold them in half into a booklet. If your printer doesn't have a duplex feature, you'll have to manually flip the pages. Since each printer is different in the orientation, you'll have to experiment to print it properly.

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