Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

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Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby Arborwayfan » Sat Jan 16, 2016 9:56 am

I guess this is a historical operations question.

Did crews have to give flag protection to their trains when they stopped unexpectedly in automatic block signal territory? Or would the automatic block signals themselves protect the trains?

I just finished reading Stephen W. Meader's The Long Train's Roll (a WW2 kids' or YA novel set around Altoona, which it calls Gaptown). The book refers to automatic block signals along the main line (of course the Pennsy would have had them, right?). Twice, the main character's train is flagged to a stop by the brakeman of another train, and the brakeman of the main character's train jumps off and runs back to protect his train. I have been wondering whether that's an accurate picture of operations in ABS territory or if the author either was mistaken or wanted to add a little drama and an opportunity for conversation between the crews of different trains.

(I bought this book at a train show in Mass someplace in the 80s. Before that it belonged to the Medford Public Library, so if any of you grew up reading this book in Medford, I have the copy you read.)
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby ExNYC63 » Sat Jan 16, 2016 12:01 pm

Yes, flag protection would have been required under rule 99, even with ABS.
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby Arborwayfan » Sat Jan 16, 2016 1:03 pm

Thanks!
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby fcqjx » Sun Jan 17, 2016 1:37 pm

I recall reporting for my first day of work from Rockville, MD, the first part of my journey via the B&O's RDC equipped commuter service to Union Station in Washington DC in late June 1973. The first sign of trouble was an eastbound freight passing through almost at train time. Many minutes later the RDCs slowly crawled to a stop in the station. We sat for a bit with the Conductor vanishing into the station office. Eventually, we got underway, slowly moving east, but shortly came to a stop. After a minute or two we resumed, crawling eastward but diverting onto the westbound track via a hand throw crossover located just east of the station, and stopped to await the trainman's reline and return, and then proceeded east at reasonable speed. Shortly we came on the stopped freight train. Standing directly behind the caboose was the flagman holding a large red flag. he exchanged looks with our train's conductor giving a shrug of his shoulders. This portion of the B&O's Metropolitan subdivision was governed by Chessie System ABS rules with rule D-251 in effect. Presumably, we had received a train order to run against the current of traffic on the westbound track. This was proper compliance with rule 99 becase, with ABS in effect for the direction of movement, the "sufficient distance to ensure full protection" requirement is met, since any following trains should be moving at restricted speed and should be looking out for, among other things, trains.
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby The RR Authority » Thu Jan 21, 2016 10:47 pm

Arborwayfan wrote:I guess this is a historical operations question.

Did crews have to give flag protection to their trains when they stopped unexpectedly in automatic block signal territory? Or would the automatic block signals themselves protect the trains?

I just finished reading Stephen W. Meader's The Long Train's Roll (a WW2 kids' or YA novel set around Altoona, which it calls Gaptown). The book refers to automatic block signals along the main line (of course the Pennsy would have had them, right?). Twice, the main character's train is flagged to a stop by the brakeman of another train, and the brakeman of the main character's train jumps off and runs back to protect his train. I have been wondering whether that's an accurate picture of operations in ABS territory or if the author either was mistaken or wanted to add a little drama and an opportunity for conversation between the crews of different trains.

(I bought this book at a train show in Mass someplace in the 80s. Before that it belonged to the Medford Public Library, so if any of you grew up reading this book in Medford, I have the copy you read.)


A great book, by the way.
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby Engineer Spike » Thu Jan 28, 2016 6:05 pm

The rules usually gave a flagging distance, which was based on stopping from maximum timetable speed. I'm sure some guys cheated, since the approaching train was supposed to be at restricted speed.
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby ExCon90 » Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:31 pm

Yes; for example, the PRR specified that in ABS territory Rule 99 was complied with if flag protection was provided against movements proceeding at Restricted Speed. Every so often you'll see a photo showing a flagman standing right by the steps of the last car at a station stop. Fully compliant, since even without a flagman Restricted Speed requires being prepared to stop within one-half sighting distance of an obstruction.
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Re: Flag protection for stopped train in ABS territory?

Postby lstone19 » Thu Feb 04, 2016 4:54 pm

On the other hand, the railroad I worked for 35 years ago (N&W) did not require flagging in signalled territory if protected by two signals. As a practical matter, that meant no flagging anywhere on my district.
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ex-N&W Sandusky, Ohio
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