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Western Railroad Discussion > Source of GCOR?


Date: 07/20/07 20:47
Source of GCOR?
Author: bnsfjth

A friend and I were chatting this evening and the source of the GCOR came up. Neither of us could pinpoint an organization who publishes it. Just who is the rules making body who publishes and updates the GCOR? Is it a board of various railroad employees, a third party, or...who?

-Justin



Date: 07/20/07 20:56
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: JimM

Here's one on the BNSF website:

http://www.bnsf.com/ttc/Timetable/livingrulebook.html

Hold on, that's not what you asked...

I found this explanation on the web, though I'm not sure it totally answers it:

"By the 1850’s, railroad operating rules, often printed as pamphlets or on the back of a time card,
had evolved to near universal application. On April 14, 1887, representatives of 48 railroads voted
for the adoption of what is now known as the Standard Code of Operating Rules (SCOR),
published by the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Thus, all railroad rule books in North
America today have as their foundation the SCOR in both development and application (Shaw,
1978).

The SCOR, however, was never intended to be used as a working rulebook. Rather, its primary
intention was to standardize operating practices to the extent practicable while still preserving the
flexibility of individual railroads to either modify or omit rules at their discretion. Even rulebooks with
identical phraseology could be interpreted and applied differently on different railroads. Although
used as a reference book, the SCOR was primarily a matrix document, from which the industry
could establish standard verbiage and a common numbering system. Until recently, in fact, railroads
rarely deviated from the original numbering system. (D. Yachechak, personal communication,
March 1997).

At present, most Class I railroads in the U.S. use one of two “standard” rulebooks: the Northeast
Operating Rules Advisory Committee (NORAC) rulebook and the General Code of Operating
Rules (GCOR). Conrail, Amtrak, and several commuter and short line railroads in the northeastern
United States use the NORAC rulebook. The GCOR is used by every Class I railroad west of the
Mississippi River, most of the Class II railroads, and numerous shortline railroads. A few railroads,
including CSX, Norfolk Southern, Illinois Central, and Florida East Coast, have adopted their own
rulebooks."



Date: 07/20/07 21:25
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: hobojaks

I think that it should be noted that railroads still don't follow GCOR. Each railroad has its own "system special instructions", which modify the rules, as well as time tables special instructions which can modify rules in a local areas. Track bulletins and General orders can also modify the rules.

A "direct order" from a manager, according to the view of some I suppose would also modify a rule, this being somewhat more open to debate I suppose.

I thought that the railroads got together at a "rules convention" still. GCOR seems to be largely an amalgamation of all rules being used anywhere in the western united states. Hence the mind boggling number of ways to get authority to enter a main track. On a particular railroad, seems like a lot of them never get used. For example block register territory, lives on, because some tiny little railroad, had it put in at the rules convention.

I imagine these conventions to be places of heated debate, with the results of these conventions being a disappointment to many theorists, and rules examiners.

But I have never actually been to one.



Date: 07/20/07 22:59
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: BNSF6400

> example block register territory, lives on,
> because some tiny little railroad, had it put in
> at the rules convention.

The Southern Pacific used BRT (block register territory) on a number of its lightly used branches into the 1990's. I doubt many would consider it to be a "tiny little railroad". However, to support your overall statement, I don't know of any large railroad that uses BRT today.



Date: 07/21/07 00:38
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: NdeM

The GCOR is written by the General Code of Operating Rules Committee.

The Committee is made up of members from the FRA, NTSB, some offices of the PUC and of course member railroads.

Every so often (usually 4 years) the committee meets and writes a new edition.



Date: 07/21/07 08:34
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: kk5ol

hobojaks Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I think that it should be noted that railroads
> still don't follow GCOR. Each railroad has its
> own "system special instructions", which modify
> the rules, as well as time tables special
> instructions which can modify rules in a local
> areas.

Get's me to thinking about what I think I heard on the scanner earlier this week; a Houston terminal dispatcher referring to "T C O R" ? Or did I just hear it wrong over the road noise and three other two-way radios?

RailNet802, over



Date: 07/21/07 10:52
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: hobojaks

Great point, more accurate would be "kept in".

Here in california the mighty tronia railroad used to still be BRC the last time I checked, this might have changed by now.

One that always bugged me, was that there was both "track and time", "track permit", and "work and time" rules each with very little difference between them.
My guess is that there are probably a number of rules experts on this very list who could write a better set of rules than what the committee comes up with, especially if they were starting fresh and writing the rules to make them easyer for new guys to understand.

I don't think anyone would set out to design rules that convoluted, if they sat down and wrote them from scratch. But they are a product of evolution, and more important cross breeding, and so GCOR has inherited a lot of rules, that they keep around for well.... I don't pretend to understand the reason, and suspect that it isn't really a very good one.

BNSF6400 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> > example block register territory, lives on,
> > because some tiny little railroad, had it put
> in
> > at the rules convention.
>
> The Southern Pacific used BRT (block register
> territory) on a number of its lightly used
> branches into the 1990's. I doubt many would
> consider it to be a "tiny little railroad".
> However, to support your overall statement, I
> don't know of any large railroad that uses BRT
> today.



Date: 07/21/07 13:39
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: topper

hobojaks Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Here in california the mighty tronia railroad used
> to still be BRC the last time I checked, this
> might have changed by now.

The what uses what?

> One that always bugged me, was that there was both
> "track and time", "track permit", and "work and
> time" rules each with very little difference
> between them.

All have very major differences, as each one is used for authority in a specific type of territory.



Date: 07/21/07 14:54
Re: Source of GCOR?
Author: topper

hobojaks Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Great point, more accurate would be "kept in".
>
> Here in california the mighty tronia railroad used
> to still be BRC the last time I checked, this
> might have changed by now.
>
> One that always bugged me, was that there was both
> "track and time", "track permit", and "work and
> time" rules each with very little difference
> between them.
> My guess is that there are probably a number of
> rules experts on this very list who could write a
> better set of rules than what the committee comes
> up with, especially if they were starting fresh
> and writing the rules to make them easyer for new
> guys to understand.
>
> I don't think anyone would set out to design rules
> that convoluted, if they sat down and wrote them
> from scratch. But they are a product of
> evolution, and more important cross breeding, and
> so GCOR has inherited a lot of rules, that they
> keep around for well.... I don't pretend to
> understand the reason, and suspect that it isn't
> really a very good one.
>
> BNSF6400 Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > > example block register territory, lives on,
> > > because some tiny little railroad, had it put
> > in
> > > at the rules convention.
> >
> > The Southern Pacific used BRT (block register
> > territory) on a number of its lightly used
> > branches into the 1990's. I doubt many would
> > consider it to be a "tiny little railroad".
> > However, to support your overall statement, I
> > don't know of any large railroad that uses BRT
> > today.

The following was sent to me in reply to your post, with the request that I post it:


That operating rules today are so dumbed-down and revised so frequently, as well as compromised by operating management for convenience, that understanding in the context of historical perspective is an exercise in futility.

The General Code of Operating Rules is a product of the evolution of the "old" Consolidated Code of Operating Rules, Uniform Code of Operating Rules, and books of rules used by carriers such as ATSF, SP, WP, UP, and DRGW. The original General Code, issued in 1985, was the product of five years of discussions and negotiations as well as hell of a lot of compromising.

There are significant differences between "track-and-time", "track permit", and "work-and-time" only by virtue of the territories in which they are employed. Otherwise they are quite the same in providing PROTECTION for men and equipment and/or trains working upon a MAIN TRACK.

a. Track-and-time is used within CTC and manual interlocking limits.
b. Track permits are used withing double-track (current of traffic) limits where controlled signals exist at both ends of such limits.
c. Work-and-time WAS used within DTC limits.

Further, two operating rules have stood the test of time for well over 100 years:

"Safety is of the first importance in the discharge of duty".
"In case of doubt or uncertainty, the safe course must be taken".

Many rules in existence today have undergone periodic revisions as technologies advanced or expired and craft agreements were negotiated. And many rules have come into existence over the past 15 years simply because of the application of a multitude of computer processes to all manner of operations.

Operating rules exist because they are written in human blood. Regardless of how simple or how complex an operating rule or rules might be perceived, the weakest element will always be the human element, regardless of whatever technological sophistication might be incorporated into any operating practices or policies.

WJN



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