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Railroaders' Nostalgia > Train Order Book Tuesday Part 3

Date: 12/14/21 11:49
Train Order Book Tuesday Part 3
Author: Zephyr

On previous Tuesdays we have reviewed clearance pages, train orders and "short hand" used by Train Dispatchers dispatching train order territory.  Today we review another item found in most Train Order Books, the Track Car Lineup.  On the Southern Pacific Railroad there was a formal, pre-printed form that was utilized by Train Order Operators as the Train Dispatcher dictated a train lineup.  This form looked much like a regular train order blank (yellow "flimsy") but it had special printed markings indicating its special use for lineups.  In Train Order territory, Maintenance of Way, Signal, Engineering and even Officials using the hi-rail vehicles were required to secure an official Track Car Lineup issued by the Train Dispatcher so they could be aware of and clear trains in the area where they were working or moving through.

In today's photo from the Train Order Book, we see two types of lineups.  On the top of the page is an "informal" lineup issued as information only to Engines working at Gemco.  Since Gemco was located in Yard Limits, Engines could occupy the main track only clearing for First Class Trains.  However, the Train Dispatcher didn't want a switcher or local working in these limits to severely delay regularly scheduled trains, so information about when these trains would show up near Gemco was issued.  On this particular day, No. 832 (the "HOT" perishable train "Smokey") is figured to arrive Chatsworth about 320am.  Another eastbound train, No. 834 (probably the OALA) is figured to arrive Chatsworth about 640am.  No mention of any westbound trains on this particular day.

Looking further down on the page we see a formal lineup issued for the dark territory area between Palmdale (Na) and Slover.  Slover didn't have any initials assigned to it because it was a new siding on the Palmdale Cutoff located just outside of West Colton Yard controlled by Interlocking on the east end and a Spring Switch on the west end.  This lineup is issued for the timeframe of 625am to 925am.  Lineups were always issued in a maximum of 3 hour timeframes.  We note Palmdale (Na) repeated the lineup back to the Train Dispatcher at 638am and Colton (Cy) repeated it back at 659am. As each Train Order Operator or employee repeated the lineup, the Train Dispatcher would underline every word and number indicating it had been repeated back correctly in the Train Order Book.  ERTOT means Eastward Regular Trains On Time no X, meaning no exceptions.  Well, since there were no regularly scheduled eastward trains in the Timetable at this time, it would seem rather obvious, but the Train Dispatcher had to state it anyway.  Then we see the Train Dispatcher figuring trains at various locations on the Cutoff:

X6906E dpt Hi 559am            means  Extra 6906 East departed Hiland (Station) at 559am
X3963E lv Na abt 730am       means  Extra 3963 East leaves Palmdale about 730am
X5304E lv Na abt 901am       means  Extra 5304 East leaves Palmdale about 901am

"XE eng unknown lite hlpr lv Hi abt 920am" is the Train Dispatcher's way of telling anyone using the lineup that a helper set on one of the westbounds will cutoff at Hiland and head back to Colton about 920am.

Then we see the westbound side of the lineup listing the Train Dispatcher's figures for regularly scheduled trains, noting that Nos. 521 and 515 were operating late (WRTOT X 521 515).

One of the phrases Train Dispatchers liked to use on the SPRR at the end of formal track car lineups was "Xpect other trains at any time".  I don't believe this phrase would have saved the Train Dispatcher if they had left off a train from the lineup and there was a subsequent accident, but it gave them another feeling of security.

Next week we will explore how Train Dispatchers transferred between shifts and how that was covered in the Train Order Book.

Oxnard, California

Date: 12/14/21 19:14
Re: Train Order Book Tuesday Part 3
Author: W_P_SignalTechnician

Hi Pete,

Thanks for continuing your explanation of train dispatching.  Most Interesting!


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