Some Differences in Canadian Operation under the Standard Code

Canada used time table and train order operation under the Standard Code with very few differences from the US


The Catechism on the General Train and Interlocking Rules (Toronto: T. Eaton, 1916) is in the question-and-answer format so popular for self-help books at the time, and possibly was of more use to rules examiners than to the enginemen, conductors, and train dispatchers to whom it was addressed. Many of the questions were phrased to call for rote answers ("yes"), but did give a good summary of the rule book and suggested the kinds of answers that were looked for. There were 314 questions in all, keyed to the standard rule numbers.

Canadian practice in railway operation was, for all practical purposes, identical to that in the United States, and was based on the same Standard Code of Operating Rules, as acknowledged in Canada, and as affected by local safety regulation. Nevertheless, there were a few small differences, and those that stood out in a brief reading are mentioned here. There was no indication of differences between the several companies operating in Canada at the time, nor of differences in provincial legislation.

In the definitions, 'passing track' replaced the US term 'siding,' and 'side track' the US term 'spur track.' In spite of this, in the rest of the rules the term 'siding' reappears in its US sense as a track used specifically for the meeting and passing of trains, and 'side track' is not found. Time is disseminated by telegraph from the McGill Observatory in Montreal at 11.55 a.m. daily, instead of from the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington.

The use of yard limits is different. In Canada, both first and second class trains must be cleared by yard engines, but third class and extra trains must proceed expecting to find the track occupied. By night, yellow lamps are displayed at yard limit signs. In the US, only first-class trains had privileges within yard limits, and yard limit signs were not lighted.

When a passenger train approached a meeting point, communicating signal 16(d), three sounds, was given by the conductor, to which the engineman replied by whistle signal 14(k), two short, to acknowledge it. There was no special whistle signal to be used by the engineman when approaching meeting and waiting points. The whistle signal for a road (level) crossing was two long, two short, as in the US at the time, and whistle posts were placed 80 rods from the crossings.

The speed of passenger trains was limited to 35 mph when passing over railway crossings protected by signals, and freight trains were limited to 25 mph. For drawbridges protected by signals, the speeds were 25 and 15 mph, respectively. There were no such general limits in the US. When not protected by signals, a stop was undoubtedly required.

Rule 104, governing the operation of switches (turnouts or points) had the usual provisions. When waiting to turn a switch to let his train out of a siding, a trainman was required to stand on the opposite side of the track from the switch stand, and at least 20 feet away.

An inferior train could not be advanced by train order against a superior passenger train without the signature of the operator at the point where the superior train was to be held, or the signature of its conductor. The order could not be made complete until this was done. A train could not follow a passenger train from a station until it was reported that the train had arrived at the next station in advance, or until 20 minutes had elapsed if this could not be done.

There were two forms of train orders not generally appearing in US rule books. Form T, which had to be authorized by the Superintendent, said "Line clear to C for No 3 Eng 565," and was addressed to C&E No. 3 as well as to the operator at C. This effectively gave No. 3 right over all trains to C, but No. 3 still had to protect in case it was delayed. The very useful Form U said "Operator G hold all trains following No 64, Eng 671 (except ....) until 10 am" which released No. 64 from rear-end protection until the time stated. This kind of order was very useful on light-traffic lines in facilitating movement of trains. One notes that even times could be used in train orders (they could not in the US; the dispatcher would say 1001 am), and that punctuation was included in the examples, which should not have been there. Form U was distinct from the usual Hold order, which was used only in emergencies, not in cases such as this.

If a train found an automatic block signal at Stop, it was to stop no closer than 200 ft from the signal, then proceed immediately at caution.


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Composed by J. B. Calvert
Created 2 February 2000
Last revised 2 February 2000