Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by kutler, Nov 7, 2007.

  1. kutler

    kutler Member


    Much has been said in recent years in operating a model railroad by timetable and train order T&TO. Multiple clinics have been held at NMRA conventions, and it's seemingly touted as one of the two 'cool' ways to run your railroad, the other being CtC.

    Most model railroaders have experienced YU-GO, I-GO. It involves yelling over the scenery something like, "is there anyone in the block?"
    Can I come over to.... etc. It does contain a stigma of being un-authentic and 'un-cool'.

    So hundreds have attended clinics extolling the virtues and explaining the eccentricities of T&TO, but do many have a complete understanding of the principles?

    Long before the clinics, I had an interest in train orders hitherto called T&TO. Since I had a background in railroading, when I had an opportunity to dispatch on my friends Train order layout, I was quite exited to issue orders on his 60's era layout. He has a seperate room for dispatcher and train order operator, printed timetable, train order signals at principle stations, train registers, and all the other paraphanalia which goes along with this sub-hobby.

    There is a reason that dispatchers are kept in a seperate room. It should be a soundproof one. My meets stank. Partly because I didn't know the running times and partly because it takes more time to put out an order than it does for a train to go between towns. Then it happened. Near the end of the operating session I issued a lap order to two opposing extra trains ( a very bad thing). Although it was retrievable, I had been oblivious to it's issuance and was called on it by a former TD at the session. I tried to explain that my railroad ran extras in only one direction (running trains in the other direction in sections), but it didn't hold any water. I had sent two trains on a collision course and hadn't the time to notice it.

    On subsequent visits I tried as often as possible to be assigned to running trains instead.

    After a good deal of thought I thought I might try and hone my skills on a local layout as train orders were becoming very popular by this time. I couldn't find anyone however using this system or interested in applying it. Were layout owners going to conventions listening intently
    and rushing home to apply thier new found logic, only to become frustrated by some of the limitations I experienced? It certainly wasn't talked about openly.

    Is it possible that there are two types of modellers, builders and operators? That is builders are never complete enough to run 'a full operating session', and operators are always dreaming of the perfect operating layout and never building it? This is not intended as an offence just my general observations as I firmly place myself in the second category.

    On my friends layout where I got to dispatch a couple of times, I got to understand a little bit about it's history. He has two pivotal helpers whom contribute in large to the success of his railroad. One friend is a builder the other an organizer. I suspect his relationship with both go back to the beginnings of his layout as it is certainly designed for operation. I wonder if there are more builders out there that could use the help of organizers?

    If you've hung in there this long I suppose you wonder when I'm going to get to the controversy of which system T&TO or YOUGO IGO is better. I'm really not going to take a position on that. My view is that there are good reasons for both systems and merging them might provide a better system.

    The proposal

    Take the best aspects of both systems; the organizaton and clarity of a written schedule and the flexibility of verbal authority to overide timetable schedules.

    Is it too simple to work?


    Probably the easy part. List the regular trains that operate and thier approximate times on a table with station names. Irregular trains and trains of the lowest class inferior direction need not be documented.
    These trains will be run as extras. Some railroads ran all trains as extras.

    Train Orders

    Surely there will need to be compromises to the TO system to allow verbal authority to overide. Ask any dispatcher what the main drawback of TOs were and you will likely be told the whole world had to be informed of the modification.

    Ex: train 101 eng 9511 run 60 mins late A-F 30 mins late F-Z

    This order had to be addressed to 101 before reaching A and in order for it to be beneficial to other trains inferior trains would have to be addressed as soon as possible. It's possible for the person who has the responsibilities of the Train Dispatcher to write this message on a piece of paper and deliver it to all trains online and all trains that will originate during 101's schedule, but that is not much better than issuing a train order without the authenticity. It might be better in this instance to issue fixed meets.

    Verbal transmission

    dispr: 101 eng 9511 meet 102 eng 8612 at C instead of B

    101: roger 101 meet 102 at C instead of B

    102: ok 101 meet 102 at C instead of B

    this simple exchange saves 5 mins of paperwork X (fast clock speed)

    Train Registers

    Train Registers are placed at strategic locations where trains need information to determine which superior trains have arrived and left.
    Terminals at each end of the layout and major junctions are common locations. Minor junctions, end of two main tracks, and places where locals or helper engines turn don't necessarily need train registers.

    The dispatcher can issue a verbal authority at these locations to inform

    Ex: to extra 1234 at D Jct

    all trains due at D Jct before 1201am have arrived and left


    all trains due a D jct before 1201am have arrived and left except 101 eng 9511

    A basic understanding of the principles of T&TO are necessary on the part of the dispatcher and operators. It's probably best to perform a dry run or rules class to deal with all the scenarios that could come up during a session. It probably wouldn't be fair to throw a visitor into the fray without buddying up with a regular operator for a while. No doubt most operators will pick up the system before the session is over.

    Job Aids

    Train Registers can be prewritten to have regular trains listed with minimal information required by operators working under the fast clock.

    Register at D Jct Nov 13th 1973

    Westward Trains

    First Class Trains

    1 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Second Class Trains

    101 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________
    103 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Extra Trains

    EXA Eng_______ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Eastward Trains

    First Class

    2 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Second Class

    102 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________
    104 Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Extra Trains

    EXA Engine_____ Time_________ Conductor__________

    Eastward Trains are superior to opposing trains of the same class

    Graphic user interface

    On busy railroads users can be bombarded with information.
    One of the reasons that Train orders were written instead of verbal was the consequences of an error were so large the extra prevention was provided at little expense. Scale rail risks are also minimized, but
    a tool could be provided to remind users where their authority exists.
    It might be something as simple as a paper timetable which is disposable after the train run. The crew can be encouraged to write changes on the timetable that affect thier train. For example if another train is annulled the user can scratch its schedule out and write annulled over it's column. If a scheduled meet is changed they can x out the scheduled meet and mark the new one. Scence has proven that people remember things better when an action is associated with it.

    End of part 1
  2. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Actually I been very fortunate to have operated on layouts that use Radios and dispatchers..
    However,If I had to yell for clearance I would prefer T&TOs.
    Great topic!:thumb:
  3. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    Man, that made my head hurt! I am glad my little one man show is just a little shortline delivering a few cars to the industries and dragging a few back to the interchanges.
  4. MasonJar

    MasonJar It's not rocket surgery

    I have operated on layouts with car cards, switch lists, and/or dispatchers, all of which seem to me a version of yugo/igo. I did operate at one layout with a fast clock and a schedule, but it was the inaugural run, so I would not count that.

    I think that I understand most of your post ;) and would like to say that I think the two schemes have been combined at various points/times in the real world. Let me explain, and then you can tell me what it really is...! :D

    In Orangeville, ON up into the 1950s, CPR was running steam trains on a schedule. However, southbound trains from Owen Sound or Teeswater had to stop at Fraxa Jct and retrieve "the staff". Despite their schedule they still had to stop at the jct, make a call to the station in Orangeville (several miles away) and if all was clear the station master (?) would remotely release the staff from some sort of lockbox. The conductor would then carry this as his physical proof of clearance to Orangeville station.


  5. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Yup,One locomotive dragging few cars to the short line customers..
    That's down home railroadin'.

    No track forms,no T&TOS no hassle railroadin'.:mrgreen:
  6. Ralph

    Ralph Remember...it's for fun!

    I've never had the experience of using a head set to get orders from a dispatcher on a model railroad. I'm imagining that it would be a lot of fun if done well. I'm guessing that a good signal system would go a long way toward avoiding the YU-GO, I-GO problem?
  7. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Ralph,Indeed headsets with working signals and a DS stop the old "I go/ you go.
    Even stopped in a passing siding waiting for another train you have that feeling of running a real train especially after the other train passes and the signal turns from Red to Green.
    At one of the clubs we call out signals at CP points like this..Train 300 Medium-approach at West Dayton (commonly called West Day).
    Now the layout is point to point and it makes you feel you have traveled from Cincinnati to Toledo.
    As far as the club using T&TO it would be a major job unless we redid the layout and included "tower operators" that would control sections of the layout using form Ds or track form 23As and track permits...

    I would like to try operating under T&TOs on a layout set up for that type of operation.
  8. tetters

    tetters Rail Spiking Fool!

    I'd have to agree with that statement. sign1
  9. kutler

    kutler Member

    Electric Staff System

    The "Staff" in this context is short for Electric Staff Operating System. Hardware involved were two control boxes each containing metal staffs which would be released singularily through electrical interlocking when all staffs were accounted for.

    The concept almost certainly originated in Great Britain although it was used extensively throughout north america through variations.

    The application of the Staff system of operation in relation to T&TO's is almost exactly how CtC, Movement by Signal Indication Rules 251 or 261 series, or even an Interlocking to some extent, affect operations.

    Simply put, I don't believe that holding the staff gives any train true authority over the use of the track. Clearances (green sheets, not modern variations) gave authority to regular and extra trains to use the track.

    Systems like Staff, CtC, or the other examples "govern" the use of the track. Authorize and Govern in Railroad context have distinct meanings.

    Clearances are issued to provide information as to track conditions and to ensure that schedules are adheared to.

    An opposing train cannot leave Fraxa or Orangeville without first having contol of the staff which in this case provided absolute block protection. If no staff system existed trains would check the train register before ascertaining whether they could use the track as in other unsignalled territory.

    So why was the electric staff system placed in service on the grade from Orangeville to Fraxa? (and south to Melville prior to the abandonment of the TG&B) That is an item of speculation as it certainly could have operated safely without that system as evidenced by it's lack of use in hundreds of similar situations throughout the CPR system.

    A traditional North American branchline scenario, where a junction exists within a mile or two of a terminal, it's likely that yard limits would extend to expediate train and engine movements.

    Orangeville to Fraxa is a short stiff grade the maximum of which is about 1.9% A train having problems on the grade need not provide rule 99 protection while having the staff in possession. An opposing train on time need not wait for a superior train operating late, nor obtain train order authority to advance, if he has possession of the staff. Yard limits in this example might be dangerous.

    An example of the Staff and it's control stand are located within CP's HQ in Calgary. I've had a close look at this neanderthal of traffic control. The complete rules for Electric Staff are not located in rulebooks, they are located in period employee timetables under special instructions. Canadian Pacific Historical Association has employee timetables online to view.



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