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Monday, September 17, 2012

Rumors of Train Orders' Demise are Greatly Exaggerated

Last week it was reported that the Long Island Rail Road had "retired" its Train Order system inherited from the old PRR Standard Code rulebook.  The last Form 19 Train Order was issued on September 3rd at 11:59, removing the Form 19 from use as a train order device.  Prior to this the venerable Form 19 had only been used to deliver speed restrictions and other miscellaneous instructions with movement authorities being transferred to the new LIRR Form L.  While some had assumed this to mean that the LIRR was now using a modern Track Warrant system with paperwork similar to a NORAC Form D or MNRR Form M, the truth is that this only represented a change in paperwork.

The Form 19, seen below, was a long form train order where all the instructions were written out in long hand, on multiple copies and given to whomever it may concern.  The large block of text could confer a movement authority or seed restriction or just about anything safety related that a train needed to do.

The Form L on the other hand is broken up with those fill in the blank lines so common on track warrants and other movement permits in use across North America.  However while most of those other forms have 10 or more fill in the blank lines, the Form L only has 4, and none of them have anything to do with standard movement authority.  However there is a 5th block that contains a paragraph worth of blank lines for....hmmm...a long form, hand written block of instructions.

Upon inquiring I learned that there have been no alterations to LIRR operating practice except for the elimination of a Clearance Card C for passing a stop signal in favor of the Rule 241 verbal permission past a stop signal.  The LIRR still uses its traditional PRR manual block system with K cards, A cards and superior/inferior trains governed by timetable and, you guessed it, train orders.  So despite what you might hear, train order operation still lives on at America's oldest railroad.

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