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"In addition to the installation of these train order signals we also installed grade signals on certain grades, the arm of which is attached to the pole 6 ft. 6 in. below the signal arm, and designated by a letter 'G' on the face of a disc attached to the signal arm. The fixed position of this signal arm is 45 deg. above horizontal. These signals are located on heavy grades and authorize enginemen in charge of freight trains having 90 per cent and over the engine rating to pass the block signal in the stop position without first bringing their train to a full stop. All other trains and engines are required to observe block signals and rules pertaining thereto, and are not authorized by the grade signal to pass a block signal in the stop position without first bringing the train to a full stop. Enginemen authorized to accept this grade signal are required to proceed under full control, prepared to stop before meeting any obstruction within the block.

“We have discontinued the use of green classification flags and lights on all freight trains operating over complete double track divisions, and have also discontinued the use of white classification flags and lights on all extra trains except passenger extras on complete double track divisions.

"Trains in automatic double track territory are permitted to proceed with the current of traffic upon signal indication, which signal indication supersedes time table superiority. On some of our single track divisions we give the inferior train the right of track over the superior train to the regular time table meeting point, thus eliminating train orders and delays. Our motto is 'Keep trains moving.'

Although not so stated in its reply, it is very evident that it considers this method of operation as quite essential to economical operation of double track.

Hocking Valley The parallel tracks on this road are not operated at present strictly as double track, but it is planned to do so in time. It does, however, use one track for traffic in one direction and operates both ways on the other.

"The burden of our traffic falls upon the Toledo Division, 124 miles long, and to the end that this traffic may be handled economically and provide for further increase, we have already completed 47 miles of second track and plan to complete the entire distance.

"It is not our purpose when the second track has been completed to use the double track as double track is generally used; we contemplate the use of our second track for the handling of northbound tonnage trains only, confining north and southbound passenger trains and southbound freight trains to the other track. It is expected this method of operation will make possible a movement of tonnage trains over the division within the overtime limit and provide for the movement of the maximum number of trains. Our tonnage is now limited by passing track capacity (80 cars), to a maximum of 5,250 equated gross tons. We have been operating sections of second track (18 miles in length) south of Columbus on the above plan since 1903 with very satisfactory results.”

Great Northern The Great Northern operates trains against the current of traffic on 135 miles of double track; in fact, on all its double track, except between St. Paul and Minneapolis.


On the Mesaba division are 84 miles of double track equipped with A.P.B. signals which furnish protection for trains under normal current of traffic only. Normally there are 6 passenger and 36 freight trains daily, the freight trains at times increasing to 42. Two passenger and six freight trains are on the average run against the current daily and at times four passenger and 12 freight trains are operated in this manner. No distinction is made in the classes of trains diverted and there have been

"no serious accidents due to the practice. Traffic from April to December on the Mesaba division consists principally of ore, coal, grain, flour and forest products. Ore trains run a distance of 103 miles and other trains 160 miles. Ore trains average 125 cars, 8,000 gross tons, pulled by a Mallet engine with a tractive power of 78,360 lb. Other through trains average 80 cars, 4,000 gross tons pulled by a Mikado engine with a tractive power of 60,930 lb. In a normal ore season we run 24 ore trains daily, and to avoid stopping these long, heavy trains, we take advantage of the double tracks and run passenger, time freight and light local trains around the heavy ore trains against the current of traffic on the opposite track. The ore trains make a round trip of 213 miles from dock to mine and return in less than 16 hours and must be kept moving continually to avoid tie-ups."

This method of operation is also followed on 51 miles of double track from Shelby Mountain to Browning Mine, and other shorter stretches on which the average daily traffic is 6 passenger and 8 freight trains and the maximum 12 passenger and 16 freight trains. Normally 1 passenger and 1 freight train are operated daily on the opposite track, but at times 4 passenger and 4 freight trains are operated daily againstthe current. Trains are moved by train order and there is no automatic protection, the movement being at any time through the day. The maximum distance moved is about 25 miles. No facing point switches are interlocked.

“This method is generally considered absolutely safe. Train and enginemen thoroughly conversant with the rules should be as safe as when running normally. In this connection one hazard appears on a steep grade; for example, where one track is put up with a low elevation on curves in order that locomotives may handle the maximum train tonnage, the other track is put up with maximum elevation for high speed. In reversing the current of traffic, this is something the dispatcher, as well as the engineer controlling the train, must be thoroughly conversant with. So far since the inception of double track we have had no accident.

"The advantages of this system are keeping live stock, fruit trains and perishable commodities moving, thereby eliminating claims; also saving in overtime of trains and enginemen, as well as better performance generally, especially when work trains are operated on double track.”

Illinois Central This company has 220 miles of double track over which the normal daily movement is 32 passenger trains and 35 freight trains, the latter increasing to as many as 50 trains daily and it operates from 2 to 6 trains daily against the current of traffic. The track is equipped with automatic block signals protecting in one direction only, and about 5 per cent of the facing-point switches are interlocked. The management has this to say about the safety of this method :

"We have operated trains in this manner on the Illinois division for 10 years to my personal knowledge without an accident

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or even hazard of accident, and while this reverse movement has not been extensive, I think it can be extended with perfect safety."

New York, New Haven & Hartford The New Haven reverses the movement of traffic at two busy points on its line.

At Worcester, Mass., 1.9 miles of double track are operated in this manner. The traffic on these tracks is :

Normal Maximum Passenger trains


42 Passenger drafts and light engines (N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R.)


44 Passenger drafts (B. & M. R. R.)


18 Switcher movements


6 Freight trains and interline transfers.



108 136 And the movements against the current of traffic are:

Normal Maximum Passenger trains


9 Passenger drafts and light engines (N. Y., N. H. & H. R. R.)


10 Passenger drafts (B. & M. R. R.).


4 Switcher movements


4 Freight trains and interline transfers.



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34 These movements are governed by “Manual Controlled Block" and trains are operated without distinction under the system at any time of day.

At New Haven there are 1.8 miles of four-track line, of which the two middle tracks are operated against the current of traffic at infrequent intervals, as the capacity of the tracks at present is not often exceeded. The traffic is :



E. B. W.B. Total E. B. W. B. Total Passenger trains

44 44 88

56 59 115 Freight trains

25 24 49

45 45 90 Light engines

60 60 120

63 64 127

129 128 257 164 168 332 Traffic is controlled in both directions by manual control block with automatic intermediate signals.

"In setting up the route for the manual control block the direction of automatic signal protection is established. All switches, both facing and trailing, are interlocked. The advantages gained by operating against the current of traffic are the flexibility which facilitates quick terminal movements at times of congestion."

Northern Pacific The Northern Pacific has 635 miles in 17 stretches of varying lengths of double track on which trains are operated against the current of traffic; 507 miles are provided with A.B.S. for the normal movement; 17 miles have A.B.S. for protection in both directions on one track only and 111 miles have no automatic protection. On the section Livingston to Bozeman, 25 miles, staff protection is provided through a single track tunnel, also Stampede to Lester, 13 miles, staff protection is provided for 3 miles of single track, which includes the Cascade tunnel; the westbound track is provided here with A.B.S. protection in both directions.

The operation of the double track, Staples to Delworth, 106 miles, is typical. This is a 0.3 per cent line "on which we use one track as much as the other for reverse movements." The average daily traffic is 15 passenger and 18 freight trains; the maximum is 22 passenger and 24 freight trains. Normally 1 passenger and 2 freight trains are operated against the current, but this at times increases to 5 passenger and 10 freight trains against the current.

A.B.S. protection is provided for the normal movement. There are three facing point crossovers, but none are interlocked. As a rule, trains do not exceed a distance of 20 miles against the current, but the distance is not fixed.

Our experience as to the safety of this method of operation is "absolutely safe.” “We have no records of any accidents attributable to this practice.

"We run trains against the current of traffic in order to expedite the movements of traffic, avoid delays and overtime." "Our business has not been heavy enough to suggest the necessity of additional main tracks. As business increases, we shall extend the practice and provide minor facilities to make it more effective, thus postponing the construction of additional main tracks."

While the foregoing has demonstrated thoroughly the feasibility of running trains against the current and the economies following that method in the vast majority of instances where tracks are being taxed to the limit, yet it is necessarily a subject for careful analysis and an interesting letter from the President of the Central Railroad of New Jersey is quoted here.

Central Railroad of New Jersey "I have given thought to this letter, and have had some correspondence with one of your committee, and beg to advise that this questionnaire would not apply to our line.

“In the first place, we do not operate trains against the current of traffic on any of our tracks, except in cases of emergency, and during such periods of time we turn all of the current traffic over to an adjacent track, so that there is really no reverse movement, as trains are not operated against each other on such tracks during that period. Furthermore, the trains running against the ordinary current of traffic are operated during this period of emergency under train orders.

“This question, however, was very prominently before us several years ago, covering part of our four-track district. Through this territory, we have two eastbound and two westbound tracks. We made up charts at that time to determine whether it would be practicable to use three of the tracks as eastbound in the morning and three westbound in the evening.

"We found, however, that during this so-called rush-hour period, traffic in both directions was so heavy that it would not have been practicable to have occupied one of the trains in reverse movement.

"It must be borne in mind that our passenger service in the suburban district is of such a character that, made up of both express and local passenger trains, it is necessary for some of the through trains to run around other express trains that make certain stops. This means that a certain series of local trains, express trains with stops and through express trains all in westbound movement must have certain stretches of track that are kept open, where they are passed around the local or semi-express trains. To take a track away from them under such circumstances would necessarily impair the service seriously.

“Taking a certain period of time for our study, we found that 32 local passenger trains on track 3 were passed by 53 express or semi-express trains on track 1, and 22 on track 4 by 38 on track 2.

“At a certain station on our line, on July 22, 1917, a 24-hour period taken at random as covering daily heavy traffic, and at a point where there was about the average density of traffic within the territory considered, there were 101 eastbound and 102 westbound passenger trains, and 49 eastbound and 51 westbound freight trains, or an average of about 1 to each 4.75 minutes. Necessarily, with such heavy traffic in both directions, including both passenger and freight, there was no opportunity to consider successful operation by reversing traffic. It would necessitate practically suspending the traffic in one direction while operating against the current.

“We have studied some other lines where operations were being conducted against the current of traffic, and found that their situation was entirely different from ours, so that while it was practicable for them it was decidedly undesirable for us."

CONCLUSION The replies to the questionnaire have demonstrated that trains can be operated successfully on multiple tracks against the current of traffic in the regular course of business, thereby facilitating their movement and effecting material economies without introducting additional hazards when proper precautions are taken; also in some cases avoiding or delaying the construction of additional main and passing tracks. The following is, therefore, recommended for insertion in the Manual:

Operation of trains against the current of traffic on multiple tracks should receive consideration with other methods whenever congestion, delay or overtime prompt investigation of means of facilitating the movement of traffic or increasing the capacity of a line.

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