Directions on the Tug Fork Branch

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Wed Oct 8 10:45:56 EDT 2014

Guys:  Particularly in the early days, it was essential for a railroad to
establish a track direction which was not particularly related to a compass
direction.  Trains had to be identified as to direction (one or the other-
one of two options) and class to establish the RIGHTS of movement for a
train relative to the other traffic on the rails.  The was important for the
establishment of the proper dispatching and writing of train orders and
clearance cards to avoid train wrecks.  Today with radio dispatching and
issuing track warrants with that dispatching method, it simplifies things so
that direction and which train has rights of movements over others is not
obviously important as it was in the older non-radio days.  So the N&W was
"east" or "west" regardless of the actual compass direction.

Gary Rolih



From: NW-Mailing-List [mailto:nw-mailing-list-bounces at] On Behalf Of
NW Mailing List
Sent: Friday, September 26, 2014 8:55 AM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: Re: Directions on the Tug Fork Branch


    As it was stated before, assignment of direction was for operational
purposes, so, I can't comment on why the Clinchfield did it that way.  I
think that at one time there was a uniform rule book that the railroads used
as a guide and that it went with the Even-N/E, Odd-S/W direction, but as the
model railroaders say..."It's your railroad, do what you want".
    It seems that after the merger into NS, as management and employees have
diluted, train numbers started diluting more and more. Now it is not unusual
to find train numbers traveling in the historically wrong direction. It has
also been historically correct that when a new rule book is brought out,
that timetables revert their numbering to "1". Right before I left, that
didn't even happen. Hence, the need of historical societies such as ours.

Jimmy Lisle

But on the Clinchfield, the odd numbered trains were northbound and

the even numbered trains were southbound.  Clinchfield is now CSX

and through an agreement, NS trains operate St. Paul to a point near

Kingsport on former Clinchfield track.  Don't know if CSX has amended

the train numbering system.               Harry Bundy


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