Train orders --NOT--on the fly at night

nw-mailing-list at nw-mailing-list at
Wed Jan 26 18:08:10 EST 2005

Bidding in a swing job, I worked 2nd trick Tidewater on Saturdays.  
Tidewater was supplied with N&W Form "19" orders.  On the  NS,
however, there were both "19" and "31" orders in use.  The "31"
order is usually issued when the rights of a superior train are  restricted.
It requires that the train's conductor (or engineer in the  conductor's
absence) sign the order.  NS had a wrinkle, though.  It wasn't in  the
rule book, but at the dispatcher's direction, the operator would  sign
the order and hand it up on the fly. Most N&W and VGN people
wince at that modification.
One particular night, an extra board operator was sleeping at a 
station because, unlike those in train and engine service, operators
did NOT received away-from-home lodging .  The dispatcher
saw an opportunity to advance an inferior train by at least 55  minutes.
At 3:00 AM, most agencies were closed.  I noted to the  dispatcher
that an extra man was boarding at the depot.  He immediately  rang
"HD"  and woke the operator.  He issued a "31" order to the  superior
train which changed the meet. Then the dispatcher noted, "if he stops
and signs the order, it'll make any delay at the meeting point a  little
more palatable".  The operator set the train order signal to STOP  and
placed a red flag on the mast (the signal that a "31" order was to  be
delivered).  When the engineer rounded the curve and saw the
STOP train order signal, the red flag, and no operator, he put  the
train in emergency.  Sixty two cars behind the engines, a draw  bar
got snatched out of a tank car, which stopped in the middle of the
Perquimans River bridge.
                                                   Harry Bundy

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