New Train Registers

For a crews operating on a railroad dispatched with Time-Table and Train Order (TT&TO), reading and signing the train register was critical to train safety.  Crews use the information on the register to determine if it is safe or not to depart the register location.  If the information is not accurate a trains could collide.  If trains crew fails to sign the register than another crew may wait indefinitely to depart.

During the 2005 NMRA convention I hosted TT&TO operations on my Sn2 SR&RL layout.  During the session, one experienced operator was assigned an extra train.  When he checked the register, he found that none of the crews for the scheduled trains had signed the register.  At which point he blurted out “None the Scheduled Trains have signed the register, I cannot depart!”  He did so in a bold voice that matched the boldness of his Hawaiian shirt.  Upon hearing this 3 crews scurried to sign the registers.  Yes, they had embarrassed looks on their faces, but I’m sure they all now remember to sign the registers.  One of those operators is regular on the BORRCS and is diligent about signing the registers some 12 years later!  That minor embarrassment has made all of us there that night better operators and given us all a story to talk about again and again.  Ain’t that right Jim!

During the most recent BORRCS session Rick confessed to me a TT&TO ops mistake he had been part of at the Tehachapi layout at the San Diego Model Railroad Museum.  If my memory is correct, he failed to write the signals of his train into the registry entry.  As a result an opposing train had a head on with the following section.  Rick had not realized he was not the last section and failed to write in the signals (which on the BORRCS would have been green).  When the unexpected meet occurred a discussion ensued and Rick got trained.  His experience is going to make him a better member of the BORRCS crew.

Not too long ago, Steve King wrote an article about registers in the Dispatchers Office (DO is the publication of the Op Sig).  In that article he showed examples of prototype registers.  I observed that all the registers separated the Eastward and Westward (or North and South) trains into separate tables.  This is a change from the current BORRCS registers which were a single table of trains.

After contemplating the difference, I’ve decided that the BORRCS registers would better serve the operators if they two had WESTWARD and EASTWARD tables so I’ve designed a new train registers.

Advantages of the new registers

  1. Easier to abide by RULE 83 – A train must ascertain if all trains due have arrived before passing a train register location – as one table will only contain the opposing trains.
  2. Easier to abide by RULE 70 –  First Class trains are superior to Second Class trains and extra trains – as one table will only contain the trains traveling in the same direction.

For the more complete listing BORRCS’s TT&TO operating rules review the TT&TO – Rules.


The new register has two tables.  One for registering Westward trains and one for registering Eastward trains.  Filling in the form is as followings:

  1. Train – Enter Train Identification which must be some form of train identification  for a scheduled train such as “NO 1”, “NO 98”, “1-95”, “3-95”.  On the BORRCS, extras do NOT sign the register.
  2. Signals – This is the same as flag color on locomotive is properly assigned.
    1. Blank – Train is not carrying signals because it is the last or only section of the train.
    2. Green – Not the last section of the train.
  3. Conductor – Initials of the conductor for the train.  If only one crew member, on the train, that person represents the conductor of the train so signs the register.
  4. Arrive – Arrival time.  Only required if terminating at the register location or switching at the register location.
  5. Depart – Departing time.  Not required if terminating at the register location.

Proper railroad technique for entering times

  • Do not use colon.  They could be confused as a “1” making someone think 1:01 is 1101.
  • Always put “a” or “p” at end of time to indicate “am” or “pm”
  • Do not use military time.
  • Do not put 1200, put 1201 or 1159, to ensure there is no confusion between noon and midnight as am and pm do not apply to 1200.
  • Sample times:
    • 1159p
    • 1239p
    • 1239a
    • 1001a
    • 101a
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