Pacific and Eastern Railway

Glossary of Operating Terms

Air Test On the prototype, this is conducted any time cars have been switched in or out of a train before the train moves out over the line. On the P&E, this is done by gently stretching the train to assure all cars are coupled.

Authority Permission that has been granted by Dispatch to move a train over a particular Block or group of Blocks, or between two designated points, in a forward direction. See also Reverse Move and Working Time.

Block 1. A section of track over which operating authority may be granted by Dispatch (see DTC). Once authority is given to proceed over a block, a train may not exceed the limits of that block unless the next block (in the direction of travel) is also authorized for use by that train.
2. A length of track, electrically isolated, with control and signal functions separate from adjacent tracks.
3. A cut of cars grouped together according to a common destination
4. The act of grouping cars according to their destination

Bad Order  A car with a defect.  If possible, move it to the RIP Track.  If not, it must be set out of a consist at the earliest opportunity.

Cab Hop, Caboose Hop. One or more locomotives moving over the railroad with only a caboose in tow.

Consist One or more car in a train or one or more locomotive on a train

DTC, Direct Traffic Control The dispatching system where the railroad is divided into Blocks (see definition 1, above). Trains are given authority in a particular block or group of blocks to move in an eastward or westward direction. Once clear of a block, the train with authority in that block is expected to release that block back to Dispatch.

Dispatch, Dispatcher Pacific & Eastern dispatcher. Authorizes all movements of all trains on the Main Line outside of Yard Limits

Hauler Main line train operating over the road from one yard to another doing pickups and setouts.

Hold  A car spotted at an industry which is to remain spotted at that industry during a particular day's (op session's) switching operations. 

Hostler  A job assignment to make up (consist), move around and separate locomotives within a yard.  Takes care of  preparing locomotive sets for operation, fueling, sanding and watering power, and preparing locomotives for storage.  Hostlers may move one or more locomotives within the service area, but generally do not move cars. 

Interchange, I/C The movement of a car or car between different railroads. On the P&E many cars are carded for "Interchange" where they will be transferred over to another railroad.

Job A particular assignment involving a crew, power and set of duties to perform.

Light Engine(s) One or more locomotive moving over the railroad without any cars

Local Job assignment that works out of a yard with cars for a particular block or blocks and returns to the yard of origin with pickups from that block or blocks. May also go on duty at an industrial area and proceed to the yard to deliver and pickup cars.

Main, Main Line The principal track over which train movements occur between and through yards.

Off Duty The act of a crew and power finishing work at a particular location. The crew is no longer available for other work and the power may be reassigned to another job.

On Duty The act of a crew and power going to work at a particular location

Paperwork One or more car cards with attached waybills that describe a train and the destinations of all the cars in that train.

Pre Block Cars that have been blocked prior to their arrival at a location where they will be spotted or switched.

Pick up Line used in a bar to attract member of the opposite sex. Oh, not THAT kind of pickup?
(verb) The act of adding cars to the consist of a hauler or local
(noun) Cars that are to be added to the consist of a hauler or local

Power One or more locomotives used on a train.

Pull Take a car from an industry or yard track and prepare to put it into a train to be run over the railroad.  A car or group of cars ready to be picked up from an industry.

Reporting Marks The railroad initials and numbers on the exterior of a car that identify that car.

Reverse Move Permission granted by Dispatch for a train to back up in a block which he is occupying or will occupy shortly. See Authority and Working Time

Set Out (verb) The act of taking out cars from a hauler or local that will be spotted by a switcher
(noun) Cars that are taken out of consist to be spotted by a switcher

Siding A length of track along the main line with turnouts at each end allowing a one train to pass another without either train being required to make a reverse move.

Spot Move a car into position at an industry.  A car or group of cars left at an industry for loading or unloading.

Spur A relatively short length of track off a main or siding on which cars may be spotted for loading or unloading. Spurs generally do not continue back to another track.

Sub Block Cars grouped for spotting within a Block of cars for a particular industry. For example, cars blocked for Butte Falls may be sub blocked for the chip track, outside loading and inside loading at Owens Lumber.

Switch 1. The act of sorting cars in a yard or industrial area to put them in a particular order
2. A Turnout. Track device allowing two tracks to come together of a single track to diverge into two possible routes.

Switcher 1. A locomotive which moves cars about in a yard or industrial area.   Typically has only driving wheels (steam) or a blunt, flat end, sans toilet (diesel)  2.  A job that involves switching or pulling and spotting cars in a particular yard or industrial area. Switcher jobs do not require the use of a caboose and rarely venture outside of their Yard Limits or an industrial area.

Track Warrant Control (TWC)  A verbal authorization system defined by the General Code of Operation Rules (GCOR), used to authorize trains to occupy Main Tracks. TWC can be used as a stand-alone dispatching and safety system in unsignaled territories, or can be supplemented with Automatic Block Signaling (ABS) to increase flexibility and traffic capacity.  The Track Warrant permits a specific train to occupy a specific piece of Main Track between named locations. The Track Warrant also contains information of its own validity; when comes in effect and in some cases when it becomes void.

Transfer A job that involves movement of cars in interchange between two different railroads, often involving switching in at least one yard.

Turn A Local job that returns to it's point of origin. It goes off duty at the same location where it went on duty though it may move over the road during the duration of its duty.

Wheel Move one or more cars from a yard, siding, mainline or interchange track to another such track.

Working Time Authority granted a train or Switcher to make repeated forward and reverse moves in a particular block or group of blocks or between two points specified in a Track Warrant.

Yard A collection of single and double ended tracks at which cars are switched and trains made up and broken up. Yards typically have a Switcher job working in them and are not considered a Block. Trains wishing to enter Yard Limits on the main or other tracks must have permission from the Yard Master.

Yard Limits The section of main line trackage that can be occupied by a yard switcher without authorization from Dispatch. Yard Limit markers (a yellow "Y") are posted near the track.

Yard Master Person planning and/or conducting moves in a Yard. Has authority to allow or not allow other trains into the Yard Limits. Directs movements of all trains within Yard Limits.

Yard Terminology  A separate section of the Glossary just for yard terms

This Glossary is by no means complete.  Suggestions for additional terms relating to Pacific & Eastern Railway operations are welcome and may be emailed to the Webmaster,

This page last defined 8/29/09