It takes one group of skills and tools to build a railroad and a different set of skills and tools to operate one. Train crews, station crews, telegraph operators, yard masters, maintenance crews, watch inspectors, crew dispatchers, train dispatchers and management all have worked together to make trains run safely and efficiently since trains began rolling in North America.
A timetable is a published schedule of the movement of trains which lists the trains, locations along the railroad line, and times at which certain events, such as arrivals and departures at a station or siding, are expected to take place. Timetable operation was developed in order to avoid collisions between trains and to move trains efficiently over the railroad lines. Steam locomotives were capable of moving trains faster than they could be stopped within sighting distance, thus trains could not be operated based on sight alone. Timetable operation is the simplest form of train operation and was the normal mode of operation on American railroads in the early years. Read more about timetables.
Time is an important factor in railway operations. Timetables depend on train crews knowing what time it is, but in the early years of railroad operation this was not an easy task. Several major accidents occurred because of differences in time. Safe operation and success of the growing railroads depended on keeping time more accurately. Development of Railroad Standard Time, Railroad Standard Clocks and Railroad Approved Watches increased the safety and efficiency of railroad operation. Read more about railroad time.
Use of the Telegraph and Train Orders provided the railroad dispatcher with the time each train arrived and departed from a station, allowing him to make and communicate changes to the scheduled meeting places when one train was running late. This also allowed the railroads to safely schedule more trains and to move people and goods more quickly on single track railroad lines. Read more about telegraphs and train orders.
Signals took many forms, including whistle signals sent by the engineer, lantern signals sent by the train crew, and later block signals were added alongside the mainline tracks. Grade crossing signals were also provided at road crossing to warn motor vehicle drivers of an approaching train. Read more about railroad signals.
Railroad Workers kept the trains moving safely and efficiently. A study of the railroads is more that a study about brick, mortar, ribbons of steel and fast locomotives. It is also a study about the many people who run a railroad, the train crews, station crews, telegraph operators, yard masters, maintenance crews, watch inspectors, crew dispatchers, train dispatchers, management and others. All have worked together to make trains run safely and efficiently since trains began rolling in North America. Read more about railroad workers.
Photo Railroad workers pose with UP Locomotive No. 10, courtesy Utah State Historical Sociaty.
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