Wednesday, 28 May 2014


Readers may wonder if all this timetable detail is really necessary.  No, it is not necessary.  But for not a few of us model railroaders, it is intensely interesting and adds much to our enjoyment of the hobby.  In fact "Operations" is a hobby in itself with a very dedicated following who travel widely throughout the U S and sometimes to Canada to operations events several times a year.  I see it as a "super-detail" as valid as authentic paint schemes on locomotives or brake rigging on a freight car.  If we are going to operate, why not do it right?  In my experience, just running trains does not actually happen much, even on a completed layout.

Continuing with our commentary on the details of the CPR Timetable for the Carmi Subdivision, here is the bottom part of the page in question containing some of the "Special Instructions":

A few interesting things to note here are underlined.
For the "Big Tunnel", at Adra, Mileage 113.9, "Trains must not exceed a speed of 15 mph...".  This 1,604 foot tunnel turns through 218 degrees in a horseshoe curve according to Joe Smuin's records.  No surprise that a slower speed is required for such a long and tightly-curved tunnel.  With a friend I tried walking through it many years ago but could not see anything after proceeding into the darkness a few hundred feet.  Not even the proverbial hand in front of my face.  Without a serious flashlight, we could not continue even though we knew it was passable at the time.  Actually quite unnerving. 
"...freight trains descending grades between Chute Lake and Penticton must not exceed a speed of twenty miles per hour at any point."  It was a very long and steep descent that some crews found more worrisome than the Coquihalla grades.
"...thermal test..." refers to the requirement for trainmen to walk their train looking/feeling for excessive heat from brake-shoes which would have been applied for the duration of the descent.  They would be hot and even smoking on freights for sure, requiring two stops at Adra and Arawana to cool the wheels and brake-shoes.  Passenger trains, with their lighter train weight would only require one stop at Glenfir.  On the model a stop for a "thermal test" is something to imitate during operations as it adds to the realism and lengthens the run - always a good thing.

Here is a portion from the middle of the page with some underlines:
What are those letters to the right and left of the station names?  They are symbols used to indicate important information for the train crews.  Their meanings are specified in Rule 6 of the Uniform Code of Operating Rules (UCOR) which is listed below and explained here for the Carmi Sub.
Carmi station was featured in our last post.  It has Yard Limits denoted by the letter "Z" extending from both ends of the station, usually from the Mileboard.  Yard Limits included the main track and all other tracks between the yard limit signs.  Within yard limits, trains were permitted to operate without the need to send out flag protection against third and fourth class trains or extras.  They were required to proceed within yard limits at "yard speed" later known as "restricted speed".  They had to clear for first and second class trains.  See Rule 93.

Carmi also has a "W" which means it has a Water Supply.  Here are two water towers much like the one at Carmi.  One of them is a model!  Can you tell which one? 

The "C" stands for Fuel, whether coal or oil - in the case of Carmi for the last years of steam, both.  To the left of the station name is a mileage (Mi 46.6) as already explained.  

To the right is the car capacity of the siding and for Carmi it is a mere 21 cars.

In the far right column for First Class train No. 12 there is a tiny "s" in front of the time of 8.34 which means that Carmi is a Scheduled Stop at which the Kettle Valley Express will stop whether there are passengers to entrain or not.  If passengers were hoping to board the train at the previous stop of Lois, they would have to put out a " and white flag" (Rule 9d) to ask the train to stop; hence the "f" for Flag Stop.

At the McCullough station (call sign M C) there is a turning Wye and that is indicated by the letter "Y".  In this picture, Engine 3678 is backing on the West leg of the Hope Wye to turn and get in position to assist an Eastbound train up the Coquihalla.

At McCulloch there is another letter:  "R", meaning a Train Register is maintained there.  In this case, only freight train crews must register, whereas passenger trains do not.  The Special Instructions at the bottom of the page specify this (see above). This "Register Station" for freight trains, meant that the conductor had to enter the station and sign a Station Register Book with details and times of his train.  Here is a sample page from the Train Register we use at Brodie.  It is patterned after the prototype but much more concise.

Both Carmi and McCullough have yard limits but only McCullough has a call sign and thus an Operator to take Train Orders and "O S" passing trains.  Sometimes stations were only staffed for day-time hours and this is the case for McCullough as signified with a "D".  And it had a whopping 38 car siding! 

McCullough Turns.  Looking to the left of McCullough, to the second last column, there is a bold level line beneath the time of 18.20.  This indicates that daily freight No. 75 from Midway, terminates at McCullough.  For further details of this "infamous McCullough Turn" see Joe Smuin's Kettle Valley Railway Mileboards, page 1-28.   Robert D. Turner's book Steam on the Kettle has some interesting stories about it: pp 51-57.  With the complete changeover to diesel locomotives by 1954, the Train Order Office and Register were closed.

Our final symbol can be seen opposite "Penticton".  The letter "K" informs that "Standard Clock, bulletins and train register" are located here.  The precision of clocks and watches was mandated for all operating staff and they had to check and compare their watches every day.  Here is a picture of the one formerly at Revelstoke now in the museum.

In studying the Timetable, did you notice that No. 12, a first class train, is scheduled to meet No. 71, a fourth class freight, at Lakevale? The time is specified as 8.02 in the morning and perhaps you noticed that this time is in bold type in both columns to call attention to the meet.  More often than not, freight trains could not make their meets on time and would take a siding well before that to clear.  When No. 12 arrives at Lakevale, they  would not be obliged to wait for the freight as No. 12 is superior by class and can continue on their run safely presuming that No. 71 would be waiting for them on a siding closer to Midway.  On the other hand, if the freight had arrived on time for the meet (or early) at Lakevale, being inferior by class, they could not continue until No. 12 arrived, even if the passenger were many hours late.

Here is the full set of symbols set out in Rule 6 of the UCOR.  Credit:  Thank you Jeffrey P. Smith

6. The following symbols when used in the time table indicate:

* See footnote.
A Arrive.
B Bulletins and train register.
C Fuel.
D Day train order office.
F Flag stop to receive or discharge traffic.
K Standard clock, bulletins and train register.
N Night train order office.
P Telephone.
R Train register.
S Regular stop.
V Station protection signal. On both sides of station name indicates signals on both sides of station; when preceding station name, signal is east or south of that station; when following station name, signal is west or north of that station.
W Water.
X Crossover.
Y Wye.
Z Yard limit sign.

If you are new to this, that is a lot to learn; nevertheless, there's a test next week!

Coquihalla Man


  1. Coquihalla Man...why was McCullough a register station?

    1. McCulllough was a register station and hosted a daytime Operator during steam operations. For information on the turns, see the descriptions by Smuin and Turner. With the Timetable issued in September 1954, both "MC" and "R" had disappeared from beside the McCullough station name and No. 75 no longer terminated there. By this date the conversion to diesel locomotives was complete suggesting that the McCullough Turns were no longer necessary. Thus, we can suppose that the Register was necessary for the safety and organization of the trains that terminated there (No. 75 and other Westward trains doubling the hill) as well as the Eastward Extras originating at McCullough. The station Operator would handle the Orders and Clearances for these trains. Finally, there were more and shorter trains run in steam days than in the later diesel era so there would be more demands on the Dispatching office, so another manned station would make sense.

    2. ok...but why the need to register there?

      I can understand the need for a register book at junctions, and the benefits of a manned station to issue return orders and to OS, but why would you need a register on the mainline?

      I can also get that safety would be increased but no more than over a manned station would it?

      Would it have simplified the orders that were issues somehow somehow?

      The timetable doesn't indicate whether the office was "N"ight or "D"ay only so we assume it was 24 hours, right?



    3. This is my own speculation. I never worked professionally in operations though a pro dispatcher trained us for model ops. Perhaps the answer lies in your last comment. The Timetable does indicate that McCullough had only a "Daytime" Operator signified by the "D" to the left of the station name. Thus if there were a night freight such as No. 77, that required doubling the hill, the Register could provide the info for Eastward Extra Trains as to the doubler's arrival and subsequent move back to Midway. If there were no Register, how would the Eastward train know of No. 77's arrival and move back to Midway? On the other hand would the latter be an Extra East? Or would he still be No 77, returning for the second part of his train in which case a flag would be out at McCullough? Not sure about this part of the question.
      Q Man

    4. ahhhhh...I didn't notice the "D" to the left of the station name. I was looking for it in the string of letters following the name. Shame on me!