Mileage Report

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Denny D’s Did You Know - Dual Control Switches 9.13



Did You Know that when a dual control switch is hand operated, that all of the other rules regarding hand operating switches apply. This would include, inspecting the switch, body mechanics, proper placement of the lock, and standing the proper distance from the switch. There seems to still be some confusion as to the proper procedure. A review of various rules on hand operating switches and a step-by-step look at dual control switch operation will help.


GCOR 8.1 Hand Operation of Switches

Rule 8.1 simply states that when power or spring switches are operated by hand, that all rules regarding hand operation of switches apply.


GCOR 8.8 - Switches Equipped With Locks, Hooks, or Latches

Before making a movement over any switch, you must replace the lock, or hook. If you're making a train movement in a facing point direction, you must also lock the lock. If a switch is off power, the switch handle is the one that is locked, because it is now a hand operated switch. When in power, the power lever is locked. Not replacing the hook, or properly handling the lock is a critical rule violation.


Now that we've started with a couple of rules that we need to keep in mind throughout the process, let's break the procedure down, step by step.


Job Briefing 

Before you can hand operate a dual control control switch, you must be authorized by the dispatcher. This even applies in your track-and-time limits. The dispatcher and crew must have a clear understanding of the control point, route, and switches. If you aren't sure exactly witch switches to hand operate, ask the dispatcher. It is important that you do not operate the wrong switches. The dispatcher will then authorize you to pass the stop signal. Also, before heading out the door, make sure that you and the engineer are both in agreement as to witch switches you will be operating.


As a side, note, if a control point has moveable point frogs, you must also operate the frog as well. The locations listed the the St. Louis Area Timetable are all designated as (11-2). The 11 simply refers to Item 11 in the SSI and the 2 is the number of machines involved. With and (11-2) there is not a set order, but you must remember to operate both machines. The procedure is the same for each machine.



As you go through each step, it is important to remember other switch rules Dennyas well. I will add some rules to each step outlined in 9.13.2. Even if the switch is already lined for your movement, you must still follow the procedure.


    • Look both ways
    • Inspect the switch; the gap, points, snow and ice build up, etc…


  1. Unlock the lock
  2. Place the selector lever in HAND. Notify your engineer that it is now in hand.
  3. Operate the switch handle back and forth until you see the points move back and forth. You may need to go all the way over a couple of times to line up the components inside the machine. You must see the points move.


    • Keep a firm stance, place one hand on your knee or stand for balance and the other on the handle.
    • Once the handle is about halfway over, reposition so that you can finish the movement with a pushing motion.
    • Look both ways
    • Inspect the points and double check that you lined it for the correct route.


  1. Line the switch for your route and leave in HAND. Remember it is now in hand operation. Lock the switch handle before making the movement. It would be a good idea for the engineer to ask the conductor which handle is locked prior to proceeding.


    • Remember to stand a minimum of 20 feet from the switch as the move goes over it.


  1. Once the movement is at least one engine or car over the switch, place the selector lever in POWER and lock the selector lever. Notify the engineer that it is back on power.


  1. Notify the dispatcher that the switch has been restored to power.


Someone recently gave me a good tip to remember what to do with the lock. Lock the handle that is going to keep you from operating the switch when you don’t want to. When it’s in HAND, you do not want to have a mental lapse and line the switch under your train, so you would lock the switch handle. When it’s in POWER, you don’t want someone placing it in HAND when it shouldn’t be, so you would lock the selector lever. With the selector lever in POWER, it is impossible to move the switch handle. Even for a weight lifter like Matt Craig.


HAND = Switch Handle / POWER = Power Lever


Performing Switching

Sometimes, when performing switching at a control point, it is a more efficient use of everyone’s time for the crew to hand operate the switch themselves. 


After a job briefing with the dispatcher as to the to the moves to be made, the dispatcher will then authorize you into the control point and to place the switch into hand operation. The only difference here, is that you leave the selector lever in HAND until the moves are complete. Once the switch is back on power, notify the dispatcher and then operate on signal indication.


Operating dual control switches by hand is sometimes a necessary part of getting over the road. Whether you are being observed for proper compliance, or there is an actual issue with the switch, it is important to follow the procedure outlined in 9.13.


If you have any questions regarding switch operation, feel free to contact me.


Dennis Dunn

(314) 609-2164






FRA Pilot Flow Chart

File attachments: 

FRA Hours of Service Manual for iOS in Apple App Store

HOS Manual by Federal Railroad Administration


It doesn't appear to be available for Android devices yet.

Supt Meeting Update

A few Updates from the Local Chairman/Supt Meeting 

  • On the Buisness side the service unit is operating at all time highs, in every catagory from speed to safety. 
  • The nurse will be making the rounds for Flu Shots if anyone is interested, you should start seeing her in the crew rooms. 


  • Chester Sub should be live on 9/19. 
  • They are Currently testing the Desoto Sub. 
  • The Springfield Sub is to be cutting in over the next month. 
  • the Villa Grove sub is expected to be cut in by Feb of 2018. 
  • There is a PTC Help Number - 800-877-5591 there is a PTC Option and you will be connected with a member of the PTC Group if you have any questions. 
  • BC D shows PTC YES but has (Non Operative) shown beside it. You must still get a control number and report the issue in the EMS Feedback reporting. 

NEW PPE Ordering System

   Starting 10/1 our service unit is cutting over to an online ordering system. The PPE machines are going away. I will attach a PowerPoint to this post with more information. A "Care Package" will be going out to all employees soon. This will come to your house as will all future PPE orders. We have been told the managers will have some limitied backup items for a limitied time.... 



File attachments: 
PDF icon ORRbit Tutorial for PPE Ordering.pdf750.27 KB

National Contract Update

The Below came from the General Chairman, as of now there is a meeting scheduled for Oct 5th as refered to in his email. 



I received an email today from President Pierce stating that there is no initialed tentative agreement with the Carrier's Conference, contrary to information contained in a rail magazine.   He also stated the BLET would be meeting with the rest of the bargaining coalition the day prior to meeting with the General Chairmen and we would be given the latest contract information.
That's all I have for now.

Never Forget