Switches

Canadian Rail Operating Rules

104. Hand Operated Switches

General

  • (a) Operation of Switches - semi-automatic, spring, dual control or auto-normal switches operated by hand are considered hand operated switches, and all rules governing hand operated switches apply.

  • (b) Except while being turned, each switch must be secured with an approved device. When a switch has been turned, the points must be examined and the target, reflector or light, if any, observed to ensure that the switch is properly lined for the route to be used.

  • (c) A switch must not be turned while any part of a car or engine is between the switch points and the fouling point of the track to be used, except when making a running switch or in the application of the exception to Rule 114.

  • (d) Handling of main track hand operated switches by other than a crew member.

    When arrangements are made for an employee to take charge of a switch(es), the movement must receive verbal confirmation that the switch has been restored to normal position.

    Verbal advice of switch position may be provided to a movement by an employee. The approaching movement must not act on such information unless advised that the employee is at the switch and will remain in charge of the switch.

  • (e) If it is known or suspected that either of the points or any part of a switch is damaged or broken, the switch must be protected until it can be made safe for use. A report must be made to the RTC or employee responsible for the territory by the quickest available means.

  • (f) When a switch point lock is provided, it must be locked when the switch is left in normal position. Employees must familiarize themselves with the location of switch point locks.

    Main Track Hand Operated Switches

    Notes:

    • (i) A main track hand operated switch must display a reflectorized target, or light and target except in CTC or on a subdivision specified in special instructions.

    • (ii) At an electrically locked hand operated switch, instructions posted at the switch or in special instructions, will govern the operation of the switch and entry to the main track or interlocking route.

  • (h) Unless otherwise specified by special instructions, the normal position for a main track switch is for the main track route. Except as provided in paragraph (i), main track switches must be left lined and locked in normal position.

  • (i) Left in Reverse Position

    A main track switch may be left in the reverse position when;

    • 1. directed by GBO, clearance or special instructions, and protection has been provided against all affected movements,

    • 2. attended by an employee, who must be in position to restore the switch to normal before it is occupied by an approaching movement on the main track,

    • 3. occupied by equipment,

    • 4. required in the application of Rule 41/841,

    • 5. in OCS or Cautionary Limits;

      • (i) equipment is left on the main track,

      • (ii) the equipment is left as close as practical to the switch, and

      • (iii) operation over the same switch is required when returning to such equipment,

    • 6. in CTC, equipment is left within the same controlled block. When this cannot be done, RTC permission must be obtained.

      Notes:

      • (i) Except when switching, main track switches when left in the reverse position, must be left locked.

      • (ii) Unless authorized to leave a main track switch in reverse position or so instructed by the RTC, an employee encountering a main track switch in reverse position must restore the switch to normal position and comply with the requirements of (iii).

      • (iii) An employee encountering a main track switch in normal position after having a warning that the switch is in reverse position must;

        • communicate to other crew members or employee that the switch is restored to normal, and

        • report to the RTC from the location of the switch i.e. physically situated at or having the switch in sight, or the switch at the time is occupied by a portion of the movement.

        If the RTC cannot be contacted, the employee may leave that location, leaving the switch lined and locked in the normal position.

      • (iv) The RTC must not act on any report of switch position that was not received from the switch location. Additionally, the RTC must not remove protection for the reverse switch until it can be confirmed that there are no other movements authorized to leave the switch in the reverse position.

    • (j) Except when switching, when a movement is closely approaching or passing over a main track switch, other than a dual control switch, employees must keep at least 20 feet from the switch stand, and must, when practicable, on single track, stand on the opposite side of the track.

    • (k) On single track, a crew member of a movement stopped on the main track to meet or to be passed by another movement, will, when practicable, reverse the switch for the approaching movement and protect it unless relieved by a crew member of the other movement.

    • (l) Unless otherwise directed by special instructions, the normal position for a main track junction switch is when set for through movement on one subdivision.

    • (m) When a movement diverges from a main track, the switch used must not be restored to normal position until the fouling point has been cleared.

    • (n) The switches at both ends of a crossover are normal when set for a through movement on the other tracks. When a crossover is to be used, the switch in the track on which the movement is standing must be reversed first. Both switches must be reversed before crossing over. Before either switch is restored to normal position the movement must be clear of the crossover.

    • Hand Operated Non-Main Track Switches

      (o) Unless otherwise specified by special instructions, non-main track switches, when equipped with a lock, must be lined in normal position and locked after having been used.

    • Main Track Switches in OCS Territory

      (p) Unless or until the switch is seen to be in normal position, movements approaching a main track hand operated switch in a facing point direction in OCS territory, unless otherwise governed by signal indication, must not exceed the following speeds from one-quarter of a mile of the switch;

      PASSENGER - 50 MPH
      FREIGHT - 45 MPH
      FREIGHT handling
      Special Dangerous
      Commodities - 40 MPH

    • (q) The employee handling a main track hand operated switch in non-signalled territory must, from the location of the switch, communicate with another employee to confirm the position in which the switch has been left, lined and locked. The employee receiving this report must repeat it back to the employee who handled the switch. Communication may be achieved by personal contact, radio or telephone. A lone employee unable to communicate with any employee other than the RTC, must communicate with the RTC.

      This rule also applies where ABS signals do not govern movements in both directions.

    104.1 Spring Switches

    • (a) A spring switch will be identified by a spring switch sign bearing the letters “SS”.

    • (b) Employees must keep clear of the switch handle while it is being lifted or released.

    • (c) When trailing through a spring switch, a movement that stops must not be reversed, nor slack taken, until the switch has been properly set by hand.

    • (d) When ice or snow conditions warrant, all movements must stop before trailing through a spring switch and examine the switch points, cleaning them if necessary.

    • (e) When a movement is required to operate over a spring switch in the facing point direction at RESTRICTED speed, a stop must be made before the leading wheels are on the switch points, and the switch points must be examined from a position on the ground.

      • (i) If the points are found to be properly closed the movement will be governed by the indication of the signal, if any.

      • (ii) If the switch points are not properly closed and cannot be closed by use of the switch handle, the points must be spiked in the proper position and the movement will be governed by the indication of the signal, if any.

        After operating over a spiked spring switch, the spike must be removed and the RTC or employee in charge notified as quickly as possible.

    104.2 Dual Control Switches

    • (a) Except as required by rule, a dual control switch must not be placed in hand position without permission from the RTC or signalman.

    • (b) When a movement is required to operate over a dual control switch under a Stop indication, unless relieved of the responsibility by the RTC or signalman, the movement must not proceed until;

      • (i) the selector lever is placed in “hand” position;

      • (ii) the hand throw lever is operated until the switch points move in both directions with the action of the hand throw lever; and

      • (iii) the switch is lined by hand for the route to be used. The selector lever must be restored to “power” position and locked, but not before the movement has occupied the switch points.

    • (c) The RTC or signalman must not relieve a crew of the requirements of paragraph (b) until it has been determined, from the office control devices and indications, that dual control switches in the route to be used are properly lined. When so relieved, a crew member must observe that the switch points are lined for the authorized route.

      (c) OPTIONAL (to above with approved system)

      The RTC or signalman may relieve a crew of the requirements of paragraph (b) when automated office control devices confirm that dual control switches are properly lined for the route generated on the authority that will be issued to the movement.

    • (d) When switching is to be performed over a dual control switch, in conjunction with Rule 566.1 or 577.1, the switch may be operated by hand after authority has been obtained as prescribed by Rule 566, 567 or 577. The selector lever must be placed in “hand” position. The hand throw lever must be operated until the switch points move in both directions with the action of the hand throw lever. The selector lever must be left in “hand” position until switching is completed. The RTC must be advised when the selector lever has been restored to the “power” position and locked.

    104.3 Power-Operated Switches At A Stop Signal

    When the crew of a movement is authorized to pass a stop signal to move over a power-operated switch, a crew member must observe that the switch points are lined for the authorized route.

    104.4 Semi-automatic switches

    • (a) A semi-automatic switch will be equipped with reflectorized targets.

    • (b) When ice or snow may affect the ability of the switch points on a semi-automatic switch to close properly when operated by wheel flange, a member of the crew must manually line the switch and ensure the points are properly lined before a trailing move is commenced over the switch. Movements operating in a facing point direction must observe the position of the points in addition to the target indication before proceeding over a semi-automatic switch.

    • (c) After coupling to equipment at a semi-automatic switch, or when reversing direction through such switch, a facing point move must not be made, unless one unit of equipment has trailed entirely through the switch, or it is known that the points are properly lined for the movement.

    104.5 Derails

    • (a) The location of each derail will be marked by a sign, unless otherwise directed by special instructions. Employees must be familiar with the location of each derail.

    • (b) A movement or track unit must stop short of a derail set in the derailing position.

    • (c) Each derail, other than a Special Derail or a Blue Flag Derail, must be left in the derailing position.

    • (d) The location of SPECIAL DERAILS will be indicated in the time table or special instructions, will be switch stand operated and identified in the field with a reflective red letter “D” on a reflective yellow target, or a sign indicating “Special Derail” which will be visible when in the derailing position.

      The following requirements govern their use:

      • they will only be in the derailing position when unattended equipment is present;
      • equipment to be left must be coupled together except when required to clear a crossing or on account of a mechanical defect; and
      • movements required to move at RESTRICTED speed on a track where a SPECIAL DERAIL is located must, in addition to the requirements of RESTRICTED speed, approach such derail prepared to find it in the derailing position.
    • (e) All derails must be left secured with a locking device.

    • (f) Derails used in conjunction with blue flags will be in the derailing position only when protection for personnel is required. When protection is no longer required, they will be locked in a non-derailing position.

    • (g) Where hand operated switch point derails are in use, the points must be examined and the target observed to ensure that the derail is in the proper position.

    105. Operation on Non-Main Track

    Special instructions will indicate when this rule is not applicable on a specific track.

    Unless otherwise provided by signal indication, a movement using non-main track must operate at REDUCED speed and be prepared to stop short of the end of track or the red signal prescribed by Rule 41.

    • (a) In CTC, movements may only enter a siding by signal indication or with permission from the RTC.

    • (b) Unless otherwise provided by signal indication or special instructions, movements operating on non-main tracks must not exceed fifteen (15) MPH.

    • (c) In addition to moving at REDUCED speed, a movement using a non-signalled siding or using other non-main tracks so designated in special instructions, must operate at a speed that will allow it to stop within one-half the range of vision of a track unit.

    105.1 Equipment left on siding

    • (a) Unless otherwise provided, the RTC must be advised prior to leaving equipment on a siding. The RTC will notify other movements affected as soon as practicable.

    • (b) When occupied service equipment is placed on a siding, a GBO will be issued specifying the location of such equipment. If the switches of the siding are locked with special locks, the GBO will so state.

    106. Crew Responsibilities

    All crew members are responsible for the safe operation of movements and equipment in their charge and for the observance of the rules. Under conditions not provided for by the rules, they must take every precaution for protection.

    A utility employee becomes a crew member when working with any movement.

    107. Restrictions at Passenger Train Stops

    Unless otherwise directed by special instructions, a movement must operate with extreme care when passing along side a train carrying passengers that is discharging or receiving traffic.

    It must not pass between such train and the station or platform, unless the movement is properly protected.

    Passengers shall be allowed to entrain and detrain only after positive protection has been provided against movements approaching on any main track they must cross when moving between the station and the train.

    108. Precautions While Switching

    Optional

    When switching is performed, precautions must be taken by crew members to prevent unintended rollbacks and/or fouling of other tracks and equipment.

    110. Inspecting Passing Trains and Transfers

    • (a) When duties and terrain permit, at least two crew members of a standing train or transfer and other employees at wayside must position themselves on the ground on both sides of the track to inspect the condition of equipment in passing trains and transfers. When performing a train or transfer inspection, the locomotive engineer will inspect the near side. When a group of wayside employees is present, at least two employees must perform the inspection.

      EXCEPTION: Crew members of passenger trains are exempted from the above requirements except when standing at meeting points in single track territory. However, every effort must be made to stop a train or transfer when a dangerous condition is noted.

    • (b) Employees inspecting the condition of equipment in a passing freight train or transfer must, when possible, broadcast the results of the inspection.

    • (c) Every effort must be made to stop a passing train or transfer if a dangerous condition is detected. Each crew member of a train or transfer must be alert at all times for a stop signal or communication given by an employee. The report to the train or transfer being inspected must state only the location of the dangerous condition and what was observed and not speculate as to the cause.

    • (d) When a crew member is located at the rear of a train or transfer, a front crew member must, when practicable, notify the rear crew member of the location of employees in position to inspect their train or transfer.

    111. Train and Transfer Inspection

    • (a) The crew must know that equipment in their train or transfer is in good order before starting and inspect it whenever they have an opportunity to do so. Equipment added to a train or transfer en route must be inspected with extra care to ensure it is in good order.

    • (b) When crew members are on the rear of a moving train or transfer they must inspect, at every opportunity, the track to the rear for evidence of dragging or derailed equipment.

    • (c) All crew members on a moving train or transfer must make frequent inspections of both sides to ensure that it is in order.

    • (d) On completion of crew-planned inspections and at locations where inspection is required by special instructions, crew members will, when possible, voice communicate to each other the results of such inspections.

    • (e) OPTIONAL: The conductor first arriving at a meeting point will arrange for a walking inspection of their freight train or transfer, inspecting as much as time and conditions permit.

    112. Leaving Equipment Unattended

    In the application of this rule:

    • (i) Equipment is considered unattended when an employee is not in close enough proximity to take effective action to stop the unintentional moving of equipment.

    • (ii) Physical securement or mechanical devices are:

      • hand brakes;

      • air brakes;

      • derails;

      • mechanical emergency devices;

      • locomotive equipped with a reset safety control (RSC) with roll-away protection where air pressure is maintained by continuous operation or auto start is provided;

      • bowled terrain; and

      • if in a yard: retarder, stop-block, wheel chocks and skates.

    • (iii) High risk locations, as determined by a risk assessment, must be identified in company instructions.

    • (a) When equipment, including a locomotive without an air source, is left unattended on a main track, subdivision track, siding or high risk location, at least the minimum number of hand brakes as indicated in the hand brake chart in (k) must be applied and determined to be sufficient through an effectiveness test described in (e), and at least one additional physical securement or mechanical device must be used. When air brakes are used as an additional means of physical securement:

      • (i) the air brake system must be charged to ensure proper brake application; and

      • (ii) the brake pipe must be fully vented at a service rate or have an emergency application and, on freight equipment, the angle cock left open.

      • (iii) the equipment may only be left unattended for up to a maximum of two hours.

        If required to be left longer, an employee must conduct a visual verification to confirm that the equipment remains secure. The verification must confirm the air brake pistons are fully extended and the hand brakes remain applied. This verification must be carried out at consecutive intervals of two hours or less. If any motion is detected during the verification, additional hand brakes must be applied. The results of that verification must be communicated to another employee.

    • (b) When unattended equipment is left coupled to a locomotive with an air source on a main track, subdivision track, siding or high risk location, at least the minimum number of hand brakes as indicated in the hand brake chart in (k) must be applied and determined to be sufficient through an effectiveness test described in (e), and at least one additional physical securement or mechanical device must be used. When air brakes are used as an additional means of physical securement:

      • (i) the locomotive controlling the air brake system must maintain pressure;

      • (ii) the air brake system must be charged to ensure proper brake application and the equipment must be left with air brakes applied; and

      • (iii) the independent brake must be fully applied.

    • (c) When equipment is left unattended in a yard, at least one physical securement or mechanical device must be utilized.

    • (d) When equipment is left unattended on non-main track, at other than a yard, siding, subdivision track, or high risk location, a sufficient number of hand brakes must be applied and determined sufficient through an effectiveness test described in (e). Special instructions must indicate the minimum hand brake requirements for these locations where equipment is left unattended.

    • (e) When hand brakes are used, an effectiveness test must be performed as follows: release all air brakes and,

      • (i) allow or cause the slack to adjust. It must be apparent when slack runs in or out, that the hand brakes are sufficient to prevent the equipment from moving; or

      • (ii) apply sufficient tractive effort to determine that the hand brakes provide sufficient force to prevent the equipment from moving when tractive effort is terminated.

    • (f) Hand brakes must be applied on all locomotives in the lead consist of an unattended movement.

    • (g) Application of hand brakes must not be done while equipment is being pulled or shoved.

    • (h) Before leaving equipment at any location, the employee securing such equipment must confirm with another employee the manner in which the equipment has been secured.

    • (i) Exceptional weather situations, such as high winds or other unusual conditions, must be considered and factored into securement decisions. When exceptional weather situations emerge, previously secured equipment may require additional means of securement. Special instructions may contain location specific instructions where extreme weather events are prevalent.

    • (j) When advised that trespasser(s) or emergency responder(s) have been in contact with unattended equipment, the person responsible for the territory must make arrangements to have an employee verify the equipment remains secured without delay.  

    • (k) In the application of this chart, the number of hand brakes on locomotives in the lead consist shall not to be included in the number of hand brakes required by the chart.

    This chart provides the minimum number of hand brakes for securing equipment or movements left unattended.

    Minimum Required Number of Hand Brakes for Securing Equipment or Movements Left Unattended
    Total Tons: Average Grade is Equal To or Less Than
    0.2% 0.4% 0.6% 0.8% 1.0% 1.2% 1.4% 1.6% 1.8% 2.0% 2.2% 2.4% > 2.4%
    0 - 2000 2 2 2 4 6 6 8 10 10 12 12 14 100% Hand Brakes
    > 2000 - 4000 2 2 4 6 8 12 14 16 18 20 22 26
    > 4000 - 6000 2 6 6 10 14 16 20 24 28 30 34 38
    > 6000 - 8000 4 6 8 12 18 22 26 32 36 42 46 52
    > 8000 - 10000 4 6 10 16 22 28 34 40 46 52 58 66
    > 10000 - 12000 4 8 12 20 26 34 40 48 56 64 72 80
    > 12000 – 14000 6 8 14 22 30 40 48 58 66 76 84 96
    > 14000 - 16000 6 10 16 26 36 46 56 66 76 88 98 110
    > 16000 - 18000 6 10 18 28 40 50 62 74 86 100 112 126
    > 18000 - 20000 8 12 20 32 44 58 70 84 98 112 128 146
    > 20000 - 22000 8 12 22 36 50 64 78 94 110 100% Hand Brakes
    > 22000 – 24000 8 12 24 38 54 70 86 104 122
    > 24000 - 26000 10 14 26 42 58 76 94 112 134
    > 26000 - 28000 10 14 28 46 64 82 104 124 148
    > 28000 - 30000 12 16 30 50 68 90 110 136 162
    > 30000 12 16 34 52 74 96 120 148 172

    113. Coupling to Equipment

    • (a) Before coupling to equipment at any point, care must be taken to ensure that such equipment is properly secured.

    • (b) Unless otherwise specified in special instructions, before coupling to or moving equipment being loaded or unloaded, all persons in or about such equipment must be notified. Vehicles and loading or unloading devices must be clear.

    • (c) Before coupling to or moving service equipment, employees occupying such equipment must be notified and any attachments secured.

    • (d) When coupling to equipment for any purpose except when humping or flat switching where cars are intentionally let run free, the coupling must be stretched to ensure it is secure.

    • (e) To prevent by-pass couplers when coupling to equipment on other than tangent track, a stop must be made not less than 6 nor greater than 12 feet from the coupling and extreme caution must then be used, ensuring couplers are properly aligned prior to coupling being made.

    • (f) After coupling, the equipment must be checked for applied hand brakes as may normally be expected to be present.

    • (g) To prevent damage to equipment and injury to passengers, when coupling to passenger equipment a stop must be made not less than 6 nor greater than 12 feet from the coupling and a speed of 2 MPH must not be exceeded.

    114. Fouling Other Tracks

    • (a) Equipment must not be allowed to move foul of another track unless properly protected.

    • (b) A movement must not foul a track until the switches connected with the move are properly lined, or in the case of semi-automatic or spring switches, the conflicting route is known to be clear.

      EXCEPTION: A movement may foul a track connected by a hand operated switch provided that:

      • (i) neither the track occupied nor the track to be fouled are main tracks;

      • (ii) the conflicting route is known to be clear; and

      • (iii) the switch is properly lined before the movement passes over it.

    • (c) Equipment must not be left foul of a connecting track unless the switch is left lined for the track upon which such equipment is standing.

    115. Shoving Equipment

    • (a) When equipment is shoved by an engine or is headed by an unmanned remotely controlled engine, a crew member must be on the leading piece of equipment or on the ground, in a position to observe the track to be used and to give signals or instructions necessary to control the move.

      EXCEPTION: A crew member need not be so positioned when the portion of the track to be used is known to be clear. However, equipment not headed by an engine must not approach to within 100 feet of any public, private or farm crossing unless such crossings are protected as described in Rule 103 paragraph (b) or (g).

    • (b) Known to be clear is defined as seeing the portion of the track to be used as being clear and remaining clear of equipment and as having sufficient room to contain equipment being shoved. This determination must be made by a qualified employee who can observe the track and has radio contact with the employee controlling the movement. Where a track that has been seen to be clear and no access to that track is possible by another movement, the track may be considered as “known to be clear”.

      Note: When it can be determined that other movements are not on duty or will not be performing work in the track to be used, the requirement of “known to be clear” can be considered to be fulfilled continuously.

    • (c) On main track, when equipment is shoved by an engine or is headed by an unmanned remotely controlled engine, unless protected by a crew member as described in paragraph (a), this move must:

      • (i) have the required authority;

      • (ii) not exceed the overall length of the equipment;

      • (iii) not exceed 15 MPH; and

      • (iv) not be made while the leading car is within cautionary limits.

    • (d) Unless the route is known to be clear, when reversing with a locomotive consist and visibility is restricted, a member of the crew must be on the leading end and in position from which signals necessary can be properly given.

    116. Running Switch

    Before making a running switch, crew members affected must understand the move to be made. It must be known that the switch and hand brakes are in working order before the move is commenced. A running switch must not be made;

    • (i) with or onto occupied equipment, or equipment placarded to indicate it contains or contained dangerous goods;

    • (ii) where the switch to be used is a dual control, power-operated or spring switch; or

    • (iii) within interlocking limits of a drawbridge or railway crossing at grade.

    • (iv) A minimum of 3 qualified employees must be utilized when performing a running switch.

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