The conductor has removed the derail, opened the facility gate, lined the switch for the industry, but he still has to wait for the Blue Flag to be removed according to the Operating Rule Book. Following prototype rules adds "play value" and time to an operating session, while replicating the actions and procedures of the GNRR.
Nobody likes rules, but they are important to keep everyone safe. Railroads have extensive rule books and all operating crews are required to have a copy available while they are on duty. While too many rules can “take the fun out” of operations on our model railroads, it is best to have crews become familiar with how you want your model railroad operated, so an Operating Rules Book is essential.
I have developed a condensed version of the prototype GNRR Rule Book and combined it with a Time Table. The Time Table provides additional information to the crews and supersedes or revises information in the Rule Book. By combining both documents into a two sided standard sheet of paper, I can have visitors quickly review the important procedures I require when operating on my model railroad.
My Operating Rules Book includes information on the Method of Operations used on my layout, a Verbal Block System, and how trains are dispatched. Since I model a short line that has no signals, only one train crew will be given an “absolute” block which allows the crews to work the line without worrying about another train coming through. In addition, speed limits are outlined for the main line and coupling speed.
The section on Train Crew Instructions, describes the communication used between the engineer and conductor and how the switching moves are controlled. These instructions are very similar to the ones found in the GNRR Rule Book but have been revised to apply to my model railroad for operating sessions.
The last section, Instructions Relating to Operating Rules, covers the placement of hazardous materials cars in the train and other procedures for lining turnouts, operating derails, industry gates, blue flags, End of Train devices (EOT) and overhead doors are also covered.
Once the operating crew is familiar with the rules, we begin the operating session. This is similar to a crew briefing required on the prototype before all operations commence. With the knowledge of the rules, crews can better understand how the layout is to be operated and become familiar with following the prototype procedures. The key is not to strictly enforce the rules, but to think of them as guidelines for an enjoyable operations session.
Downloadable copies of my GNRR Operating Rules can be found under the Operations tab at the top of the page. I encourage everyone that has a model railroad and holds operating sessions to develop their own Operating Rule Book. Operators on your layout will really appreciate it, and after all, the rules are there to keep everyone safe and out of trouble.