Tales From The Krug
Copyright AA Krug

Reverse Movements

The GCOR Rules.

GCOR Defintion of Reverse Movement:
A movement opposite the authorized direction.

RULE 6.4 Reverse Movements
Make reverse movements on the main track or controlled sidings at restricted speed and only within the limits a train has authority to occupy the track.

RULE 6.4.1 Permission for Reverse Movements.
Obtain permission from the dispatcher or control operator before making a reverse movement unless the movement is within the same signaled block.
BNSF added the following:
When a train is advised that working limits have been established behind their train, obtain permission from the employee in charge to make any reverse movement, including within the same signaled block.

The definition of a Reverse Movement says nothing about the rear end of a train. Some contend that Reverse Movements only applies to when the rear end is moving back. I disagree. It does not say that. It says "a movement".

Rule 6.4 tells us that when we make reverse movements we must do so at Restricted Speed. And it limits those reverse movements to our authority limits.

Rule 6.4.1 tells us there is a further restriction to making reverse movents. We must obtain permission from the dispatcher or Control Operator UNLESS the movement is within the same block.

Reverse Senario #1

A westbound train in CTC territory stops on the main east of a Control Point (CP Chas) at the leaving end of a siding. They cut the power and one car off the train. That one car has to be set out on the siding. The power with the one car moves west past the green CTC signal at the CP and across the switch. That green CTC signal AUTHORIZED their MOVEMENT in a westward direction into the block west of CP Chas.

They stop on the far side (west) of CP Chas when the rear end of the car is 200 feet clear of the opposing signal. They wait for the dispatcher to throw the switch and give them a signal back east onto the siding. They get the signal and shove east to place the car on the siding.

I say that under the GCOR rules they made a Reverse Movement from where they were stopped 200 ft west of CP Chas back to the eastbound controlled signal at CP Chas which governed movement onto the siding.

It seems clearly black & white to me. The GCOR definition of a Reverse Movement is "A movement opposite the authorized direction". Period. The direction the movement was AUTHORIZED was westbound. They stopped and then made a MOVEMENT eastbound. How much clearer could it be? They made a Reverse Movement for those 200 ft.

I know that "they" interpret the defintion of a Reverse Movement to mean the rear end of a train has to move back. ("They" being certain RR officials or Rulesmen). My question is HOW do they get that interpretation. The GCOR words do not say a thing about the "rear end of a train" or even anything about a "train". The GCOR says "a movement". So don't just email me and tell me that "They" interpret this as meaning the rear end of your train. I want to know where "they" get that from? It is not written in the GCOR. "They" are adding words to the rule that are not there.

Goofy Replies.
A couple of railroaders emailed the following response to my question...

>Under the scenario you describe where a train makes a setout onto a CTC siding, the signal indication INTO the siding...is the train's authority to make a Reverse Movement.
Now THAT is interesting. A signal not governing movement upon the section of track you are occupying grants authority to the train on the track it does not govern. Strange indeed. On BNSF signals do not govern the use of the tracks leading up to them.

So if what you say is true. How far before you get to the signal does it govern? In my example I said the engine and the setout cars were stopped 200 feet past the signal. If I had 30 cars to set out on the siding and there were crossings just beyond the signal and I pulled the rear end of the cut 2500 feet beyond the signal to clear those crossings before stopping; when the CTC signal 2500 feet behind my cut goes low yellow or whatever for my shove into the siding does that signal still govern? Does it still authorize my 2500 ft reverse movement from where I am stopped to the signal? What is the footage (mileage?) limit on this strange authority?

Reverse Senario #2
Lets try this again.
You are stopped east of Baker. You have a bad order trainline on a car and it has to be set out. You cannot move the train. The DS does not want the car set on the CTC siding at Chas. The closest track is an Industry spur at MP 31.

You cut the B/O car off your train and proceed forward (West) past the green intermediate at MP 20, past the green absolute at Baker Jct. Past the next green intermediate at MP 24 and past both green absolutes at each end of Chas. Finally you pass the green intermediate at MP 30.

You stop west of the industry switch. How far west of the switch is immaterial as long as you are in that block. The GCOR does not deal with distances. You open the Industry track switch and shove the B/O car into the spur. You bring the engine back out onto the main and close the switch.

You reverse direction and move from the industry track towards the intermediate signal at MP 30. At this point you are definitely making a REVERSE MOVE back east to the intermediate at MP 30. But... surprise! The REAR END of your train is not moving.

Does anyone seriously say that at this point you are NOT making a Reverse Movement? If so please explain to me how you arrive at that assumption. Don't just say the rear end of my train is not moving backwards. I know that. The rulebook definition of a Reverse Movement does not say anything about the rear end of a train. Yee gods there is a CTC siding and a junction between you and your train! Three CTC Control Points. Six blocks. What RULEBOOK AUTHORITY are you using to reverse direction at the industry switch and move to signal 30?

Anything could be between CP West Chas and your train. The DS could have given MOW T&T behind you anywhere between your engine and your train. The DS could have another WB lined off the branch at Baker intending to send it to Chas to meet your engine. I cannot believe that the writers of the GCOR intended that you "own" all the track between the industry and your train. The GCOR authors did not write that, only some interpreter(s) said that and I believe "they" said that without thoroughly thinking through all of the consequences. If you don't "own" all the track between your loco and your train then why would you "own" the track between the industry switch and the signal at MP 30? I still say the rear end of your train has nothing to do with it. You are making a Reverse Movement.

I just cannot believe that the powers that be can seriously think that the crew is not making a Reverse Movement in senario #2 when moving from the industry switch to the intermediate at MP 30. Their train is 12 miles away with intervening control points. How can the rear end of their train have anything to do with it? If it is agreed that they are indeed making a Reverse Movement there, then they must also be making a Reverse Movement in senario #1. Rules-wise there is no difference. It is the same rules.

The Signals

I assume the DS knows what you are doing and he may have lined the CTC Control Points behind your loco for the move back to your train. But that does not affect the situation at the industry track. You were AUTHORIZED into that block (and into the long control section to the next CP) in a westward direction and you are now moving eastward. That is THE definition of a Reverse Movement. Period.

This Reverse Movement is no problem on BNSF. Rule 6.4.1 allows us to make the reverse move from Industry to the intermediate at MP 30 at Restricted Speed without any DS permission. (Reverse Movement within the same block). But I am told that Union Pacific does not allow Rule 6.4.1? All Reverse Moves on UP require DS authority? Therefore on U.P. it would seem the crew must contact the DS before leaving the industry switch and obtain his authority.

There is some dispute and a grey area at MP 30. If the intermediate signal is showing Clear or Approach for eastbound moves (Some systems will do that), does that authorize the EB move beyond signal 30? See Absolute Authority. Some hold that only controlled signals authorize in CTC. Frankly I don't know. I always request authority at the first intermediate after making a reverse move regardless of its aspect. Rule 6.4.1 says that if you are making a reverse movement that passes out of the single block you are occupying you do need DS permission. But if you are one who holds that in CTC BLOCK signals AUTHORIZE movement as the GCOR CTC definition says, then when you reach the first block signal, be it an intermediate or an absolute, it authorizes your further movement in the direction it governs. Therefore once you reach that signal you are no longer making a Reverse Movement since you are now authorized in that direction. If you are no longer making a Reverse Movement then rule 6.4.1 does not apply at all so no DS permission is needed. Note, however, that none of this changes the fact that you are making a reverse movement from the industry switch to signal 30.

One more point.
I will go so far as to say that TECHNICALLY by the exact wording of the GCOR definition of a Reverse Movement you are making a reverse move ANY time ANY PART of your train moves in the opposite direction of which you were authorized into a block. This means that in the senario where we set out on the Industry spur you were making a Reverse Move when you opened the switch and shoved the car eastward onto the switch. Your train is 12 miles east of you.

GCOR definition of Reverse Movement:
A movement opposite the authorized direction.
TECHNICALLY you were making a reverse move. The definition does NOT say REAR END OF TRAIN. It simply says "a movement". But on BNSF it does not matter because Rule 6.4.1 authorizes these reverse movements automatically. On U.P. without rule 6.4.1 you would technically have to get permission for this and every other move you make.

I could go even further. One could argue (if I was a nasty trainmaster trying to hang you) that even when you setout at the Industry spur, even if the rest of your train was parked just east of the Industry switch, you made a reverse move when you shoved that car onto the switch. GCOR does not say a thing about the rear end of your train having to move nor does it deal with distances. You MOVED OPPOSITE the direction you were authorized. Period. Now on BNSF it would be "So what?" Rule 6.4.1 allows it. But on U.P.???

Track Warrant Control (TWC) Territory
Now I will throw a monkey wrench into the gears. All of the above dicussions were in CTC territory. The same holds true for TWC ABS territory. But... what if we are in non-signaled TWC territory? Dark territory.

You have that same bad order car that has to be set out at the industry track. You have the following Track Warrant.

Box 2. Proceed from MP 10 to MP 40 on main track.

Rule 6.4 tells us to limit our reverse moves to within our TWC authority limts.
Rule 6.4.1 says we need permision to do so. Since we are not in signaled territory the last provision of 6.4.1 does not apply.

The defintion of a Reverse Movement does not say a thing about it only applies to the rear end of a train moving back. Every time you stop at an industry track to set out or pick up you make reverse moves by the definition of a reverse move. Your track warrant authorized you to move in a westward direction. You are now moving east. It seems to me you need permission to make these moves during switching. I assume that you could get permission for all of them at once until you are done but you do need to get it. Another way would be to get a Box 4 "Work Between" whenever you need to do switching.

You may be able to get all the rules interpreters you want to say otherwise but it doesn't mean a thing unless THEY are the very same interpreters at your investigation. The old rules man gets promoted/demoted or retires and a new rules man comes in and you can be sunk by his new interpretation. The rules are supposed to be in writing in black & white with no grey areas. In these cases I've discussed on this page I believe they are. These are all Reverse Moves and you need authority to perform them. Be that authority 6.4.1 on BNSF or DS permission on U.P.

With this discussion I believe I have proven my point that the GCOR does not say a Reverse Movement applies only to the rear end of a train. I would like to hear from you IF you can show me, in the GCOR in writing, where I am wrong. I am listening, prove it to me.

Now, having said all that I have in this document it is clear that I am aware of the rear end of train statement said to apply to Reverse Moves. I will also say that I like it and usually operate accordingly with that statement in mind. By defining a Reverse Movement only if the rear of your train moves backwards it permits higher speeds in some cases. Especially returning your power long distances to your train when in ABS territory.

Defining a Reverse Movement to apply only to the rear end also appears to be safe in all cases I can think of. Rules 6.20 and 9.10 appear to protect the switching or returning power movements from collisions with intervening trains. So I am not agains defining a Reverse Movement to apply only to the rear end of your train. The problem is I just don't see where they get it from. If they want it that way then the rule should be written to say so.

Created 06-27-2002
Updated 07-05-2004