Rules of Signaling for Southern Pacific Lines

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Summary: Selected rules and regulations concerning hand, whistle, bell and air signals useful in replicating prototypical sounds, and how they were used in the interactions between enginemen and trainmen on the Southern Pacific


Effective Feb.15, 1943

a) Swung at right angles to track. Stop.
b) Slight horizontal movement at arm's length at right angles to track. Reduce speed.
c) Raised and lowered vertically. Proceed. Trainmen's answer to 14(k).
d) Swung vertically in a circle at right angles to track. Back.
f) Swung horizontally above the head at right angles to track, when standing. Apply air brakes.
g) Held at arms's length above the head, when standing. Release air brakes.
h). Any object waved violently by anyone on or near the track is a signal to stop."
Note - The signals prescribed are illustrated by "o" for short sounds; "-" for longer sounds. The sound of the whistle should be distinct, with intensity and duration proportionate to the distance the signal is to be conveyed.
Steam whistle will be used in sounding signals, except that when engine is so equipped, air whistle instead of steam whistle will be used in sounding signals 14(l) and 14(p).
a) o Apply brakes. Stop.
b) -- Release brakes. Proceed.
Must be given after stopping at a railroad crossing not protected by an interlocking.
c) -ooo Flagman protect rear of train.
c-a) ooo- Flagman protect front of train.
d) ---- Flagman may return from west as prescribed by Rule 99.
e) ----- Flagman may return from east as prescribed by Rule 99.
f) --- Train parted.
g) oo Answer to 14(k) or any signal not otherwise provided for. Not to be given in answer to a yellow signal or the explosion of two torpedos.
h) ooo When standing, back. Answer to 12(d) and 16(c). When running, answer to 16(d).
j) oooo Call for signals.
k) -oo To call the attention of yard engines, extra engines, and trains of the same or inferior class or inferior right, to signals displayed for a following section; to be acknowledged by 14(g) and 12(c).
l) oo-o Approaching public crossings at grade, tunnels, and obscure curves; to be commenced sufficiently in advance to afford ample warning, but not less than one-fourth mile before reaching a crossing, and prolonged or repeated until engine has passed over the crossing.
(m) -(long) One mile before reaching stations, junctions, drawbridges, railroad crossings at grade, and mail cranes located between stations. When standing, apply air from rear of train, such application to be answered by 14(g).
n) --o Approaching meeting or waiting points. (See Rule S-90 (A)).
o) o- Inspect brake pipe for leaks or for brakes sticking.
p) Succession of short sounds. Alarm for persons or live stock on the track.
r) oo- Engineer of second engine take control of air brakes. When second engineer has taken control, he must repeat the signal.
s) oo oo Engineer of second engine assist in recharging brake pipe.
t) -o When running against the current of traffic:

(1) Approaching stations, curves, or other points where view may be obscured.

(2) Approaching passenger or freight trains and when passing freight trains.

u) -o -ooo Flagman protect rear of train on both tracks.
v) -o ooo- Flagman protect front of train on opposite track.
w) -o---- Flagman discontinue protection of rear on eastward track but continue protection on westward track.
x) -o----- Flagman discontinue protection of rear on westward track but continue protection on eastward track.
Note- The prefix signal "-o" in Rules 14(u),(v),(w), and (x) should be followed by an interval of five seconds before remainder of signal is sounded."
Note- The signals prescribed are illustrated by "o" for short sounds; "-" for longer sounds.
(a) oo When standing - start.
b) oo When running - stop.
c) ooo When standing - back.
(d) ooo When running - stop at next station.
e) oooo When standing - apply or release air brakes.
f) oooo When running - reduce speed.
g) ooooo When standing - recall flagman.
h) ooooo When running - increase speed.
j) ooooooo Increase train heat.
k) -(long) When running - look back for hand signals.
l) o Approaching meeting or waiting points (See Rule S-90 (A)).
m) -(long) o Shut off train heat.
30. The engine bell must be rung when an engine is about to be moved; while passing through tunnels; while approaching public crossings at grade, beginning sufficiently in advance to afford ample warning, but not less than one-fourth mile before reaching such crossing, and continuing until the engine has passed over the crossing; and otherwise when necessary as a warning signal.
31. The whistle must be sounded at all places where required by rule or law, or to prevent accidents.
32. The unnecessary use of either the whistle or bell is forbidden.
32(A). Whistle signal must be sounded and bell rung by the leading engine.
90(A). Approaching a schedule meeting point with a train of the same or superior class, or a point where by train order the train is to meet or wait for an opposing train, the engineer must sound signal 14(n) immediately after sounding signal 14(m). On a train of passenger equipment the conductor must also sound signal 16(l) at least one mile before reaching the station. Should the engineer fail to sound signal 14(n), fireman must immediately remind engineer of the requirement, and should engineer fail to prepare to stop short of fouling point, when required, the conductor must take immediate action to stop the train.
Should a stop be made after signal 14(n) has been sounded and before the expected train is met, signal 12(c) or 16(a) must not be given for further movements until such train has been met, and authority is held to proceed against it.

See Also

  • Sound - General sound information