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Discussion Starter #1
Running a loco is not "running a train" how many cars behind a loco does it take before it is a "train" 1?...3? Is there a particular number? Is there a particular ORDER of cars? We all know the caboose goes at the back but what about the "middle"? Is there a "proto" order? Box cars before tank cars etc?

Thank You for any information and Happy Rolling.
 

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AAR says.
An engine, with or without cars, displaying a marker.
 

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Is there a particular ORDER of cars? We all know the caboose goes at the back but what about the "middle"? Is there a "proto" order? Box cars before tank cars etc?
There is no prescribed "order", a lot depends on factors such as weight, typically putting light empties at the head of a train is a bad idea, just look at several recent derailments at the Horseshoe Curve in PA, Apparently the boys at NS haven't totally learned that lesson.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
ah ok so it's a routing term then. A "train" is anything takes up time and space on any line. No specific number of cars or order is worried about save weight and safety.

Sounds reasonable. Thanks!
 

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I always considered a locomotive was a locomotive. Add one or more cars, then we have a train.

But by the explanations above, I can see that anything that occupies a section of rail could be considered as a train..."we have a train in the way".
 

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An engine, with or without cars, displaying a marker.
This is the rule book definition, and is very specific because this specific wording has implications in how other rules refer to "trains" or "engines".

Note that under rule book usage, "engine" is defined as one or more units operated from a single set of controls, so any rules referring to "engine" also cover a multi-unit diesel consist. A double-headed steam train would be two engines, since each has its own independent controls.

The "displaying markers" is actually sort of an important distinction under the rule book - trains are required to display markers on the rear end, and under the rule book definition is only considered a "train" if the markers are properly displayed. A yard engine switching cars is not considered a "train" for the purposes of any rules pertaining to train movement and operation.

However, these definitions are all very precise and specific so that when other rules in the rule book refer to "trains and/or engines" the rules are specific and clear as to what they're talking about.

If you're running a model train on a loop and not too concerned about real world rules and methods, than your definition needn't be as specific.
 

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Running a loco is not "running a train" how many cars behind a loco does it take before it is a "train" 1?...3? Is there a particular number?
See replies above. A "train" can absolutely have zero cars.

Is there a particular ORDER of cars? We all know the caboose goes at the back but what about the "middle"? Is there a "proto" order? Box cars before tank cars etc?
Train ordering is usually based on destination, with cars sorted in yards into "blocks" of cars all going to the same destination (or at least *NEXT* destination, where they may be sorted again for other routes). Within each block, cars are generally not sorted any further, although there are some restrictions in separating different types of hazardous materials to be considered. Sometimes there will be different blocks for the same destination based on type of traffic (e.g. intermodal, automotive, perishables, general) since one type of traffic may be prioritized or sent to a different yard or facility. Type of car is not really considered, except commodity may be. (e.g. ice reefers and stock cars were often handled in specific blocks because the cars' contents are perishable and time-sensiitve and require special handling. Not because there's any effort made to just keep different car types separate. If the cars were moving empty, it wouldn't matter.) Other groupings of similar cars may just occur naturally since a bunch of tank cars picked up at an oil refinery will just travel together until they're split up for different destinations. Same for hoppers from a mine or quarry, boxcars from a paper mill, racks from an auto plant, etc. If a large group travels from one large industry to another, they'll just naturally stay in a group since they're moving together.

Trains may handle one or more "blocks" of traffic.

e.g. a train heading from New York to Chicago will at least have a "Chicago" block, but might also have "Pittsburg" and "Detroit" blocks to set out along the way (just making this up, not sure if there's actually a specific route that travels between all these places).

When the train gets to Chicago, it will be yarded and the cars sorted for other connections, as the "Chicago" block(s) from New York and Detroit may have a mix of cars actually locally destined for Chicago, and cars for other connections via Chicago, interchanging to other trains or railways for the midwest or west coast.
 

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Isn't there now a safety rule that requires that any tank
car carrying combustibles be separated from the loco by
one or more buffer cars?

Don
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Meat and taters you guys are the best! Outstanding information thank you most profusely. "buffer cars" ...loving it...who knew? not me that's for sure. Keep it coming I must know more of this buffer car concept.

Also, I have a "fire fighting" tank car, should it be at the front of the string of tankers or at the back where the fire would end up? I'm thinking front for flexibility of application but I truly don't know the "industry standard" and as long as I've got it whatever it is from whatever era, I'd like to at least try to "run them correctly" as much as can be.

Thanks again
 

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Meat and taters you guys are the best! Outstanding information thank you most profusely. "buffer cars" ...loving it...who knew? not me that's for sure. Keep it coming I must know more of this buffer car concept.
Where possible*, cars placarded for certain hazardous materials should be placed a minimum number of cars away from the engine or caboose or other occupied cars, or certain other types of hazmat (e.g. don't put poison gas and explosives beside each other). This can complicate the blocking and build up of a train a bit beyond just sorting by destination. In a regular "manifest" freight train, these spacers can be any other non-hazardous cars already in the train.

*In the US the FRA has a current rule that requires such spacer cars to be added to unit trains (solid trains of all one commodity from one shipper to receiver). Technically as above these can simply be any car not loaded with hazmat, but many companies have a collection of older cars (usually old hoppers filled with sand) that are specifically set aside for dedicated use on unit oil trains. (Note this rule does not apply in Canada or if you go in time a bit. Then the minimum spacing rules usually state "unless the entire train consists of placarded hazardous tanks", so specific spacers don't have to be added unless they're already on the train anyway.)

Also, I have a "fire fighting" tank car, should it be at the front of the string of tankers or at the back where the fire would end up? I'm thinking front for flexibility of application but I truly don't know the "industry standard" and as long as I've got it whatever it is from whatever era, I'd like to at least try to "run them correctly" as much as can be
Fire fighting cars are a rather unique sort of thing. Really only used in certain areas (usually more arid regions out west) where there is a concern of sparks from the locomotives causing brush fires. (Doesn't have anything to do with tank cars in the trains as far as I know.) I'm not real familiar with the specifics of their use, but I think that basically one would be added to any train operating in a region that requires them. Not sure if they'd be on a front or rear.
 

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As far as the caboose on the rear I’m not sure that’s actually prototypical for every train. At least in modern times. The csx switches a glue plant I work at on occasion and they have had an old caboose tied onto the power while switching cars. That’s usually when we have a polar vortex come in and it’s dangerously cold so the train crew can have somewhere warm to hide when they’re not throwing turnouts or tying cars together. That’s the only place I’ve seen an operational caboose that I can ever remember though. They were gone before my time
 

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A lot of times one or more of the buffer cars is a boxcar with the equipment needed for a hazmat spill. When I see oil trains go by they have one between the engine and tankers and one at the end of the train.
 

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Hey Ya'll,

a train is defined by in minimum one locomotive followed by one car.

A railcar unit can be defined as train, too when the all cars are driven or only one car of the unit.

Two locomotives coupled behind each other and running without cars behind them call locomotive train. It will be unimportant if the second loco is running powered or unpowered.


Not the shortest train I have seen.

Ya Ingo
 

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As far as the caboose on the rear I’m not sure that’s actually prototypical for every train. At least in modern times. The csx switches a glue plant I work at on occasion and they have had an old caboose tied onto the power while switching cars. That’s usually when we have a polar vortex come in and it’s dangerously cold so the train crew can have somewhere warm to hide when they’re not throwing turnouts or tying cars together. That’s the only place I’ve seen an operational caboose that I can ever remember though. They were gone before my time
Cabooses generally haven't been used on the rear of trains since the early nineties.

The only cabooses still in service are used as a riding platform for long shoving moves in places where such things are routinely required.
 

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Dennis has it right in post 2 above, as per the operating rules. That was the definition of "a train" from the time I hired out in 1979 until I retired in 2012.

A "train" could be...
- A single "lite" locomotive (with markers)
- A multiple-unit locomotive consist (with markers)
- One or more engines with a caboose (with markers)
- One or more engines with one or more cars with/without caboose (with markers)

This would constitute "a train" operating on the main or secondary track.

Of course, working back-and-forth in the yard, a conductor or brakeman might call to the engineer on the radio "far enough, stop your train". But in the yard, it's not really "a train", just a cut of cars, but that would do.

On my small layout, I normally run an engine, 4-7 cars, and a caboose.
That's enough of a "train" for me, these days!
 

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Interesting. CSX has an online railroad dictionary and it defines train as "an engine, with or without cars, displaying a marker."
 

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Indeed thats right!
A train is one or are more vehicles between the headlight and end of train markers. It could be a single loco, too.
 

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Interesting. CSX has an online railroad dictionary and it defines train as "an engine, with or without cars, displaying a marker."
When you think about it for purposes of operation, even a single engine working it's way 'light' between signals on any one block in signal-controlled territory has to be treated like something blocks were meant to control...trains. Whether a train has distributed power, is two miles long, and is moving or not, it controls the block in which it is found. That's what blocks and signals are meant to keep safe. A single engine occupying the block/space between two signals 'owns' that space as much as the much longer train ahead of it in its own block.
 
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