Operational Testing

The General Code of Operating Rules (GCOR) is a set of operating rules for railroads in North America.  It is used by a wide range of Class 1, Class 2, and shortline railroads, including UP, Amtrak, BNSF, and Railtown 1897 State Historic Park.  Our engine crews ( including brakemen, conductors, firemen and engineers), must pass a written exam on GCOR annually, in addition to unannounced operations testing.  Operations testing may include a variety of different “on the job” challenges.  Most noticeable to riders of the train is the “Red Flag Test”.   When a red flag is placed on the tracks, the train must stop, the engineer notifies the conductor.  The conductor authorizes the train to proceed, only after confirming removal of the flag by the person (or class of employee) who placed it.  The red flag is primarily used to mark the boundaries of working limits when maintenance of way crew are on the tracks, but can be used to mark any hazard requiring the train to stop.

CGOR Rule 5.4.7 Display of Red Flag or Red Light

A red flag or red light is displayed where trains must stop. When approaching a red flag or red light, the train must stop short of the red flag or red light and not proceed unless the employee in charge gives verbal permission. If permission to proceed is received before the train stops, the train may pass the red flag or red light without stopping.

If track bulletin Form B is not in effect, permission must include speed and distance. This speed must not be exceeded until the rear of the train has passed the specified distance from the red flag or red light, unless otherwise instructed by the employee in charge.

Displayed Between Rails. When a red flag or red light is displayed between the rails of a track other than a main track or controlled siding, the train must stop and not proceed until the flag or light has been removed by an employee of the class that placed it.

Red flag warning! Train stops.

Conductor, Lenny G., and Brakeman, Warren S, approach the locomotive to confer.

At the conclusion of the test, the flag was removed by DSLE (Designated Supervisor of Locomotive Engineers) Kevin Z., who placed the flag for testing.

Today’s crew passed the test with a perfect performance. Although we rarely face actual red flags, it is important that we train for any eventuality. The all-volunteer train crew takes their responsibilities seriously, and approaches their jobs with a high level of professionalism and concern for the safety of the passengers and other crew members.