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GCOR - Switching

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7.1 Switching Safely and Efficiently

While switching, employees must work safely and efficiently and avoid damage to contents of cars, equipment, structures, or other property.

7.2 Communication Between Crews Switching

To avoid injury or damage where engines may be working at both ends of a track or tracks, crews switching must have a clear understanding of movements to be made.

7.3 Additional Switching Precautions

The following equipment must not be unnecessarily switched or couplings made so as to damage the equipment or load:

  • Passenger or outfit cars
  • Intermodal or TOFC cars
  • Cabooses
  • Multi-level loads
  • Cars containing livestock
  • Open top loads subject to shifting

The following equipment must not be cut off in motion or struck by any car moving under its own momentum:

  • Passenger cars
  • Outfit cars
  • High-value loads
  • Engines
  • Loaded-depressed-center flat cars
  • Cars loaded with modular housing units

7.4 Precautions for Coupling or Moving Cars or Engines

Before coupling to or moving cars or engines, verify that the cars or engines are properly secured and can be coupled and moved safely.

Make couplings at a speed of not more than 4 MPH. Stretch the slack to ensure that all couplings are made.

7.5 Testing Hand Brakes

Employees must know how to operate the type of brakes they are using. When hand brakes must control or prevent car movement, test the brakes to ensure that they are operating properly before using them.

7.6 Securing Cars or Engines

Do not depend on air brakes to hold a train, engine, or cars in place when left unattended. Apply a sufficient number of hand brakes to prevent movement. If hand brakes are not adequate, block the wheels.

When the engine is coupled to a train or cars standing on a grade, do not release the hand brakes until the air brake system is fully charged.

When cars are moved from any track, apply enough hand brakes to prevent any remaining cars from moving.

7.7 Kicking or Dropping Cars

Kicking or dropping cars is permitted only when it will not endanger employees, equipment, or contents of cars.

Before dropping cars, crew members must fully understand the intended movement. They must verify that the track is sufficiently clear and that switches and hand brakes are in working order. If possible, the engine must run on a straight track. Cars must not be dropped over spring switches or dual control switches.

7.8 Coupling or Moving Cars on Tracks Where Cars are Being Loaded or Unloaded

Before coupling to or moving cars on tracks where cars are being loaded or unloaded, crew members must be sure that all of the following have been removed or cleared:

  • Persons in, on, or about cars
  • Platforms
  • Boards
  • Tank car couplings and connections
  • Conveyors
  • Loading or unloading spouts and similar appliances or connections
  • Vehicles
  • Other obstructions

Properly close or secure plug-type and swinging doors on cars.

In addition:

    Be careful to avoid damage to freight of partly loaded cars.

  • Do not handle cars that are improperly or unevenly loaded if load could shift or fall from the car, or if the car could derail or overturn.
  • Return any car placed for loading or unloading to the location it was found if it has not been released for movement.
  • Do not pull empty cars from an unloading facility until any major accumulation of debris is removed.

7.9 Switching Passenger or Occupied Outfit Cars

Before switching passenger equipment or occupied outfit cars:

  • Couple the air hoses.
  • Fully charge the brake system.
  • Use the automatic brake valve when switching.

When coupling passenger or outfit cars:

Stop the movement approximately 50 feet before the coupling is made.

Have an employee on the ground direct the coupling.

Ensure couplers are fully compressed and stretched to ensure that knuckles are locked before making:

  • Air connections
  • Steam connections
  • Electrical connections

7.10 Movement Through Gates or Doorways

Before moving engines or cars through gates, doorways, or similar openings, stop to ensure that the gates, doorways, or openings are completely open and secure. When overhead or side clearances are close, make sure movement is safe.

7.11 Charging Necessary Air Brakes

Do not handle cars without charging the air brake system, unless the cars can be handled safely and stopped within the required distance. If necessary, couple the air hoses and charge the brake systems on a sufficient number of cars to control movement.

7.12 Movements Into Spur Tracks

When shoving cars into a spur track, control movement to prevent damage at the end of the track, and do the following:

  • Stop movement 150 feet from the end of the track.
  • Apply hand brakes, when necessary, to control slack.
  • Have a crew member precede any further movement when it can be done safely.
  • Move only on the crew member's signal.

7.13 Protection of Employees in Bowl Tracks

During humping operations, before a train or yard crew member goes between engines or cars on a bowl track to couple air hoses or adjust coupling devices, or before an employee performs maintenance on a bowl track, protection must be provided against cars released from the hump into the track as follows:

  • The employee requesting protection must notify the employee controlling the switches that provide access from the hump to the track where the work will occur.
  • After being notified, the switch controller must line any remote control switch against movement to the affected bowl track and apply a locking or blocking device to the control for that switch.
  • The switch controller must then notify the employee that protection is provided. Protection will be maintained until the switch controller is advised that work is complete and protection is no longer required.

Next Chapter - Switches

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