In this post we’ll be looking at blue flags; what they are, what they do and how to model them.
What blue flags are, and what they do
Blue Flags are used in the North American railroading industry to show that railroad or other personnel are working, on, about, under or between railroad equipment and that the railroad equipment may not be connected to. These signs may be posted at the entry to the track upon which the vehicle sits or may be at, or close to, the railroad equipment itself.
Whoever places the flag is generally the only person that may remove said flag. However anyone from that same ‘craft’ may remove the flag. While this generally applies to railroad mechanical departments many customers have also begun to use the blue flag to ensure that cars loading or unloading have the same level of protection. Railroad crews are so used to dealing with these safety items that ‘everyone’ in the industry understands what their placement on a siding or spur means.
Canadian Pacific’s safety regulations state the following:
12.3.7 Blue flag protection is used to indicate that CP or Contractor Personnel are working on, under or between Railway Equipment and movement of trains or other Railway Equipment is prohibited. Blue flags must not be tampered with or obstructed. Blue flags can only be removed by the person or group of persons who originally applied it. Application, use, and removal of blue flags, when appropriate, may only be done under the authorization and guidance of the Manager in Charge.
Modelling blue flags
Have you considered adding ‘blue flag’ operations on your layout? Adding prototype processes to an operating session provides two important benefits:
- It makes the time you spend on the layout more meaningful through the application of, and adherence to the rules, and
- It slows down the session and forces you to work in real-time.
Over on the Model Railroad Hobbyist blog of Craig Thomasson he recently described how he builds HO scale blue flags for operations and how they are used on his layout. I found his blog post interesting and think that you might find as interesting and useful as I did.
If you’ve not met Blue Flags in the operations sense before here are some resources that you might find useful:
- When seeing blue means stop – Charles H. Bogart
- The Wikipedia listing for the General Code of Operating Rules (GCOR). This includes two links for a PDF of the 2010, and 2015 versions of the rule book.