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  Railroads of Madison County
Roger Hensley
3 Point Protection

Conrail 3 Point Protection

Central Indiana Division, NMRA Rusty Spike
Vol. 27 # 5 - Nov-Dec 1997

3 Point Protection
By
Roger Hensley

About a year or so ago, I started hearing the Conrail train crews working the South Anderson Yards using the term 'Three Point Protection". I began to ask myself, "What do they mean by this?" and I waited to pick up a clue in their conversations. When I had been listening to this for 3 or 4 weeks and was no closer to understanding it than when I first heard it, I called a Conrail track foreman I know and asked him about it.

Ok, folks, here is what modern railroads do when their people keep getting hurt while working between the cars of a 'stopped' train. They establish a system to keep safety in mind as you work.

The radio crackles to life with, "Give me Three Point Protection."

In the cab, the engineer sets the Reversing Lever in Neutral, kills the generator field (switch controlled) and applies the brake (generally the Independent Brake) and replies, "Three Point Protection applied" and then waits.

The person on the ground now does their work between the cars of the stopped train. There may be talk back and forth between the crew members, but eventually you will hear, "Release Three Point Protection."

"Three Point Protection Released" comes the reply and the engineer is free to move the train again. Now, why would a railroad put something like this in place. Could it be because working between cars is dangerous? Of course it is, and people still get hurt and even killed because they work between cars all of the time! It only takes a moment of inattention as you suddenly reach back between the cars and...

A few days ago I heard a crewman suddenly say, "Is Three Point still on?" and the Engineer replied, "It is until you tell me to release it."

For those who model modern railroading, here is something that can fit right into switching moves and enhance our operating sessions. Just as the application of the "Three Point Protection" rule helps to keep prototype employees more conscious of their safety, it can draw us closer to the prototype while making our switching moves even more realistic.

Roger Hensley
Copyright 1997 - rph


Date: Wed, 29 May 2002

Roger,

Just read your articles on ConRail,very good. The 3 point protection is very strange to me and shows how things change over time.

This was pounded into us from day one. When you stop from a signal from a trainman you do not move until that trainman gives you a signal to do so.

We were coupling a cut and made the final coupling and the brakeman went in to couple the air. When a brakeman finished his 3 or 4 cars he would come out and hold his arm straight up, a sign he was finished. This was repeated by each man. You now had all three men in sight and the man that was going to make the move would give the signal.

I have seen them lose track of a man and come out and give a signal to move with the lost man between the cars. You did not move until you could see all 3 men. That is why the brakeman worked on the engineers side or the same side at all times.

MEL


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