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W&H MAIN YARDS: Railroad Hand Signals

By Christopher Coleman
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Last Updated 2-11-02

The below rules of use of hand/lantern signals are culled from the Pennsylvania, New York Central, Baltimore and Ohio, Chesapeake and Ohio and Norfolk and Western. rules, which are all about the same. These signals were and still are used to signal the head end (engineer or fireman in the locomotive) from the caboose or other part of the train. They are frequently used when cutting cars in or out of a train and are usually given by a brakeman or conductor.

The hand or flag moved the same as the lamp, as illustrated in the following diagrams, gives the same indication, except in the observance of rule 12a the hand or flag movement may be above the shoulder.

Hand Signal Diagram

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