headlight question

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headlight question
Posted by schmaltz on Monday, January 18, 2010 7:35 AM

when were trains first required to have headlights on during daylight hours?

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Posted by joesap1 on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:09 PM

I believe it is safe to say that ever since there have been electric headlights on locomotives, they have been required to be all the time the locomotive is in motion. It is clearly a matter of safety.

Joe Sapwater
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Posted by zugmann on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:14 PM

joesap1

I believe it is safe to say that ever since there have been electric headlights on locomotives, they have been required to be all the time the locomotive is in motion. It is clearly a matter of safety.

 

I don't think it's safe to say that. I've seen plenty of photos and video of steam locomotives with the electric headlights shut off.  Same thing with steam-era electrics and interurban/trolley cars.  Probably wasn't until the influx of diesels (1940s?)  that they went with the lights-on mentality...

 

 

 The opinions expressed here represent my own and not those of my employer or any other railroad, company, or person.

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Posted by The Butler on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:20 PM

Other Forum members and I have asked this question.  There never was a definitive answer (i.e. January 1, 1955) but it seems like it was in the early to mid 1950's.

James


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Posted by georgel on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:43 PM

I believe we should be asking if there is a requirement to have them on beyond the common sense question of safety.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by CShaveRR on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 12:57 PM
Georgel, the answer to your question is that there most assuredly are operating rules concerning the use of headlights.

Carl

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Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 1:12 PM

 One problem is that issues like this are often decided by the railroads themselves, or certain states passing laws requiring it, rather than a universal national law or regulation. 

Anyway, I'd agree it became common by the mid-fifties. I've seen DVD/Videos of steam engines with their lights on during the day, but I imagine it wouldn't be hard to find similar shots of diesels in the sixties with their lights out.  

Stix
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Posted by Jerry Pier on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 1:26 PM

My understanding has always been that the headlight must be on if the locomotive is in service, not just if it just pulling a train. You will see locomotives sitting in a yard with or without a consist with the headlight burning. This means that it has been despatched but has not yet left.

JERRY PIER
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Posted by dehusman on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 2:07 PM

Most 1950's and earlier edition rule books only require a headlight to be displayed "by night" or something like that.

Most 1960's and later edition rule books require a headlight to be displayed "by day and by night".

Can't give you an exact date but it was most likely the mid to late 50's early 60's. 

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Posted by timz on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 3:48 PM

Don't imagine there was any one date when daytime headlights started being required. The rule appeared at various times in RR rulebooks (circa 1950 as good a guess as any), and eventually ICC/FRA or somebody required a headlight/ditchlights, but by then few if any RRs hadn't already required the headlight.

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Posted by tree68 on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 4:50 PM

I don't remember that detail from my youth along an old C&O (PM - now CSX) line in Michigan, but when I started watching trains with any seriousness again in the early 70's I can't ever remember seeing a train running without a headlight on.

Ditch (properly "auxiliary") lights are a fairly recent development, although many railroads used other forms (usually "Mars" and variations) right up to that time.

LarryWhistling
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Posted by squeeze on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 6:11 PM

I remember seeing lights especially the Mars light on Passenger engines (F units) in 1962 in Lee Hall, Va. I also remember seeing the last steam engine on a regular run on the B&O in the Fall of 1956, and it had a headlight on (an afternoon run).

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Posted by Falcon48 on Tuesday, January 19, 2010 9:20 PM

georgel

I believe we should be asking if there is a requirement to have them on beyond the common sense question of safety.

Current FRA rules require headlights and auxiliary lights (ditch lights) to be used on locomotives which operate at a speed over 20 mph over public highway grade crossings, see 49 CFR sec. 229.125.

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Posted by clarkfork on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 12:30 PM

I posed this question to my collection of rule books.

The LAST rule book in my collection to require the headlight NIGHT ONLY was the Union Pacific "Operating Rules" of July 1, 1946.

The FIRST rule book in my collection to require headlights DAY AND NIGHT was the "Uniform Code of Operating Rules" of May 1, 1950.  This Uniform Code was adopted by Rock Island, Missouri Pacific (and affiliates) Missouri-Kansas-Texas and the St. Louis Southwestern (Cotton Belt.)  It was not the "Uniform Code" used in Canada.

I think the policy change resulted, at least in part, from diesel locomotives.  They were quieter than steam and did not have the smoke and steam exhaust plume, so they did not show up as well in daylight as steam did.

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Posted by bedell on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 4:47 PM

Seems like I read somewhere that locomotives in Britain did not have headlights in early years.  How long did that practice continue?

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Posted by cx500 on Wednesday, January 20, 2010 11:41 PM

bedell

Seems like I read somewhere that locomotives in Britain did not have headlights in early years.  How long did that practice continue?

 

If you look at the "photo of the day" on this site from a few days back, you will see that Tornado still does not have a headlight.  They have started to be used on diesels, but I think mostly with the newest deliveries.  Hopefully one of the British folks will chime in shortly with more details as to practice.

 John

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