The Railroading Merit Badge is a unique and engaging opportunity for Scouts to explore the fascinating world of trains, railways, and their history. As one of the many merit badges offered by the Boy Scouts of America, it introduces young minds to the integral role railroads have played in shaping our society, commerce, and transportation infrastructure.
This merit badge enables Scouts to delve into the various aspects of railroading, from the rich history of steam engines to the technological advancements of modern electric and high-speed trains.
Throughout their journey, Scouts will learn about different types of trains, railway safety procedures, and the key roles various professionals play in the railroading industry. Furthermore, they will gain an understanding of how the railroad system has influenced the growth of our nation and continues to impact our daily lives.
By completing the Railroading Merit Badge, Scouts not only gain a newfound appreciation for the vital role railroads play but also develop a deeper understanding of the importance of teamwork, responsibility, and communication in the complex and dynamic world of railroading.
Railroading Merit Badge Requirements
|1. Do THREE of the following:|
(a) Name three types of modern freight trains. Explain why unit trains are more efficient than mixed freight trains.
(b) Name one class I or regional railroad. Explain what major cities it serves, the locations of major terminals, service facilities, and crew change points, and the major commodities it carries.
(c) Using models or pictures, identify 10 types of railroad freight or passenger cars. Explain the purpose of each type of car.
(d) Explain how a modern diesel or electric locomotive develops power. Explain the terms dynamic braking and radial steering trucks.
|2. Do the following:|
(a) Explain the purpose and formation of Amtrak. Explain, by the use of a timetable, a plan for making a trip by rail between two cities at least 500 miles apart. List the times of departure and arrival at your destination, the train number and name, and the types of service you want.
(b) List and explain the various forms of public/mass transit using rail.
|3. Do ONE of the following:|
(a) Name four departments of a railroad company. Describe what each department does.
(b) Tell about the opportunities in railroading that interest you most and why.
(c) Name four rail support industries. Describe the function of each one.
(d) With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, interview someone employed in the rail industry. Learn what that person does and how this person became interested in railroading. Find out what type of schooling and training are required for this position.
|4. Do the following:|
(a) Explain the purpose of Operation Lifesaver and its mission
(b) List 9 track basic safety tips to remember when you are around a railroad track.
(c) List 9 safety considerations that should be followed when walking near a railroad track.
(d) Tell your counselor what a driver can do safely operate near tracks.
(e) Explain safety precautions when using a light rail or commuter train
|5. Explain the appearance and meaning of the following rail signs and signals:|
(a) Passive signs and active signs.
(b) Devices at the crossing (flashing red lights – with or without bells, flashing red lights and gates, and cantilever flashing lights)
(c) Markings on the road (pavement markings and stop bars)
(d) Signs before the crossing (advance warning sign, advance warning sign for side streets, no train horn sign, and low ground clearance grade crossing sign)
(e) Signs along the railroad property (no trespassing sign)
(f) Signs at the crossing (crossbuck sign, emergency notification system sign, multiple track sign, stop sign, and yield sign).
|6. Do EACH of the following:|
(a) Explain how railroad signals operate and show two basic signal types using color or configuration.
(b) Explain the meaning of three horn signals.
(c) Describe a way to signal a train for an emergency stop.
(d) Explain the use and function of the EOTD (end-of-train device) or FRED (flashing rear end device) used on the last car of most trains.
|7. Select ONE of the following special-interest areas and complete the requirements.|
(a) Model Railroading
With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do TWO of the following:
(1) Draw a layout of your own model railroad or one that could be built in your home. Design a point-to-point track or loop with different routings. Include one of the following: turnaround or terminal or yard or siding.
(2) Build one model railroad car kit or one locomotive kit.
(3) Name the scale of four popular model railroad gauges. Identify the scale of four model cars or locomotives.
(4) Locate the Web site of four model railroad – related manufacturers or magazine publishers. Print information on their products and services and discuss the information with your counselor.
(5) Build one railroad structure (from scratch or using a kit), paint and weather the structure, mount it on your layout or diorama, and make the surrounding area on a diorama scenic.
(6) Alone or with others, build a model railroad or modular layout including ballast and scenery. Make electrical connections and operate a train. Describe what you enjoyed most.
(7) Participate in a switching contest on a timesaver layout and record your time.
(8) Explain the difference between powering and controlling a model railroad by using direct current, and powering and controlling a model railroad using digital command control.
(b) Railfanning With your parent’s and counselor’s approval, do TWO of the following:
(1) Visit a railroad museum, historical display, or a prototype railroad sponsored public event. With permission, photograph, digitally record, or sketch items of interest. Explain what you saw and describe your photos, sketches, or video.
(2) Purchase tickets and ride a scenic or historic railroad. Under supervision, photograph the equipment and discuss with your counselor the historic significance of the operation.
(3) Locate the Web site of four rail historical groups, then find information on the history of the rail preservation operations and purpose of each group. Talk with a member of one of the groups and find out how you might help.
(4) Plan a trip by rail between two points. Obtain a schedule and explain when the train should arrive at two intermediate points. Purchase the tickets and make the trip. Explain to your counselor what you saw.
The Answer for Requirement Number 1a,b
a) Here are three types of modern freight trains:
- Intermodal Trains: These types of freight trains carry goods in intermodal containers and trailers, which are easily transferable between trucks, trains, and ships. It allows for seamless transportation across different modes, which is highly efficient and cost-effective.
- Unit Trains: These trains are composed of a large number of railcars (often more than 100) carrying a single type of freight (e.g., coal, grain, oil) and traveling from one origin to a single destination. There is no switching of cars at intermediate points.
- Mixed Freight Trains: These trains carry multiple types of freight, each in a different car or set of cars. They often stop at many stations along their route to pick up and deliver different kinds of cargo.
Unit trains are more efficient than mixed freight trains for the following reasons:
- Less Shunting: Unit trains reduce the need for shunting or switching cars in the yard as they carry a single type of commodity from one point to another. This saves both time and labor costs.
- Faster Turnaround Times: Because unit trains travel directly from the origin to the destination, their turnaround times are faster compared to mixed freight trains, which have to stop at multiple points to load and unload different types of cargo.
- Better Utilization of Equipment: The uniformity of the cargo and its destination allows for better utilization of the equipment. The railcars and locomotives used for the unit trains can be designed specifically for the type of freight they are carrying, thereby increasing the load efficiency.
b) One example of a Class I railroad is the Union Pacific Railroad (UP). Here is an overview of its service:
Major Cities Served: Union Pacific serves many of the major cities in the Western two-thirds of the United States including Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, and San Francisco.
Major Terminals: Some of the major terminals for Union Pacific are North Platte, Nebraska (home of Bailey Yard, the world’s largest railroad yard); Roseville, California; West Colton, California; and Houston, Texas.
Service Facilities: Service facilities for the Union Pacific are located across its system, including key locations such as North Little Rock, Arkansas; Roseville, California; and North Platte, Nebraska.
Crew Change Points: Some crew change points include Cheyenne, Wyoming; North Platte, Nebraska; Ogden, Utah; and El Paso, Texas.
Major Commodities Carried: Union Pacific transports a diverse range of commodities, including agricultural products, automotive, chemicals, coal, industrial products, intermodal, and minerals.
|Major Cities Served||Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, St. Louis, Kansas City, Omaha, San Francisco|
|Major Terminals||North Platte, NE; Roseville, CA; West Colton, CA; Houston, TX|
|Service Facilities||North Little Rock, AR; Roseville, CA; North Platte, NE|
|Crew Change Points||Cheyenne, WY; North Platte, NE; Ogden, UT; El Paso, TX|
|Major Commodities Carried||Agriculture, Automotive, Chemicals, Coal, Industrial Products, Intermodal, Minerals|
The Answer for Requirement Number 1d
d) How a modern diesel or electric locomotive develops power:
Diesel Locomotive: A modern diesel locomotive uses a diesel engine that works as a generator, creating electrical power. This is often called a diesel-electric system. The diesel engine burns diesel fuel to operate a generator or alternator, which produces electricity. This electricity powers electric traction motors that are connected to the locomotive’s wheels. The rotation of these electric motors turns the wheels and propels the train.
Electric Locomotive: Electric locomotives, on the other hand, are powered by an external electric power supply. This power is typically delivered via overhead lines or an electrified rail (the third rail). The received electricity is used to drive the electric motors that turn the wheels. Electric locomotives are incredibly efficient, especially for heavy loads and high-speed operations, as they can generate a lot of power without the need for a heavy, onboard engine or fuel supply.
Dynamic braking is a method that locomotives use to slow down by converting the motor into a generator. When the locomotive is moving, the wheels turn the motor. In dynamic braking mode, instead of the electric motor consuming electricity and turning it into mechanical power to drive the wheels, the process is reversed. The motion of the wheels turns the motor, which now acts as a generator and converts the mechanical energy back into electrical energy. This process creates resistance, which slows the train. The generated electricity is usually dissipated as heat using large resistor grids.
Radial Steering Trucks:
Truck refers to the wheeled chassis under each end of a locomotive (or a piece of rolling stock). Traditional trucks have fixed axles, which can lead to excessive wheel and rail wear when navigating tight curves. Radial steering trucks are an advancement designed to alleviate this problem.
In radial steering trucks, the wheelsets are allowed to steer independently and adjust to the curvature of the track, which reduces the friction between the wheels and the rails. This feature improves track adhesion, reduces fuel consumption, reduces wear on both the rails and the wheels, and allows for higher speeds through curves.
|Diesel Locomotive||Uses a diesel engine to operate a generator/alternator, creating electricity that powers electric traction motors connected to the wheels.|
|Electric Locomotive||Powered by an external electric power supply, usually via overhead lines or a third rail. The electricity powers electric motors to drive the wheels.|
|Dynamic Braking||A method to slow down locomotives by converting the motor into a generator, creating resistance and slowing the train.|
|Radial Steering Trucks||Advanced design where wheelsets can steer independently to adjust to the track’s curvature, reducing friction, wear, and fuel consumption, while allowing higher speeds through curves.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 2a,b
a) Purpose and Formation of Amtrak
The National Railroad Passenger Corporation, better known as Amtrak, was created by the United States Congress in 1970, and operations began in 1971. The purpose of Amtrak was to ensure the continuation of passenger rail service in the United States after most private rail companies began to fail financially due to increasing competition from airlines and automobiles.
Amtrak was given the responsibility to operate intercity passenger trains that were previously run by private railroads, which were no longer profitable. Amtrak’s establishment was an effort to preserve some degree of passenger rail service in the United States.
A Plan for Making a Trip by Rail
As of my knowledge cutoff in September 2021, I can’t provide real-time data or the latest timetable information, but I can illustrate the planning process using an example:
Let’s plan a trip from Los Angeles, California to Seattle, Washington. According to Amtrak’s Coast Starlight schedule that was available at the time of my training, the trip details could look like this:
- Train Number and Name: 14, Coast Starlight
- Departure from Los Angeles, CA (LAX): 10:10 AM
- Arrival in Seattle, WA (SEA): 8:12 PM (+1 day)
- Total Trip Time: Approximately 34 hours
- Types of Service: Reserved Coach Seat, Superliner Roomette, Superliner Bedroom, Family Bedroom, Accessible Bedroom.
Please verify from the official Amtrak website or app for the most accurate and current information.
b) Various Forms of Public/Mass Transit Using Rail
- Light Rail: Light rail is a form of urban public transport using rolling stock similar to a tramway, but operating at a higher capacity, and often on an exclusive right-of-way. It is efficient and flexible, often used in city and suburban areas.
- Heavy Rail: Also known as metro, subway, tube, or underground, this is a type of high-capacity public transport generally found in urban areas. It is characterized by high speed and rapid acceleration passenger rail cars operating on a separate electric railway.
- Commuter Rail: This is a passenger rail transport service that primarily operates within a metropolitan area, connecting suburbs or commuter towns. Trains operate on standard railroad tracks and are designed for high capacity.
- Tramway or Streetcar: These are rail vehicles that run on tramway tracks along urban streets. Some tramways may also run on separate right-of-ways. They are often used for short distance urban transportation.
- Monorail: A monorail is a railway system in which the track consists of a single rail, usually elevated. It is often used in airports and theme parks, or in urban areas where space is limited.
- High-Speed Rail: High-speed rail is a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail traffic. It uses specially designed tracks and technology to achieve speeds much higher than conventional trains.
|Rail Transit Type||Description|
|Light Rail||Urban public transport using rolling stock similar to a tramway, but at higher capacity and often on an exclusive right-of-way.|
|Heavy Rail||High-capacity public transport found in urban areas, characterized by high speed and rapid acceleration.|
|Commuter Rail||Passenger rail transport service operating within a metropolitan area, connecting suburbs or commuter towns.|
|Tramway/Streetcar||Rail vehicles running on tramway tracks along urban streets or on separate right-of-ways.|
|Monorail||Railway system with a single rail, usually elevated, often used where space is limited.|
|High-Speed Rail||Passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than traditional rail, using specially designed tracks and technology.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 3a
Here are four departments of a typical railroad company and a description of what each department does:
- Operations Department: The Operations department is responsible for the day-to-day running of the trains. This includes scheduling trains, managing stations, ensuring safety compliance, and coordinating the train crews. They also oversee the maintenance and repair of the rolling stock.
- Engineering Department: The Engineering department is responsible for the maintenance and construction of the railroad infrastructure, including tracks, bridges, tunnels, signal systems, and facilities. They ensure that the rail network is safe and efficient.
- Marketing & Sales Department: This department identifies business opportunities, develops strategies to attract and retain customers, and negotiates contracts for freight shipping. They also manage relationships with customers and partners.
- Finance Department: The Finance department manages the company’s financial resources. They handle budgeting, accounting, payroll, financial planning, and investment. They also ensure financial compliance and report financial results to stakeholders.
|Operations||Responsible for the day-to-day running of trains, coordinating train crews, and overseeing maintenance and repair of the rolling stock.|
|Engineering||Handles maintenance and construction of railroad infrastructure, ensuring the safety and efficiency of the rail network.|
|Marketing & Sales||Identifies business opportunities, develops customer attraction and retention strategies, and manages relationships with customers and partners.|
|Finance||Manages the company’s financial resources, handles budgeting, financial planning, and compliance, and reports financial results to stakeholders.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 3b
I can tell you about some opportunities in railroading that many people find intriguing:
- Engineering and Innovation: The railway industry is constantly innovating to improve efficiency, safety, and sustainability. For those interested in engineering and technology, there are opportunities to design more efficient locomotives, develop better signaling systems, or work on high-speed rail projects.
- Operations and Logistics: The complexity of coordinating the movement of trains over a rail network offers significant challenges. For those who enjoy problem-solving and strategic planning, this area can be very rewarding.
- Sustainability and Environment: Rail is one of the most environmentally friendly forms of transport, and there are increasing opportunities in the sector related to enhancing its sustainability credentials further. This could involve work on electrification projects, improving energy efficiency, or planning new rail lines to minimize their environmental impact.
- Historical and Cultural Preservation: Many people are fascinated by the rich history and culture of railroads. There are opportunities in preserving historic railway lines, restoring vintage rolling stock, or working in railway museums.
- Customer Service and Travel Planning: For those who enjoy working with people, there are opportunities in customer service, travel planning, or onboard services. This could involve helping passengers plan journeys, ensuring they have a comfortable trip, or dealing with any issues that arise during travel.
Each of these opportunities offers a chance to make a meaningful contribution to a vital industry and can provide a satisfying and rewarding career.
The Answer for Requirement Number 3c
Here are four rail support industries and a description of what each one does:
- Railcar Manufacturers: Railcar manufacturers design and build the railcars used by railroads. This can include a wide variety of railcars, such as boxcars, tank cars, flat cars, hoppers, and passenger cars. They are also involved in refurbishing and upgrading older railcars.
- Rail Infrastructure Companies: These companies are responsible for designing, manufacturing, and installing the infrastructure that trains run on, including tracks, switches, signaling systems, and station structures. This can also include maintenance and repair services to keep the rail infrastructure in good condition.
- Rail Logistics and Intermodal Services: These companies help coordinate and manage the movement of goods by rail. This can include arranging for goods to be transferred from trucks or ships to trains, scheduling and tracking shipments, and managing rail terminals and yards.
- Rail Technology Providers: These companies develop and supply the technology used in modern rail operations. This can include train control and signaling systems, communication systems, onboard computer systems, and data analysis tools for optimizing operations and maintenance.
|Rail Support Industry||Function|
|Railcar Manufacturers||Design and build a variety of railcars, and refurbish and upgrade older railcars.|
|Rail Infrastructure Companies||Design, manufacture, install, and maintain the infrastructure that trains run on.|
|Rail Logistics and Intermodal Services||Coordinate and manage the movement of goods by rail, including intermodal transfers, shipment scheduling and tracking, and managing rail terminals and yards.|
|Rail Technology Providers||Develop and supply technology used in rail operations, including train control and signaling systems, communication systems, onboard computer systems, and data analysis tools.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 4a
Operation Lifesaver is a non-profit public safety program designed to prevent collisions, injuries, and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings. It was originally started in the early 1970s by the Union Pacific Railroad in Idaho and has since grown into a nationwide program in the United States, with associated programs in other countries.
The program aims to increase public awareness about the dangers of interacting with railways unsafely by offering educational programs targeting specific demographics, such as school-age children, professional drivers, emergency responders, and general motorists.
Operation Lifesaver’s mission is “to end collisions, deaths and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way.” This is accomplished through a three-pronged approach, commonly referred to as the “Three E’s”:
- Education: Operation Lifesaver offers educational programs to inform people about the hazards around railways.
- Enforcement: It supports strong laws and enforcement to prevent unsafe behaviors around tracks and trains.
- Engineering: It encourages the continuous improvement of infrastructure, such as adding gates, lights, or other warning devices at crossings, to keep the public safe.
|Purpose||A non-profit public safety program to prevent collisions, injuries, and fatalities on and around railroad tracks and highway-rail grade crossings.|
|Mission||“To end collisions, deaths, and injuries at highway-rail grade crossings and along railroad rights of way.”|
|Three E’s||Education, Enforcement, and Engineering|
Also Read: Lifesaving Merit Badge Guide
The Answer for Requirement Number 4b
Here are nine basic safety tips to remember when you are around a railroad track:
- Stay off the Tracks: Railroad tracks are private property, not public thoroughfares. Never walk on the track; it’s illegal trespass and highly dangerous.
- Cross at Designated Locations: Only cross tracks at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings, where signs, signals, and gates are provided.
- Obey All Warning Signs and Signals: Pay attention and adhere to all posted signs, especially warning signs and signals.
- Watch for Multiple Trains: If there are multiple tracks, make sure to watch out for trains coming from both directions or at different times.
- Never Try to Beat a Train: Trains move faster than they appear to be moving and cannot stop quickly.
- Stand Clear of Tracks: Trains can overhang the tracks by at least three feet on either side. For safety, stay well away from the edge of the platform.
- Don’t Rely on Hearing a Train: Today’s trains are quieter than ever, producing no telltale “clackety-clack.” Don’t rely on hearing a train; they don’t always sound their horns.
- Avoid Distractions: Avoid distractions such as loud music, headphones, or looking at your phone, especially near tracks.
- Respect the Power of a Train: A train can take a mile or more to stop after applying emergency brakes. Never try to outrun a train; respect its power and potential danger.
|Basic Safety Tips||Description|
|Stay off the Tracks||Railroad tracks are private property and walking on them is both illegal and dangerous.|
|Cross at Designated Locations||Only cross tracks at designated pedestrian or roadway crossings.|
|Obey All Warning Signs and Signals||Always adhere to all posted signs and signals.|
|Watch for Multiple Trains||If there are multiple tracks, look out for trains from both directions or at different times.|
|Never Try to Beat a Train||Trains move faster than they appear and cannot stop quickly.|
|Stand Clear of Tracks||Trains can overhang the tracks by at least three feet on either side. Stay well away from the edge of the platform.|
|Don’t Rely on Hearing a Train||Modern trains are quieter than ever and may not sound their horns.|
|Avoid Distractions||Avoid distractions such as loud music, headphones, or looking at your phone near tracks.|
|Respect the Power of a Train||A train can take a mile or more to stop after applying emergency brakes. Always respect the power and potential danger of a train.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 4c
Here are nine safety considerations to be followed when walking near a railroad track:
- Stay Alert: Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions such as using electronic devices or wearing headphones.
- Never Trespass: Remember that it’s illegal and dangerous to walk on the tracks or other parts of railroad property. Trespassers are subject to fines and arrest.
- Use Designated Crossings: Cross tracks only at designated pedestrian crossings, where signs and protective devices help you cross safely.
- Look Both Ways: Trains can come from either direction. Always look both ways before crossing any railroad tracks.
- Don’t Jump on or Off Moving Trains: Attempting to jump on or off a moving train is extremely dangerous and can result in severe injury or death.
- Don’t Assume Track is Abandoned: Even if the track appears rusty or unused, it may still be active. Never assume a track is abandoned.
- Keep Distance from Tracks: Trains overhang the tracks by at least three feet in both directions. For your safety, maintain a safe distance from the tracks at all times.
- Stay Sober: Alcohol and drugs can impair your judgment and reflexes. It’s important to be sober when near railroad tracks.
- Report Unsafe Conditions: If you see an unsafe condition, such as a damaged track or malfunctioning signals, report it to the railroad company or local law enforcement.
|Stay Alert||Always be aware of your surroundings and avoid distractions.|
|Never Trespass||It’s illegal and dangerous to walk on the tracks or other parts of railroad property.|
|Use Designated Crossings||Always cross tracks at designated pedestrian crossings.|
|Look Both Ways||Trains can come from either direction. Always look both ways before crossing any railroad tracks.|
|Don’t Jump on or Off Moving Trains||Attempting to jump on or off a moving train is extremely dangerous.|
|Don’t Assume Track is Abandoned||Even if the track appears unused, never assume it’s abandoned.|
|Keep Distance from Tracks||Trains overhang the tracks. Maintain a safe distance from the tracks at all times.|
|Stay Sober||Impairments from alcohol or drugs can put you at risk. Always be sober when near railroad tracks.|
|Report Unsafe Conditions||Report any unsafe condition you see to the railroad company or local law enforcement.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 4d
Here are some guidelines for how a driver can safely operate near tracks:
- Respect the Tracks: Always consider the tracks as a potential danger zone. Never park or idle on railroad tracks.
- Understand the Signs: Familiarize yourself with the different types of railroad signs and signals, including crossing signs, flashing red lights, and gates. Always obey these signs and signals.
- Look Both Ways: Trains can come from either direction and tracks might not be level with the roadway. Always look both ways before crossing railroad tracks.
- Do Not Rush: Never try to beat a train at a crossing. It is both illegal and dangerous. Trains are faster than they look and cannot stop quickly.
- Avoid Stopping on Tracks: Ensure that there is enough room on the other side of the crossing for your vehicle to completely clear the tracks before you cross.
- Listen for Trains: If you see a train coming, stop at a safe distance from the tracks and wait for it to pass.
- Act Quickly if Stalled: If your vehicle stalls on the tracks, immediately get everyone out and move away from the tracks. Call the number posted at the crossing or local law enforcement for assistance.
- Yield to Trains: Trains cannot stop quickly or swerve out of the way. If a train is coming, yield the right-of-way to the train.
- Watch for a Second Train: Once a train has cleared a crossing, make sure another train is not coming on another track in the same or the opposite direction.
Each of these steps can significantly reduce the risk of a collision and help to ensure that a driver operates their vehicle safely near railroad tracks.
The Answer for Requirement Number 4e
Here are some safety precautions when using a light rail or commuter train:
- Board and Exit Safely: Wait until the train comes to a complete stop before getting on or off. Watch your step, as there might be a gap between the train and the platform.
- Hold On: Trains can start and stop suddenly. Always hold on to a pole, handle, or seatback.
- Don’t Lean on Doors: Avoid leaning on doors. They can open unexpectedly, causing you to fall out of the train.
- Mind the Gap: Be aware of the gap between the platform and the train. This gap can cause trips and falls.
- Stay Behind the Yellow Line: Platforms have a yellow or white safety line. Stay behind this line until the train has stopped and the doors have opened.
- Be Aware of Your Surroundings: Keep an eye on your personal belongings and be mindful of pickpockets, especially during peak hours when trains can be crowded.
- Listen for Announcements: Pay attention to the announcements for your stop and any changes in service.
- Use Emergency Alert Systems: Know the location of emergency alert systems or intercoms in case of an emergency.
- Respect Non-Smoking Signs: Most transit systems prohibit smoking on trains and platforms for the comfort and safety of all passengers.
|Board and Exit Safely||Wait until the train has fully stopped before getting on or off. Watch your step.|
|Hold On||Trains can start and stop suddenly. Always hold on to something stable.|
|Don’t Lean on Doors||Doors can open unexpectedly. Avoid leaning on them.|
|Mind the Gap||Be careful of the gap between the train and the platform.|
|Stay Behind the Yellow Line||Stay behind the safety line until the train has stopped and the doors have opened.|
|Be Aware of Your Surroundings||Keep an eye on your personal belongings and be mindful of pickpockets.|
|Listen for Announcements||Pay attention to the announcements for your stop and any changes in service.|
|Use Emergency Alert Systems||Know the location of emergency alert systems or intercoms.|
|Respect Non-Smoking Signs||Most transit systems prohibit smoking on trains and platforms.|
The Answer for Requirement Number 5a,b,c
Here’s the explanation for the mentioned rail signs and signals:
a) Passive Signs and Active Signs:
- Passive Signs: These are non-operational signs that provide information or warning about the crossing. The most common passive sign is the “Crossbuck” (white X-shaped sign with “RAILROAD CROSSING” written on it). It is a legal requirement to yield to trains at these crossings. Some crossbucks also have a sign below them indicating the number of tracks at that location.
- Active Signs: These signs use movement, lights, or sounds to alert drivers about an approaching train. They are activated when a train is approaching the crossing.
|Type of Sign||Appearance||Meaning|
|Passive Signs (Crossbuck)||White X-shaped sign with “RAILROAD CROSSING”||Yield to trains at these crossings|
|Active Signs||Usually contains flashing lights or gates||Warns drivers about an approaching train|
b) Devices at the Crossing:
- Flashing Red Lights – With or Without Bells: When a train is approaching, the red lights start flashing and bells may start ringing. These signals mean a driver must stop as a train is coming.
- Flashing Red Lights and Gates: When a train is approaching, the red lights flash, the bells ring, and gates lower across the road. Drivers must stop and wait until the gates raise and lights stop flashing before proceeding.
- Cantilever Flashing Lights: These are overhead flashing lights at a crossing. They function like other flashing red lights but are placed overhead for better visibility.
|Device at the Crossing||Appearance||Meaning|
|Flashing Red Lights – With or Without Bells||Flashing red lights, potentially accompanied by ringing bells||A train is approaching, drivers must stop|
|Flashing Red Lights and Gates||Flashing red lights, ringing bells, and lowering gates||A train is approaching, drivers must stop and wait until the gates raise and lights stop flashing before proceeding|
|Cantilever Flashing Lights||Overhead flashing lights||A train is approaching, drivers must stop|
c) Markings on the Road (Pavement Markings and Stop Bars):
- Pavement Markings: These are white markings painted on the road surface, showing drivers where they should stop when a train is approaching.
- Stop Bars: These are solid white lines painted across the traffic lane, indicating where to stop when signals are active or a train is approaching.
|Markings on the Road||Appearance||Meaning|
|Pavement Markings||White markings painted on the road surface||Show drivers where they should stop when a train is approaching|
|Stop Bars||Solid white lines painted across the traffic lane||Indicate where to stop when signals are active or a train is approaching|
The Answer for Requirement Number 5d,e,f
d) Signs Before the Crossing:
- Advance Warning Sign: This sign is usually yellow with a black symbol depicting railroad tracks. It is placed before the crossing to warn drivers that they’re approaching a railroad crossing.
- Advance Warning Sign for Side Streets: This sign is similar to the advance warning sign, but includes an “auxiliary sign” underneath with an arrow indicating a nearby crossing that’s not visible or is located on a side street.
- No Train Horn Sign: This sign indicates a “quiet zone” where trains are prohibited from routinely sounding their horns.
- Low Ground Clearance Grade Crossing Sign: This sign warns drivers of vehicles with low ground clearance (such as buses or trucks) that the railroad tracks may be higher than the road, presenting a potential hazard.
|Signs Before the Crossing||Appearance||Meaning|
|Advance Warning Sign||Yellow with a black symbol depicting railroad tracks||Warns drivers of an upcoming railroad crossing|
|Advance Warning Sign for Side Streets||Similar to the advance warning sign with an auxiliary sign underneath with an arrow||Indicates a nearby crossing that’s not visible or is located on a side street|
|No Train Horn Sign||Text “No Train Horn” or a similar phrase, sometimes with a symbol of a crossed-out horn||Indicates a quiet zone where trains do not routinely sound their horns|
|Low Ground Clearance Grade Crossing Sign||Symbol of a truck on an inclined plane, often with the text “Low Ground Clearance”||Warns drivers of vehicles with low ground clearance that the railroad tracks may be higher than the road|
e) Signs Along the Railroad Property:
- No Trespassing Sign: These signs indicate that the railroad property is private, and unauthorized persons are not permitted. They aim to deter unlawful and unsafe behaviors.
|Signs Along the Railroad Property||Appearance||Meaning|
|No Trespassing Sign||Text “No Trespassing” or a similar phrase, sometimes with additional symbols||Indicates that the railroad property is private and unauthorized persons are not permitted|
f) Signs at the Crossing:
- Crossbuck Sign: This is a white, X-shaped sign reading “RAILROAD CROSSING.” It is required by law at all public railroad crossings.
- Emergency Notification System Sign: These signs provide information on who to contact in case of an emergency at the crossing. They typically include a phone number and a specific location or crossing number.
- Multiple Track Sign: These signs are positioned below the crossbuck and indicate the number of tracks at the crossing.
- Stop Sign: These signs instruct drivers to stop completely before proceeding over the tracks. They are used at certain crossings in addition to other signage.
- Yield Sign: These signs instruct drivers to slow down, prepare to stop, and yield to any approaching trains before crossing the tracks.
|Signs at the Crossing||Appearance||Meaning|
|Crossbuck Sign||White X-shaped sign with “RAILROAD CROSSING”||Marks the location of the crossing|
|Emergency Notification System Sign||Usually blue, includes a phone number and a specific location or crossing number||Provides information on who to contact in case of an emergency at the crossing|
|Multiple Track Sign||Sign below the crossbuck indicating the number of tracks||Indicates the number of tracks at the crossing|
|Stop Sign||Red octagon with “STOP”||Instructs drivers to stop completely before crossing the tracks|
|Yield Sign||Red or yellow triangle with “YIELD”||Instructs drivers to slow down, prepare to stop, and yield to any approaching trains before crossing the tracks|
The Answer for Requirement Number 6a,b
a) How Railroad Signals Operate and Basic Signal Types:
Railroad signals are a means of communication used to inform locomotive engineers about what actions to take on the track ahead. They operate based on track circuitry and control systems which detect the presence of a train and the condition of the track ahead (e.g., if a switch is open or if another train is on the same track).
Two basic types of railroad signals using color or configuration are:
- Color Signals: These signals use different colors to indicate different conditions. The most common colors are red, green, and yellow. Red typically means stop, green means go, and yellow means caution or prepare to stop at the next signal.
- Semaphore Signals: These signals use a mechanical arm (or blade) that moves to different positions to indicate different conditions. When the arm is horizontal, it means stop. When it’s angled upwards, it means caution. When it’s vertical, it means go.
|Color Signal (Red)||Red Light||Stop|
|Color Signal (Green)||Green Light||Go|
|Color Signal (Yellow)||Yellow Light||Caution or prepare to stop at the next signal|
|Semaphore Signal (Horizontal)||Mechanical arm is horizontal||Stop|
|Semaphore Signal (Angled)||Mechanical arm is angled upwards||Caution|
|Semaphore Signal (Vertical)||Mechanical arm is vertical||Go|
b) Meaning of Three Horn Signals:
In addition to visual signals, trains also use audible signals, typically horn blasts, to communicate different messages. Here are three examples:
- Long-Long-Short-Long: This signal is used as the train approaches public highway-rail grade crossings. The signal is sounded regardless of the time of day and regardless of the train’s speed.
- Two Short Blasts: This signal is used to indicate the train is releasing its brakes and about to move forward.
- One Long Blast: This signal is used to warn that the train is approaching a station, junction, or men working on the track.
|Long-Long-Short-Long||Train is approaching public highway-rail grade crossings|
|Two Short Blasts||Train is releasing brakes and about to move forward|
|One Long Blast||Train is approaching a station, junction, or men working on the track|
The Answer for Requirement Number 6c,d
c) Signaling a Train for an Emergency Stop:
The primary method of signaling a train for an emergency stop is by using the emergency brake. This is usually a red lever or a plunger inside the passenger cars that can be pulled or pushed to stop the train. It’s important to note that this should only be used in genuine emergencies, as misuse can lead to penalties.
In addition to the emergency brake, railroad workers can use a fusee, a type of flare that burns red, to signal a train to stop in case of an emergency on the tracks ahead. This is typically used by track workers and not passengers.
d) Use and Function of EOTD/FRED:
An End of Train Device (EOTD) or Flashing Rear-End Device (FRED) is a piece of equipment attached to the end of the last car on a train. It serves several functions:
- Brake Pipe Monitoring: It monitors the brake pipe pressure at the end of the train. If there’s a significant drop in pressure, it will alert the train crew of a possible problem with the train’s braking system.
- Train Integrity Monitoring: By maintaining communication with the head-end of the train, the device can confirm that the entire train is intact and no cars have been accidentally uncoupled.
- Visibility: The device usually has a bright, flashing red light that makes the train more visible to following trains and anyone near the tracks.
|Emergency Brake or Fusee||To signal a train for an emergency stop|
|EOTD/FRED||To monitor brake pipe pressure, ensure train integrity, and increase visibility|
The Answer for Requirement Number 7 option a (4),(8)
a4) Model Railroad-Related Manufacturers or Magazine Publishers:
Below are four popular model railroad-related manufacturers and magazine publishers with brief descriptions of their products and services:
- Lionel, LLC (Website: https://www.lionel.com/): Lionel is a historic and leading manufacturer of model trains and model railroad accessories in scales ranging from O to HO. They provide a wide range of model locomotives, rolling stock, track, and accessories.
- Walthers (Website: https://www.walthers.com/): Walthers is a manufacturer and distributor of model railroad equipment. They offer a wide range of scales, with a large catalog that includes locomotives, rolling stock, structures, track, and scenery supplies.
- Model Railroader Magazine (Website: https://www.trains.com/mrr/): This is a monthly magazine that provides a wealth of information for model railroad enthusiasts. The magazine features layout tours, tips and techniques for building and maintaining a model railroad, and product reviews.
- Atlas Model Railroad Company, Inc. (Website: https://www.atlasrr.com/): Atlas is a well-known name in the model railroad industry, providing high-quality, detailed models of trains, track, and accessories in various scales.
For the specifics of each company’s products and services, please visit their respective websites.
a8) Difference Between Powering and Controlling a Model Railroad Using DC and DCC:
- Direct Current (DC): In a DC powered system, the speed and direction of a model train are controlled by varying the amount and polarity of the direct current to the track. This means that all trains on the same track or electrical block will move at the same speed and in the same direction. This can limit the operational realism, particularly for larger layouts with multiple trains.
|Speed Control||Varying the voltage of the current controls the speed of the train|
|Direction Control||Changing the polarity of the current controls the direction of the train|
|Limitations||All trains on the same track move at the same speed and direction|
- Digital Command Control (DCC): In a DCC system, digital signals are sent along the track to control individual trains, allowing each to have its own speed and direction. This allows for greater control and operational realism, with multiple trains able to operate independently on the same track. Additional features such as sound, lighting effects, and complex operations are also easier to implement with DCC.
|Speed Control||Each train receives individual digital commands controlling its speed|
|Direction Control||Each train receives individual digital commands controlling its direction|
|Advantages||Trains can operate independently on the same track, allowing for greater operational realism and the implementation of additional features|
Remember, both systems have their pros and cons, and the choice between the two depends on individual needs, budget, and the complexity of the model railroad.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
The Railroading Merit Badge is a recognition offered by the Boy Scouts of America for scouts who demonstrate knowledge and skills in railroading, including understanding its history, operations, safety, and model railroading.
Scouts will learn about the history and operations of railroads, train safety, different types of trains, and model railroading. They will also gain an appreciation for the impact of railroads on society.
While some requirements can involve model trains, the merit badge can also be earned through research, visits to railroad sites, or discussions with professionals in the field. Any specific needs will be determined by the individual badge requirements chosen by the scout.
Some requirements for the Railroading Merit Badge can be fulfilled through online research or virtual tours. However, scouts should always consult with their merit badge counselor to ensure the activities meet the badge’s standards.
No, a scout does not need to live near a railroad to earn the Railroading Merit Badge. Many requirements can be fulfilled through research, discussions, or virtual experiences.
The Railroading Merit Badge can introduce scouts to a variety of careers in the rail industry, such as locomotive engineering, rail operations management, railroad safety inspection, and model train design.
The time it takes to earn the Railroading Merit Badge will vary depending on the individual scout’s pace and the specific requirements chosen. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.