• Marker lights on the front and rear of locomotives

  • General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.
General discussion about railroad operations, related facilities, maps, and other resources.

Moderator: Robert Paniagua

  by KSmitty
What is the purpose of the "lights" on the front an rear of many locomotives. I notice they are there on some locomotives and not on others. I have even seen pictures of locomotives that have had these lights removed (like the ex-BM GP40-2's that went to CP.) Just to clarify the light im talking about are the red ones on the front of BM 690.
  by DutchRailnut
Those are marker lights (or on some locomotives class lights-3 color), they are no longer needed with introduction of End Of Train devices and class lights are no longer used, because there are hardly any manned block stations anymore.
  by KSmitty
So is it safe to assume that any remaining lights are painted out or removed? Because i still see the lights, or what look like lights on many locmotives. For example BM 690 still has the lights, but the look painted over. Does painting over (if thats what is actually being done) count as removal, because otherwise they would be required to work under FRA regs?
  by DutchRailnut
Technically if the equippment is there, it has to be maintained (a cost issue) but painting them over, is just as good as plating them over, like CSX(conrail) did.
  by KSmitty
Ahha, thanks for the info, thats explains why i see a lot of them painted out, an exception is the lights on mec 500-519, these ex CN units still have there three class lights.
  by pennsy
Metrolink's F-59 PH and PHI's are used in the push-pull mode. When they are pulling, the headlights and ditch lights are on. All red lights are off. In the push mode, headlights and ditch lights are off, and the red lights are on. There is no one in the engine, the engineman is in the cab car, leading the train, and operating the engine, in the push mode, remotely. The headlights and ditch lights of the cab car are on.
  by Jtgshu
Most, if not all passenger/commuter operations still use marker lights, however, they are used on the rear of the train, so when a loco would be in push mode, the marker lights would be lit, while when the loco would be leading, the marker lights on the last passenger car would be it.

These aren't used to show the status or classification of a train (a scheduled train, or an extra train, or a second section, etc) but rather used to show the rear of the train and that the train is complete.
  by DutchRailnut
I thought it was obvious to average railfan, that we were talking about freight units, as passenger units are equipped differently.
  by Jtgshu
DutchRailnut wrote:I thought it was obvious to average railfan, that we were talking about freight units, as passenger units are equipped differently.
No, they really aren't equipped differently, they just still have them and use them (as red markers), and the title of the thread doesn't say just freight or passenger locos.

As a little tidbit, the "CNJ Geeps" on NJTransit, numbers 4100 to 4112 still have their different colored lenses on the rear (long hood) of the locomotive, from when they used classification lights. They have red, green and white. Its cool to see them when someone was playing with them and changed the colors :)
  by DutchRailnut
your above average ??
  by litz
Too add to this, you're supposed to have a red marker on the rear of a train ... all railroads do this, including commuter rail in push/pull mode ... even NARCOA requires this with the speeders ... usually it's a light, sometimes a flashing light, can be a simple red flag in daytime ... but per some rulebooks, you can substitute a locomotive headlight on dim for a rear marker light if you have a locomotive on both ends of the train (or are doing a reverse move).

This is the case on the Blue Ridge Scenic (we have a locomotive on each end of the train), and would usually also be the case on a freight road, when helpers are coupled on pushing on the rear of a train.

(Just in case this wasn't already confusing enough)

- litz
  by TB Diamond
The BN operating rules pertaining to classification lights back in 1978 mentioned:

White: Extra trains
Green: Section following
Red: End of train

By that time everything out of Alliance, NE ran extra so the white classification lights were always illuminated on the lead locomotive.

Red was utililized on the rear locomotive of a helper consist or on the rear end of a single helper locomotive.

Never saw the green classification lights utilized in that era.

As was mentioned, there was some playing with the lights. During the Christmas, 1978 season persons unknown would turn on one green and one red classification light on locomotives standing in the locomotive service area. They would not, however, depart the area for duty in that mode.
  by ex Budd man
From the NORAC rule book, page 28.
24. Markers
On a main or controlled siding outside of yard limits the rear of a train must be identified by a marker as prescribed below:
a. Passenger trains, engines
Passenger trains, lite engines and engines operating at the rear of a train must:
1.Be equipped with an illluminated marking device.
2. Have the rear head light on low beam at all times.

b. Other trains
trains other than passenger trains must be equipped with an illuminating marking device under the following conditions:
1 From one hour before sunset to one hour after sunrise.
2. When visability is so restricted that the end silhouette of a box car cannot be seen from one-half mile on a straight track.

During other periods, a reflector, flag, or extinguished marking device may be used.

it is interesting to note that nowhere in the rule does it mention what color the marker must be.