Forms 19 & 31:
Non-SP Train Orders

Many, perhaps the majority, of North American Railroads used Form 19 and Form 31 train orders, something to which Southern Pacific did not subscibe. Form 19's can be hooped up to a train passing at speed, but delivery of Form 31's requires that the train be stopped and that its engineer and conductor each personally sign the order, including the operator's copy, before the train can be cut loose.

SP eschewed the Form 31 arrangement. Instead, it stipulated that the train be stopped, and the conductor or engineer be present in the train order office before the operator may repeat the order back to the dispatcher for final completion and dispatcher initials. The reason for this and the Form 31 signatures is to make sure that the train and engine crew understands that their train will be restricted in some manner at that point. An example would be to hold a train at that point so that an inferior train could be advanced against it.

On this page you will find a random selection of North American train orders for comparison to SP's flimsies, as presented in A Train Order Primer, Part 2. It should become apparent that, despite the variation of forms, the basic tenets in the Movement of Trains (see A Train Order Primer, Part 1) remain the same. Thus, you will find much in common.

As a matter of reference, Southern Pacific train orders dimensions varied slightly over the years, but were approximately 6.75" x 9''; clearances sizes (examples here) varied significantly over the years. All dimensions below are in inches.

Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe

Steam and motor cars still were alive and well in California's San joaquin Valley in 1952. Like SP, Santa Fe did not use 19 & 31 Forms.

Clearance: 6.75x4.86; TO: 6.75x9

Chesapeake & Ohio
Train #4, the Sportsman with E-8 4010 as the road engine, is ordered to run 15 minutes late in this Form 19 version of an SP Form E.

Clearance: 6.75x5; TO: 7x9.75

Canadian Pacific
Canadian Pacific took running late very seriously, enough so to cut a Form 31 to ensure that the engineers showed proper restraint with their Royal Hudsons.
CP Form 31's are larger than their Form 19's, a nice arrangement when it comes to keeping things sorted out. Possibly CP constructed them thus for this very reason - we'd like to think so. Most SP officials would consider this mollycoddling the crews, however.

Clearance: 6.5x3.5; Form 19: 6.5x7.38; Form 31: 6.5x9.86
Note: Canadien National clearances and forms are very similar in size and overall appearance to CP's.

Denver & Rio Grande Western
Even though it was June, it still could get mighty cold in the arid waste around Mack (the former interchange with the Uintah Railway). Presumably those steam pipes kept the Gilsonite slurry in the tank cars from freezing up. Rio Grand was not a 19/31 user, either.

Clearance: 6.75x4.25; Register Check: 3.19x5.5; TO: 7x9.5

Great Northern
Another TO that we like is the GN Form 19 "Slow Order", which was also printed on different colored paper than other Form 19's - you can't make things plainer than that. The Form 19 combo order is an anulling, right-over and meet order all in one concise package. The 350 and 351 were 1947-built passenger F-3's, while the 2512 was a P-2 4-8-2 constructed in 1923. At this time, GN register checks were printed on the other side of the clearance form.

Clearance/register check: 3.25x6; Form 19: 6.75x8.25

Northern Pacific
Like GN, Northern Pacific, at least for a time, printed register check forms on the back of clearances. The clearance offered here is for train #13, which ran from Fargo, MN, to Winnepeg, Manitoba. Twin Valley was on NP's secondary main line between Manitoba Jct., MN and Fertile, MN. This run later was handled by a Budd Rail Diesel Car, which ran until discontinuance in May, 1969.

The running order cut at Manitoba Jct. two decades earlier, on September 11, 1928, is our favorite train order form. It's the equivalent of a Southern Pacific Form G (example 6), which combines a running order with a column wait. We don't know why railroads didn't do more of this sort of boilerplate thing in train order days - it's certainly the norm now. It even lets you know that said extra train was a passenger movement. For comparative purposes, we have a standard Form 19 running order cut at the same station two days earlier.
Western Pacific
No stranger to tardiness, the Wobbly kept its operators busy cutting orders for late-running passenger trains. Train #2 was the brief (3-49 to 9-50) reincarnation of the makes-all-stops Royal Gorge, and on June 24, 1949 was pulled by 4-8-4 #482, and probably consisted of a couple head end cars and several coaches. The train fell quickly from grace and deteriorated to lone coach and baggage cars powered by a spare California Zephyr F-3 supplied with steam heat water drawn from a scrapped 4-8-2. Number 17 was, of course, the California Zephyr. We have no idea how the work extra in the Form 31 acquired the moniker "Jumbo NO 1", but it surely sounds railroady, eh?

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