LVN's picture

Have a great time learning about how TT&TO's can add to the fun of operating your model railroad. 



This is a project that speaks to the concept of using time tables and train orders to operate your model railroad.  Mike Hamer and I interview Doug Matheson and he demonstrates through scenarios, several practical situations you would find during an operations session.  This video is hosted on Tommy Hood's HO Scale Canadian Northern Railway in Ottawa Ontario Canada   In Part 1 Doug explains the selective compression of TT&TO concepts and show the paper work the Canadian Northern uses.



In Part 2, Extra 3600 arrives in Ellenburgh, conducts switching ahead of the scheduled train meets.  On completion, the operators consult the timetable and Doug explains the priorities as you watch them unfold.  See the scheduled trains travel some of the layout and meet the extra in Ellenburgh.



In this final episode in the TT&TO story, Extras meet extras in Ellenburgh and Grenville.  Station train order signals are explained and a first class passenger train travels the line.  Throughout the series, Doug provides lots of helpful hints for operations planners, dispatchers and train crews.  Also he provides links to important resource materials for TT&TO's.  As an operator, it is nice to have all this demystified so that you pay more attention to what is provided to you when you operate at a layout that uses this system.  It just adds to the realism and the fun.   You can appreciate the effort that goes into this and those dedicated to providing it.  Thanks Doug.




This is a outstanding teaching vid.  When are you going to provide the 20 rules in use on the Canadian Northern to the rest of us?  Thanks for all the effort in making this.

CM Auditor

Tom VanWormer

Monument CO

Colorado City Yard Limits 1895

LVN's picture

Rules: Thought you would never ask:)


Simplified Rulebook

(covering operations on the Rideau, Algonquin and Kawartha Subdivisions)

Effective January 1, 1948

By authority of  Thomas Hood, President and Chief Executive Officer


Canadian Northern Simplified TT&TO Rulebook


Prototype railroad's rule books for TT&TO, known as the Unified Code, are big and complicated. The complications are necessary to cover every possible circumstance over all permutations of signalled and dark territory, single and multiple tracks, and a wide variety of operating conditions.  The Canadian Northern Railroad has a simplified rulebook far easier to learn containing the following rules.


Rule 5.

The time shown in the timetable for a train at a station is its departure time.  No train shall depart a station in advance of its scheduled time.

Rule 71.
A train is superior to another train by right, class, or direction.
Right is conferred by train order, class and direction by timetable.
Right by train order is superior to class or direction. 
Direction is superior only between trains of the same class

Rule 72.
Trains of the first class are superior to those of the second, trains of the second class are superior to those of the third; and so on. Trains travelling eastbound as specified by the timetable are superior to trains of the same class in the opposite directions.

Rule 73.
Extra trains are inferior to regular trains.

Rule 81.
A main track must not be occupied without authority AND it must not be fouled until, by observation or protection by flagmen, the engineer or the conductor is assured it is safe to do so.

Rule 82A.
Regular trains, unless otherwise provided, will be authorized at their initial stations by clearance.

Rule 83.
A train must not leave its initial station, or a junction, or an intermediate station where schedules originate or terminate, until it has been ascertained whether all superior trains due have arrived or left.

Rule 83A.
The information called for by a train register must be entered and the register checked by the conductor of any scheduled train at all locations where a register is maintained. An extra train will register only at a register station where it originates or terminates, unless otherwise directed.

Rule 85.
Trains of one schedule may pass trains of another schedule of the same class. Second and inferior class and extra trains may pass and run ahead of second and inferior class and extra trains. A section may not pass and run ahead of another section of the same schedule.

Rule 86.

Unless otherwise provided, an inferior train must be in the clear at the time a superior train in the same direction is due to leave the next station in the rear.

Rule 87.
At a meeting point between trains, the inferior train must clear the main track with turnouts lined behind 5 minutes before a scheduled superior train.  Where the Timetable does not show a time for the superior train at the meeting point, the inferior train must clear the main no later than the scheduled departure time at the next station of a superior opposing train.

Rule 88.
Extra trains will be created by a train order and governed by train orders with respect to opposing extra trains. At a meeting point between extras, the train in the inferior timetable direction must take the siding, unless otherwise provided by train order.

Rule 89.
When an inferior train fails to clear a superior train by the time required by rule, it must be protected at that time as prescribed by rule 99.

Rule 93.
Within yard limits, engines may use the main track without train order authority, clearing or protecting against first-class trains and without flag protection against second and inferior class trains, extra trains and engines.

Rule 95.
Two or more sections may be run on the same schedule. Each section has equal timetable authority.

Rule 99
A train occupying a main track without authority must send out flag men in both directions to protect against overtaking and opposing trains.

Rule 200.

Train orders properly issued by the dispatcher and delivered to train crews take precedence over the timetable

Rule 220.
Train orders once in effect continue so until fulfilled, superseded, or annulled.


Other Rules

Rule A.
Train crews shall have a current copy of the Employee Timetable in their possession.

Rule B.

The clock on the Dispatcher’s desk shall be taken as the authoritative time

Rule C.
No train may leave its originating station without registering the train with the Dispatcher and obtaining a valid clearance.  This clearance, provided verbally by the Dispatcher, will also provide a check on the overdue arrival or departure of superior trains.

Rule D.
The conductors of all scheduled trains passing through Bytown Junction shall sign the register maintained on that site.  In accordance with Rule 83A, the crew of all trains will check the register at Bytown Junction to determine if all superior trains have arrived and departed.

Rule E.
Train crews shall register their train with the Dispatcher at the termination point of the train.

Rule F.
Train crews shall leave 2 minutes space when following another train.                                                       

Every Day is Train Day


Those are beautifully simple.  I notice that because of the Canadian Water Towers, Rule G is not in effect.  Thanks for the rules and especially the videos.

CM Auditor

Tom VanWormer

Monument CO

Colorado City Yard Limits 1895

Great info

I have been looking for information of this type for some time. I understand there are some more books on the way from the usual sources as well. Time to look up the opsig book as it may be a better book than what is on the way from the other guys.

Thanks for posting


Rob in Texas

The club blog


Everyone is welcome to visit our club site, let me know what you think.

LVN's picture

Great info reply

Glad you got some good info from the videos Rob.  The OPSIG guys are definitely something to consider and you can also join their forum and ask questions and discuss applications.

Every Day is Train Day

arthurhouston's picture

Not For Everyone

I have done this once not for me. Slows done what most operators want to do, switch cars and run  trains. To much paper work. Love the random generated car movement manifest created by JMRI ops program. Push a button and print train manifest and off you go. 

dfandrews's picture

Well done description

Well done, guys.

These videos are just the ticket for getting a basic understanding about TT & TO.  It gives us another alternative for having fun with trains.

Thanks much.


Rincon Pacific Rwy, 1960.  HO scale std. gauge - interchange with SP.


Yes on TT&TO

I was recently able to operate TT&TO for the first time and liked it better than warrants.  I'm looking forward to the next time.


The layout I am planing

My layout is right now in the future. When looking at the paper work it seems a lot of it can be condensed to minimums for a given layout. The alternative is ctc systems that have lots of wire, circuits, and if the system is documented more paper work than is likely to be generated from ten years of operation. Our club layout has a detection system, dispatchers panel, and signal system allowing complete control over the layout by the dispatcher. One of our members designed all the circuits, for detection, and control of the whole layout himself, (he is an electrical engineer by trade). I have been helping him to document the wiring and circuits used through out the layout with photos of various items so that we can begin to trouble shoot something if we have a failure. This book is filling a 3 or 4 inch binder and is still growing. It is essentially a shop manual like one would purchase for a specific automobile or piece of heavy equipment. We still have to do the trouble shooting section.

The idea of having less than 50 sheets of paper that would cover train orders, timetables, registers, and switch lists is very appealing. I might just be able to operate with someone acting as the two tower men and 4 to 8 signals to control the entire railroad. No detection circuits, logic systems for detection etc. just communication with the tower, a train sheet, and lots of fun. Some folks like to be governed by traffic lights and often that fits the era they model but it sure is lots of wire and cost to make those things work.

It looks like once the timetable is set up the only thing needing paper work will be 1 or 2 orders per train and the switch lists, some trains will be traveling through with no switching on the layout and will go from staging to staging and will need very little in the way of paper.

It also has the added bonus of requiring little to no maintenance and being very low cost to design and implement, cheap, reliable, easy to use, nearly maintenance free what a deal.

I like it.

Thanks again for posting


Rob in Texas

The club blog


Everyone is welcome to visit our club site, let me know what you think.

web site


I just wanted to mention that I have enjoyed your videos of various layouts and thought I saw one that was your layout, do you have a website that has your videos and your layout on it? and if so could you post your link.



Rob in Texas

The club blog


Everyone is welcome to visit our club site, let me know what you think.

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