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Flagman (rail)

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Flagman (rail)

On the railroads, a flagman is an employee of the railroad who is assigned to protect contractors or anyone performing work on a railroad right of way. When a train approaches a location where workers may foul the track, the train crew will call the flagman for permission to pass the work area. Usually a flagman is a conductor qualified for the territory.

Jobs that may require a flagman

Workers installing fiber optic cables underneath the right of way.
A construction gang building an overpass or underpass for the purpose of eliminating a grade crossing.
Any construction project that requires workers to be on railroad right of way, and may foul track.

Additional information

Rules pertaining to a flagman may vary depending on different railroad's operating rules. For instance on CSX Transportation a train approaching the work area is to call the flagman for permission through the work area. Example, "Q390-29 Engine CSXT 5219 calling flagman at milepost 151.2, like permission though the work area". If workers are in the clear the flagman will advise crew to proceed and advise the crew that workers are not fouling the track. If a flagman fails to answer, the train crew is required by rule to stop short of milepost location and proceed at restricted speed. However on Norfolk Southern there are no flagmen. Rather NS has a track supervisor obtain track authority from the train dispatcher to take the track out of service until it is certain that workers are in the clear and trains may safely pass the area.

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