Rail Awareness in Nevada

Coffee Tracks - Old US 395 and N. Virginia

On Saturday morning March 18, 2023 our RAT pack met at crossing 833573J .


In preparation for our RAT field exercise, RATs always set up an orange traffic warning sign to warn drivers that people are present in the area and to also educate the public. This sign is a reminder that if you ever see a vehicle stuck on the tracks, look for the blue Emergency Notification System sign at the crossing and call that phone number first, before calling 911, and tell them about the vehicle on the tracks.

Anytime we are meeting at a crossing, we do an inventory of the equipment We check the following things:

  • The crossbuck assembly is in good condition and that there is one on each side of the crossing
  • Two blue ENS signs - one on each side of the crossing
  • The gates, lights and bells look to be functioning
  • The W-10 advanced warning signs present
  • The railroad crossing pavement markings are painted on the road ahead of the tracks on each side of the crossing
  • Along with all the other things on the US DOT Crossing Inventory Form


Crossing 833573J and the bungalow associated with that crossing are at a very busy crossing and often drivers get impatient and go around the crossing gates when they are down. Don't ever go around gates when they are down! When you see gates in the down position, there is a train nearby.

We talked about switches and the requirement that they are to always be locked.

While checking out the crossing, we came across a pile of rails and ties - some new and some used. A fellow RAT pointed out that Timber Nail Plates are used to strengthen the ends of railroad ties, reducing their tendency to split when spikes are driven into them.


The blue derail indicators on the track warn an approaching train or railcar that if they proceed to this point, the train/railcar will be derailed. The derail device is used to protect people or trains further down the track. Derail devices are to be locked at all times.

The metal stamped sign along the tracks indicates where the railroad's responsibility for maintaining the track ends and the company that the track is going to is responsible for the maintenance on their part of the track. In this case, Union Pacific's track ended at this spur and Ameri Gas become responsible for their part of the track.


The yellow paint and orange cone indicate the point on the track that the train cannot go past, or it will trigger the lights, gates and bells at the crossing in front of it.

We learned that tank cars carrying hazardous materials have a special coupler known as a double shelf coupler. While the coupler is designed to not uncouple, the main reason for the "shelf on the top and bottom" is to keep one tank car from riding up and puncturing the end of another tank car.

Tank cars have many requirements specified by the Department of Transportation. This panel identifies the tank car as a DOT 112 car. A DOT-112 pressurized tank car has additional safety features than what is required on DOT-111 class non-pressurized tank cars. This 33,700 gallon tank car is built to meet DOT 112J340W specifications and to operate at 263,000 lbs gross rail load for the transportation of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG).

We love our Coffee Tracks field training and yes, we do sometimes even have coffee!

Remember . . .


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