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Thread: Gradient Signs

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Somerset, UK

    Default Gradient Signs

    Have just spent a while on Google trying to answer the simple question "what (if any) gradient indicating lineside signs do contemporary USA railroads use ?" without finding an answer.

    Would be very grateful to receive any information if such signs are still in use, or were they removed at the end of steam traction ? Could anyone point me in the direction of where I can find a photograph of any gradient sign ?

  2. #2


    To my knowledge, very few North American railroads have gradient-related signage placed along the right-of-way.

    Exceptions that come to mind are: Canadian Pacific and BNSF.

    CP has signs indicating the beginning and ending of 'heavy' and 'mountain' grades, with specific criteria applied to define a 'heavy' grade and a 'mountain' grade. I'm not 100% on the details, but a 'mountain' grade would involve a descent at a rate of at least 1.8%. Note that these signs only apply to descending grades.

    BNSF has signs indicating the crest of a grade, but nothing more (at least to my knowlege).

    In general, locomotive engineers in North America are required to be familiar with the territory they are operating on.

    I'm not aware of them, but more roads may very well use gradient signs.

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