Article: The Debate About "Half" Interlockers
by Dale Berry
In October of 1916, the Grand Trunk Western Railroad petitioned the Michigan Railroad Commission for permission to install a "half" interlocker at McCamley Street in Battle Creek, at the location where the Detroit, Toledo & Milwaukee Railroad (Michigan Central) crossed the GTW main line. This crossing had been in place for about 30 years but it was a "stop and proceed" crossing. All trains, even on the busy Grand Trunk main line, were required to stop at the crossing and then proceed after assuring that the way was clear. This obviously slowed down the GTW traffic tremendously. An "interlocking", at the time, was a mechanical device, often located in a railroad-side tower, which interlaced switches, derails and signals, so that a clear route could only be given to one train at a time. Most interlockings during this period had signals in all directions, as well as "derails" - devices which would derail any train which violated a stop signal. "Half interlockings" had all of the mechanics to make sure only one route was lined at a time, but no signals were installed for one of the routes (the route which was seldom used). Railroads wanted to save the money of putting in signals (including approach signals 3/4 mile away) on little used branch lines that crossed other tracks. The GTW had almost received approval for this "half" interlocker prior to this hearing, but the Michigan Central failed to follow through. By the time the matter came up for a rehearing by the Commission, a new philosophy about "half" interlockings was in place. They were highly discouraged because of perceived safety problems.
What you are about to read is the testimony which took place on October 15th, 1916 at the Michigan Railroad Commission. In addition to state railroad commissioners and staff, representatives were present from the Grand Trunk Western and the Michigan Central (color coded for easy reading):
In the matter of the application of the application of the Grand Trunk Western Railway Company for permission to install a half interlocking plant at the D. T. &M. Crossing in Battle Creek.
Appearances on behalf of the Grand Trunk: John Ehrke, Superintendent, N. E. Baker, Supervisor of Signals, L. C. Stanley, Attorney, and T. T. Irving, Engineer.
Appearances on behalf of the Michigan Central: D. J. Hackett, Superintendent, F. B. Robson, Attorney, J. C. Mock, Engineer.
COMMISSIONER CUNNINGHAM: This matter is an application made by the Grand Trunk for the installation of a half-interlocking plant at the crossing of the tracks of the Michigan Central, known as the Detroit, Toledo and Milwaukee Railway, near McCamley Street, Battle Creek, Michigan. The Michigan Central, at one time, seemed to have agreed to such protection and practically waived notice of hearing, but the Commission preferred that all parties in interest appear and give evidence in the matter, and that is why it is before the Commission today. As the Grand Trunk are the applicants, it would be proper for them to put the case before the Commission first.
(At this juncture, Mr. Ehrke was sworn).
Mr. STANLEY: Mr. Ehrke, you reside in Battle Creek, do you?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes.
Mr. STANLEY: You are Superintendent of the Grand Trunk Western, and you know of this existing crossing?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes.
Mr. STANLEY: Your tracks at that point are what tracks?
Mr. EHRKE: There are two tracks - one east and one westbound, and there are two other side tracks.
Mr. STANLEY: Are these two tracks which you speak of your main line tracks?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes, between Port Huron and Chicago.
Mr. STANLEY: The track crossing at that place is what?
Mr. EHRKE: The D. T. &M. track - at present I would consider it a switching lead, used for the purpose of switching industries located on the M. C. road.
Mr. STANLEY: These industries being north or south of your lines.
Mr. EHRKE: We call it south, connecting them with the main system of the Michigan Central, which is somewheres north of our tracks.
Mr. STANLEY: Then it is characterized as a switching connection that comes from the Michigan Central north of you and reaches some industries south of you and takes many cars back and forth?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes.
Mr. STANLEY: About how many industries - 90?
Mr. EHRKE: Cannot say how many on the Michigan Central.
Mr. STANLEY: Of what nature are these?
Mr. EHRKE: The Gas Company, Michigan Carton Company, the gas company producing gas for city consumption.
Mr. STANLEY: How many other industries are there?
Mr. EHRKE: The Old Maple Flake - two or three coal industries - do not know how many.
Mr. STANLEY: Are these industries in size ordinary size or is there a large industry among them?
Mr. EHRKE: I would call the Michigan carton Company a good sized industry.
Mr. STANLEY: What is there production at the present time?
Mr. EHRKE: They operate by day and night - 24 hours operation along this pole target.
Mr. STANLEY: Do you know, from your observation, what extent of movement there is across there on the D. T. &M. track?
Mr. EHRKE: Cannot say how many movements.
Mr. STANLEY: At the present time, Mr. Ehrke, what is done with the train movement on the Grand Trunk as to stopping or not?
Mr. EHRKE: All trains stop and are governed by signals on the pole.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know between what hours the service takes place on the M. C. tracks?
Mr. EHRKE: Well, from personal observation, I have seen them move at various hours, say from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: These are no regular trains, only switch?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes, switch movements.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: What has been the length of the trains in the switch movements?
Mr. EHRKE: Anywhere from one-half dozen cars to ten cars, as the case may be.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Now, in your opinion, Mr. Ehrke, as a Railroad Superintendent, what is desirable to do at that crossing in the way of avoiding the stopping of your trains?
Mr. EHRKE: We fee that a half-interlocker ought to be ample protection at that point to prevent our trains from coming to a stop under the statute.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: The Commission, Mr. Ehrke, requested, and I presume the Engineering Department may have a profile of the tracks of both Railroads, especially the one west of the Grand Trunk. (Profile submitted). Do you know, Mr. Ehrke, what the grade is west of the proposed half-interlocking plant?
Mr. EHRKE: I am quite positive it is 6/10 of 1 per cent, for a distance of 9,000 feet.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: No, as I understand it from Mr. Stanley's letter a short timea go, the object and the only object in changing the protection is to relieve the Grand Trunk of stopping its trains as per the statute.
Mr. EHRKE: Yes that is the object - to prevent stopping our trains at this crossing.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Would it increase the tonnage on westbound trains on the Grand Trunk?
Mr. EHRKE: No, we do not figure on increasing the tonnage of our trains any but it would naturally make it easier for an engine to take a train up hill and avoid the possibility of breaking knuckles and pulling out drawbars and blocking up the streets of Battle Creek as they could go right along according to the speed limit of the city.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Your Railroad is what is known as a member of the American Railway Association?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know of a Committee appointed by that association known as a Safety Committee?
Mr. EHRKE: I believe there is such a committee but do not know.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know that they have recommended the dispensing of half-interlocking plants for protection and in all cases the trains must either comply with the statute and stop or a full-interlocking plant installed where the railroads cross on grades?
Mr. EHRKE: I did not know of anything of this kind.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Well, do you know that throughout the United States efforts are being expended to relieve the dangerous conditions of all railroads?
Mr. EHRKE: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know that Mr. U. E. Gillen, your General Superintendent wrote this department saying that the only safe protection at railroad crossings was the full-interlocking plant?
Mr. EHRKE: No, I did not know this.
Mr. N. E. BAKER, being duly sworn, testifies as follows.
Mr. STANLEY: Are you employed as Supervisor of Signals for the grand Trunk?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I am.
Mr. STANLEY: Your headquarters are in Battle Creek.
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes.
Mr. STANLEY: Have you a close knowledge of this crossing and have you considered the matter of system of signals which will provide the thru passage of the Grand Trunk trains under safety signals?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes, I am familiar with this crossing and have considered the protection of same according to the plan which has been prepared showing the protection.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Mr. Stanley, so as not to get confused, it is not necessary for me to say to you before Mr. Robson that if this Commission would simply approve a half-interlocking plant, it would not relieve your condition. You would still be required by the statute to stop unless the Commission relieved you of that statutory. Now, Mr. Baker is simply giving as his opinion, as I understand it, what would be a safe operation, and as Mr. Ehrke has stated, it is your thought that Mr. Baker feels it would be a safe operation, and that is what you are trying to state.
Mr. STANLEY: Mr. Baker, what in your opinion would be the measure of safety at this crossing by having the proposed half-interlocking plant?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: In my judgment the operation would be safe if the half-interlocking plant were installed as shown on the plan.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: In making a comparison of a similar plant, let us find some case, if we can where the grades are similar and the business similar to the Grand Trunk. The Commission will admit there are many many cases in the State of Michigan where there are half-interlocking plants installed, but they are getting away from these plants just as much as they can in justice to the Railroads.
Mr. STANLEY: Do you know of a similar plant?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: The L. C. Eddy plant, Saginaw.
Mr. STANLEY: In the case of the Eddy plant, I believe this is flat land with a grade to the north leading off the Saginaw Railroad bridge?
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Answer the question please. Do northbound trains go up grade or down going north?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Down, going north, for a very short distance.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Don't they stop within 300 yards of that?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: They stop at the passenger station south of the bridge.
Mr. STANLEY: Have you in mind any instance where there is a grade something like this in question?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I am not able to recall a grade such as the one in question.
Mr. STANLEY: Well, Mr. Baker, give us your opinion as to the matter of safety under this proposed plan.
Mr. N. E. BAKER: In my judgment, the operation would be perfectly safe. The crossing is within the yard limits - is only used by the Michigan Central for switching purposes and, it is further proposed to restrict the speed of our trains over this crossing.
Mr. STANLEY: That is, in the City of Battle Creek?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Provided this half-interlocking plant is installed, it is proposed to restrict the speed of trains over the crossing to ten miles an hour.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Under a heading in your working time table City and Village Ordinance, your trains are restricted to a speed limit of ten miles an hour thru the City of Battle Creek, are they not?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes, between McCamley Street and the Michigan Central crossing and Nichols.
Mr. STANLEY: The western limit of Battle Creek is how far west of this crossing?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Cannot say.
Mr. STANLEY: Do you know where your hard limit board is?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: 5000 feet west of Kendall Street.
Mr. STANLEY: And Kendall Street is where with reference to this crossing?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Kendall Street is approximately 2000 feet west of the D. T. & M. crossing. The yard limits are 7,000 feet west of the D. T. & M. crossing.
Mr. STANLEY: So, at the present time, and as proposed, the trains would be under control for 7,000 feet?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Correct.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know of any half-interlocking plants within the last year, Mr. Baker, with both Grand Trunk and Michigan Central Railroads that have been changed to full-interlocking plants for the reason that all parties in interest, including the Michigan Railroad Commission considered unsafe?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes - Royal Oak and Rochester.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you feel that a half-interlocking plant on any Railroad is absolutely safe?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: It is not the best form of protection.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Wouldn't you have to rely entirely upon the human element so far as Grand Trunk employees are concerned if this protection were installed?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: You have to rely upon the fact that the engineer will obey the signals.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: That is the human element, is it not?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Is it possible for a collision to occur with a half-interlocking plant at that place?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: It is possible but not probable. It is possible providing the engineer disobeyed the signal.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Is it not the feeling of all signal engineering departments on all railroads throughout this continent that they should install such protection as will make it impossible for collision between trains at diamonds?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I believe that is the idea, but in some cases it is not quite praticable to go to such expense.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You mean it is practicable, but from an economical standpoint they prefer to take the chance with a half-interlocking plant rather than make expenditures enabling full protection, such as a full-interlocking plant?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I do not feel that it is the question of taking any chances; and in the case of the D. T. & M. crossing, I feel that it would be a perfectly safe operation at this particular point.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I may stretch it a little bit, but will give you an example. We will take today for example; just the conditions as exist today. There is a freight train coming down Battle Creek Hill on the Grand Trunk and the engineer has restricted the speed of his train to the city ordinance requirements and just as he comes into sight of the signals he sees them clear - the Michigan Central crew approaches about that time and he makes up his mind that the Grand Trunk is so far away he can get over it - he has a short train and he immediately gets the signals and starts to cross. Something happens to him that he does not get clear. Now then, the Grand Trunk train, with these weather conditions - brakes do not work properly, efficiently, and the engineer cannot stop before he gets to the crossing - what is the result?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: In the first place, it would be impossible with the interlocking plant, such as proposed to make that kind of movement. The plan shows and it is proposed to install a time lock - the object of which is to place a time interval; the Grand Trunk signals are put to a stop position and between the time the Michigan Central can close their derails. Now, if that time lock is set for an interval of two, three or four minutes, it follows, a quick move such as you describe could not be made.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Now, the time lock starts as the Michigan Central employee throws the signal to "danger" - it is then the Grand Trunk signal is thrown to stop position?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: That is the arrangement.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: The Michigan Central's employee is the one that will throw the signal to stop position?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Correct.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Then, just such an accident as I outlined could happen?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: After the signal has been put to a stop position by the Michigan Central employee, the time lock would make it necessary for him to wait a pre-determined length of time before he could make any further move.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You mean by that the crew would wait two minutes before throwing the signal?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I mean before the Grand Trunk signal was put to a stop position, it is proposed the Michigan Central crew would wait two, three, or four minutes or any pre-determined length of time before the Michigan Central derailer could be taken off the track and switch cleared for the Michigan Central train.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Relying entirely upon the human element?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: No, the mechanical element.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You mean then there is a difference between the time the semaphore is set and the time in which the derailer can beset of two, three four or five minutes?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Mr. Baker, don't you feel that a grade such as there is from the west, which is a very heavy descending grade, should be taken more seriously into consideration in this matter?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I think it should be given consideration, but there is another fact that should also be given consideration and that is that this crossing is within the yard limits and it is proposed to insert instructions in the time card, if necessary, on reducing the speed of trains over this crossing.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Do you know what the movements of the Grand Trunk are over that crossing every twenty-four hours?
Mr. N. E. BAKER: I prefer Mr. Ehrke to answer that question.
Mr. EHRKE: I have a personal knowledge but am not prepared to state.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: What is the train or engine movement over the diamond that is proposed to be protected by this half-interlocking plant on the Grand Trunk Railway, including main line and various switch movements for twenty-four hours in both directions?
Mr. EHRKE: The freight movement in both directions would be a probable average of 35 to 40 trains every twenty-four hours - the scheduled passenger train movement for week days is 12 passenger trains - 6 each way.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: No, you say there is regulation freight train movement of about 18 trains each way, or 35 trains in both directions.
Mr. EHRKE: I would, possibly, say about that.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Now, you say that about the same number of switch movements - 35 per day?
Mr. EHRKE: I would say from 30 to 35 - it depending upon the amount of work.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: That makes approximately 80 movements over that diamond every twenty-four hours - week days?
Mr. EHRKE: I would say that is a fair estimate without making actual check.
(Direct examination by Mr. F. B. Robson, Attorney. Mr. D. J. Hackett being duly sworn testifies as follows-)
Mr. ROBSON: Mr. Hackett, you are the Division Superintendent having charge of the territory in which Battle Creek is located?
Mr. HACKETT: I am.
Mr. ROBSON: You are familiar with the trains and location of this crossing?
Mr. HACKETT: I am.
Mr. ROBSON: No, Mr. Hackett, will you please give us the facts bearing on the question here? What you do not state I take it the commission will ask.
Mr. HACKETT: I take it one of the pertinent matters in connection with our operation over this diamond is, at least as far as we are concerned, the number of movements per day of 24 hours, and in that connection, during the month of November when our traffic was at the absolute maximum or in excess of anything we have had in that territory, I instructed the agent and our yard conductors to give me a few days' check so I would know just what we were doing in the way of operations over that crossing at a maximum period, because I had in mind that, perhaps I might term it, the summer months, the movements over that diamond were very few. November 23rd there were 7 day movements and no night movements.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You mean be day movements from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes. November 24th there were 12 day movements and 4 night movements. November 25th 10 day movements and 6 night movements. This was during the period when we had placed a night engineer over on the D. T. M. on account of a very great increase in the business and in order to render the best service possible to our patrons in the matter of prompt releasing of cars, as well as taking good care of their needs, but, of course, as I stated, in other periods of the year we just operate the day engine and maybe once a week it might be necessary to send an engine over there during the night time.
Mr. ROBSON: Are these all switch movements?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes.
Mr. ROBSON: Is there any thru movement of passenger or freight trains over this crossing as far as the Michigan Central is concerned?
Mr. HACKETT: No.
Mr. ROBSON: How far are these movements?
Mr. HACKETT: I would say 12 cars - that is a liberal average.
Mr. ROBSON: Has there ever been a passenger movement in recent periods?
Mr. HACKETT: Not since I have been superintendent there - in fact I believe for about four years.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You have heard, Mr. Hacket, the questions I asked Mr. Ehrke and Mr. baker about the half-interlocking manner of protection?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: What is your opinion about this half-interlocking plant?
Mr. HACKETT: Well, with the time lock attachment, of course, that puts a different phase on it than what we usually understand by a half interlocker, because where five minutes must elapse before the derailers were cleared upon the other track, it would lessen the chance of accident, even though the engineer might not come down to the crossing at the rate of speed he should.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: It comes right back to the human element so far as the Grand Trunk employees are concerned - in other words, all they have to fear is a collision on that crossing and the semaphore is the only thing that stops them.
Mr. HACKETT: Yes, I think that is true, unless, I believe the Signal departments have an apparatus to still make the so-called half-interlocker better be placing a derailer on the other road.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You mean by that, if a derailer were placed on both roads with this time derail attachment working on both roads that it would then be absolutely safe and not necessary to install a full-interlocking plant?
Mr. HACKETT: It would seem yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: What would be the difference between such a machine and a full-interlocking machine?
Mr. HACKETT: Well, about the only difference would be regarding our reference made to the dangerous grade condition west of this particular crossing and I thought the Signal Department could protect that phase of the matter by placing a derailer on the eastbound movement track and not on the westbound movement. I might state that this would be a feature for the Signal Engineers to plan.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Of course, your movement on that diamond depends upon the business you have to handle?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You serve the Rumley plant?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: They are a growing concern, are they not?
Mr. HACKETT: Well, that is a question I would not want to answer.
Mr. STANLEY: But, is that north of the Grand Trunk?
Mr. HACKETT: The Rumley Company has nothing to do with this as far as we are concerned.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Of course, has nothing to do with it, but you do switch cars over this diamond to the Rumley Company?
Mr. HACKETT: No, I would not say so. Our connection is considerably west where we do the work for Rumley Company.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I understand where your physical connections are. It was partly an arrangement between the Michigan Central and Grand Trunk Railway people. You mean to tell me that any freight originating down thru this district, you take down to the main yard of the Michigan Central Railroad and then switch it up thru that line to the Rumley plant instead of bringing it thru this diamond in discussion.
Mr. HACKETT: I feel there could be such a movement as you have in mind but it is so far removed from the crossing we would not have to go over it in order to get to the Rumley people.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: The business originating on certain Michigan Central territory would be delivered to the Rumley plant over that diamond?
Mr. HACKETT: It is possible the switchman would make that movement.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You feel that a half-interlocking plant is a full protection and an absolutely safe protection?
Mr. HACKETT: I would not say absolutely safe because I have seen accidents at full-interlocking plants.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Collisions?
Mr. HACKETT: No.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Have you seen accidents because the human element has failed to pay attention to the signals?
Mr. HACKETT: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: What would have been the result under those conditions if there had been no derailer there?
Mr. HACKETT: The probabilities are most anything would have happened.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: There would have been collisions there because the signals would not permit the other train to pass.
Mr. HACKETT: The probabilities are, yes.
(Direct examination by Mr. F. B. Robson, Attorney. Mr. J. C. Mock, being duly sworn testified as follows-)
Mr. ROBSON: You are the signal engineer of the Michigan Central?
Mr. MOCK: Yes.
Mr. ROBSON: Are you familiar with this proposed plan of half-interlocking plant at this place in Battle Creek?
Mr. MOCK: Yes. The scheme has been quite fully explained by Mr. Baker, as drawn out by the Commissioner. I do not know that there is anything which I can add except the peculiar feature in the connection with this half-interlocking plant is the time lock which we rather think is the element that would make this crossing reasonably safe.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: You have hard all the suggestions by Supt. Hackett about derailers on the Grand Trunk eastbound main line. Is that practicable in a half-interlocking plant?
Mr. MOCK: I might state that a half-interlocking lant is somewhat hazy in my mind - that is to say, we put derailers in one track and leave them out of another. The arrangement suggested or hinted at by Mr. Hackett would make it what we might say a 3/4 inter-locking plant. That is, I think, entirely feasible, but I would like to say this, that with the Grand Trunk important passenger train movements, a derailment might be a great deal more serious than hitting a freight train at the crossing.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Why do you refer to a derailment at that particular point?
Mr. MOCK: The reason is that a derailer is a dangerous piece of apparatus anyway. We would like very much to dispense with them altogether if a strict observation of the signals could be absolutely assured.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: To but it in another way, you could like to get rid of accidents?
Mr. MOCK: Yes, we have many accidents because of derailers.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: It comes right back to the face that you are relying upon the human element, and isn't it a fact that self-preservation ist he first thought with all humans, and isn't the engineer who gets derailed because he failed to observe signals the first one to get hurt? and, isn't it also the reason why derailers were first installed and retained?
Mr. MOCK: Yes.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Well, now do you feel, Mr. Mock, that a half-interlocking plant at that point is absolutely safe on that grade?
Mr. MOCK: I will have to answer no to that question, because I do not believe any half-interlocking plant is absolutely safe.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I will ask you the same question I asked Mr. Baker: Is it not a fact that all Engineering Departments throughout this continent are trying to eliminate, in some way, half-interlocking plants and get something absolutely safe at diamonds?
Mr. MOCK: Absolute safety is the final thing we want to accomplish. This particular plant proposed has no passenger movements on the M. C. crossing and is less important from a safety standpoint, in my opinion, than some of the crossings where both roads have handled passengers over them, even though one is a street railway. That is why, as far as I was concerned, I approved this scheme, believing it was reasonably safe.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I know you do not mean this and do not want you to think I think you do, but the reason you refer to passenger trains is there would be fewer lives lost in the case of a collision and the only lives lost in the case of a freight train would be the employees of one or both companies.
Mr. MOCK: I was not thinking of loss of life in case of an accident on this crossing, because the arrangement provided would prevent any movement over the M. C. track in the chance of a movement on the Grand Trunk, because the time which would have to elapse before they could really set u their signals would insure that any movement started inside of the signal on the Grand Trunk, that they would have reached the crossing or passed it before the Michigan Central could have started.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Let us take a concrete case. We will say that the Michigan Central crew came up, threw the signals and they were working perfectly - they waited for an interval to get derailer and started across. A cold stormy night like tonight would be real frosty and a Grand Trunk passenger train comes down - windows all frozen up. The Grand Trunk man sees the "No freight movements across here" notice - comes down there and disregards the semaphore - what would be the result then? That passenger train would collide with that freight train.
Mr. MOCK: That would be utter disregard of all signals.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: This Commission is trying to get some place with these safety appliances where they will not have to rely upon the human element.
Mr. STANLEY: Mr. Mock, I would like to ask if the plans proposed for a half-interlocker is not a safer proposition than the present method of the semaphore?
Mr. MOCK. Aside from the train operation - yes - very much better. I understand the trains have to stop on both crossings on both roads.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Is there anything safer than a law compelling all trains to stop, providing the comply with the rules, than that?
Mr. MOCK: No, I would say that after having a rule that all trains mus stop at an intersection or crossing that you hav gone as far as you can.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Well, so as to be as brief as possible, the Commission has conferred on this question, previous to the death of our late Chairman, as well as since the appointment of his successor, and we all felt that we were going backward in the installing of a half-interlocking plant at this place, and for the Commission to accept the burden of the loss of life, we cannot conscientiously do it, by relieving the Grand Trunk of stopping its trains as per statute. If you want a half-interlocking plant, we will approve it, but we will not assume the responsibility of stops.
Mr. STANLEY: How would the Commission consider the question as submitted this morning, for a derailer in the eastbound track of the Grand Trunk?
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I have not conferred with the other Commissioners on that, and I, further, would not undertake to compete with Mr. Mock or Mr. Baker as Signal Engineer, as I do not profess to be one, but i very much question whether you could agree upon such a protection. It is possible and practicable, but it is that three-cornered or three-fourths protection which Mr. Mock speaks of, which looks to be as pennywise, if you want to put it vulgarly. If you are going that far, why not go all the way and install a full-interlocking plant and then, if you want to be relieved of the expense of operation, let that full interlocking plant be thrown by the employees of the Michigan Central.
Mr. STANLEY: May we consider that this question is left so far open that we may repoen it with that new suggestion if we find our way clear to come again with it?
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: I will say this to you, gentlemen, that we will hold an issuance of this order a reasonable length of time. How much would you gentlemen want?
Mr. ROBSON: I would suggest to the Commission that I understand that, irrespective of whether this form of interlocking device to be put in or not, it is manifest from testimony here that the use of this device is for the use of the Grand Trunk very largely - not to say that it is not useful to the other road, but is is to the advantage of the grand Trunk at present. There is, In understand, some form of contract between the parties as to the present devices, and I do not know what the terms of that contract may be, or whether a change regarding expenses is contemplated. It would seem to me that it would be rather proper that an order be made by the Commission dismissing the application, for the parties to appear before you with some modified form of this contract. This would avoid controversy, and a dismissal of the present petitin would permit another petition or a reopening of this with some modification.
Mr. STANLEY: It is not my own understanding, but it was given to me that the existing contract does apply to future changes. We would think that we had a more free hand to follow this up, Mr. Commissioner, if you left your order not to be issued for some time yet, say 15 days, until we can consider this and decide whether we will amend our application or bring a new one.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: Well, as stated, the Commission feels at the present itme, that he operation over that diamond is just as safe as statutes can possibly make it, providing the human element complies with the rules and regulations of the statutes, and we have no desire to hurry the closing of this subject, or clean up our dockets. Now, I may say here that you both know better than I do that the Courts have held that after a protection is once installed in the absence of an agreement, that if an additional protection is added, it is considered that both have the same rights.
Mr. ROBSON: I confess I know very little about it.
Commissioner CUNNINGHAM: We will hold this until the 15th of January, 1917.
[Editors Note: The half-interlocking was approved for operation on July 30, 1921].