Scouting/BSA/Railroading Merit Badge

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The requirements to this merit badge are copyrighted by the Boy Scouts of America. They are reproduced in part here under fair use as a resource for Scouts and Scouters to use in the earning and teaching of merit badges. The requirements published by the Boy Scouts of America should always be used over the list here. If in doubt about the accuracy of a requirement, consult your Merit Badge Counselor.
Reading this page does not satisfy any requirement for any merit badge. Per National regulations, the only person who may sign off on requirements is a Merit Badge Counselor, duly registered and authorized by the local Council. To obtain a list of registered Merit Badge Counselors, or to begin a Merit Badge, please contact your Scoutmaster or Council Service Center.

Merit Badge Requirements[edit | edit source]

'1) Do THREE of the following: 'A) Name three types of modern freight trains. Explain why unit trains are more efficient than mixed fright trains.

Mixed freight trains- contain freight coming from many different origins. Unit trains - contain freight all originating from one place, for instance a refinery, or a chemical plant. These are more efficient because you don't require all of the time in a rail yard connecting and disconnecting to attach the required freight. Intermodal trains- contain flat cars that hold various containers (18 wheeler containers). These are useful in the respect that their freight can be transferred from ship to rail to roads easily.

B) Name a Class 1 or regional railroad. Explain what major cities it serves, the locations of major terminals, service facilities, and crew change points, and the major commodities it carries.

Class I Railroad: There are four primary Class I Railroads in the United States: Union Pacific, BNSF, Norfolk & Southern, and CSX. The Union Pacific and BNSF primarily operate west of Chicago and the Mississippi River, while the Norfolk Southern and CSX mainly operate east of Chicago and the Mississippi.

BNSF Railway - The BNSF Railway (AAR reporting mark BNSF), headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the largest railroad networks in North America (only one competitor, the Union Pacific Railroad, is comparable in size).

The BNSF Railway is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation, the holding company formed by the September 22, 1995 merger of Burlington Northern, Incorporated and the Santa Fe Pacific Corporation. According to corporate press releases, the BNSF Railway is among the top transporters of intermodal traffic in North America, and moves more grain than any other American railroad. It also hauls enough coal to generate roughly 10% of the electricity produced in the United States.

Largest Intermodal Facilities (2004 Volume):

Lifts Hobart Yard (Los Angeles, California) 1,318,000 Lifts

Corwith Yard (Chicago, Illinois) 744,000 Lifts

Willow Springs (Illinois) 724,000 Lifts

Alliance (Fort Worth, Texas)561,000





The Union Pacific is headquartered in Omaha, NE, and is the largest railroad in North America following a series of mergers between the mid 1980's and 1990's: Chicago North Western (CNW), Denver Rio Grande & Western (DRGW), Southern Pacific (SP), and Missouri Pacific (MP). It serves most states west of the Mississippi River, as well as Illinois and Wisconsin.

CSX Transportation is headquartered in Jacksonville, FL, and is the largest railroad east of the Mississippi, serving most states east of the Mississippi River and part of Canada. CSX came about as the result of a 1980 merger between the Seaboard Coast Lines and the Chessie System. SCL was formed as the result of several mergers between the Atlantic Coast Line, Seaboard Air Line Railroad, and the Louisville and Nashville Railroad. Likewise, the Chessie System was a combination of the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway, the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and the Western Maryland Railway.

Norfolk Southern is headquartered in Norfolk, VA, and came about from the 1982 merger of the Norfolk and Western Railroad and the Southern Railroad. It serves most states east of the Mississippi River and part of Canada.

Kansas City Southern is headquartered in Kansas City, MO.

C) Using models or pictures, identify 10 types of railroad freight or passenger cars. Explain the purpose of each type of car.

D) Explain how a modern diesel or electric locomotive develops power. Explain the terms dynamic braking and radial steering trucks.

2) Do the following:

A) Explain the purpose and formation of Amtrak. Explain, by the use of a timetable, a plan for making a trip by rail between two cities at least 500 miles apart. List the times of departure and arrival at your destination, the train number, and the type of service you want.

B) List and explain the various forms of public/mass transit using rail as the fixed guide path.

3) Do ONE of the following:

A) Name four departments of a railroad company. Describe what each department does.

B) Tell about the opportunities in railroading that interest you most and why.

C) Name four rail support industries. Describe the function of each one.

D) With your parents and counselors approval, interview someone employed in the rail industry. Learn what that person does and how this person became interested in railroading. Find out what type of schooling and training are required for this position.

4) Explain the purpose of Operation Lifesaver and its mission.

5) Do THREE of the following:

A) List five safety precautions that help make trains safer for workers and passengers.

B) Explain to your merit badge counselor why railroad rights-of-way are important for safety.

C) List 10 safety tips to remember when you are near a railroad track (either on the ground or on a station platform) or aboard a train.

D) Tell your counselor about the guidelines for conduct that should be followed when you are near or on railroad property. Explain the dangers of trespassing on railroad property.

E) Tell what an automobile driver can do to safely operate a car at grade crossings, and list three things an automobile driver should never do at a grade crossing.

F) Tell how to report a malfunction of grade crossing warning devices.

G) List safety precautions a pedestrian should follow at a public crossing.

6) Explain the appearance and meaning of the following warning signs and devices: advance warning sign, pavement marking, crossbucks, flashing red lights, crossing gates.

7) Do EACH of the following:

A) Explain how railroad signals operate and show two basic signal types using color and configuration.

B) Explain the meaning of three whistle signals.

C) Describe a way to signal a train for an emergency stop.

D) Explain the use and function of the EOTD (end-of-train device) or FRED (Flashing rear end device) used on the last car of most trains.

8) Select ONE of the following special-interest areas and complete the requirements:

A) Model Railroading With your parents and counselors approval, do TWO of the following: 1) Draw a layout of your own model railroad; or one that could be built in your home. Design a point-to-point track or loop with different routings. Include one of the following: turnaround or terminal or yard or siding.

2) Build one model railroad car kit or one locomotive kit.

3) Name the scale of four popular model railroad gauges. Identify the scale of four model cars or locomotives.

4) Locate the Web site of four model railroad – related manufacturers or magazine publishers. Print information on their products and services and discuss the information with your counselor.

5) Build one railroad structure (from scratch or using a kit), paint and weather the structure, mount it on your layout or diorama, and make the surrounding area on a diorama scenic.

6) Alone or with others, build a model railroad or modular layout, including ballast and scenery. Make electrical connections and operate a train. Describe what you enjoyed most.

7) Participate in a switching contest on a timesaver layout and record your time.

B) Railfanning: With your parent and counselors approval, do TWO of the following:

1) Visit a railroad museum, historical display, or a prototype railroad-sponsored public event. With permission, photograph, videotape, or sketch items of interest. Explain what you saw and describe your photos, sketched, or videotape.

2) Purchase tickets and ride a scenic or historic railroad. Under supervision, photograph the equipment and discuss with your counselor the historic significance of the operation.

3) Locate the Web site of four rail historical groups, and then find information on the history of the rail preservation operations and purpose of each group. Talk with a member of one of the groups and find out how you might help.

4) Plan a trip by rail between two points. Obtain a schedule and explain when the train should arrive at two intermediate points. Purchase the tickets and make the trip. Explain to your counselor what you saw.

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