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RE: The hand rails on the roof of the RPO (Railway Post Office) car.

As I understand it, postal regulations required RPO's to be locked and inaccessable to anyone on board the train. Also, that it (they) be the first car(s) in the consist - closest to the engine. Therefore, if any of the train crew needed to move to or from the engine, they had to go up and over the RPO, rather than through it. (I bet that was appreciated on dark and stormy nights!)

I'm sure someone can cite the specific regulation and authority.
 
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