“High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” breast badge was instituted in April 1957 by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, the highest legislative body of the Soviet Union. According to the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR “On breast badges to reward railway transport personnel” signed on September 16, 1957, the badge in question replaced “Stalin’s Appeal Shock Worker” breast badge, instituted on April 23, 1934 by the Decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR, as well as eight breast badges of the Ministry of Transportation (MPS), namely, “Excellent Wagon Fleet Worker”, “Excellent Railwayman”, “Excellent Steam Locomotive Driver”, “Excellent Signaller”, “Excellent Repairer”, “Excellent Builder”, “Excellent Train Service Worker” and “Excellent Administrative Officer”, instituted on September 22, 1943 by Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR.
The right to award “High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” badge was granted to MPS and Central Committee of trade union of railroaders upon nominations made by heads of factories and plants, local communist party and trade unions leaders throughheads of railways and MPS departments.Later on the same right was given to heads of railways and Railway committees of trade union of railroaders.
“High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” badge was presented to front-rank railroaders as well as foremost workers of industrial plants, construction sites and organizations of railway transport who distinguished themselves during socialist emulation. Thus, сriteria for decoration of railway transport personnel with the badge were as follows: prevention of railway accidents; fuel and energy saving; excellent maintenance of stock, equipment, communication facilities and track facilities; invention and rationalization research; adoption of new hardware; fulfillment and overfulfillment of railway transport production figures.
Those criteria were widened by the Decree of the Council of Ministers of the USSR No.748 “On Approval of Discipline Regulations of the Soviet Railway Transport Personnel” issued on August 07, 1985. They were listed in Article 11, Section II “Rewards”: “Railway transport workers are rewarded for exemplary performance of labour duties, overfulfillment of production targets, higher work productivity and productive efficiency, enhancement of workmanship, innovation in labour, display of initiative and inventive power in labour, progress in socialist emulation, protective maintenance of socialist property, long-term and impeccable work, as well as for valour and selflessness displayed during wreck and accident prevention, life-saving, rescue of goods and other property”. Paragraph “d”, Article 12, Section II stipulated that “Awarding of a “High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” breast badge is performed according to the procedure determined by the Ministry of Transportation together with the Central Committee of trade union of railroaders and transport construction workers”.Decoration with the badge was “announced by the corresponding order and pertinent entry is to be made into a service record of a worker” (Article 14, Section II).
“High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” badge had a shape of a complex vertical figure, its central element being a train emerging from a tunnel on a single-arch bridge. Main-line freight electric locomotive, produced in 1953-1967, is shown on the foreground. It was known as N8 (“Novocherkasskij, eight-axle”) until 1963, and VL8 (“Vladimir Lenin, eight-axle”) since then. By 1957, the year the Badge was instituted, VL8 was the most powerful electric locomotive of the USSR, and it remained one of the main locomotives of the Soviet railways during 1960s. Yellow or orange enamel was applied to the visible part of tunnel on early brass badges, while black enamel is found on late-production aluminum pieces.
Three-section railroad traffic light, with its sections being covered with green, yellow and red enamel, was placed just above portal of a tunnel.Gilt Soviet railways emblem introduced in 1932, i.e. crossed hammer and adjustable wrench, sometimes referred to as “French key”, was placed between bridge footings. Lower part of the whole composition, up to rails, was covered with dark blue enamel symbolizing water, while its upper part – with light blue enamel, standing for the sky.Folded banner bearing an inscription “High Achiever of the Socialist Emulation” (“Отличник социалистического соревнования”) in capital gilt letters running in three lines bordered upper part of the badge. Lower part of the badge was bordered with curved ribbon that bore an inscription “Of the Railway Transport” (“Ж.д. транспорта”) made in capital gilt letters. Red enamel was applied to banner and ribbon.
Badges manufactured before mid-60s bore serial numbers stamped at the upper part of reverse. Late-production cheap pieces had no numbers.
Due to the mass production of the decoration within three decades, dozens of varieties of the Badge are known to exist, differing both in face and back side. The most remarkable differences are: various degree of counter-relief on reverse, ranging from mirror to flat reverse; application of either yellow or black enamel to visible part of the tunnel; one-piece or two-piece construction of a badge (superimposed or seamless electric locomotive); number of bridge beams; shape of the railways emblem; size of a traffic light; number of sections of a traffic light (usually three, but two existed as well); number of vertical stones the tunnel was built of.
The badge was worn on the right side of the breast to the left or below state awards and was attached with a vertical and subsequently, horizontal pin fixed to the reverse. No period screw and nut attachment ever existed; such pieces that emerge sometimes on collector’s market were individually modified either by their holders to secure them or by modern-day dealers to benefit from sale of a “rare variation”.
Initially badges had been manufactured of brass (as their predecessors were), but subsequently mass production switched over to much more cheaper aluminum alloy. Total number of issued numbered badges is estimated at 160,000 pieces approximately.
“High Achiever of the Railway Transport Socialist Emulation” breast badges were presented with dark-brown hard-cover award documents, several types of which are known to exist. Most documents bore serial number of a badge being hand-filled, while some certificates had no such a field.