o said Obi Wan Kenobi in one of the early StarWars movies: “A certain point of view”. But this isn’t about hedging your uncomfortable backstory, this blog is about ops.
So last week, I mentioned how you could pick up a six-sided die and essentially run a loop or two on your layout, then roll the die to determine which car of your string was going to be cut on and placed on a siding. And if you did that, you might have looked at it in one of two way as you visualized your operation.
Train-Centric :You might have imagined what you were doing from the point of view of one train. Every lop you made was another couple of miles under your wheels, every lap a different town with different industries. Or…
Location-Centric : You are always in the same location, the industries are always the same ones, but every train that comes through is a new one.
This might be the most important step when designing your layout’s operations, and designers don’t even consider it. In fact, I’d not really codified this thought until I started writing this blog. And I’ve actually done it both ways on different small layouts. For example, on my Donner Pass Division (Model Railroader, September 2000) a train would leave “Roseville Yard” and every lap around this double-looper would be a different town (crews would keep track). At “Norden”, you”d swing through the reverse loop and come the other way, looping until you reached “Sparks Yard”. Simple? Yes. But we’d have six to ten operators crowd around this 3×8 layout for their runs.
But now I’m building Tuscarora Branch Line. And here, since I have a working switch tower OSing (reporting) times to the dispatcher, our certain point of view is from the actual town of Tuscarora, and every train is a new one .This is even reflected in my timetable, a section of which is provided below…
Given that you read out from the center, sharp observers will notice that the first three trains (MT-1, TE-1, WM-1) run east through Tuscarora. After a pause (while the crew turns the train around on a spur and switches the local industries) it becomes westbound trains (MW–1, EW-1, EW-2, EM-1). Then another pause (turning, switching) and the eastbounds continue (ME-1, WE-1 and so on). Time is sequential (no fast clock) so it’s only the next hour when we say it is.
What I’m saying here is not a deciding factor in your understanding of operations. Most (all?) larger layouts are Train-Centric. Smaller layouts can be either. And some can sort of be both. On our huge LM&O club layout, an operator might run a freight train from Bound Brook, NJ to Cincinnati Ohio. But guess what. When it pulls into staging, that freight is set to go as the same train in the next session. So you can look at our 10 scale mile main line as Location-Centric, sort of, with the location being hundreds of miles of mainline.
Just things to ponder while you investigate this aspect of the hobby!