didn’t know I was actually setting up an experiment on evolutions of thinking and divergent game science. I was just making a small switching layout.
As has been covered here ad nauseam, I’m talking about my own Tuscarora, a layout that started as a 2×4 switching puzzle and has turned into a operations empire. Our last session (NOTED HERE) ran with seven operators over three hours.
I’ve given NMRA clinics on the design stage I went through (not preplanned in any way) that I used to come up with operations on this micro layout. Basically, it was basic switching, the addition of coal loads in / loads out, a dispatcher (because now we had two trains), the interlocking tower, the coal tally sheet and then, finally several versions of Time Table and Train Order. We’re there, now. Operations are complete. Tuscarora Branch Lines are fully operational.
But then my friend Kyle approached me and asked if he could host English operations on it – he’s got a lot of good running English steam / early diesels. I agreed readily – why not? It would just be the TBL with a different engine shells and rolling stock, and we gave it a new name, “Tusk Hill”. The first time we did it, it was a real success.
But Kyle’s version was evolving. “No, I want to take this further,” he told me. “I want to come up with my own operations. English operations.” So now he’s got his own timetable (with Up and Down trains) and a defined route through the interlocking plant (small American interlockings just have a main and siding with trains routed by priority, while English tend to define tracks through stations as direction-specific). He’s come up with his own switching (or “shunting”) methodology with a stand-alone switcher working with the through freights to spot the cars (rather than the TBL’s loose way of pretending the same engine (freight and local) are different. He’s added passenger service, even though the Tuscarora station is modeled as a boarded-up ruin. The only thing we’ve left is the Tally Sheet (I mentioned how it works HERE). Heck, he is even instituting a token system (where trains are given physical tokens to proceed) rather than TT&TO. The last time we ran, it was a totally different railroad.
So that leaves me with the observation that you can take the exact same layout and give it to two different people for design of operations and you’ll come up with two completely different things. Both railroads run with their own flavor. Each has it’s own formats (for example, on the TBL the coal train is having to determine if he can proceed under TT&TO, while on TH, he just gets a token and proceeds with a comfortable authority). Really, I don’t think I’ve ever seen and example where the same track plan is interpreted into two unique methods to simulate railroad operations. If I have to give a clinic at some future NMRA convention, I might actually speak on this. It’s interesting to see how two different people see the world and its railroads differently.
Of course, mines better. (Just twitting you, Kyle).