ispatching. I’ve dispatched railroads with twenty or thirty movements, moving trains in and out of sidings along a fifteen-mile mainline. This would be the LM&O, which is like air traffic control. And then there is the FEC, which is less trains but more involved.
On the Boston and Maine tonight, I ran only four trains.
And I was totally busy.
The B&M is a neat little HO layout set in a spare bedroom. It’s neat and tidy and runs like a watch. Dispatching is done out in the living room on a computer simulating a CTC panel. But what makes things really busy is the workload assigned. No only are you working a panel, you are also doing the train sheet (the huge columned record of movements). And you are recording all details of each train: crew, engines, car totals, lengths. You even calculate tonnage. It’s very busy. Just working a meet is a major achievement.
I had a blast.
My buddy sat behind me while I worked, so we chatted about what I was doing, both of us learning the railroad as we moved each train along. It was busy, not frantic, just busy. And after a day in the office, it’s the perfect thing.
Of course, we had Stab-the-Varnish Martin working the Bellows Falls local (he was supposed to pop out and swap cars). Every time he did this, I had to issue track and time and unlock his switches. We agreed on a completion time. Then we extended it. Then, with the railroad locking up around us, he wouldn’t even answer my call-lights. Essentially, he violated rights on the railroad for forty-five long, silent minutes.
So since we are talking about how cool railroads are when you simulate the actual prototypical operations of said companies, I’d like us to add in the discipline and termination aspects. I mean, you really don’t go home without your locker dumped in a cardboard box when you take over a section of mainline and run up and down it (knowingly!) without rights. But that’s Bob – he even stabbed highball specials on his own railroad.
But it was a bucket of fun and a cloud of pencil graphite. I’m all ready for the next session. The writer’s cramp should be fading by then!