OpsLog – CSX Taft – 3/28/2024

OpsLog – CSX Taft – 3/28/2024

ith our influx of new members, it takes a little getting used to: guys showing up at sessions sleep-deprived and/or hung over. Hey, that’s youth. But Chris Strecker invited me to run on his CSX today and after the massive session at the club last night, detailed HERE, we went out with Yardmaster Zack for a late night meal. I just had a beer. But I didn’t get home until 2am and the alarm went off at 7:15am – time to head to breakfast with Chris and then the CSX Taft Yard!

So yes, we both looked like used food when we met up this morning. Exhausted old guys.

Chris runs a nice tidy little layout, one guy running the through freight, one switching. At midpoint, we switch jobs. I really like it and after four or five times, we’ve polished it into a nice little session. Everyone is busy and it’s a lot of fun.

Today I was working the switcher (the PM shift) and it hit me – until now, I used to always think that I had to collect cars and group them together on one end of the switcher to put them aboard a passing manifest. But running on Kyle Sarnik’s Tusk Hill, I suddenly realized a couple of things.

Like Tusk Hill, there isn’t a lot of time to run around cars. With tokens being issued and a constant parade of up and down trains, you simply cannot group cars on one end or the other.

And like Tusk Hill, you tend to pick up facing and trailing point industries, meaning you end up with cars on both couplers of your switcher.

Now, I like to be tidy and neat, but really, what do you gain by grouping? All I need to do is get the through train to stop and break apart so I can get into the middle of where I wish to insert cars. Why worry about a run around to group? Just swing into the middle of the train, drop both cuts of cars, then pull out. Let the through freight push itself back together once you are in the clear.

I guess it’s this – most yardmaster jobs have you working from one end or the other. But sometimes, especially on small or micro layouts, you need to work mid-train. injecting two cuts (rather than one clean cut) seems messy but it’s a lot easier than finding a run-around track. On Tusk Hill, it involves getting into heavy mainline traffic, with most end-sections token-locked. On the CSX Taft, you have to brave old man Beaver with his junkyard dogs and sawed-off (the only runaround is actually a scrap yard siding, and you can only use it as a last resort).

So it was interesting to codify a new way of looking at switching and yardwork. Part of operations is leaning new tricks, and this is a good one!