ot home after a long late drive from the east coast to find, on the aptly-named “Discord”, that my friends who also attended the Farnhams’ FEC session were chortling about long waits. Really?
I was on the big green panel that day and, in all honesty, I was playing it like a virtuoso on a grand piano (just saying). We started out late because of a pre-session chat. Once I took my seat and the clock started, I was looking at four trains on the layout and two holding in the wings of staging, waiting to come out. In short order, everyone was moving (short hops, but moving).
And with the late start and the desire to get as much railroading in as we could, I didn’t hold trains to the timetable but ran them a quickly as I could, using long series of greens and careful, almost villainous foresight. We were running the schedule but almost two-and-a-half hours early. I think Ken might have noticed but spared my life since we were getting a lot of railroading in. The crews, except for one violated red signal, really moved things. The only waits you had on my road that day were people taking their time in Cocoa Yard. Also, the main yard in the other trailer was getting used to a new way of classification and a new guy on Trim. That meant I couldn’t clear trains in as quickly as I would have (I can’t signal you in when the arrival track is occupied). Even Ken came in to see what the hold up was.
Also, the departure yard refused to send any trains out early. When we hit a three-train lump (all in thirty minutes), that put the brakes on the session – that was a two-hour hold. Nothing new came out and everything else drained in. Since the yardmaster is good at being unreasonable (I know first hand about this) there was nothing to be done.
And so, yes, I was in there moving trains like a maniac in the fire and smoke (from that engine that lit up, that Ken dumped on his workbench in there, kinda like “Railroad incense” (or “mosquito control”)). In thinking about the session, I guess that’s what comes from letting the session run with the bit between its teeth while the yard stays on the advertised times. Mentioned to Ken in the debrief about putting in a clock system that the dispatcher can speed up or slow down as situations warrant. I’ve heard of other railroads doing just that – bumping the rate up or down so a new crew can cope and an experienced crew doesn’t slander you on social media. Otherwise, maybe he’ll consider a Tuscarora flip-clock. Works for us.
Still, we were able to maintain those rates with an elite crew who could move trains quickly. I was surprised at how fast some of the switching moves got down – very impressive. And (at least from the “other-sheds” perspective, we weren’t bothering the host as much as usual. I hope the Farnhams had a good time, as well as the engineers on the line (even the back-stabbers). I know my wife and I sure did. It was one of those sessions that ended well with smiles all around.