f you wanted to find the last OpsLog on the Florida East Coast, you’d have to go back over a year ago. That’s how long it’s been, the entire span of the pandemic.
Still, the session was one of the strictest I’ve seen. Temperature checks. Vaccination records. Full masks. And I respect that (with the new variant filling ICUs again). In fact, on the way to the session we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch. Wore our masks in the line. Sat down in the corner. But then an extended family of unmasked tire-biters sat a table away and we finished quickly and evacuated. So, yes, we have no problem taking these measures to run safe.
But the session is why you’re reading this – not the diatribe.
So my Tinkerbell wish came through and I got to dispatch the first session out of the box. For those who don’t know it, Ken Farnham’s FEC is one of the most heavily CTCed lines in the area. Two sheds make up the layout, one with the yard crew and dispatcher, the other with the operators. The sheds are connected by a long pipe with a double track mainline. One track leads to Palm Bay, the other helixes up just inside the room to Titusville. Trust me – it gives you an amazingly long run. And with room lighting conditions, working signals and great running equipment, there is always great railroading going on.
For my efforts, I eventually had the railroad running sixty minutes ahead of schedule for a while. I even delayed trains in sidings. But then things happened, slow starts from the yard and a local that simply could not finish and my efforts slipped back to ten minutes behind. We made that up and finished the session close to on-time, pretty good when crews and equipment are rusty and dusty.
My best moment was when two freights out of Palm Bay and a coal drag out of Titusville showed up at the pipe. Ran the first freight in and popped the coal into the tube right after that (coal enters the yard a different route). The moment the first train was pulled off the arrival track, I ran the second in (truth be told, Ken pointed out that hole I could take advantage of so I took it). The yard crew was glaring at me but hey, that pretty much cleared the line.
Ken’s new industrial complex off Pinetta worked really well. It was fun to have trains dropping cars in there and the dedicated switcher going to work on the cuts. I only wished I’d gotten a chance to watch it in operation. I’m a sucker for fruit sheds so I felt I missed out.
The runs were great, the comradery warm and the running hot. I really loved running out there again. It’s been too long.
If you want a reason to get your vaccination, the FEC is all you need. Thanks, Ken & Bev. JB and I had a great time!