t was a dark and stormy night…
Most penny dreadfuls start this way.
And our session on the LM&O felt that way. Lots of guests so lots of people jammed everywhere. Turnout failures. Brain failures. Near misses. Arguments. What didn’t happen on the road tonight?
My moment of grace was the Shelfton Local. Even under reduced yard limits and warrants, it was a single slip out and another back. I just had an enjoyable time down that branch, switching cars and staying out of everyone’s banana dramas. And, because good things come to good engineers, when I shuffled my cars into the yard-bound string, they randomly fell right into place, all eastbound then all westbounds, no sorting required. I managed to (just) get them up the hill and over to Martin Yard, no problems.
The delight of this was I was using power from the layout I’m resuscitating, engines that need all the running they can. And they worked brilliantly.
Since I’d finished early, I grabbed 271, the late freight, and chased its predecessor (247) all across the division, never quite catching it. Good thing I tacked on helpers – I’d have never made it to Harris without them.
So, now, the rest of the session. How did we do?
Dispatching: Our dispatcher continues to improve but (my observation) he’s got to get warrants out quicker. The LM&O (and the L&N) are two railroads that are warrant-intensive. You should not discuss/communicate/threaten crews with anything besides the warrant itself – that’s all the talk you need. And also, assuming a train’s position based off what you heard in the grapevine is the best way I know of writing LAP paper. I came out of Calypso and did a Emperor of the North moment when an eastbound passenger train clattered past on a divergent route just seconds ahead of my arrival at the turnout. Regardless of the confusion and misinformation, that one is on the dispatcher (sorry, Frank). in this case, you should have tossed checkbox 8 at me – the famous “not in effect until” order. That would have put the onus of ensuring the meet on me.
Crews: Crews need to realize that they are responsible for the train, simulating how a real train works. This means realigning switches behind you (I saw numerous cases of this not being done). And this means solving your own problems (if a turnout is busted, stop your train and calmly tell the dispatcher which turnout is out of service. Crabbing about layout maintenance and making a fuss does not move your train along, improve the session or solve things). Overall, a good crew makes the session better for those around him. He operates professionally, assists those who are in difficultly or can’t reach a derailment/panel, keeps his chattery to a minimum and simply enjoys the session. We’ve been doing this for years, guys. We should always strive to be better.
Anyway, I had a great session. I got to run two interesting trains and watch some interesting train meets. I hope the rest of you had a good time, as well. If you didn’t, what can you, yourself, do to make it better?
Once we vacuum Frank’s ripped-out beard up in the DS office, I think I’ll be on the panel next time. And there’s talk that the entire phone system will be used in the next session. So we’ll see.