rom: Rufus Biggest, President, LM&O
c/o Union Station Hotel, Penthouse Suite, Cincinnati, Ohio
To: Board & Division Officers, Harris Division, LM&O
Subject: The State of the Railroad
I stood on the drafty platform of Pittsburg Station, watching Bithlo (my private business car) being tacked on the tail of train 66, an eastbound passenger express. Little that I know that the true state of our bridge route would be revealed by this overlong, overdue passage.
First, we came nowhere close to meeting out published 11:30am departure time. In fact, the station workers seemed curious about 66 in that it is annulled virtually every day. Would that have happened today. I’d have been a safer, smoother trip if I’d tacked Bithlo to the back of an log truck and gone via the interstate.
The roadbed through the Pittsburgh throat was appalling – it threw me clean off my trollop. But to make matters worse, we only got as far as Red Rock when the true, dangerous nature of this line became apparent.
We’d come to a stop on the Red Rock main, holding for what, who could say. An opposing freight moved into the siding; the way should have now been clear but still we stood as motionless as a toad on hot concrete. And then, squeals and screams (and not just from my trollop). Suddenly Bithlo was flooded with light – the headlight of a freight which was following us with no restrictive orders, and had been lapped into our siding to co-occupy it with us. I could tell it was train 244 – it was close enough to read the number boards clearly. So there we sat, three trains idling in the middle of nowhere. A hell of a way to run a railroad, gentlemen. A hell of a way.
I’ll admit I am now reconsidering of our practice of hiring boomer-dispatchers away from the NS. I’m beginning to suspect we get all their low-grade warrant-pushers, boys not competent enough to push-broom a platform much less run a hot division. This was confirmed when we finally reached Harris Glen (three hours late!). I dismounted from Bithlo to check my messages in the office. After de-training, I was forced to cross two tracks just to reach the platform (doesn’t our dispatcher know our passenger preferences of placing coaches on the station track? How could he not know??). It was there I overheard several crewmembers discussing the “crash pool” which had been organized to predict the next accident on the line. Evidently there were reports of near-cornfields all across the division. Good lord, what sort of chicken outfit are we running? I even saw our new Dash-9 set, which should be pushing manifests over Harris Summit, schlepping log cars around the local Harris mill tracks. Do you know how much this lashup cost? We have a perfectly good handcart, designated “Harris Glen Local”, to take care of this work.
Somehow I made it to Cincinnati, four hours late and delayed behind every local, stooge-move and bun-wagon through Calypso. At this point, we need a real dispatcher to get this division moving again. I suggest that we ask the Southern Pacific for help. Good Lord – if we don’t do something, that competing HO route might offer us a serious challenge. If they ever get it built…
Actually, the session was a smashing (snort) success. Outside of Silver Bullet 2, we ran ALL the trains and a bunch of extras, our dispatcher knocking out 89 warrants (bunny-hopping will do that ). But seriously, great fun on a great big layout with my great group of friends. Thanks to all who came our and ran that layout at booster-crackling levels!