he engineer on train 244 curses under his breath as he ground his units up the long hill towards Harris Glen. For no reason at all – except to be ornery – the dispatcher had issued a train order for 244 to meet 247 at the base of the grade – Pittsburgh – rather than midway up as timetabled. It would have been an easy meet but for management sticking its long nose into train-running business. So now 244 was late, and that meant that, given the hard meets the railroad was running, passenger 97 would be dawdling at Lehigh, far down on the other side of the range. Just typical.
But the end was in sight – 244 rattled across the sway-back trestle, Harris Glen just around the next curve. The experienced engineer was already applying applying a touch of air to heat the brakes up before the long descent with its treacherous spiral tunnel. Yet as he came around that final turn at Glen, a number of things jumped out at him.
97 was at the summit, idling at the station track. But why…? The hard meet…?
Then he noticed the train order board, visible high over the halted varnish. It was down, red! Quickly, the engineer dropped more brakes, slowing his train even more.
And then he saw the swinging lantern held by a station agent, the hoop, the orders. Wrenching open his side window, he snatched up the order – TRAIN 244 MEET TRAIN 97 AT HARRIS GLEN. Okay, he’d met that train. 97 was clear of the final turnout’s fouling point, and the brakes were set pretty well for the long downgrade. 244 continued on the roll, shaking his head at these just-in-time orders as his units plunged into the gloom of the spiral tunnel. Was this any way to run a railroad?
So yes, this was our first attempt at using prefabricated train orders – I’d experimented with these in the past and thought they sped things up. And yes, I issued a meet order just because I wanted to try it, and that rippled the schedule so that it made sense to issue another to keep the passenger train on time. It was a lot of fun.
It was unfortunate that attendance was light – blame the holidays – but we ran the full schedule and even got a newbie on on the action. So the LM&O continues to develop its secondary operations sessions into something very unique and challenging. I can only say, from first-time DSing on this line under TT&TO, it was a little weird to let the railroad run on remote, recording times and watching trains meet (without explicitly doing so with warrants). But overall we ran it by the book. It was really a lot of fun!
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