s the forward trucks of 247 West rattled over the points of Bound Brook throat, I figured this was shaping up to be a strange run. I’d only just scrambled aboard ten minutes before – she was already four hours late (her original crew had been pulled for a coal run earlier). And strangely, 271 (not due out for two more hours) was running ahead. They were already nosing into Calypso Yard some distance ahead of me – heard it over the horn. The problem was, all our pickups were on a shared yard track, meaning they’d have to dig their cuts from behind my cuts, both there and Martin.
Was wondering how this would resolve as I pushed into the upper runs and gassed 247 through the beautiful spring midday, sending ballast over the side of the Lackawanna bridge to bounce off the roofs of the new housing below. Easing into Calypso, I was happy to see 271 was doing setup switching. They’d just gotten their own cut out and set mine aside. Even better, the crew was willing to let me run ahead. And even betterer, they’d work up my warrant while I cut in these pickups and run the air up. As we rolled past his cab, Sarge handed the paperwork across. Now built, I cracked the throttle to run 2 and took her out on the high rail, getting a short run over to Hellertown. After meeting 244 there, we had an uneventful run over the summit (well, uneventful other than relying on magic helpers to cross the top).
Martin Yard was a busy place. We came in and followed Yardmaster Frank’s instruction (does he ever use his own units?), pushing and fetching and backing. Just as we built our train up, 271 eased in next to us. It as actually pretty cool. With that, I cracked into run 3 and angled across the shiny new turnouts to departure track 1, watching the river flow past and noticing a yard flunky chasing my caboose furiously waving a red flag. Dumping air, we stopped. Turns out there was a local coming in on our departure track. Frank was reading the riot act to the dispatcher but finally I got a way to worm out of there. Worked up to Mingo Junction where the following occurred.
Took the main (as order) to meet a train (as ordered). Actually met two train, train 298 and train-X, a “special train” (three units just test running without dispatcher authority). Train-X held the siding and remained after 298 cleared. My new warrant said I was waiting for the Zanesville Local to arrive before running to Cincinnati. The Zanesville Local showed me his paper (technically a small operations cheat) and he was waiting for 271 (who was currently going into emergency after the nasty shock of emerging from Jackson Tunnel to find my caboose occupying the main.
So, see the problem? I was waiting on the train in front of me to come, but he couldn’t until he met the train behind me, who was blocked.
There comes that moment in operations when the dispatcher comes out of his room to fume and fluster at all us idiotic crews for following his orders. That was one of those moments.
We worked it out, of course. Train-X backed down into Mingo Industrial, freeing 271 to go around me and unlock the local, which unlocked me. I followed 271 (musing on how I’d passed him, only to be passed in return) and ease in beside him in Cincinnati. Came out of staging to return some engines, to see a crazy long train (lead units – 298 – midtrain units – 414 (coal drag) and helpers behind working their way over Harris Glen.
Yeah, one of those nights. But fun.
Final thoughts: I’m sure Bad Johnathan is pissed that he ran a solid session and dicked up the final meet in the eleventh hour. That’s railroading. But he did yeoman’s work through the balance of the session. So the club now has another trained dispatcher (meaning I can run even more). Good job!