ve run operations on this railroad for something like thirteen years, which comes out to about 130 sessions. Yeah, I know how things work.
And that’s why, when I backed my favorite GP-7s onto the front of the Silver Bullet One, out of Bound Brook and running three hours late, I knew things were running hard outside.
See, I was in staging, a hidden yard in the back of the railroad which is pretty much “backstage” to our little drama. A double-ended yard, it simulates both ends of the division. A train leaves one end, drives all the way across the division, and comes in the other (and is now ready to run next session). But as I couple on at 11:30am or so, roughly mid-session, I know I can expect delays.
See, I’m the only train in the roost.
At maximum capacity, it can hold six freights and two passenger trains. During the session, it’s common for two to four freights to be out at any time (given their staggered departures). The passengers run over nine hours and meet close to the eastern terminus, so one of them should be in the yard at any time.
Everyone is out.
That’s actually something to think about – there are six freights, my counterpart passenger train, three locals and two coal drags (oh, and a helper set) on our railroad. That’s a pretty heavy demand. It comes down to the dispatcher (one of our younger members) cutting orders that are overly cautious – once he threw out a couple of long warrants and didn’t parade trains nose to tail (as you have to to get the manifests over Harris Glen), the railroad started backing up. More and more people waiting on the phone. And once you find yourself behind, it’s hard to dig yourself out of your hole.
I keep telling myself that we should only seat experienced dispatchers on the panel for the first tick, just to keep things moving. But he had to leave early and wanted to run the first tick, so I gave in (being a softie). The irony was that, since everything was bottled up, I couldn’t get away to relieve him and he ended up on the panel a lot longer than he wanted to be.
Okay, so maybe we need a policy here. Or perhaps we need to enforce the one we got.
But, man, it’s fun to run trains too. I forget how much fun it can be, even when we have to “work it out on the ground”.