oday was one of my hardest dispatcher gigs ever. Was running the namesake side of John Wilke’s twin-route L&N Railroad (Bruce Notman held down the Southern), dispatching under warrants for four hours. I was doing it the hard way, running off actual train sheet reporting (keeping time like I had at the B&M a week past, but this time for something like twenty-plus trains rather than four). And I was starting to lose it.
South of Norton Yard, there is a stretch with two sidings, some shared trackage (at Goodbee, and thankfully under my control) and then another siding. I don’t know how many trains we had it there but I think every siding was packed, two locals were jammed up into their industrial sidings and even the mains were clogged. North of Goodbee, all the trains were pointing south, and on the other side, they were pointing north. I was screwed. I might have to start backing trains out… and then I noticed that Goodbee had a lap siding.
Looks like this…
I remember my late father telling me about this trick, a way to add extra functionality (where lots of short trains could get around each other) yet it still had the function of being two long tracks (if both trains jogged over in that center section). I understood you could work it – in theory. I always thought it could be cool to try. And now, I’d have to – it was like being in a burning plane with a chute that might not be packed right. What else could you do?
So we eased one train into Goodbee and then the other, got them around each other, and that broke the jam. The next thing I knew, trains were flooding north (making the Norton yardlettes squeal) and getting everything rolling. One moment, disaster, the next, the line was moving again.
I don’t know when I’ve had this much fun dispatching. The railroad seemed to run well, everyone followed instructions, the paperwork worked and we pushed serious iron. Bruce and I traded off trackage as we needed to and everything ran hot.
Of course, now I’m typing this while trying to stay awake – I’m so burned out after all that stress. I’ll probably dream of pushing three pounds of poop into a two pound bag tonight. Or maybe coal. John runs a coal road. Makes more sense…
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(Oh, and because Art screwed up and caused the Catastrophic Ramsey Tunnel Disaster and was certain I would blog him, I’m doing so now. Hi, Art!)