I knew there was trouble when I came into North Platte yard limits with my second local of the day. The first cut was still sitting there, the yard was filling up and the yardmaster was ripping out tufts of hair.
Operations, like any other social organizations, can suffer breakdowns. In this case, the owner (a veterinarian) had lost a lot of setup time to clearing his train room of remodeling debris and also got called into two emergency surgeries that morning. Hence, the normal administration sorting had not taken place. The yards began confused and couldn’t catch up. Add to this that the yardmaster was new at his job and didn’t know the yard’s functionality. And worse – there were two card systems in play, a new one and an older one, further confusing the issue.
Even though I’d run two locals up the hill (Sterling and Denver) and come back all neat and tidy, I felt the need to help out. Dropping my cut, I ran down to the east end of North Platte and started sorting out the cuts to pull the Columbus and Grand Island locals together. When I mentioned that the locals’ waybills were all color-coded, the yardmaster just looked at me with survivors’ eyes and said, “Nobody told me anything”.
I rolled out with a local longer than most mainline trains, with four extra cars stuck in it (they should have gone west but that would have taken too long to pry them out). If anything, it unplugged the yard somewhat, but I think it’s going to take manual sorting to get everything organized before the next session. Thank goodness its not a real railroad that runs 24/7 with no downtime, otherwise we’d never had a chance.
Still, bottom line was that it was fun (well, fun for me, not the North Platte yardmaster). I got to do three hours of interesting switching, dodging mainline movements while getting my job done. Before the next session. maybe we can tighten the paperwork and processes that go behind all the jobs.
After all, it’s not just toy trains.