he situation: We’ve got one extra (engine 64) waiting in Rook Yard. Another train is inbound, also an extra, engine 2128. Even though 64 has clearance through the yard, I’ve already dropped the Rook station signal on him. Now to give the order to my station operator (Bruce, who is so good at his job today that he’s the operator for a half-dozen stations).
Simple really. Of course, I need to spell all stations and trains to the operator over the phone, to make sure there are no misunderstandings. And here we go.
“To Crew and Engineer extra sixty-four six four east ee-aie-ess-tee at Rook Yard are-oh-oh-key why-aie-are-kay. Extra sixty-four six four east ee-aie-ess-tee meet extra 2128 two one two eight west dubou-ee-es-tee at Rook Yard are-oh-oh-key why-aie-are-kay”
The operator, writing this down carefully on his carbon paper, repeats it word for word.
“Complete at 7:25 AM, dispatcher are-aie-are”
Again, a repeat.
And then the clearance card (to tie the order to the train and permit the engine to proceed out of the station he’d been red-boarded at. This involves manually talking/spelling our way across the form A, tying train and station to the number of orders (1) and the order number (59). Again, a time check.
Now the clearance and its order are live. We’ll also kick out another clearance card to extra 2128. He’s got a red order board waiting for him at West Bend Jct. With these two orders, extra 64 will remain at Rook until 2128 arrives and is in the clear.
We did twenty-five of these orders, tying them to clearance cards and moving train after train across the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Railroad. No crashes and no undue waits. Bruce and I moved trains on that railroad for five real hours (and something like 20 scale ones).
One guy might complain, a train that called immediately after we’d gone to the trouble to cut two orders to get two mainline trains (and himself) safely around each other. But I was willing to leave him in the siding for an hour and let things play out. Why should I move him any faster – while running out to Avella, he ran through three stations without calling (and missed a bright red order board – left in vibrating in the wind of his passage). So yes, he could sit a bit. We wrote enough that day.
Good work, Bruce! We did it!