I hate the idea of bucket lists. The thing is, if you are going to have an experience, it shouldn’t be an afternoon thing, something you do once without any expertise or knowledge or appreciation. It should be something you know and have studied and put an effort into.
That said, I’ve dispatched dozens of railroads. I’ve run them with everything from mother-may-I to warrants to CTC. But I’ve never dispatched a railroad under timetable and train order (one of the most intensive and tricky ways to do it). And this is funny because I actually wrote code to dispatch my own Coast Line this way. But live? Nope. Never had the opportunity.
Was at the Pittsburgh & West Virginia Railroad today, a long twisty route full of blast furnaces and steel mills and a main line fulla dinky sidings. And somehow I found myself volunteered for the big board, running the railroad using archaic pre-radio jargon, transmitting orders to operators, spelling out each location and train, doing it by the book. It took a while to get into the swing of things; I didn’t quite get the procedures ironed out until halfway through, but after then it was a snap.
Oh, made a goof during the session, not protecting one extra against another, but nobody died and I took my ribbing and moved on. Funny, because on this railroad, the sideline (the Union RR) runs under warrants. So I dispatched under two techniques, switching back and forth based on the location. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to being fluently bilingual.
But we had a lot of fun. Thanks, Tom, for having us over and booting me up into the big seat!