he Pittsburgh and West Virginia is one of the few Time Table and Train Order railroads in Central Florida (in all of Florida, maybe). And even though the station order board toggles were backwards, the train sheet is inverted and the intercom shot, it was still one of the funnest sessions in TT&TO you can get.
TT&TO is about writing orders. The trains move on the authority given to them by their clearance form, under priority granted by timetable, class and direction. In other words, unlike every other form of control where the dispatcher tells trains exactly what to do and how to do it, crews run without radios and oversight, staying out of the way of each other. It’s crazy and archaic and a whole lot of fun.
My moment of TT&TO FU came around the middle of the session. I noticed that two second class trains were sited by timetable to meet in Avella. Fine. I shouldn’t need to do anything there – they could handle it. But there was a possibility for disaster – the eastbound train (inferior by direction) would be calling on Rook Yard for setouts and pickups. And if he was delayed in the yard, his westbound opposing would roll on his own timetable, moving down the line. And once the Eastbound was delayed, he really couldn’t move (he’d be on the westbound’s time). So they would meet in Rook Yard. Which has no passing track.
This is a job for… Dispatcher Man!
So what I did was to write an order to both (transmitted via the train operators (one guy) at Connesville and Pittsburg Junction) that read that the eastbound had rights over the westbound, Rook Yard to Bridgeville (the next passing track out). This would ensure that he had a pace to go and get around that westbound. Perfect.
Then another extra train rolled. That sucked – he didn’t know about the rights granted and might need to – what if he decided to occupy the siding when the two trains were possibly meeting at Bridgeville. So we issued another copy to include him into it. Okay, that’s good.
While I was sitting there talking to my station operator on the open line, I noticed something. I’d issued the damn order to the wrong train – the Eastbound was a train that wouldn’t run for six hours. Dammit. So to fix this, I had to issue anothertrain order to all parties (now four trains, the two impacted second classes, the one running in six hours, and the extra) correcting the goof – No. 94 instead of No. 90 has rights over No. 99 Rook Yard to Bridgeville. So my station operator was really scribbling. But now that’s good. Everyone knows the precaution I’ve established. We’re all on the same page.
And then the Superintendent comes back to the office. “Train 94 has been annulled. Power programs.”
You gotta be shitting me.
So then another order, issued to all four trains, telling them that No. 94 is no longer running that day.
The real laugh was when 94 got his clearance to run with four orders attached. I talked to Cody (the engineer) about this afterwards – he came into the station office and was given a stack of paper – a clearance form with four orders.
The other train had rights over him.
An extra was included
The other train was really another other train.
And never mind.
You gotta love old school sometime. Anyway, the P&WV is one of the best reasons to retire from work – it runs on Wednesday afternoons once a month and now I can attend!
Thanks to Tom and his stellar crew – it was a joy to dispatch that line.