y second day started out slow. All the other kids got to play so I hung in the crew lounge with my tinytop, IMing my niece and working on two game designs. Had this been the actual 50’s (which we are simulating) I’d be probably smoking a stubby cigar and nipping at a flask. And hacking. So, let’s not go too far on this thing.
Eventually the crew caller gave me my ticket – third 23, part of Grand Canyon, moving west from Mojave to Bakersfield. Since this was the third (and final) section, I’d be running well behind the first. No problem.
Had a couple of shiny ATSF engines dragging every ratty coach ever made. It was actually a pretty long train, all things considered. Anyway, got up to Mojave and got my paperwork, with orders specifying I’d be running 90 minutes late. And, oddly, that put me dead on the time of 51 (the San Joaquin Daylight). When I got back to my idling engines, there was a pair of GS-4s leading a string of orange and red coaches sitting along-side my consist. Talk about being upstaged.
And this opened up all sorts of discussions – what happens when two trains run on the same schedule? Everyone had something to say on this, but since 51 was still getting their orders (actually, their orders were being stapled together) I dashed back to my engines, pumped off the brakes and headed out.
Thus began The Great Locomotive Chase, Western Edition. 51 clung right on me the entire way. I’d look back and either see the headlight gleaming off the rails have a mile back or the actual crew walking next to it (a father and his daughter (with improbably purple/green hair)). Once again I was rounding down my timetable, hitting my stations dead on the mark, not daring to stop since 51 was pushing as close as ABS would let them. Passed a couple of 804s sitting here and there, blinking in surprise to see an ATSF job running through on the SP’s time. At one point, the daughter got close enough to ask if I was going to pull in at Caliente and let them past. “Nope, sorry”. Not being mean – I was running right at track speed and we were equal priority. Besides, once we got to Kern I’d dive down the ATSF main and be out of their purple/green hair.
And that’s what happened – clickity-clacked across Kern Jct and slipped clear of the SP main (and for all their tailgating, they still got a beet train slipping across the yard throat to block them).
I’d have been clean and clear myself, but it was one of those egalitarian yard clusterfarts where four guys stand around and argue what work they should do (is there a hierarchy in place here?). It took ten minutes before they figured where I should go and what they should do – and this is why I don’t like working in yards. Finally pushed what was left of my train back together and set it in place for the valley crew to run it to Rosedale. Sharp run.
Followed this up with 24 (sigh, another passenger train). Ran first section this time, driving (again) dead on the dot, but had to pick my way through Caliente when a beet train (I think the same cut that screwed 51 earlier) was slow to get clear. I actually ran down the center siding, beets to the left of me, beets to the right of me. Once I got clear, I slowly clawed my way back to an on-time arrival at Mojave. Three out of four on the dot. Even if all they’ll give me are passenger trains, I’ll run them on-the-bounce.
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p.s. Got the last train of the day. Train 4. Guess what it was. I don’t even want to talk about it.