irst session of the new year, a double header that started at John Wilke’s Virginia & SouthWestern (this was an informal ops session linked indirectly to ProtoRails 2023 in Cocoa Beach). And as usual, I got an invitation to bring my dispatching mojo to the session, to keep things running and entertainment (and speeds) high. And in that, I was mostly successful.
So I ran the heavy panel (the L&N) while a visitor named Paul ran the easier Southern Railroad. Fortunately the CTC board (used to control the shared trackage at Edison Jct and Goodbee) was working top-notch this time (scrubbing out the computer that had been polluted by Wilke’s web-curious grandkids really paid off). So we cut orders and kept most things running.
One bad moment: Tom Wilson was aboard a Southern train (not mine) working and having to push back onto the Goodbee trackage (mine). The Southern dispatcher nodded to the screen and noted that John was pushing back. I didn’t realize that that casual observation was actually a request for rights onto the L&N. So I was focused on getting two trains out of the Goodbee/Bluejay area and cut them warrants north, only to have the lead unit smack into Tom’s caboose in a tunnel. A tragic misunderstanding between dispatchers (and why you really, really need to be clear on intentions).
Another bad moment for me was when a train went up a branch to Elbigene. Looking at his job description, I noted that his engines would run light back to the main yard at Norton. Problem was, I had a train coming up from the south, just getting to Ramsey. I held him there (I didn’t want both crews working the branch). Then a train came down from the North. I held this one short of the branch. So, my plan was to get the light engine movement off the branch, past the northbound at Ramsey, and bring the northbounder into Elbigene. Then I’d run the southbound down to Norton – the LEM should be home by then.
And then I waited. And waited. Called overhead for progress from the crew working the branch and got nothing. Dammit, I had two trains waiting on them. And then I looked up and through the glass door of the Dispatcher’s Office, I saw the guy who was running that train walk past, eating cookies. I leaned out and asked, “Are you done?” Turns out John told him to just tie the units up somewhere in the prep plant out of the way. This is what drives me crazy – when crews don’t realize that they need to call the dispatcher before strolling off to the bar (or the cookie bag).
With that, I got all the other trains rolling, muttering under my breath at the boomers we were employing on the railroad.
Still, a great session with 50 warrants written. But I was not done for the day…