o there were four levels of operational expertise in our long, busy and fun session at the Union Pacific WAZU (for whatever reason it’s called that, nobody knows. But it simulates the line between Spokane to Portland).
First off, there is the remarkable effort by AJ to sit on the dispatcher’s panel and run this very busy line for four hours. I’ve done it, and while the dispatching is straight-forwards, the communications aren’t the best, the crews don’t OS as well as they could, and it’s a long session. But AJ wanted to try and he was on his own for a great deal of time (hey, the reason I unload the panel with such nobility is so I can run trains!). But he did a wonderful job for a newbie, he didn’t complain and he didn’t whine for help. I could feel, once or twice, that the railroad was getting the best of him but he hung on tenaciously. And more amazing – he speaks Spanish and one of our guest operators does likewise, so he switched between English and Spanish as needed. I was very, very impressed with his solid performance (of course, I would be remiss to not mention that he collided two trains, but then again, so did the owner so it’s nothing unique on this crazy railroad).
The second level was with some of the crews who were working their cabs AND beyond. I heard a number of people nudging others who’d missed a DS call, who rerailed other trains and courteously stepped around others in the tight spaces. Those are the noble engineers, the ones who improve a session with their presence. It always gives me great hope to see these guys doing what they can to help out as they run. You know who you are.
And then there were the rank-n-file runners, the guys who ran what they could, stepped back in line for the next train, and made things run. The WAZU devours crews, so it is good to see people sticking to their throttles as the session goes on, doing the best they can.
And then there were those who annoyed everyone there. These are the individuals who loudly complain when they find themselves delayed, who carp endlessly when they stall, derail, or are not moved quickly down the line. I heard of a person who actually went into the overworked and newly minted dispatcher and berated him about every little thing.
Please, get control of yourself or don’t come anymore.
Outside of that individual, everyone else had a great time. The debriefing was thoughtful and positive. The pizza was good. The radios sucked. But it’s just another great day on the WAZU.