OpsLog – WAZU – 5/5/2024

OpsLog – WAZU – 5/5/2024

need you to run manifest 223,” the dispatcher told me. “It’s almost two hours late.”

So fine. In minutes I was rattling through the Spokane throat, running at track speed, wheels sparking off the multiple frogs and points. I was reminded of the old flick Broadway Limited. These were the times you needed to lean out of the cab window, face into the wind, sliding your goggles over your eyes. Then I thought of something.

“Dispatcher, 223. What’s my authority to?”

“Pasco yard. And move it. I want you to make up time.”

“Got it. Highball.”

Pasco Yardmaster back on the job after getting his beard caught in a passing train’s journal box. If he hadn’t grabbed a yard limit sign, he’d have ended up in Portland.

Hit Pasco and Klauck the Rock was standing by. Fetched the outbounds off the ready track while he clipped the four off the rear. “The dispatcher had orders ready while I was on the roll. Even though we had to let another train in, a little creative switch lever action put him out of my way. I could hear him screaming on the radio and I took my manifest up to the posteds and maybe a little past that.

Attalia was a bit of a bollix, with me on the siding one train on pulling up the main next to me, and Amtrak 22 waiting ahead. I backed up enough to let the local pull up and back down the industrial lead past my nose – a little confusion since the dispatcher meant to put all my eggs in his hurry-up basket. With the local tucked away and the main clear, I suggested to run Amtrak down but my load of plushie toys and playstations was more important that 300 passengers. “Just go. Call me when you’re clear of passenger 95!”

Hinkle Yard was my last stop and it could have ended my drive – the yardmaster was out dicking around on a local. There was a note taped to the lead switch stand. “Pick up five off track four, drop five. – Strecker” Sure, okay. So we just scooped up our pickups and turded the set-outs on the arrival track. At this point, I was spooling up time and trying to get in.

Rolled into Portland only a wee-bit late, having made up about ninety minutes on the run. Got a good feeling about that. And then, after running five trains, I found myself on a TOFC cut out of Portland. Would this day never end?

Two trains pass at the base of the Attalia Scenery Pile.

So great session at the Doc’s today. I spent most of my time running the Lumberjack job (Favorite moment: Greg in the other room shouting out “Who is the lumberjack?” And me singing “I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay…” And Greg muttering something like “Asshole”.) We had some guys running their second-time yard jobs and getting markedly better – if this keeps up, our absentees might end up on lesser common-road jobs. Doc, of course, was flipping out even through his session was rolling hot. He was in ten places at once and nosing up another three asses. As I said, the yards were kicking butt, the crews hot-swapping trains, and the dispatcher kept things moving (I did my best to not say “Well, if I’d had the desk, I’d have done it this way…” Hey, I’m a dispatcher. Keeping track of things is what the game is about). Shemp didn’t have any highjink throttle problems, the gimpies were all remote and the room rocking to that WAZU beat. Fun! Even the kennel doggies were quiet, sensing competence and contentment from the layout room.

The lumberjack rattles past with its cut of yellow MTs. Freak-chief Doc points the direction it must go.

Yeah, you can read, I’m still smiling. I’ve seen the Lumberjack run in a confusing roach-in-a-pie-pan way, and it was great to really throw it up and down the line. Everyone had fun but the debriefing was arduous – just because there are still difficulties in yard timing, we don’t need to torch the timetable, readdress all the engines, change gauges and knock down the clinic. We’re running hot. Let’s keep at it and get even better.

Anyway, it was a total pleasure to run with Doc and the boys. Hopefully we can do it again soon!


All photos – Dan Lott. Nice shots and thanks for the PRR engine!

“Reliable American power pulls through while our guest European locomotive takes yet another maintenance break” – Dan Lott