March 1, 2020

OpsLog – FEC – 02/29/2020

don’t think I’ve ever had a more pleasant ops session. Was back on the FEC panel. It was a crisp late-winter day so the shed doors were wide open, the breezes cool and the skies cobalt. The crew was old pros so no dicking around and very sharp skills. I got the panel humming and the trains followed their timetables, meeting and working and generally not delaying each other. In the yard, the ladies (and our new engine hostler) worked as a team, getting trains in and out. All that mattered to me was that they prepped the departure track […]
June 27, 2021

OpsLog – FEC – 6/26/2021

f you wanted to find the last OpsLog on the Florida East Coast, you’d have to go back over a year ago. That’s how long it’s been, the entire span of the pandemic. Still, the session was one of the strictest I’ve seen. Temperature checks. Vaccination records. Full masks. And I respect that (with the new variant filling ICUs again). In fact, on the way to the session we stopped at Wendy’s for lunch. Wore our masks in the line. Sat down in the corner. But then an extended family of unmasked tire-biters sat a table away and we finished […]
July 24, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 7/23/2022

ot to moan about it too much, but I’ve only had surgery less than two weeks before this session. I’d seen the crew call for the Farnham’s FEC session and originally bowed out. After all, I didn’t want to collapse into a puddle of blood and other fluids in their train room. But a few days shy of the session, I girded my loins (still a bit painful), wrote them and asked if it wasn’t too late to come out (pre-surgery walking seems to have aided my recovery – that and wanting to run trains). The wife and I got […]
August 14, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 08/13/2022

keep telling myself that I need to write a fun piece about the Florida East Coast where we ran operations today. But the owner/dispatcher looked exhausted after the session – he’d not dispatched in over a year. On the line we had ten operators from Orlando N-Trak, and even with our skills on the LM&O under warrants, this was an away game and the first time for these guys. The room was tight, nobody knew where anything was and how to do anything, and at one point the rain was hitting so hard I felt like we were going to […]
September 25, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 9/24/2022

o it was a strange day on the east coast of Florida. I reported to my FEC tower outside Hialeah Yard for my shift dispatching the FEC. Oddly, the planet Earth was in a wobbling orbit – the sun was up and bright at 4am. The resulting disturbances to the ionosphere crashed all radio efforts. But we had a railroad to run and, by God, we were going to run it. Note of explanation – the room lights were wonky and the radiophones had crashed. The superintendent was pulling his hair to get us into a position to go hot, […]
November 6, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 11/5/2022

uite a crazy day (and night) on the Florida East Coast. Worst bit – in mid-session in the yard shed, there was a turntable fire which filled the room with fumes and knocked out the table. The table itself, normally able to be lifted off, seems welded in place. That really sucks – I’ve run the hostler job and really like the table. Out in the main room, there were the usual issues, including a train getting stuck in the runnel and one operator determined to run through all our defect cards (and that would be Kyle, who scored three […]
December 5, 2022

OpsLog – FEC – 12/4/2022

he second day of my all-ops weekend played out even better than I could have hoped for. The drive was easy, traffic light. We met a couple of club members at Wendy’s before the session, to chat about the coming effort (one of the members for a newbie, so that helped him (or filled him with horrifying regrets)). And then we went over, met the rest of the bunch and filed out to the two sheds to get things rolling. Kyle was on the panel and I had light road duties, meaning with one train, I stripped out every car […]
January 29, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 1/28/2023

This is the first of five sessions I’m attending over the next week. And for me, it didn’t go so well. Look, on the Florida East Coast, I’m known as the ace of the base on the dispatcher panel. I can just sit back and make that railroad dance. But this session, I was “Trim”. What’s “Trim”? Do I work in a mall haircut joint and take a little off the sides? No, I work part of the sprawling Hialeah Yard. When trains enter (and stop at the drop off point) I pick up the engines and bring them into […]
March 26, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 3/25/2023

ame into the yard shed for the Florida East Coast today, looking to improve running the Trim job (which I did a lukewarm effort on last time). Now was my chance. I’d show them. I’d show them all… Just at the end of the off-spot track, I noticed an engine and what looked like a wreck train. When I asked Ken about it, he glanced at the dispatcher (Doug) and shushed me with a wink. Ah hah. Someone was getting a surprise. So the first part of this OpsLog deals with the Trim (which is a job that hostels engines […]
November 19, 2023

OpsLog – FEC – 11/18/2023

t was Donald Sutherland who created the character of the World War Two proto-hippy “Oddball”, who smiles when presenting the coffee-swilling, hookah-puffing, woman-fondling tankers of his command with a dopey yet prideful smile. “These are my boys.” Today, me and some of the N-Trakers ran east to the coast to operate on the Farnham’s FEC. We entered their house in a blaze of gold, thanks to John’s club shirt. The guys (John DeVasto, Zach Bischoff and Jeff Chisholm) as well as myself and my wife, we took our jobs, sat down and did the shit out of them. I’ve run […]