At the throttle

Train Blog

June 17, 2017

OpsLog – L&N – 6/17/2017

t’s been a while since I operated on John Wilkes’ L&N layout. It’s a double dispatcher delight – two DSers sitting shoulder to shoulder, one for the L&N, one for the Southern, working together to get trains over shared trackage across the dual division. Of course, as the Prince of Dispatching (let’s not think about that unfortunate event with two dozen dead passengers in a tunnel a few weeks back) I was expecting to be invited to dispatch. Walked into my usual place in the dining room – there was the magnetic board, the warrant pad, the train sheets. And… […]
May 31, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/31/2017

poiler alert! I occasionally screw up while dispatching. If you weren’t there or don’t like bloodshed, you might not want to read further. I burned twenty-five people alive in a fiery tangled holocaust inside a tunnel. If you don’t like unhappy endings, you might not want to continue. I’m very sad. Yeah, so it was a busy night on the LM&O. We’ve redone large sections of our layouts, some turnouts aren’t powered, others aren’t hooked up. Lots of work over the last month so everything was filthy (even with John L. paradropping in to soften the beach and pre-clean). It […]
May 21, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 5/21/2017

here is a bit of universal irony here. I’m idling in the heated gravel desert of Cocoa Yard on the Florida East Coast, writing car numbers on lading slips and jotting in pick-up dates on the swaps. This, following a weeklong, daylong, every-damn-second long audit I’ve only just survived at work. Yes, more paperwork! Yahoo! But seriously, it’s a well-thought-out system, it slows the ops down to a more realistic pace, and I rather like it. Owner Ken Farnham has come up with an even-better way of getting cars to sidings where the trains are assembled in a completely different […]
April 26, 2017

OpslLog – LM&O – 4/26/2017

didn’t think they could do it. To get ready for this ops session, we had several Herculean efforts. First, we had Frank and Jonathan rebuilding the entire West Martin throat in one month. I mean, damn, this is overhand track laying. I know that these guys did a lot of make this happen (I could see the alarm toggle open and close remotely for their work sessions). So, in four weeks, they stripped the yard bare, put in more than a dozen turnouts, improved the flow into the critical west end (by double-tracking the leads), wired and tested it in. […]
April 11, 2017

OpsLog – Tehachapi – 11/4/2017

he tale of two trains. I found myself the sole crewmember of SP train 59, the Night Coast, rumbling in readiness in Lancaster at 11:08pm (which, when the clock sweep hit 12, I notched forward and started rolling). As a first class passenger movement, I’ve got explicit rights over everyone (unless the meddling dispatcher interferes). But he didn’t – I hit Mojave with my black widows pausing at the station while I went inside to collect my clearance (no orders) and to jot my time through in the register book. And then I was off, flying up the Mojave Valley, […]
March 26, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 3/25/2017

hat could be better on a perfect Saturday than a nice drive through the country? To spend time with two good long-term friends? To hang out with a group of other friends? And be boomers on the wonderful Florida East Coast? Doesn’t get better, as they say. I ran an early train, picking up a run in Frontenac to bring home to Jacksonville – easy run, green boards, no hassles. Just horning across the grade crossings and enjoying the run. The next bit was a little more difficult. Taxied back to Cocoa Yard by 10am to mount up on unit […]
March 22, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 3/22/2017

don’t think our op session was that bad. In fact, at the next business meeting I’ll have Sean Spicer come out and explain why it was so good. So,  No, it really wasn’t bad. We were running hot, with both Silver Bullets on time. I was having the usual congestion around Harris Glen, nothing extraordinary until a crew made a mistake, compounded the mistake by backing, then suffered derailments all over the place. There were trains waiting for him, and trains waiting for those trains, and next thing I knew 97 was running hours late. It was so bad that […]
February 25, 2017

OpsLog – FEC – 2/25/2017

o, the long drive home. Great op session on the Florida East Coast – so good I’m not sure what to comment on. I’d run 920 through Palm Bay to Pinetta, quietly doing my work and advising the dispatcher of what I’d do next so she could set mainline turnouts my way. Even that detector I’d hit was a methodical fix – dropped the car into the closest and most efficient siding and then… That’s when, at Crystal Lake offramp, I almost got creamed. To get off westbound 408 here, you need to merge across two lanes of onramp, with […]
February 22, 2017

OpsLog – LM&O – 2/22/2017

eah, it’s been a week. A few days ago in a prolonged Go game, I pulled a stupid move that likely cost me the game. I’m so upset about this that I sulked all weekend. And then there was the meeting at work where I was so popular in my regulatory position that everyone who came in sat as far down the table as they could. The only people to sit near me were the last in the room. A friend on the call said she thought I must have felt like Sean Spicer. I mean, shit. Today was ops. […]
February 4, 2017

OpsLog – WBRR – 2/4/2017

ust another day on the railroad. Was aboard 391, a mixed through freight out of Alamosa, creaking its steamy 1936 way up to the high slopes and eventually to Durango. I was conductor – boss man of the movement. In the cab, young Eric, still new enough at railroading to have a spark in his eye (and I knew he was aiming at moving east to high stepping Pennsy eventually). Richard slumped in the crummy, sucking at a bottle of rot gut, occasionally stumbling down the steps to realign the turnouts behind us if Eric blew the whistle long and […]