At the throttle

Train Blog

January 10, 2023

OpsLog – VSW – 1/5/2023

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 […]
December 31, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 12/30/2022

nless someone passes out and a person waves a throttle around and shouts, “Is there a model train operator in the house?”, this was my last session for my busy 2022. We had a quiet Friday afternoon session over at the clubhouse, just a couple of good friends and myself running the Tuscarora. The standing rule was (since there is a bit of a demand for the newly reprogrammed tower) is that after eight hours, engineers can swap out with tower operators. And it worked out well; the coal guy switched out with the tower and positions stabilized for the […]
December 30, 2022

On Sheet- Gilding someone else’s parachute

or the last twenty years of my career, I worked for a transportation company that is colored purple. Yes, those guys. And I really loved it. I was a “meh” of a coder but when I got into management, I shined. I was a great team lead and process guy. We got the team running on all cylinders by the time I retired. I must have done well – I had about a hundred people at my retirement party and it went on all afternoon. One of the things our testing department did (which I couldn’t stand) was the “morning […]
December 29, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/28/2022

ot my last session of the old year, but damn close. And I’m happy to say I didn’t send out this year with a bang (of trains hitting each other – hard). But it was a rough night, rough enough that when I finally ran the last freight train myself and then ejected the carbon-dioxide club into the cold at 11pm, I went home, had a beer, binge-snacked and watched anime. No more trains for now. We got everything running okay but I made an honest-to-dispatcher mistake early – had a passenger train with orders to meet a local, but […]
December 23, 2022

On Sheet – Expedited TT&TO

mentioned that at our last special session on the LM&O, we ran TT&TO. Now, TT&TO (or Time Table & Train Order) operations requires that trains run according to the times printed on their timetables. Meets are specified. However, if the dispatcher needs to change a meet point for any reason, he issues a train order to the involved trains passing their stations, giving them rights over what is specified in their time table and rulebook. Generally, an order to change a meet might read TRAIN 98 MEET TRAIN 99 AT SAN LUIS OBISPO. However, there are two problems with TT&TO […]
December 18, 2022

OpsLog – LM&O – 12/17/2022

he engineer on train 244 curses under his breath as he ground his units up the long hill towards Harris Glen. For no reason at all – except to be ornery  – the dispatcher had issued a train order for 244 to meet 247 at the base of the grade – Pittsburgh – rather than midway up as timetabled. It would have been an easy meet but for management sticking its long nose into train-running business. So now 244 was late, and that meant that, given the hard meets the railroad was running, passenger 97 would be dawdling at Lehigh, […]
December 16, 2022

On Sheet – Handle with Care

e’ve all seen it on the highways. The person who looks down (at their phone) just as the light changes green. The person on a freeway exit lane who misses the big green signs (with the yellow EXIT ONLY markers) and slows everyone down with a panic-merge. The people who frenetically fly past, going down the right lane when there is clearly, obviously a truck chugging along, which boxes them in and makes them madder and drive even crazier. People are terrible drivers. They don’t learn from their mistakes. They don’t put the attention into it that it requires. And […]
December 14, 2022

OpsLog – TBL – 12/13/2022

o we had ordered supplies for Wensleydale Feed and Grain (namely 4000 cattle bibs). The Chesapeake and Ohio shipped it to our hometown – Tuscarora – via the Pennsy. I spotted them dropping it on the team track siding as I drove home from the bar, right as promised, midnight. I’d be there with the boys to unload it the next day. So we had the door open and the truck backed up at 8am sharp. With donuts, coffee and fish stories, they boys didn’t really get working until 8:45. We’d only just gotten everyone aboard and ready to grunt […]
December 9, 2022

On Sheet – YardBirds

ur club has been developing ops for two decades. We’ve also gone through three freight routing systems. Right now we’re very happy with disposable waybills. We also only had one yard (Martin). It’s a staffed yard with a crew. There is another yard on the other side of the hill, Calypso. It had nothing going on and is unstaffed. So for the last ten years, there has been a cut of thirty cars in both yards. As inbound trains from staging come into the yards, they stop at the first yard, add a cut of ten cars (we call these […]
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 […]