At the throttle

Train Blog

August 11, 2018

OpsLog – L&N – 08/11/2018

train wreck. This occurrence took place on the Southern line at Granfield but it’s pretty representative of the entire session. But in a good way (since anything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and I’m a very strong dispatcher now). I was running the panels with Tom Wilson today – I’d ever so gracefully gave him the hair-puller panel (L&N) while I took on the sleepy Southern division. Other than the wreck pictured above (which happened with a literal run-away train), it was Smooth Operator time. I kicked out orders as needed, took the switch panel to fill in […]
August 2, 2018

OpsLog – CP&W – 8/2/2018

kay, blame the fact that it’s the first day I’ve taken off work on a long time, that it was a two-hour drive to Tampa, that our Mr. Roboto navigation system got us lost in the cargo port area, or that the layout is big and there was so much to see. I’ve forgotten our host’s last name (sorry, John). But he’s got a kick-ass huge-ass railroad, the Chicago, Peoria and Western, that it’s mostly steam, that you have long runs and freight shifting and someday (it can’t be too soon) Time Table and Train Order. So, yes, names are […]
July 25, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 07/25/2018

ike an ecstatic divorcee leaving all their cares behind, the local I’d been running dropped everything at Zanesville, a string of empty corn syrup and paint tankers and a couple of boxcars, sans auto parts, and was now rattling along the river valley at track speed; two geeps, a T&P boxcar (with mine equipment) and a jolly green Penn Central caboose. We’re making the run up the valley to Carbon Hill in record time. Everything gone sharp with all the spottings and a run on coal has left Champion Mine clear for us to work in. It’s shaping up to […]
July 14, 2018

ShowLog – Deland – 7/14/2018

ood show today. Lots of people came in for setup (we had enough that when we had to move 2/3rds of the layout after some mis-surveying, we got it moved in three huge chunks). Anyway, there were trains running and kids giggling and feet hurting and food over-charging, everything that makes these things a Deland event. The interesting thing came after the show, when we had to take down. We waiting until the venders were wrapping up and still went down progressively (for my angry-political friends, this means we slowly took down things while leaving trains running, so when we […]
June 30, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 6/30/2018

ell, this one was one for the record books. I’m working a dispatcher’s panel that is as big as a coffin lid. We have a full crew – the yard behind me is “manned” (bad joke) by four wives (including my own JB). Ken has loaded up his line so trains are running hot and heavy. I’m trying to get three by at Palm Bay, two more around each other in Titusville, and two locals are futzing around near Pinetta. And over towards City Point, a rock train is shifting loads about. And that’s when I get the call from […]
June 27, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 6/27/2018

just spent today at work doing Agile planning. This “event” takes rooms packed with people in Memphis, Orlando and Bangalore three days to do. There are meeting, roving meetings, phone calls, meetings, planning, sticky-notes on board, and, of course, talktalktalktalktalk. By the time I got out in the car this evening to run out to the club, my head was throbbing and I felt like I just wanted to go home and lie down in a dark room. Dinner with the guys was good. Then we got out to the club for ops. And guess what. Everyone started cleaning the […]
June 23, 2018

OpsLog – WBRR – 6/23/2018

y boots are centered on the warped boards of the Delores platform, my hat jammed over my head as thunder crashes around the high Colorado peaks, spooking the cattle in the nearby pen. A small engine is just chuffing along a distant curve, its headlamp shimmering down the long rails. Suddenly the rain is smoking down and I neatly step back into my tobacco-stuffy station office, touching the telegraph key without fishing the chair forward. “OS DELORES WEST” A delay. “DISPATCHER” The windows rattle, causing a small avalanche of fly corpses from the sill as 243 East rolls past. With […]
May 23, 2018

OpsLog – LM&O – 5/23/2018

new it was going to be strange ops tonight – could feel it in my gut. Wore the club shirt to work today (since I went directly over following my employment). A puffy little millennial scored off me right before a staff meeting – looked across the table and said, “Nice shirt” in that sneery playground way.  Told him, “You know, this club is 31 years old. Older than you, eh?” So, ops was a smooth like ice cream with nutty walnuts thrown all through it. A rocky road, indeed. Crews hitting turnouts and blaming others for the shorts. The […]
May 19, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 5/19/2018

kay, so when that general freight rumbled north into Bowden Yard in Jacksonville and I missed setting the primary turnout correctly, it rolled up the departure track and slammed into a freight sitting in position for departure. Of course, it’s the perfect storm because the engineers are in the other shed, running blind on repeater signals. So crumbled diesels, even more crumpled crews, ruptured gas tanks, explosions, six o’clock news. As a dispatcher, I’d have been out of that seat before the shockwave rolled overhead. The NTSB would have had me in a chair, isolated, grilling me about that total […]
April 28, 2018

OpsLog – FEC – 4/28/2018

o let’s just say, hypothetically, you were standing trackside in Titusville in the 70s (when it was still a sleepy little southern town). It’s about 3pm on a perfect Florida afternoon. Some blue units with 930 mounted on the number boards have been in town for a while. You might have checked references (mimeographed off a typewritten sheet by the Florida East Coast Railroad Fan Club (if such an organization existed)) to see that this was the Titusville Turn. Oddly, it listed its duties as light switching in the small offline yard but here it was with a long string, […]