Train Blog
OpsLog – WBRR – 09/22/2019 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 22 September 2018 19:43

here was that time I took my programming team out for a status meeting/walk around Lake Eola. When the boss found out about that, I was told to “keep my Berkley ideas to myself.”

And there were those huge pointless meetings every day in corporate testing, where everyone had to listen about everyone’s status. I tried to explain that railroads don’t run with everyone knowing everything. Through scheduling and rules, railroads start different shifts in different places and everyone is instantly on the same page. I was told “this isn’t railroading.”

The thing is, corporations are very disinterested in changing the way they do things, even when they are wasteful and stupid. There are a lot of embedded people who make their livelihoods off those wasteful, stupid processes.

Which is why I’m so happy to be a part of the Western Bay Railroad. This gem of a line is at the limit of commuting to but still worth the trip. When Buddy Bruce and I hooked up with these guys it was Mother-May-I and crummy phones. Now they’ve gone to station operators and radios, with crews focused on their trains and the dispatcher communicating things through his SO intermediaries (with the Superintendent running about the place, castigating off-script engineers).

Photo Credit: Eric Menger

So this is where I spent my day – Dolores. Little town up in the Rockies that grew up supporting the local pocket mines and interacting with the narrow gauge. And me, I’m sitting right in that forward bay window, telling the dispatcher when his trains highball through and passing his demands to the crews (I’m actually in Placerville Junction and Dulcie too, but that’s a metaphysical thing that’s hard to explain). But yes, it’s a good job, one if you like doing things other than cranking your knob. But the best thing is I’m part of a railroad that is really coming together and working, session by session, more like a 1930’s transportation system and less like toy trains on spectacular scenery.

What could be better than that?


Last Updated on Saturday, 22 September 2018 19:49
OpsLog – TY&E – 9/16/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 16 September 2018 21:20

ne thing that’s fun with ops is where people learn skills and improve. I’ve seen it when people who would hardly budge off passenger trains run a freight, then move to locals or yards. But it’s not only operations where I see it – it’s also in layout designs.

Two railroads have been rebuilt in our area: the WAZU and the TY&E. And both have had significant improvements to their… presentations, for lack of a better word. Better workspaces, better runs, better location of critical turnouts. On the TY&E, specifically, we’ve seen the elimination the duckunders, reaches and that difficult to understand junction. Now it’s true point-to-point, with reasons for industries to be where they are. It feels like a railroad and runs decent, and hey, that’s the stage we need for ops.

Ran my usual, the sand and log train, bringing produce down the hinterlands to Staffordtown Industrial Yard. And even through the start of the session was a lot of tinkering and instruction, eventually the superintendent breathed into a paper bag and settled down and the crews could get down to the brass tacks of running trains. I found it interesting that a socialist like me would actually, in this imaginary world, seize a monopoly on the entire lumber production down the entire supply chain (there is a Raymond logging plant and a Raymond sawmill). But everyone had a blast, there was beer at the end, and everyone went away happy. And that’s what a model railroad is all about. Sure, everyone says its about modeling a transportation network, but it’s also about to have fun, too. And we had lots of fun.

Now, if this cheap-ass company would put a caboose on the tail of my train. Imagine, the crews having to hang onto flat cars across a half a division. Dangerous.


credit: Frank Z

Last Updated on Sunday, 16 September 2018 21:34
OpsLog – LM&O – 8/22/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 22 August 2018 22:36

ellertown is a siding we put in without much thought. It’s arrow straight for most of its length, a nice elbow-room passing area where sometimes trains can slide by on the roll. Lots of room. We hardly give it a thought.

But tonight, it was life and death on this quiet trackage in the shadow of the summit.

First up was Extra 3220 west, intermodals heavy and rocking, which we pulled up on the high end of the main. I had two trains cresting the hill, coming his way (414, a coal run, and 202, a drag freight). So neat, a three-way pass.

But then coming west, another extra – I think it was a drag freight. I tucked him up against X3220, right up to his tail, telling the crews not to waste a foot of space. For, as expected, the delayed Harris Glen Local called. Since this engineer is a mean bastard and I don’t want to get on his bad side, I rolled him out of Calypso, west, to tuck in behind the freight extra. So now I was holding three on the main, pointing west, hanging well out past the east end. And now the talk of the night was if those two east trains, a long coal drag and a longer freight, were going to fit in the eastbound siding.

If they didn’t fit, I was dead.

And they did fit. They barely fit. I’m told that had one more rail car been involved, I’d have been backing the local down to Calypso with the tail of the freight extra in his jaws and my tail between his legs.

But what a moment – five by on a two-track passing siding.

There was more of that – I was parading them across Harris Glen, three east, three west. I can’t tell you how many locals we ran but it was a lot, more than my dispatcher program could handle. The crews were well behaved, having a good time and waiting patiently (with the possible exception of someone working that town I’m not good at spelling, who ran without paper because of impatience). 85 warrants, basically an order a minute for over two hours. That’s a heavy rate of orders. And it was a lot of fun.

One Glen, many trains (credit: M Anderson)

That’s how you run a railroad at capacity, folks. You fill it full of trains and do everything you can to keep them moving.

Great night.


X 807 pushes in at Weirton (credit: C Case)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 22 August 2018 22:43
OpsLog – WAZU RR – 8/19/2018 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 August 2018 21:18

’ve been told that there is a satisfaction to having a hand at something growing and improving. People say that about their kids. Their churches. Their businesses. But really, if there was a recent success story, it’s gotta be the WAZU Railroad.

We’ve had a couple of sputter-n-spark test sessions. Just everyone tripping over each other and fumbling around. But today, it was A-game. Today Superintendent Andy turned up the steam and released the trains. And today the crews were in top form. We had a good yardmaster (Greg), a sharp local operator (Jeff) and a crisp Dispatcher (Bruce). And all the other guys there, we were all running trains on the ball. I was passing trains two and three at a siding – the main was packed. But you could tell, standing in the other room, that the session was running tight. No cross-talk but some shared laughter. Radio calls going through on the first contact.

I ran a general freight and a hotshot produce run and both of those movements met many, many trains, more than any other WAZU session I’ve been at. It was busy and fun and the action was continuous.

Heavy trains meeting (Credit: Franky Z)









So congrats to the Doc and his associated band of engineers. We made that railroad hum. What a great time it was!

Sign me up for the next one.



Page 1 of 73