Train Blog
OpsLog - Florida East Coast - 6/18/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 19 June 2011 07:12

On the panel again on the FEC (as mentioned HERE). Always easier the second time around - I know what to expect. And now we're in the zone.

In the early days of programming (back before SOX and process and other such rubbish) I'd go into the zone a lot. Also, writing sometimes puts me there. This is when you are furiously working on multiple levels, with your brain seemingly running at capacity, fully engaged. In the zone, time doesn't pass, it doesn't even exist. You are fully focused, dealing with each issue as they come up.

I've got the sheet on the desk and the panel on the wall, all lit with yellow and green. I've got a local working Palm bay, a coal drag swapping out the power plant, and three trains nosing past each other at Titusville. For a moment or two, it feels like I'm about to tip under, that I can't remember who is where doing what. Deep breath. Look at the sheet. Remind myself. Keep everyone moving.

I'm told I chatter too much while I dispatch but honestly I can't remember it. I just know I'm moving trains across the division, one after another. The superintendent chides me twice for getting trains through too fast - I'm not checking the schedule and am overloading the yard. I try to correct this, even though it feels like a personal failure, a crew sitting motionless, looking at an inexplicable red board.

Eventually the superintendent calls the session - I exhale and look at the clock. It's after 4:30pm and we started just before 1pm. I sorta remember a thunderstorm, the lights blinking (when the [panel came back up, I had to reactivate all the signals). I remember laughing with the superintendent about the hash a local made of Palm Bay, of some issues with the new yardlette, of a short or two. But on the table before me are two sheets with my abominable handwriting, showing trains meeting and proceeding. The nearby arrivals box is packed full of train paperwork; did we move that much?

I get home an find I'm knackered. After dinner, I can hardly keep my eyes open. I'm asleep by 9:30pm.

Yeah, it was a blast.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 June 2011 07:40
Opslog - Saluda Grade - 6/13/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 13 June 2011 22:49

Observations from running ahead of a young fella with a short attention span.

In Knoxville, I climb aboard Train 172, which will hang down the W line to Spartanburg after car swapping in Asheville. A couple of tracks over, this young man is fumbling radio, cards and whatnot, trying to get train 162 onto the line. He's crestfallen when the dispatcher tells him to hold.

"Train 172, clear to enter the main," the dispatcher responds to my initial call. "Cross over to track 2 and call clear into Asheville Yard."

"Don't take it personally," I tell him. "I'm running an hour late - my cars are first on the setout track. It's quicker if we go into the yard in order." The kid frowns at my cut as it rattles past his nose, thumbing the radio. "Train 162 to dispatcher, can I go nooooow?"

The yardmaster lines me into the eastbound arrival track, plenty of room for 162 to fit in behind me. I check my train orders. Four cars off on track 5, then pull four from track-


My train lurches forward five scale feet. I look back to see the kid's engines nosing my caboose. He followed me into the yard, all right.

We fuss his lead unit off my crummy (nothing like trying to uncouple in the middle of a tight yard, on a curve). After we finally disconnect. I pull out my waybills and take a final confirming glance. "You might want to watch this," I tell him. "You gotta do the same thing."

He's watching a crew switch Fletcher.


My cars are off, the new ones added. As we pump the air, I thumb the mike. "Dispatch, Train 172, ready to depart Asheville for Spartanburg."

"Train 172, clear to Fletcher Main."

The kid's head snaps around. "Hey, wait! What did you do? What do I need to do?"

I can't help my smug smile. "Dispatcher, Train 172: Highball."

Last Updated on Monday, 13 June 2011 23:12
Fences make good nieghbors PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Friday, 03 June 2011 20:02

Okay, I'm putting together this special page so all the N-trakers (and others) can help me find the fence I need for the Jacksonville bridge area. We're trying to model the cribbing that lines the main channel and keeps the boats from smacking the pillars.

Here is the actual Jacksonville fence. Yes, someday I dream of mounting that tiny little manitee sign on the fence.

Here is my San Luis Obsipo corral, which I think would do a good job imposturing it. The thing is, I think I got this through Greg Wells, who got it from Alan Lerner. It's a plastic fence from a corral kit. Anyone know where we can get something like this?

Last Updated on Friday, 03 June 2011 20:14
The morning after PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 01 June 2011 22:11

Photo: Ed Cantu (off the top of a truck trailer)It's a misty morning, the film of dew drifting over silent fields. In King City, things are waking up. The helper engine pops and hisses on the siding, its steam confusing the mists. The Coast Mail, Train 72, has just made its long stop at the nearby platform, the station help yawning as they heaved the bags up. Now it's gone, the wig-wags motionless now that their guarded rails are empty.

Over to the left, you can see the head end of the beet string I'd left on the sugar refinery spur the evening before. They've been unloading through the night. In an hour or two, a set of units will nose up from Watsonville and drag them off.

Far away in SLO, the yard crew completes work on the Lompoc local. Its bell ringing, 72 pulls into the station, greeting its sister, 71.

The railroad will pause, the clock will hesitate, weeks will pass in our world and then it will start again.

The next day.




Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 June 2011 22:31

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