Train Blog
OpsLog - Nebraska Division - 5/15/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 15 May 2011 20:48

It's been a rather uneventful shift on the dispatcher panel. Sunday afternoon and I'm sitting upstairs while the boys roll through North Platte and Denver. On my laptop control panel, I track them across the division - it's brisk but if you keep the plates spinning fast, they never slow down.

Nearly 4pm now (almost midnight in the simulated world). Got a couple of trains rolling up the hill towards Denver and the Denver local running home to Bailey Yard. Two BNSF runs are merging in, looking for trackage rights west. Things are suddenly tensing up all along the western end of the district. Traffic is building up.

That's when the superintendent calls about two eastbound movements, a freight followed by a passenger, out of Salt Lake for Denver and down the hill. It's not revenue-related, of course - he's just getting equipment moved from staging to staging and I've got to move them. Now it's busy. The Grand Finale.

Okay, one BNSF movement is almost to Denver, so I'll let him go. The other is rolling into Julesburg siding. I look them over and figure out how it will play. Then I call each train - in turn - and given them clearance when the last-called train goes past. You wait for him and you wait for him. Denver local holds for the BNFS drag, then is cleared home. Then the two east extras, same orders to them. And that westbound in Julesburg - once the training passenger train is past, he's clear to Denver. The plates and humming. The trains are moving. I sit back and listen, wondering if I've overlooked something, if I'll hear the humiliating call of "Headlights! Headlights!"

Nothing to do but watch the board. Crews call as they clear into North Platte, into Holderidge, into Denver. As they clear, I drop their markers off the board. Where once there were four trains, now there are three, then two, then one. Now the line is clear, the rails cooling.

"I think we're done down here," the superintendent radios.

I close the program and shut down my computer. That's a wrap.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 May 2011 21:10
Opslog - Longwood & Sweetwater - 5/9/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Monday, 09 May 2011 22:02

It's feast or famine with ops attendance sometimes. This weekend's session, we had a number of no-shows. Tonight the L&S looked like a popular nightclub - the room was packed, close, and very hot. Trains were going out with two-man crews (or husband-and-Kimmy crews) to get their work done.

Snatching up a final car on the way to the barn.I crossed my name off the engineer's list, picking instead to run over to Hunt Club with Engineer Steve. He was an old hand at ops, so mostly my job was keeping the paperwork straight and lining turnouts from a distant panel. Easy enough. We clattered home with plenty of time.

But its nice as the session winds down, after a lot of folks have gone home (I like my many friends, but they do clog an aisle). Took out the second Hunt Club turn (with, suspiciously, cars that looked exactly like the ones we'd brought back on the earlier run). Had to hold on a siding to let a couple of trains get into the yard. Finally I could work Hunt Club, just an easy out-of-the-way job. The steam engine I had had a good sound system, so I could tap the whistle signals crisply. Sorted everything out, ran around the train, and picked up a final car on the way out of town. Easy job. It's nice when they are aren't... epic.

Last Updated on Monday, 09 May 2011 22:17
OpsLog - Southeast Virginia Division - 5/7/2011 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Saturday, 07 May 2011 20:06

Imagine two railroads, competitors forced by narrow river valley geography to wiggle together like snakes in a drain pipe. That gets you in the spirit for John Wilkes' Southeast Virginia Division, a joint operation of the L&N and Southern Railroads.

Its really neat to dispatch - the two lines cross and recross each other, actually sharing a long section of right-of-way. When two dispatchers work it, they have to clear such moves back and forth, keeping the traffic rolling but not into each other. Today we were short (pregnancies and diarrhea cut back our staff). I ran both desks. Great fun.

There is one section around Goodbee (in the joint trackage) where two shorter sidings form a lag siding, where if you route it right, you actually can have one long passing siding. I remember three decades back where my dad told me about them, wishing that he could site on on his own railroad. Space, of course, kept that from being used. But now I had one right on the panel in front of me. And John, as he passed through the room, half-implied it would be a shame to lose such capacity. If one looked past the fact that it was on prime rails, the shared section that everyone used, it was really low-hanging fruit.

Midway through the session two opposing L&N freights vectored in on one another. I could have passed them anywhere on L&N iron just to play it safe, but that would be inefficient - someone would have to wait. No, Goodbee was dead between them. I angled them in with carefully-constructed warrants to make sure both crews knew which sidings were being used. Wished I could have seen it actually go down, the yellow-nosed diesels edging past one another in the narrow river valley, the turnouts clattering as they threaded past. But I was in the office, reading the next set of warrants to their crews, keeping them moving, getting them on to Tifton and Norton. So cool. I think Dad would have loved to watch it.

Last Updated on Saturday, 07 May 2011 20:26
Signal Maintainer 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Sunday, 01 May 2011 09:56

Why do I do this to myself?

I've built two small layouts and worked on our club layout for years. I've wired and rewired as parts failed and needed replacing.

There were all sorts of problems in my last ops session - four failing Radio Shack toggles as detailed HERE. The first two (in Salinas) I replaced quickly. The next two in King City... I put off. For months. Every night I was too tired, something came up, whatever. For the last two weekends I've been meaning to do it. Never got to it. So finally, like Black Bart of Blazing Saddles, I drew a gun on myself and forced myself to do it.

This morning I woke up, realized that the first thing I had to do after my shower was work on this, and groaned.

It took about 45 minutes. It was easy. I just listened to Prairie Home Companion and it was no trouble at all.

I worry so much about everything.

Fixed now.

Time to start worrying about the next session.


Last Updated on Sunday, 01 May 2011 10:28

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