Train Blog
OpsLog – LM&O – 8/22/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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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
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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.


OpsLog - L&N - 08/11/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Saturday, 11 August 2018 19:24












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 my time, and rather enjoyed myself.

 The Tom and Robert Train Drive Afternoon Show (credit: M. Anderson)












Then we stopped for lunch and everything went to hell.

It’s my belief that the sandwich shop got our order mixed up with the one to the secret government lab where LSD testing is taking place. How else to explain it? After I switched to the L&N side of the house (itself a sign of insanity), operators started leaving the phone party line open (which brought down my phone line about four times). Operators left turnouts in local control. Operators overran their warrant end points. Operators went to new and exciting places (and not the places I’d cleared them to). Operators snuck like Ninjas and ended their runs without a whisper of a hint that they’d finished. And panel coders found logic bugs during the session.

My favorite was the operator who kept pushing the damn call alarm while I was obviously on the line to several other operators, clearing orders. I’ll bet you lean over and over again on the elevator call button. And I’ll bet the elevators hate you for it, too.

I learned a valuable lesson. Never get involved with yard limits politics. When the yard backed up, the superintendent decided to tell me how to run things. Then he told me to clear southbounds through the yard. I thought that meant he’d held northbounds (and with the phones fritzy I couldn’t confirm). And this led to the great Horrific Helix Headon disaster of 2018.

But since the superintendent thinks I have an advantage here, this being my blog and all, I’ll prove him wrong and give him a place to respond.

Superintendent rebuttal:




I will say this. Everything he said above was a lie. But still, I’m a big enough man to be fair about it.

Truth be told, even through it was a shaky session, it was still a fun session. There were still laughs (laughs edging on hysterics) and occasional glimpses of good running. We introduced a number of newbies to the line (and maybe some of them might come back). But it was loads and loads of fun. Burning, wreckage-scattered fun.

Thanks, John, for having us out. Lemme know when the next one is so I can break more trains!



Last Updated on Saturday, 11 August 2018 19:45
OpsLog - CP&W – 8/2/2018 PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 August 2018 22:43

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 unimportant in the face of all this.

My buddy Bruce and I snagged a way freight running east across the division, working off both a switchlist and dropping off waybills as we switched the towns up the line. The running was fun, the equipment worked well and everything was cool. I think Bruce was rolling his eyes about my pulling rank to have him work off the sidings (which turns out to be a blessing when a long coal string trundled past). I thought we did well but we could have done better – I had him backing long cuts into sidings when there would have been better ways to do things. Maybe next time.

After this, I got a couple of easy sight-seeing runs, the best being a PFE cut running loaded across the Illinois plains. Always fun with sound-equipped engines to blow at the crossings and ring past the platforms. Sure, it makes a racket but why not use it if you got it. To my way of thinking, you might as well leave the shell off if you aren’t going to make use of sound. I’ll admit that the PFE run was even more enjoyable since I could hear the second section whistling past the crossings I’d left in my wake. It was rather a poignant railroad moment, a sense of going places and doing things for a reason.

Anyway, thanks to John and his guys for having us out for the day. Had a great time and hope to come back in the future.


p.s. My host's full name is "John Brennan". Sorry about that oversight.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 August 2018 11:49

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