Having built a model railroad for operations, I find it useful to mark milestone sessions such as the just-completed twenty-fifth such session. It has taken a little less than three years to reach this milestone. My position in the Portland-based operating layout rotation (First Saturday of a month) results in a number of bye-months due to holidays and other interruptions. Still, I have held a fairly steady pace of operating sessions on my railroad. Each session prompts further improvement and motivates me to keep working toward fleshing out the railroad.
Over the past year, I introduced a train line-up scheme that attempts to model the twenty-four hour a day operation of a real railroad. From my master daily line-up, I begin building the next session’s line-up where we left off from the previous session. I always plan more trains than we typically run. We usually stop with one or two trains out on the railroad yet. That provides immediate work for crews when we resume—work that does not require yard activity to get rolling.
The RR-Westbound EUOAY (Eugene to Oakland mixed manifest) meets the RVEUE (Roseville to Eugene Empties—an “XMUG”) at Cruzatte. The EUOAY began the session at Oakridge, ready to have its helper added. The RVEUE was the first train RR-Eastbound out of Crescent Lake.
Moving to a twenty-four-hour line-up also spaced-out the local freights. These locals need to be sequenced, particularly in the Springfield area, to keep the railroad fluid. Three locals work around Springfield. Two of them need the depot and drill tracks to do their work. The third uses the siding on the other side of the mainline. Spacing these out resolves the conflicting use of the depot and drill track and keeps at least one track available in addition to the mainline for meets. My condensation of the actual Cascade Line removed the Judkins siding, located between Eugene (depot) and Springfield. Keeping another track available at Springfield restores this vital safety valve for entry and exit from the Eugene terminal. For further understanding of these tracks, take a look at the track schematics via the tab at the top of the blog page.
Nineteen operators joined me for this session, a typical crew size. Two operators were new to the railroad, so they were paired with experienced operators on trains. The rest of the trains had single engineer-conductors plus the Eugene Yard crew and dispatching crew. In addition to the session “Trick” Dispatcher, we use an Assistant Chief Dispatcher/Crew Caller (ACD). The ACD calls the crews and manages the calling up and departures of trains. This is a role often filled by a layout owner, but we have found my attention becomes focused on dealing with minor “crises” on the railroad, so the ACD keeps the railroad rolling.
John B-1. occupies “The Big Chair” as the session “Trick” Dispatcher. Tools of his trade include a magnetic schematic of the railroad, a Train Sheet, a Block Authority Sheet, the clock, and a radio. It is useful to have the Dispatcher located in a room that can be closed off from the noise and chaos of a railroad at work.
The primary Eugene Yard crew. Jim M., in the far distance is departing with the Marcola Turn from one of the “City Yard” tracks in front of the depot. Yardmaster Scott B. is tasking West Switcher John B-2. With classification work while East Switcher Craig L. is moving toward his end of the yard (right).
Santa Clara Tower Operator Vic N. is back in the hole for the Eugene Engine Facility while Road Engineer Rodger C. prepares to depart with the BROAT (Brooklyn—Portland to Oakland Trailers). Crescent Lake, the RR-West end of my railroad is overhead.
A feature of this particular session was a fleet of three trailer trains which departed Eugene starting with the first around midnight on the fast clock. The Dispatcher needed to clear the way for these high-priority trains. This also provided me with some good “railfanning.” The trailer trains have their helpers added on the point—the front of the train, per railroad rules for trains with 89-foot cars. Other trains have their helpers added mid-train, about two-thirds of the way back for the current era on my railroad (1984).
Rodger C. and his Conductor Craig P. have escaped Eugene and are rounding the turn-back curve with my Marcola Branch out of Springfield on the inside. Those autoracks and trailer-on-flatcar at the front of the train will demand a point helper at Oakridge.
The BRLAT (Brooklyn to Los Angeles Trailers) is crossing Noisy Creek and headed into my Tunnel Nine and into Cruzatte as crew-members (David L., Pete H., and Dave C.) converse. The BRLAT was the first of the RR-West fleet of priority trains. Even a priority train has a slow grind up the Hill.
The BROAT has made it to McCredie Springs. This was the second priority train headed RR-West. Rodger C. and Mike B. are the Engineers (Mike has the point helpers). Conductor Craig P. is copying orders from the Dispatcher.
The CZLAT (Crown Zellerbach to Los Angeles Trailers—a train focused on Crown-Zellerbach paper products) rounds the curve at Westfir, crosses the bridge over the North Fork of the Willamette River and is about to plunge into Tunnel 22 and into Oakridge. Engineer Rick A. and Conductor Mark K. control this train. Behind them is ACD Rick K. talking with the crew of a RR-East train held at Wicopee (Conductor Bill M. on the platform), awaiting passage of the RR-West parade of priority trains.
The CZLAT now has a helper and is rounding the curve over Salt Creek Trestle—a prime railfan moment!
As I fill in my railroad with the trestles, tunnels and now terrain, it is feeling more and more like the Cascades. My dream is becoming a reality.