As I prepared for the next operating session, I found myself further developing my planning system. A couple of years ago, I developed a master line-up of train symbols for my mid-1980s operations. The twenty-four hour line-ups for east and west traffic provided a framework for planning individual operating sessions. The master line-up was based on both John Carr's website listing of Southern Pacific train symbol history (http://www.carrtracks.com/Southern-Pacific.htm) and on recollections of my former SP Dispatcher friend and mentor. While I have tried to follow this master listing closely, I always find reasons to diverge.
RR-West Master Line-Up
Time at EUG
Former TOFC Special
On duty 1230 am at Oakridge for return to Eugene
Carr lists Portland call as 1 am
Carr notes TOFC plus other traffic
Via RSV and WC some TOFC
EUG City SW
City Switcher goes on duty
First Springfield Turn
Carr lists an EURVW at 400 am
Could be anytime plus or minus
AMTK No. 14
1028 am Departure for Portland
Carr has one at 1 pm --delete????
Eastbound to Oakridge
Ogden to UP
Second Springfield Turn
AMTK No. 11
642 pm departure at Eugene Depot
City of Industry (EULAY)
Via Roseville and Ogden
Another Roseville train-
RR-East Master Line-Up
Time at CJ
On Duty at Oakridge for return to EUG
AMTK No 14
1028 am at Eugene
A key point for me to remember when using my master line-up is that it is just a guide. Times on duty and trains run on any given day did vary. The latter point -- the trains run often needs to be edited to fit the actual conditions experienced on my miniature railroad and the crew-size available for any given session. One key adjustment has been spreading the three Springfield-area locals throughout the twenty-four hour day. Best practice has only one of these in Springfield at any given time, which frees up a siding for use by the Dispatcher.
Another adjustment to the master line-up has been planning for the expected crew-size for the next operating session. For smaller crews, I might run only one local freight. For large crews, I might run two or even three locals. Part of this also depends on the amount of local traffic accumulated and classified at Eugene in the classification yard. I had several low-count crews over the summer, ran only one local, and then found I desperately needed to call the Eugene City Switcher, as it had not run for some time and the yard was becoming choked on cars served by that job.
Over the past year, I have taken to plotting out the crew use as a means of adjusting train call times and ensuring sufficient crews for the trains on the line-up. We have found most RR-East trains take three fast-hours, while RR-West trains take four fast-hours due to adding helpers at Oakridge and taking them off at Cascade Summit. Allowing 1.5 fast hours for a light helper to return to Oakridge has proven a useful planning factor as well. Using these planning factors, I have fallen into a pattern of using five road crews and two helper crews for most operating sessions. As noted, the expected crew-size impacts the number of locals run. There also is one point in the master line-up--in the early morning hours--when the RR-West fleet of three priority trains run in fairly quick succession requiring a third helper set. We have managed so far with me occasionally needing to take up a throttle to run that third helper. That is a rare event for the layout owner, who usually is called away to trouble shoot some issue.
Planning for the next session prompted me to articulate a new planning factor. This session will begin at noon on the twenty-four hour line-up. As such, the OABRT (Oakland to Brooklyn--Portland Trailers) "should" run right away. This ran into conflict with my desire to get a late returning Oakridge Turn out onto the line plus handling other trains that included cars destined for on-line industry on the modeled railroad. As I worked to resolve this issue, I finally recognized that my planning for an operating session needed to use an inverted priority scheme.
Ordinarily, railroad management prioritizes train movement based on the value of the freight rates earned for different types of traffic, regulation and law (Amtrak legally must be given precedence), and a general desire to keep the long-distance traffic moving expeditiously. This results in Amtrak getting top priority (1), trailer traffic getting the top freight priority (2), ordinary long-distance freight traffic getting a modest priority (3), and local freights and some long-distance freights getting low priority (4).
Model railroad operations are different, though. Many model railroad operators enjoy very much local switching. The "fun" factor of such work overrides the "management" set of priorities. Further, some local switching needs unobstructed blocks of time on the mainline to complete the work. A prime example of this on my railroad is the returning Oakridge Turn, which switches the sawmill complex at Westfir on its way back to Eugene.
Recognizing the importance of the local freights and their needs (mainline track and time and a steady supply of cars to be switched) I recognized I needed to begin session planning with an inverted priority set--the reverse of that used by management for governing Dispatcher decisions.
As I planned the next operating session, I began with the returning move of the Oakridge Turn. This led to loading RR-West moves with a pair of trains "in-process" at Oakridge and Cruzatte and just a single RR-East train, perhaps delayed, originating at Crescent Lake at session start. I started creating a mainline occupancy block for the Oakridge Turn by calling the next RR-East train out at 2pm. Originally, this was going to be the OABRT.
My initial placement of the OABRT with a call at 2pm at Crescent Lake created problems, however, as I had two RR-East trains at Crescent Lake left over from the previous operating session. Both contained traffic that needed to get to Eugene to begin classification toward forming locals for the next day. I planned one to start at session start-up, but the other one would be delayed by both the "operating hole" for the Oakridge Turn at Westfir and then by the OABRT. The solution became that of slipping the OABRT to a later slot in the afternoon. The needs of the local traffic took precedence over "ordinary" management priorities--indeed, just the inverse priorities.
Using these planning factors and the crew use train graph, I was able to put together the line-ups for my next operating session.
Crew Use Graph for December 1, 2018 operating session.
Time at EUG
AMTK No. 11
642 pm dep. Eugene Depot
City of Industry (EULAY)
RR-West Line-Up for December 1, 2018 operating session.
Time at CJ
RR-East Line-Up for December 1, 2018 operating session.