Tuesday, July 23, 2019

SANTA CLARA TOWER OPERATIONS

As I prepared to host the second edition of our regional model railroad operating event, Western Oregon OPerationS (WOOPS), one of my tasks was the preparation and update of guides for the various operating positions on my railroad.  A critical position, performed by one of my regular crew, is the Santa Clara Tower Operator.  This position controls the complex switch-work between the Eugene depot and classification yard and the reverse loop arrival-departure yard.  The operator position also manages departures and arrivals for the RR-East end of the modeled railroad.  This operating position has seen considerable development over the past year.  The rest of this document presents my thinking on the current operating position.

The Santa Clara Tower Operator (SCTwr) has responsibility for the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard and the track throat complex leading into it. This includes oversight of the Eugene Engine Terminal and other tracks in the area such as the Oregon Electric Interchange and the Halsey Branch.  Several of these areas are under development yet, so expect this job to develop as well. On occasion, a hostler job will be called.  As that title implies, this job should deal with locomotive hostling.  It also serves as a general-purpose switch crew for the Arrival-Departure Yard.


Eugene Arrival-Departure yard staged for the start of an operating session.  Clockwise traffic is the rule in this set of reverse loops.

On the left, the yard switcher sits on the "PFE Track" awaiting duty. Beyond it are the five tracks of the diesel engine facility.  The left-most of these tracks (D-5) has a single locomotive on it.  This is the Sand House Track where the modern era sand house will be located and receive sand in covered hoppers.  The next track (D-4) is the Stores Track.  The company stores warehouse will be located at the far end of this track.  The space in front of that can be used for temporary locomotive storage.  The next three tracks (D-3, D-2, and D-1, left to right) are the main diesel facility.  Eventually the tall overhead sand towers and conveyor system for sand will be located here.  These are the primary locomotive service tracks.

Arrayed from inner-most (AD-12) through outermost (AD-1) and the Halsey Branch outside of that against the wall are the departure-side tracks of the yard.  AD-12 has a block of cars for local classification on it with a BN center-beam bulkhead flat car leading.  Next is AD-11 with a 25-car block ready to become an Oakland train.  AD-10 has a Los Angeles train made up on it.  AD-9 has a Roseville train ready to depart.  AD-8 has an Ogden (or Klamath Falls) train ready to depart.  AD-7 has another Los Angeles train ready to depart. This one will leave before the train on AD-10, clearing this track.  AD-6 has been designated for RR-Westbound classification, but has no cars on it. AD-5, the first of the "Portland" tracks, has a Roseville train on it with an early departure planned. This illustrates the dynamic use of these tracks.  AD-4 and AD-3 are empty.  AD-2 has a TOFC train on it, likely a BRLAT.  AD-1 is empty, awaiting AMTRAK (habitual use).  Finally, empty wood chip gondolas occupy the track against the wall, the Halsey Branch.

The primary task for the Santa Clara Tower job is launching RR-West trains onto the modeled railroad and receiving RR-East traffic.  The train line-up should be consulted regularly to determine the order of departures and to anticipate arrivals.

The twelve reverse loop tracks are arranged as an outer group of five and an inner group of seven tracks.  The five outer tracks (AD-1 through -5) represent the mainline to Portland and may also serve as arrival or departure tracks provided those tracks are cleared in time to receive "Portland" traffic.  Portland traffic includes passenger trains (AMTRAK in 1984) and trains with "BR--Brooklyn" (SP's Portland Yard) train symbols.


"Portland" Tracks (AD-1 through 5) and the Halsey Branch.  Empty wood chip godolas occupy the Halsey Branch.  AD-2 has a TOFC train on it, a BRLAT symbol. AD-5 has a soon-to-depart freight (pipe load and empty gondola).

The seven inner reverse loop tracks (AD-6 through -12) are the primary working tracks in the yard.  At least four of these tracks should be semi-permanently assigned for building RR-Westbound trains for Los Angeles, Oakland, Ogden and Roseville.  The usual procedure builds those trains to their specified length (25 cars for 1984 operations) and then add a caboose, moving the train toward the departure end of the loop tracks.  Additional cars for the same destination can then be added to the track behind the caboose avoiding coupling with the caboose on that prepared train.  The other three tracks may be used as needed, although one likely will routinely receive cars needing further classification for Eugene area locals (all of the locals on the modeled railroad).   Motive power should be assigned to prepared RR-West trains and the operating paperwork completed for their departure.


Departure end of the yard with power on Ogden (AD-8) and Roseville (AD-9) tracks ready to depart.

Blocks of cars for local freights should be exchanged with the classification yard, while blocks of cars for outbound destinations are received and switched into the appropriate tracks for those departures.


Arrival end of the reverse loop tracks.  Blocks of cars being built into new trains for Roseville (AD-9) and Ogden (AD-8) are shown.

Arriving trains should be received and broken up as time, tracks, and available switch crews permit.  Motive power and caboose should be removed from Eugene (EU-symbol) destination freights. Leave the power and caboose on Brooklyn trains.  Remove any block of cars inbound as local traffic and transfer those cars to the classification yard.  Consider assigning one of the seven inner tracks to receive lumber empties which generally will be found on the rear of arriving RR-Eastbounds.  

The remaining cars for an arriving RR-Eastbound will have Portland destination waybills.  A developing part of the SCTwr job involves a car clerk job wherein the waybills are cycled back to their RR-West destination.  This is a LOW priority task and is strictly dependent on the ability to handle that work. The alternative is to shove all of that traffic into one or two tracks awaiting subsequent car clerk work (flipping the waybills).

A special case arrival involves the WCEUE (West Colton to Eugene Empties) train symbol for 1984 operations.  This is a box car train.  It will become the CZLAT.  As such, it should be received on a "Portland" track (AD-1-5).  The empties (no waybill) on the rear should be pulled off and the caboose returned to the train.  With that action and subsequent waybill flipping, that train is ready to depart as the CZLAT.

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