Sunday, May 14, 2023


My regular early May operating session provided my last session with my regular crew to operate the railroad before our regional operating event—WOOPS (Western Oregon OPerationS) scheduled for early June.  WOOPS features a dozen local operating layouts that will be operated by invited guest operators from around the West.  As my tune up session, I took careful note of items needing fixing and will spend the next month trying to get the railroad into the best shape I can for our out-of-area guests.  


I have found positive responses to my crew calls gradually climbing as we come out of the doldrums of the past several years.  I still experience a higher rate of folk having to drop out in the last couple of days prior to a session, but I still draw full crews—a blessing!  


The new tracks connecting the Eugene Arrival-Departure Yard to the Depot area caused development of new operating practices in this area.  The tune up session saw these come fully to the fore with several occasions of the multiple tracks in the area being used for simultaneous train movements as intended.  From the aisle side toward the backdrop (wall) four tracks have separate designated functions:

1.     Switch Lead serving the Eugene Classification Yard

2.     East Main (formerly the only main line connecting the Depot and Arrival-Departure Yard) primarily serves now for eastbound train moves into the Arrival-Departure Yard.

3.     West Main (the new track added during the pandemic lockdowns) serves as the principal track for westbound trains exiting the Arrival-Departure Yard.

4.     Industrial Siding (another new track) provides switching access to six new industrial spurs added during the pandemic lockdowns.


Shown are simultaneous mainline moves by a RR-East train (nearest train facing camera) and a RR-West train (departing freight headed away toward the Eugene depot and beyond).  Mark K. photo.


Switching action in the Eugene “inter-yard” area.  The pair of switchers on the left are bringing a transfer cut from the Arrival-Departure Yard to the Classification Yard for further work.  An RR-West mainline train is exiting the A-D Yard in the middle, here using the East Main.  Having two mains in this area helps keep operations fluid.  On the right, the Eugene City Switcher works the North Eugene industries.  Mark K. photo.


Thanks to regular operator Mark K. who has helped develop and standardize procedures in this area and then document them with the photos seen above.


The rest of the operating session went well, with a full crew exercising the railroad as designed and noting a few issues for my maintenance attention.


Dave H. performed Dispatching duties as he often does.


Randall P. served as the Yardmaster for the Arrival-Departure Yard, assisted by Craig L. as the Switcher position for this yard.


Mark K. works as the Eugene East Switcher while Mike L. behind him works the Eugene City Switcher.


Pete Johnson checks car card and physical car as Eugene Classification Yardmaster.  Behind him Keith K. works as the Eugene West Switcher.  Behind them in the aisle are crews for mainline and local trains working at Springfield.

Eugene West Switcher Keith K. works his end of the classification yard.  Note he is using the facia shelf edging to good effect as he organizes the car cards for the switching underway.


A full house at Springfield!  Craig P. works the Springfield-A local job on the depot side (away from the aisle) of the mainline.  Rodger C. talks on the radio with the Dispatcher as he works a train on the mainline headed toward Eugene.  Jeroen G. (leaning down) has the RR-West train on the siding (closest to the aisle).  Assigning only one of three area locals to work in Springfield at a time keeps the main and a passing track available in town.


The importance of allowing only one Springfield area local freight to work at a time while keeping the main and a passing track clear for mainline movements became clear from the very beginning of operations on my railroad.  Separate Springfield local freight jobs were defined after the first trial operating session found the Springfield job returning to Eugene with 28 cars—beyond the nominal train length design factor employed in my layout design.  Keeping a passing track clear reflected an important operating need going into and coming out of Eugene.  On the full-sized railroad, the SP eventually inserted the Judkins siding between the depot area and the Willamette River crossing.  I did not have that space, so we opted to ensure an available passing track for mainline use at Springfield.

Engineer Mike B. and Helper Engineer Pete H. await clearance to proceed RR-West and uphill as a RR-East passes on the Oakridge Siding, leaving the mainline clear between the two trains.


Guest operator Derek W. watches his train at Wicopee as he meets another train.


Jeroen G. has escaped the mass of trains seen earlier at Springfield and is climbing the mountain grade over Salt Creek Trestle.  Sean V. assists with his mid-train helper locomotives.


Later, Rodger C. guides his RR-Eastbound train down over the Salt Creek Trestle.  It looks like Rodger has an “XMUG” (Empty boxcars to Eugene).  This nominally is assigned a lower operating priority, but the reality of Southern Pacific operations in this mid-1980s era found these trains of empty lumber cars being hustled back to Eugene swiftly.  The forest products shippers of Oregon were crying for cars to load product!


A meet underway at Cruzatte.  Mike L. (on the main floor) has the RR-East train on the main track (closest to the platform/aisle), passing a RR-West held in the siding controlled by Helper Engineer Sean V. (front) and Engineer Jeroen G. (back).


Although I started the week before the session with what looked to be an overflow crew, by the time we got to the Saturday operating session, the crew had fallen to sixteen which provided exactly enough to man all operating positions with no doubling up.  That meant I had to thrust my guest from my California days into operation on his own and also not have any other crew doubled up (desired by a couple of engineers).  Still, all did very well and a good time was had by all.



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