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Operational Model Railroad

DAYs of Old Remiss     Saturday, 28 March 2015

So we ran Ken Farnham's Florida East Coast, and I was once again in my beloved hot seat, the dispatcher's slot. Little bit of a rocky start but now things were smoothing down. We were just over the halfway point and I was all settled in, knocking the toggles on the CTC board, lighting the lights across the division. Then a freight going through Buenaventura calls with a bit of a smirk in his voice. "We just went on the ground, Dispatcher. And it looks like we took out a piece of rail."

At first, I thought we were talking about something that actually happened, like a switchpoint coming off or something. "Call the superintendent," I told him. I'd let Ken deal with it.

But no, Ken came into my office with a Grinchy-grin smile on his face and some event cards (something distrurbingly new) in his hand. Yes, in the simulation of the session, a boxcar had hit the ground and rail had come up, we'd need to get a wreck train there and the line was blocked. We'd even need another engine to pull the back end of the train off and move it around so the front end could couple to it.

I was still trying to figure out what happened. Suddenly, the board was just a lot of lights (sorta like when I'm out with my telescope looking for Pegasus and everything is just stars). Which train was which? What was going on? I had a half-dozen trains rolling tight with meets planned out a quarter hour in advance.

Reset the board, dropped all signals and directed them all into sidings until I could make sense out of it. Okay, so that's done. Then I had a train at Bowden blocking the yard exit, so I ran him out and dumped him somewhere - anywhere. While the yard crew built the work extra, I got a local in Cocoa to drop his cut and run down the line to effect to pull-off. I probably should have run the freight that had broken south then and there but I didn't - I still wasn't sure of the setup. That was a big mistake.

Fortunately the Super showed up at the accident site and directed things. I moved trains as best I could, reacting to events rather than planning them. Finally we got the freight out of there. The wreck train continued its work, plugging my line and stacking trains.

And here's where we loop back to the front of this story. Remember our intrepid newsman? Well, now all the engineers were stopping by while I did everything I could to move lights along a bulb at a time, doing what I could to keep the railroad alive. And they were all smiling - "So, you got something for your blog now, doncha, Newsie?" Man, I felt like I'd been beaten in an alley. My head throbbed like the lights of that distant marque...

Anyway, eventually I pulled my shit together and got the wreck train out on the tail of 107, running south nose to tail. We had a bunch of locals out working and a train turning, but I finally got them out of the way so we could catch the freights up. We ran about twenty minutes behind for the rest of the session (I'd get close, then a seemingly simple switch move would jam the line again). But by the end, we were within ten minutes of schedule. Not bad.

So, yes, here I am, hammering my copy out, wrenching it out of my typewriter and tossing it to the copy boy. Never mind the bruises. We got it done.

Because, work the City Beat!

A special thanks to Ken - that was really a curve ball, and it was fun - in retrospect. And thanks to all those crews who quietly cooled on sidings while we worked this out.  Robert Raymond

November update: The industrial island - Pineda - has been completed and all of the operational tests have been run.  The rolling equipment has been on an annual repair and upgrading to meet a sound operational status.  New timetables and operational schedules have been upgraded to incorporate the Pineda industrial park working schedules.  Some newly constructed buildings are on the layout including light inside and around them.  A new timing system had been installed which will allow automatic night and day operations with sunrises and sunsets during a session.  We look forward to the return of our friends when this epidemic is under manageable control.  Ken

Update: During this time an expansion is in the works expanding the operation of the railroad.  An area at Pineda is a spur into an industrial area which will have warehouses serviced by rail having a dedicated switcher providing the switching to the warehouses.  A full involvement with deliveries into and out from the industrial area during the OPs session. 4-18-20

Superintendent Special Report:  12-12-1971 (2019) -  Extra board operation was ran as crews wanted to have the OPs in December.  As usual the traffic was routine with only minor headaches for the billing agent.  The Old Hat dispatcher had some OOPps moments but continued to run the train in the direction they departed.  I would like to thank all of my operators for a great year of Operations and look forward to 2020.

Ken EOR 12/31/2019

From the Desk of the Superintendent – Circa 1971

Superintendents Bulletin  5/28/23
The morning started with a new dispatcher at the console, Al B., who settled into the chair and became more at ease as the shift continued.  With the excellent  completion of the trick his staffing as Dispatcher is expected to be seen often in the future.
The general road went smooth with only a minor derailment approaching the RRunnel at the end of the session.  With a change in schedule some future adjustments will be needed by the management to eliminate hold time of some road freights caused by Locals running late.
It was noticed by management that some heavy lift drone activity occurred after 930 left Titusville.  This was observed by residents of the area that the drones returned with the same cargo shortly later.  Crews welcomed the first-time operator and assisted in getting his throttling and railroad knowledge down pat.Without a regular Dispatcher the session went very well, yardlets performed with excellent results.  All trains left and were recovered with a smooth operational result. 

Great session, management.
Superintendent Report December 4, 1971 (2022)  Crews were called for an early morning (4AM) trick with darkness upon them when they boarded their trains with orders and departed with Dispatcher authority.  The weather report suggested early morning thunderstorms in the Eau Gallie area but dissipated with a slight overcast until about 9AM.  The day progressed with minimum problems except several defect detector alarms did happen.  As the day progressed and the sun began to set into darkness, crews went about their assignments.  The Yard Crew maintained a steady flow of departing trains readied for the scheduled departure time.  The billing agent had some minor paperwork to complete the next day but all worked out well.  As the year ends the railroad looks forward to the next year wishing everyone a merriest of Christmas and the best of the New Year. 

Superintendent Report 8-13-71
 Today a visiting group of modelers from the Orlando N Trak polished the rails.  This day was in remis of the strike on the FEC when management took to the throttle trying to keep the Railroad moving.
     With a full group and their limited knowledge of the railroad, schedules were eased, and the delivery of freight became an Extra train work job.  As an experienced operation group that uses timetables the strange world of a CTC system causes some signal overruns and movements without authorization or proper signals.
     The Old hat Dispatcher was out of sync and had some re-routes that normally would not happen.  A couple of re-routs brought a coal train out of Miami (Everglades Coal?) and a general mixed freight from Jacksonville that reached their destinations with some minor changes.
     With a severe thunderstorm the footing stayed below the ballast and didn’t flood, and the crew remained on the job.  Some maintenance work is scheduled to repair the faults that a new crew always finds. 

The crewing of the railroad with new operators is always a pleasure and I find most visitors enjoy their experience.  

End of message.   

July 23, 1971, (2022)Resumed scheduled trains after the miles of damaged track just north of Titusville was placed back in service. Trains began entering the Brevard Division at about 21:45 hours and conducted a full schedule of operation. Crews answered the call and stepped back into sync after the long 7 months of down time. Some instructions were needed on occasion, but everyone performed well.
The billing department only found a couple of errors with deliveries the Locals worked. It was noticed that some of the trains lost their identifications which caused some anxiety in the Yard crew. A couple of trains were left on the Law, so a relief crew was dispatched to complete the trip.
The dispatcher reported there were a couple of hair pulling events, only ones that would cause some mild graying. The mechanical department was given some insight of equipment needing attention. And at north Titusville, crews reported some track problems which MOW crew members will address in quick manor.
The schedule was full, and the crews get a high five for their efforts and ability to get back in the saddle, aka, engineer’s seat.

December 2021 Superintendent Report: The final ops for 2021 was held with a group of 9 operators and the session progressed with little problems.  Some of the crews experienced the rath of the dispatcher because they failed to follow the signals and caused derailments and the Superintendent intervention.  Most traffic and deliveries were completed per schedule and the day finished with everyone enjoying the session.  Of course, the billing agent had a full workday clearing the errors.

more:   www.robertraymond.com/opslog-fec-12-4-2021/

July 2021 Superintendent Report:  A small group attended the training session for the operation and procedures for the Pineda Industrial Park.  Two sets of crews operated both the delivery and pick up trains and then climbed on board for the Industrial switching.  The COPX is the train crew who operated the industrial RS-3 switcher for spotting and picking cars to the contracted companies around the complex.  The contractional agreements requires priority cars delivered and removed before others.  At times this requires forethought of how to handle the cars in the least amount of moves and quickest methods.  Outbound cars are spotted for the next road freight that delivers cars for the second shift to pick up.  

The Day Begins:

The Early morning freights (5:30AM) arrives and leaves inbound cars and leaves with the retrieved empties outbound.  As the sun rises the COPX crew begins their shift at 7:00AM.  After reviewing the waybills of the inbound cars the COPX crew goes about their assigned work.  By 12:30 PM the first shift parks their RS-3 at the COPX office and leaves for the day. 

Suspended:  A second road freight with cars for the complex arrives about 3:30PM dropping cars and retrieving outbound cars the morning shift has spotted on track 3.  At 6:30PM the second shift arrives at the COPX office and reviews the cars for spotting around the complex.  As night begins to overtake the area the crew continues handling the inbound cars and spotting the empties.  The second shift terminates with the RS-3 nestled next to the COPX office.

End of Report.

June 30, 2021 Special Report Dusted off the rails and had our first ops session since February 2020.  The crew took to their jobs and only missed the usual number of things, but I cannot complain.  It was good to be able to host the session and look forward to others in the future.    The Yard crew was subject to a new process and had a few issues at first but by the end of the session had everything adjusted.  The crews made their runs on schedule and towards the end were ahead.  Only one local was left on the law at quitting time, but that is the fun with this hobby. 

Here is a link to Robert’s blog. https://www.robertraymond.com/opslog-fec-6-26-2021/

Superintendent: OUT