Railroaders from all over have converged on the Ridge Lines today for the second and final operating session of the year. Time Table and Train Orders rule the railroad on this day and block signals convey track occupation rather than authority.
No joy rides today, all of us have a specific job to do and must blend in with the rest of the railroad. It's a big operation, too. Nine locals are out on the road along with four interchange jobs and those two first class passenger trains running on their timetable. As long as they stay on their schedule, all else must clear for the two hot shots.
And don't forget the yard guys making and breaking the trains. Elston Yard will keep at least one heavy switcher at work all day long building the departing trains out of arrivals under the supervision of two yardmasters and the dispatcher. Over and over they drill the arrivals into the yard ladder after the road crew cuts off caboose and pulls power ahead to the ready track. Then they make up the next departure for the next available crew.
Sounds complicated, right? Yep, just like the full-sized railroads once did, Ridge Lines trains move cars to and from the destinations around the line using clearance cards, train orders and waybills. Each conductor receives a clip board with Clearance Form A and specific 19s and 31s. There is a First Class TimeTable and also an individual waybill for each revenue car on the train. And on the back is a track diagram complete with all the sidings and spurs.
Yardmaster tells each departing crew to simply follow the orders, drop off five cars to the destinations on their waybills and pick up the five cars whose waybills are in the train order stand out on the line at the stop we are working.
Sounds simple, right? Yep, sure is for experienced freight guys, but what about passenger guys and visitors who don't know this road well? Well, we can have fun, too! Maybe make a bunch of extra moves or even bring in the wrong car (or two) while we learn the shortcuts (like how many cars will fit into a run around or why that facing point switch isn't a trail) the hard way, but we are railroading now and at the end of the day I'm glad I drove over and 'signed the list'.
I've joined two turn jobs as rear end brakeman, an interchange job as conductor and conducted a sweep to finish up. Met some new friends today and caught up with a few long time ones, too.
Strange thing, though, when I get home and tell Mrs. Caboose about my day she can't believe that I did all that for NO pay!
Best regards, cabooseMikey.
Ridge Lines PART 1
Ridge Lines PART 1
Ridge Lines PART 2
Ridge Lines PART 3
Ridge Lines PART 4
Ridge Lines PART 5