Progress Continues on the Shenandoah Division
Every year the fall season seems to be busier than the previous year for me.
This year has been no exception, and with all the non-model railroad activities
of the fall, progress on the Shenandoah Division has not been as rapid nor as
consistent as I would like. However, there is some progress, albeit slow, which
has been accomplished since the 09/15/2004
Progress Report, including the first "test" operating session on the new
layout, additional wiring, and the installation of more backdrop and fascia
Test Operating Session on September 18, 2004
The biggest news since the last progress report is that the first ever
"operating session" was held on the new CSXT Shenandoah Division. At the
conclusion of a work session held on September 18, 2004, I decided to have a
"test" operating session since there were several members of the operating crew
present. I had staged 2 freight trains, a coal train, and Amtrak passenger train
at various points around the railroad. Jan, Larry, Rich, and Robert ran these
four trains while I acted as the dispatcher. This session was the first time
we've "operated" the Shenandoah Division since April 2001, save for some test
running when the mainline wiring was completed in April of this year. And, in
fact, the first ever operating session on the original CSXT Shenandoah Division
layout was held on September 18, 1998, so this session marked the 6 year
anniversary of that session. Even though it was a "test" session, we managed to
operate four trains simultaneously for the first time on this layout as a
tune-up for future operations and to help start the process of fine-tuning the
layout for operating reliability.
To start the "session," Jan took the T379 southbound coal train from
Connellsville to Ridgemont where the SD Dispatcher had him hold since P050,
Amtrak's eastbound Cardinal, was due to arrive soon from the NS at
Shenandoah Junction. Meanwhile, Rich took northbound freight R698 from Wadesboro
to the siding at Catawba in anticipation of P050's arrival. Larry was on the
P050, and he was given permission to proceed to New Castle. Jan was then
authorized to move the T379 to Laurel where he was told he'd meet two
Shortly thereafter, Robert took the R694 northbound freight from Wadesboro to SN
Cabin at the north end of double track in North Salem. With the station stop
complete in New Castle, P050 was cleared by the dispatcher to the Market Street
Union Station in Salem. R698 was then given permission to move from Catawba to
the siding in New Castle. After P050 passed R694 at SN Cabin, Robert took R694
out of the Salem Terminal and over the road where he passed R698 at New Castle
and met T379 at Laurel.
The crew of R698 had gone on the law at New Castle and tied down their train
there. With no other crew members available, the SD dispatcher gave T379
permission to the yard at Wadesboro. At the same time, R694 was given permission
to the north end at Connellsville. With both trains tied down in their
respective terminals, this first mini-session was over. The session included 3
meets and 1 pass between trains, which I hope started to give those crew
members present some idea of the flavor of operations (and length of the
mainline) once we begin "real" sessions.
Given that the railroad is not completed and that neither track nor rolling
stock has been tuned yet, I was pretty pleased with the overall reliability of
the initial train operation. There were a few problem areas (mainly unpowered
turnout frogs), but I fully expected those, and we will start fine-tuning the
layout in preparation for the commencement of "real" operations.
Of course, the company photographer was not on duty, so there are no photos of
Potts Valley Railway Benchwork Finished
The crew of the Potts Valley Railway (PVRY) has finished installation of the
benchwork for this short line railroad. The remainder of the work on the PVRY
will likely not start until after operating sessions have begun on the main
portion of the layout. However, CSXT Shenandoah Division officials had asked the
PVRY crews to install the benchwork before CSXT would begin to store trains in
the Connellsville/Winchester and Wadesboro staging yards.
Signal Maintainers Activate Trackage
CSXT signal maintainers have continued to activate additional trackage in the town Catawba.
After having recovered from burnout resulting from the railroad-wide "blitz"
during late summer and early fall, the
signal maintainers have soldered approximately 25 feeders to finish the wiring
Backdrop and Fascia
Several recent work sessions (both by myself and with others in the work
crew) have resulted in much additional backdrop and fascia being installed on
the railroad. The installation of backdrop sections is complete now at
Covington, and nearly complete at North Salem and Carpenter. In addition, Jan
and Scott helped to build a frame for the backdrop at the end of the New Castle
peninsula so the backdrop could be installed there as well. Additional fascia
has been installed at Covington, Carpenter, Connellsville/Winchester, and
Cherie also has been helping out since the last progress report by working on
backdrop and fascia sections. She has painted additional fascia sections green.
She has also been working on applying joint compound to the joints between the
backdrop sections as well as covering the screws used to attach the backdrop.
The focus for the remainder of 2004 and into 2005 is to complete all the
"heavy" construction, such as benchwork, backdrop, and fascia in addition to
completing all of the wiring before starting to prepare for operating sessions.