Operations Desired
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Operations Desired on the CSXT Shenandoah Division

The operational goal of the CSXT Shenandoah Division is to recreate the feel of a busy single-track bridge and coal route in N scale.  A varied traffic mix including unit coal trains, piggyback/double stack/autorack trains, and general merchandise trains along with roadswitchers and shifters (locals) is desired for interesting operations.  Another requirement is a working classification yard where the through trains will set out and pick up blocks of cars, and where local trains will originate.  Pushers should be included in the operating scheme to assist loaded coal trains and merchandise trains up one or more significant grades.

The operation of the Shenandoah Division will be shared with a group of friends--up to a maximum of about 12-16 operators (1 trainmaster, 1 dispatcher, 1 yardmaster plus 1-2 yard engineers, 1-2 roadswitcher crews, 1 helper crew, and 4-7 road crews).  Finding a group this large is sometimes a challenge, so the layout should be able to operate with smaller crews as well--a more typical crew is probably on the order of 7-9 operators (1 trainmaster, 1 dispatcher, 1 yardmaster, 4-6 train crews).  In addition, it would be nice to make a provision for some sort of continuous running (or loop to loop) for use during railroad club layout tours and open houses, or when non-railroad visitors are present.  Since realistic operation is my primary goal, this provision could be eliminated in favor of a better overall layout design. (However, I was able to work in a loop on the Covington peninsula on the upper level.)

This list shows the trains and traffic mix in operation on the Shenandoah Division.  The goal for the traffic mix is to be about 30-40% coal trains and 60-70% non-coal in order to give the feeling of a busy coal and freight route.

On the first version of the Shenandoah Division, the staging yards were not sufficient to support all of the desired traffic, so we ran a 16-hour day and modeled selected trains. Increasing staging capacity is one of the goals of the design for the new railroad, but we will still probably only run a 16-hour day using a 4:1 fast clock so that an operating session will only last about 4 real hours. As a result of the much longer mainline and increased staging capacity, we may actually run a 12-hour day using a 3:1 fast clock (still 4 real hours). This "shorter" day would allow two complete sessions to be run before having to restage the railroad. Of course, if the operators are willing, we could run longer than a 4 hour session.

No active staging should done during the course of the operating session. The staging yards will be visible but concealed—that is, I want the staging area is easily accessible and not hidden under the layout, but the road crews will not to be able to see the yards and ruin the illusion of their trip.


This page was last updated on 01/01/11.


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