11/18/2006 Operating Session
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Highlights of the November 18, 2006 Operating Session

The CSXT Shenandoah Division came to life once again on November 18, 2006. There were eight members (including me) of the operating crew present. This session would be the third time operating the entire Covington Subdivision (the majority of the layout) under TCS control.

The session started at 1:00 p.m. as usual with a briefing for the operating crew. After emphasizing some changes in operating procedures and taking a group photo, we started the session at about 1:30 p.m. We took our normal mid-session break of about 30 minutes for some snacks and social time around 3:30 p.m., and then we resumed operating around 4:00 p.m. before ending the session at 6:00 p.m.

We continued the procedure introduced at the May 20, 2006 operating session to have only the crews for the initial two trains, along with the Trainmaster, in the layout room at the start of the session. The other crews remained downstairs in the "crew lounge" while we got the session going. This procedure seems to alleviate some of the normal chaos at the beginning of the session and will be continued as a normal practice at all future sessions.

For this session we ran our normal "AM" sequence (0700 to 1900), with one additional train: P997, the Santa Claus Special. Running P997 is a November tradition dating back to Shenandoah Division V1. This sequence included running a shifter for the second time on the new layout as well. Accordingly, the First Catawba Shifter (B711) ran for the first time in this session.

With the new shifter and the Santa Claus Special, there were a total of 20 trains on the lineup sheet for this session. We were able to get all 20 of the trains out on the road, and all 20 of them completed their run! Even with TCS, radio traffic increased somewhat at this session because of the necessity of calling the dispatcher when needing to make a local move through an OS section at the end of a passing siding. The B711 shifter needs extensive use of dispatcher-controlled switches in order to complete its work. After listening to crew suggestions, management has authorized the future installation of switch locks and pushbuttons to allow crews to take a switch "off power" when authorized with Track and Time from the dispatcher.

I served as Trainmaster again for the entire session. Larry served as the B711 crew, and Marcus was once again our SD Dispatcher. The two of them worked quite well together to handle this train in spite of heavy traffic on the division. Cherie ran two trains to help us have enough crews to run the complete sequence. Jan, Dave, Rich, and Mike rounded out the crew at this session. I appreciate the participation of the entire crew in helping me achieve my vision for each operating session!


November 18, 2006 Operating Session Photos

For this session we ran B711 (First Catawba Shifter) as the first train of the sequence. Larry has started this job by beginning to make pickups at James River Paper in Catawba.


Marcus ponders traffic on the CATS console early in the session.


Mike and Dave bring Q420 into the south end of New Castle, where Rich is waiting to meet them on B741.


The SD Dispatcher has apparently allowed B711 to cross the main to get to the Catawba Yard, but Larry looks like he's waiting for additional Track and Time to work at the north end of Catawba.


Meeting B741 in New Castle, Mike brings Q420 to a stop on the siding in preparation for tying on pushers to proceed up Rich Patch Mountain.


Mike brings Q420 into Laurel with the B264 pushers (run by Jan) assisting his train up Rich Patch Mountain. Cherie is bringing the Q695 into the siding at Laurel to meet Q420.


B711 has crossed the main again to finish working the industries on the east side of Catawba. Meanwhile, T386 waits in the siding to meet southbound Q695 on the mainline.


An annual November tradition on the Shenandoah Division is the running of P997, the Santa Claus Special. For this year's train, a restored ACL E8 leads the consist. Dave is making P997's stop at Laurel to distribute presents, while T386 holds out south of Laurel per the bulletin instructions. The ACL E unit marks the first time a sound equipped unit has run on the Shenandoah Division--and it sounded great! :-)


P997 has proceeded down Rich Patch Mountain and makes a stop in New Castle.


As the crew of Q244, Jan enjoys watching this autorack train as it approaches the south end of New Castle.


B711 arrives in Abbott to perform its work there. B711 and B712 currently work from Catawba to New Castle and return.


Running southbound R423, Cherie is in the siding waiting for the southbound Cardinal, P050, to pass her at Laurel.


Jan prepares to run P050, Amtrak's Cardinal, down Rich Patch Mountain after passing R423 in the siding.


B711 works Roanoke Cement at New Castle.


After the mid-session break, Marcus continues to dispatch traffic over the Shenandoah Division.


After meeting northbound K656, Mike pulls southbound coal train V615 out of the siding at Catawba and across the Catawba Creek Viaduct.


Now serving as the crew on southbound grain train G227, Mike has his train in the siding at Laurel waiting to meet the northbound Juice Train, K656, that Dave has run up Rich Patch Mountain.


The SD Dispatcher has granted B711 permission past the stop signal at the north end of Catawba to head into the yard. Northbound empty hopper train T478 holds the mainline while the rear end of southbound R423 can just be seen on the passing track.


Dave has K656 in dynamics as it descends the grade around Pearson Curve.


Somehow Jan lucked out and got to run both Amtrak trains. Here, he's about to leave the Salem Terminal on P032.


Northbound Amtrak P032 crosses the Craig Creek Viaduct near Laurel, Va.


Dave is now running the Z233, a Norfolk Southern intermodal train. He's just knocked down the signals at MC Cabin as he leaves the Salem Terminal limits.


Larry has finished his work at Catawba and is preparing to tie down his locomotives. With some operational changes suggested after the 09/16/06 Operating Session, Larry was able to complete the work for B711 in 8 hours and 20 minutes.


Crew photo 11/18/06. Larry, Bruce, and Marcus on the left; with Jan, Dave, and Rich on the right; and Mike in the center.


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


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