02/03/2007 Operating Session
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Highlights of the February 3, 2007 Operating Session

The CSXT Shenandoah Division came to life once again on February 3, 2007. This session was originally scheduled for January 20, 2007 but had to be postponed as a result of illness. There were eight members (including me) of the operating crew present.

The session started at 1:00 p.m. as usual with a short briefing for the operating crew. After discussing a few 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 shortly after 6:00 p.m.

For this session we ran our normal "PM" sequence (1900 to 0700) which has 19 trains on the lineup sheet. Once again, the use of the TCS and signals enabled all 19 trains to complete their runs during the session, which ended up running for 12 hours and 28 minutes (3:1 fast clock).

This session marked the first use of the new James River Lead in Catawba and various local switch control panels. With these two changes (see the 12/31/2006 Progress Report), the Second Catawba Shifter (train B712) completed its work in  6 hours and 53 minutes. This time was an improvement over the previous best time of 8 hours and 20 minutes, and I had added more traffic for the shifter to handle at this session. Larry served as the crew on B712, and he reported that the ability to use the James River Lead and to get "Track and Time Authority" from the dispatcher greatly improved his efficiency on B712, especially in Catawba. I'm glad the changes improved running the shifter, as I would like for this job to be accomplished in 7-9 hours each session, which should allow the crew of the Catawba Shifter to run at least one other train during an operating session.

As a result of rescheduling the session, a couple of crew members from the original confirmed roster weren't able to attend. Accordingly, Cherie agreed to help out, and she ran 3 trains during the first half of the session, which allowed the sequence to stay on track. Marcus served as the CSX SD Dispatcher Jacksonville in the first half of the session, and Todd relieved him for the second half. Rich and Dave graciously volunteered to fill the two shifts of the Trainmaster position, so I was able to run trains out on the road for a change. :-) I ended up running four different trains plus I pushed one train up Rich Patch Mountain. And, in the second half of the session, Marcus got to run some "familiarization" trips since he's spent the last few sessions in the dispatcher's chair. :-) A unique occurrence at this session was the two of us meeting on trains at Laurel, and later I had the privilege of pushing his train up Rich Patch Mountain. These are two events which have never happened before because he's usually dispatching and I'm usually serving as the Trainmaster. Jeff and Larry rounded out the crew for this session.

I think this was one of out better sessions, and I know I really enjoyed operating the Shenandoah Division once again. I truly appreciate the participation of the entire crew in helping me achieve my vision for each operating session!


February 3, 2007 Operating Session Photos

Dave finishes making a 29 car pick-up on B742 (the Black Cat) at Salem as Cherie waits to make a crew change on Q694 at SE Cabin. Dave will leave the Salem Terminal with 59 cars (a record train length)!


Cherie brings northbound Q694 into the south end of New Castle, where her train will receive a pair of pushers for the climb up Rich Patch Mountain.


Larry makes the station stop at Covington, Va. on southbound Amtrak train P031.


Dave has been given permission to leave the Salem Terminal on B742. The head end of his train is in Hanging Rock and has knocked down the signal at MC Cabin, while the rear end stretches around the curves back into the Salem Terminal.


Meanwhile, Larry has brought P031 around the newly installed plaster scenery at Pearson Curve.


Larry has brought P031 to a stop at the south end of Laurel to wait for a meet with northbound Q694.


After having finished his run on P031, Larry then served as the crew of B712, the Second Catawba Shifter. In this view, he has completed making his pick-ups from Valley Feed and James River Paper on the east side of the mainline and is waiting for permission from the dispatcher to cross over the mainline to work in the Catawba Yard. Train B742 has set-off 29 cars for B712 in Catawba Yard.


Northbound hopper train T466 passes B712 in Catawba. B712 is sitting on the Catawba Work Track, and the new James River Lead can be seen at the far left.


Todd is the crew on T466, and his train is passing B712 in Catawba as Larry looks on.


Train B742, with Dave at the controls, has been pushed up Rich Patch Mountain. B742 is pulling away from the north end of Laurel. Jeff is on the B265 pushers at the south end of Laurel, awaiting a signal to proceed back down the mountain to New Castle.


After Dave finished his run on B742, he was assigned to K657, the southbound Tropicana Juice empty unit train. Here he meets Larry, still on B712, at Catawba. Notice that B712 was given permission to cross over the mainline and is now working in the yard at Catawba.


Rich looks over the lineup sheet during his shift as Trainmaster. The laptop on the desk runs RealVNC to show a copy of the CATS dispatching software. The CATS software actually runs on another computer outside the layout room, and the dispatcher controls the railroad from there. We use a laptop here in case there's any troubleshooting necessary, and it gives the Trainmaster advance notice on traffic coming to the Wadesboro and Connellsville/Winchester staging yards.


Southbound loaded coal train T459 passes the church at Rich Patch with a DRGW SD40T-2 and a pair of
ex-NYSW CSX B40-8s for power.


During the second half of the session, Rich and Marcus served as road crews. Rich brings Q243 into Salem, while Marcus watches it come around the curves at SN Cabin.


Dave served as the Trainmaster for the second half of the session. He's talking with the Dispatcher about bringing R422 onto the railroad at SE Cabin.


B712 has finally completed its work in Catawba and has made the run over to New Castle. During a break in heavy traffic, B712 has begun to make pick-ups at the industries on the passing siding in New Castle.


Dave runs R422 out to SE Cabin, the crew change location at the south end of the Salem Terminal. Marcus will take over from Dave at this point and run the train through the Salem Terminal and over the Covington Subdivision crew district.


After meeting southbound trains T459 and Q243,Jeff brings northbound empty hopper train V648 out of the passing siding at Catawba, Va.


Jeff has V648 working upgrade at Abbott, Va.


Southbound freight R699 had a unit which was not loading, and the train stalled at this point in Pearson Curve. In order to assist R699 to the summit at High Meadow, a B270 Covington Pusher was called for the first time ever.


After B270 coupled onto the rear of the train, R699 begins to claw its way around Pearson Curve.


The B270 pusher shoves R699 up the grade.


B270 continues to push R699. The 2.25% grade briefly levels out and then sags at the north end of Ridgemont before stiffening to 2.49% to the summit at High Meadow. B270 would assist R699 all the way to High Meadow before cutting off and returning to Covington.


Northbound empty train V602 descends the grade at Pearson Curve with a Montana Rail Link SD35 trailing a pair of CSX SD50 locomotives.


V602 emerges from the cut between Pearson Curve and Carpenter, Va.


Crew photo 02/03/07. From left to right: Jeff, Todd, Rich, Bruce, Larry, Marcus (behind Larry), Dave, Cherie.


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


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