Highlights of the March 17, 2007 Operating Session
(NOTE: The report for the March 17, 2007 operating session has been
delayed for a variety of reasons. Other priorities seem to keep cropping up,
preventing me from posting the report until now.)
The CSXT Shenandoah Division came to life once again on March 17, 2007.
There were seven members (including me) of the
operating crew present. Because seven crew members is the absolute minimum size
required to run the railroad, Cherie gracefully agreed to help run during the
first part of the session.
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
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 sometime between 6:00
and 6:30 p.m.
For this session we ran the "AM" sequence (0700 to 1900). Prior to
this session, the "AM" sequence would have 19 trains on the lineup sheet, but
this session added 3 new trains. One of the trains will be a regular addition:
B703 the First Covington Shifter. The other pair of trains was P992 (northbound)
and P993 (southbound), the Skyline Special, a fall foliage steam
excursion from Salem to Alleghany Junction and return, pulled by recently
restored Clinchfield 4-6-6-4 670.
With the addition of the B703 and having to accommodate P992/P993, we ended
up running only 18 of the 22 trains on the lineup sheet in 12 hours and 31 minutes (3:1 fast clock).
I think two issues were responsible: the Skyline Special round-trip steam
excursion and the need for 1-2 more road crews to be present at the session. We
were generally behind on the lineup sheet and I think with 1-2 more crew members
present, we would have likely run all 22 trains. In any event, I still think it
was a very good session, and the problem of not having enough crews is
prototypical, so I'm more concerned about having quality train movements than
completing the lineup.
In addition to the Skyline Special steam excursion (P992/P993), this
session also saw the debut of the B703, the First (shift) Covington Shifter.
Larry handled this local which served industries in Covington and Laurel as well
as interchange traffic for Virginia Eastman in Carpenter. B703 went on duty at
1145 and off duty 1805, so it was an approximately 6 hour 20 minute job for this
Dave started out at 0700 on B711, the First Catawba Shifter, which he worked
until the mid-session break. Dave did the work in Catawba and Abbott and had
just made it to New Castle where I relieved him at 1301 after the mid-session
break. Dave would take over the dispatcher's chair while I ran B711. I worked
New Castle and returned to Catawba to tie down about 1510, so it took the two of
us about 8 hours 10 minutes to complete the work for this local. Even though it
wasn't the full job, this marked the first time I've run a local on the
I'd like to thank Marcus and Dave for sharing the dispatcher's duties during
this session. And, I really appreciate Marcus volunteering to serve second shift
as Trainmaster so I could run some trains for a change. :-) Jeff, Mike, and Jan
rounded out the road crews during the session. Jeff started the session on B741,
the southbound Black Cat local. This train set off for the first time at
Covington so the B703 (First Covington Shifter) would have cars to spot.
Special thanks to Cherie for serving as an additional crew member to allow us to
run the Skyline Special, including a photo run-by at Pearson Curve, in
the first half of the session.
During the staging preparations for this session, I found I had several
locomotives which had a variety of mechanical, electrical, or decoder problems.
These locomotives had performed fine at the February 3, 2007 session, but for
some reason, the gremlins were out in full force when restaging the railroad.
Accordingly, I spent quite a bit of time prior to this session working on
locomotive issues, and I was quite anxious about how the session would go.
However, the session seemed to be relatively smooth mechanically. The problem
locomotives seemed to perform much better than I anticipated, so I ended up
being really pleased with the session results. 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!