I’ve been thinking:
How do I know what cars I need to pick up at each industry? The railway knows what cars are on each shipper’s siding but maybe isn’t as aware of what’s going on with those cars. Somehow the shipper must communicate the status of those cars back to the railway. What I’d like is to figure out a way to represent this during an operating session. The only reason we’re still working along the Prince Street Spur is to serve the shippers that remain and we need to make sure we’re doing our best to work closely with them. I’d like to find a way to incorporate evidence of this inter-relationship in an operating session.
The switchlist tells me to drop off this car and pick up that one. If I were doing this professionally “in real life” I think I’d want to pull up to the siding and then pause for a minute to figure out what needs to be done and then maybe talk with my crew about how we want to go about moving the cars around. It’s easier to do this in the cab and harder when I drop down onto the ground and have to rely on hand signals and radio communication with the engine. Rail cars are heavy and must be moved responsibly. Furthermore, we’ve only got so much time to do the work so need to work efficiently. I need to get along with my colleague in the cab and this relationship will get strained pretty quickly if either of us is wasting the other’s time. I think this makes sense but still too often just rush into the siding accepting that I’ll fix things along the way; I need to do a better job of planning out my day on the (model) railroad. Developing an operating plan for the layout should provide this time as a part of the operating plan. A crew should feel comfortable using this time and be taking advantage of it.
We need to work safely. Crossing the street on the walk in to the office this morning I thought about what it must be like to flag a train through the crossing. Further, I imagined what it must be like to have to stand there while my crew works back and forth through that crossing. If I can find a way to not have to stand there in my orange vest in the middle of six lanes of rush hour traffic, I can assure you I would. When I started my current layout I knew I wanted a road crossing so I could work against it. I think this interplay is fascinating and too often too easily ignored during the design of the layout and even more during its operation. Obviously placing this crossing should be strategic so it can govern the movements around it. Likely it’ll wind up at the end of the line and serve as the scenic break defining the end of the layout in a way that explains the length of the switching lead not just simply because that’s where we run out of benchwork but also that’s as far as we typically proceed when working these sidings respecting the safety of my train crew and those N scale drivers.
I started work on this layout as a means to test my definition of what I’m looking for in a prototype. I’m already planning its replacement but before I can even begin to consider that work I need to define the style of railroading I want to model and then find that perfect prototype for me. I’m grateful to have this platform to work against where its freelance definition allows me to move things around in a perpetual design-edit approach. As I define each element I have a place to try it out. Those that retain interest should remain as criteria for evaluating a prototype location a and those that don’t can be ruled out.