We continue to build outbound trains and blocks ...
Now I'll start pushing the cars from track 5 onto tracks 1, 2, and 3. I've
arbitrarily picked track 2 for the Easts and track 3 for the Amboys. Wests and Baker-Cadiz cars from track 5 are sloughed
off to my growing "for now" classification (track 1). After pulling just two tracks, the yard is starting to look more organized
and I have another empty track (Figure 4).
Now the call time for Amboy is coming up and I need to be as efficient as
possible with my next move. I figure I can grab that lonely Amboy A1 from track 4 as one of my last moves before pulling out
the completed Amboy cut, so next I'll come against the # 6 rail. As before, I put the Tomorrow car on my "for now" track 1,
East to track 2, Amboys to 3. But looking ahead, I put the Amboy 3 car and the West car together on the empty track 5 and
the lone Baker car back on track 6 while still holding on to that last A1 from track 6. So now I have pulled three tracks
(3, 5, and 6). We're almost ready for the Amboy train to depart; and the yard "keeps getting smarter". (Figure 5)
(click any image for a larger view in a new window)
Now let's get Amboy out of here. Still coupled to the A1 car from track
6, I run a little ways up the ladder and back down on the A1 car at the end of track 4 (which has been waiting so patiently).
Back up the ladder to pick up the Amboy train on track 3, push the whole cut back down on the Amboy 3 at the end of track
5 (Figure 6), then take the completed train (all in station order, by the way) out to depart. After that little "back and
fill", we take the completed train out to departure and return. The yard now has another empty track (Figure 7) -- but the
eastbound block will be called for any minute.
I estimate I've got time to pull one more track, so track 4 is the
obvious candidate. Easts are going on track 2 and the West on Track 5 as expected, but I'll put the Baker-Cadiz cars on track
3 (not on track 6 with their lone B1 compatriot). I see the potential for doing the "tack on and go" move again and it might
work out. But now it's time for that Eastbound block and we hustle it off to depart. After that move the yard is really opening
up and becoming ever more organized (Figure 8). And we've only pulled four tracks. But wait, Byron, you missed an East!
I did. In fact, I avoided touching track 7 altogether. Real railroads don't cherry-pick to make sure that they put every single
car possible into every single block. The prototype railroaders know that there will be another eastbound later today or tomorrow
-- plenty of time to get that East on track 7 into an outbound block. It's very rare when the railroad singles out a
specific car in a yard ... that's just another form of cherry-picking.
Of course, this situation is a little unrealistic,
since no cars have arrived. In an actual op session there would be cars arriving and the yard job would have to make decisions
about those incoming blocks based on the cut-off times for the jobs.
" ... prototype railroaders know that there will
be another eastbound later today or tomorrow ."
But let's finish what we started. Building the Baker-Cadiz train on tracks
2 and 3 and the westbound block on track 5 seems like the best approach. A good step might be grabbing track 7 next since
those two C2 cars will anchor the Baker-Cadiz block on track 2. Wests are going on track 5, and we'll start putting Tomorrows
on 4 (and that East is now a Tomorrow, so we'll put it there as well). After working track 7, the yard looks like this (Figure
So now we've pulled five tracks, the yard continues to become more classified, and now we get a little bonus, we
can finish our final block (Westbounds) while we are working the Baker-Cadiz train. So we put our switcher against the cars
on track 1. We stipulated earlier that our switcher can only pull 8 or 9 cars, so we cannot get the whole cut at once.
There are a couple of ways to go here and sometimes it's fun to make the
choice based on what the real crews would do to avoid walking. Let's assume that we like our brakeman and don't want him to
have to walk all the way down to where those two Tomorrows are at the end of Track 1. So instead, we'll make an extra move.
We'll ask the brakie to pull the pin between the first and second car on the track, then pull that Tomorrow out and stash
it on track 4. The brakeman can ride the car down to 4 and jump back on the loco after we set out the car.
"Let's assume that we like our brakeman and don't
want him to have to walk ..."
Now that we can pull the string in one move, we'll set out those two end
Tomorrows on 4, the Wests on 5 (completing that block), The B2s on 3, the C2 on 2 and we'll hold on to the B1. (Figure 10)
But we don't run the Wests out to departure now -- the Yardmaster usually doesn't like getting blocks out of order or
early any more than he likes getting them late. But sometimes it makes sense to build a block early if we can do it easily
while working on other blocking as we did here. So we let the Wests sit for the time being and continue working the Baker-Cadiz
Since we're holding a B1 already, we grab the lone B1 on track 6, which
leaves us in good shape to do a quick shuffle to put the Baker-Cadiz train together. We'll come against the B2s on track 3,
pull them out and leave the last B2 on track 3 to clear that C1. Push the string into track 2 so the C1 comes against the
C2s already on track 2, break our train again between B1s and B2s, duck back in for the last B2 on the adjacent track 3 and
then put the train back together, ready to depart. (Figure 11)
That wraps up our switching in the yard and we can haul the Baker-Cadiz
train and the West block out to departure when the Yardmaster needs them. All accomplished with a lot less work than cherry-picking
each train. Because the yard "keeps getting smarter" as we pull and work each track, fewer total moves are required, there's
less walking by our imagined crews, and we gain more efficiency overall. That's the way to run a railroad!