Friday, January 6, 2017

Staging Script: Shoreline Trains Through Saybrook - c. 1948

So, now that I've expanded my staging to accommodate the traffic through Old Saybrook, the next, HUGE, question I needed to answer was the obvious one - "what trains went through Old Saybrook?" The answer isn't as straightforward as you might expect.

Fortunately, Old Saybrook - while not a major town on the New Haven - does have a Signal Station (tower SS-102) and a passenger station so it shows up in both the Employee Timetables and the Arranged Freight Service books. I had to consult and cross-reference them both in order to come up with a pretty close approximation of the traffic. I actually started this research in the summer of 2014, and got into it more last February (click here for more details on the resources used), but at that time focused only covered the mid-day traffic, when the two Shoreline locals would be in town.

But as my interest in the traffic through Old Saybrook grew (along with progress on the Saybrook scene), I wanted to include more trains. And now that my staging yards are expanded to their full potential (as inadequate as that might turn out to be), it was time expand my research to cover a full 3 hour operating session (12 "prototype" hours on a 4:1 fast clock) and figure out how the trains would interact with each other.

Below is a compilation of all that research:

You really should click on the image to enlarge/read
That, my friends, is a detailed listing of all the trains through Old Saybrook from 7:10 in the morning (westbound freight BN-9) til 7:42pm (eastbound freight GB-8). All 33 of'em! As I mentioned earlier, I compiled it from information in the employee timetables and freight service books. John Wallace helped too by supplying the "station stop" info. And most interestingly, I was able to determine the actual locomotives used for each train using the railroad's engine utilization report from April 20, 1948 (read more about that here).

The table is pretty straightforward. The numbers in the left-most column tell the Shoreline crews how many actual, real minutes they have between trains (hint: it ain't much on a 4:1 fast clock). The next column gives the actual prototype train times, etc. The right-most columns tell the crews where to start each train - whether at New London (east end) or New Haven (west end) staging.

As you can see, I lucked out big time - most trains alternate eastbound/westbound, so I don't need as many staging tracks as you might expect (each track empties by the time it needs to be filled). The only exceptions (trains 12 & 182, 14 & FGB-2, and 402 & 26) are all eastbounds - and it just so happens that my largest staging yard is the east end yard which can receive these additional trains #FTW!

I can't wait to do a dress rehearsal to see how all this is gonna work!

But before that, some really cool things that became apparent as I compiled the engine assignments:

  • lot of engines are used twice during this 12-hr time period - yes, if you stood on the station platform long enough, you'd see some of the same engines coming back from where they went. So, even though there are 33 trains, I don't need as many different locos as you'd think.
  • But I still need a lot of engines if I want to truly duplicate this traffic:
    • One I-4 class Pacific (#1350)
    • One A-B-A set of Alco FAs (New Haven class DER-2 #0418-0459-0419)
    • Five I-5 class Hudsons (#1400-1403 & 1405)
    • and a whopping 28 DL-109s! (DER-1)
Yes, the Diesel Era was certainly in full swing on the Shoreline by the spring of 1948!

As I've mentioned elsewhere, when I decided to include Old Saybrook on the layout, it was primarily 1) to have a nice scene to greet visitors when they first come down the basement stairs, and 2) to have a nice scene for the New London-Cedar Hill local to go through on its way up the Valley branch at the Saybrook wye.

But as you can tell, the Saybrook Scene has become so much more and the heavy Shoreline traffic that went through here in a typical day provides a really cool contrast to being out on the Valley branch all by yourself with the local freight. This contrast even shows up in the motive power - all but 7 of the 33 Shoreline trains are diesel-powered, while the Valley and Air Line locals are still all steam. While I didn't build all this contrast into the design from the beginning, it's certainly become a really cool bonus and provides another opportunity to tell the story of rail transportation during this era.

Now I just have to see if my staging yards are actually up to the task of supporting all these trains . . .


  1. Hmm, seems to me I know a couple of FAs on layer hat happen to be under your roof...

    1. Thanks Pete! I think I *should* be all set - but nice to know I have some "on lease"! :)

  2. Fun! But luckily, judicious cycling of your HO equipment reduces the fleet requirements considerably!

    1. That's the plan Fred! Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment!