Sunday, September 13, 2020

Short Sunday Solo Session: Eastbound Shore Line Local (PDX-1)

I'm discovering that there's nothing quite like the relaxation and pleasant diversion you get from just operating a local freight train. Lots of others got to this party before me, but - driven by the lack of formal op sessions - I've just recently arrived at this realization, having operated the outbound leg of the Airline Local just a few weeks ago. As I mentioned back then, my session setup resulted in a nice full crock pot of operations that I could feed off of for a while. And so, having hopped back in the roadster, I headed down to Saybrook Junction to see if I could catch the eastbound local freight. . .

Luckily, we got there just as it was nosing into the balloon track/Track 6 . . .

PDX-1 (Providence Division Local No. 1) is the eastbound local that works all the trailing point switches between Cedar Hill Yard (New Haven) and Fort Yard (New London). Since it needs to stay out of the way of the busy Shore Line traffic, it doesn't bother with facing point industries - taking cars consigned to those spots all the way to Saybrook where they're left for the westbound local (PDX-2) to take care of.

PDX-1 continues east on Track 6 behind the station.

According to the paperwork, the local has 3 boxcars to leave on the Saybrook bulk track (what the NHRR calls a team track), and one hopper of coal to leave for PDX-2 to take up the Valley Line to Essex.

We also check in with the Saybrook agent who gives us the paperwork for the cars in town that need to be dealt with. We see that the two tank cars (at Chapman's) and the two boxcars (currently on the bulk track) are going back west to Cedar Hill yard, so we'll move those over to Track 5 for later pickup by PDX-2.

The two waybills are for loaded hoppers that are already on Track 5 for the westbound local to take up the Valley Line.

The crew's first move is to pin off the 3 cars consigned to the Saybrook bulk track and use those as a handle to pull the cars off Tracks 8 (bulk track) and 10 (Chapman's/house track).

They clear the bulk track by putting all four cars headed back to Cedar Hill onto Track 10 temporarily . . .

. . . and then spot the three drops on the bulk track.

Next, they pick up the cars from Track 10 . . .

And move back over to Track 6 to pick up the load of coal destined for Essex via PDX-2.

Down at the east end of Track 6, the local has to wait for permission to get on the main and have the switch aligned . . .

. . . and then they have a stressful - and fast - move to get out of Track 6 and back down through the crossovers onto Track 5 before another Shore Line train is due through.

Once clear of the mainline tracks, the crew can take its time spotting the cars for PDX-2. The two loaded hoppers that were already there, as well as today's hopper delivery, are all at the west end of this cut of cars - positioned perfectly for PDX-2 to pick them up and take them up the branch later. The remaining 4 cars (two tanks, two boxcars) will remain on Track 5 until PDX-2 comes back down off the branch and picks them up to continue west to Cedar Hill.

PDX-1's crew leaves the paperwork for these cars for PDX-2 (above) and, once the main is clear again, they run light (and quickly) back across the main tracks to pick up the rest of their train that's been sitting on Track 6 (the balloon track behind the station).

Once coupled up and the brakes are tested, it's time to continue east to Fort Yard, New London, and home.

As you can see, there's only one actual town (Saybrook) for PDX-1 to switch on my layout - all the rest of the traffic (cars from towns west of Saybrook, and cars for towns east of Saybrook) is simulated by being included in the train, but those cars aren't actually switched. They just go from staging to staging.

But hopefully you can see how immersive even switching one town can be - especially when that one town also happens to be on a mainline that saw over 70 trains a day! There can be a lot of waiting for permission to foul the main - and then a lot of scurrying when that permission is finally granted and switches are thrown for you. And while we didn't see all that mainline traffic today, rest assured it's there during a formal session. And with a 4:1 fast clock, you've got to keep your wits about you - just like on the prototype.

Now that the eastbound local has left town, we need to check our watches and decide if we want to wait for the westbound local to appear, or head back up the Valley to catch up with the Airline Local - or maybe we'll even get a glimpse of the famed Valley Local!

Thankfully, the flathead '8 is purring nicely and ready for whenever we finally make a decision . . . Ah, the "problem" of having so many great trains to chase during the Autumn of 1948 . . .


  1. I felt completely immersed in that and it sounds like fun. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Glad you thought so Neil! Would be great to have you join in a session one of these days :^)

  2. Thanks for letting me ride along, I enjoyed the trip.

    1. Thanks Ken! That's exactly the sort of feeling I was trying to convey - glad you enjoyed it!

  3. So, I have to ask.....Operating by yourself, "playing" with all the paperwork....It was fun, wasn't it, Chris?
    I think I'm gonna fire up my industrial branch this weekend and switch some stuff.

    1. It absolutely was Ralph - and IS! Other than PDX-1 which is one-way, the other three locals are out-and-back turns, so if I just do 1/2 of the job at a time, I have SIX other mini sessions (well, five at this point since I already did the first 1/2 of the Airline local a few weeks ago). And that's all before I even do all the traffic on the Shore Line(!) I just really enjoy operations - and am glad to be able to do it on my own layout for a change. I just hope it doesn't prevent me from making more progress on scenery and such!