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  • Writer's pictureJM Gadoury

Dispatching All By Yourself

The plausibly prototypical, fictional Blue Ridge & Western Railroad was built with a mission in mind. Operations!

Assembled by the members of a modular NTRAK club, from circa 1981 to 2021, the club was mainly known for running impressive parades of trains.

As of now, RANTRAK-RANRAIL, begins the excursion into realistic train movement of packaged goods to and from trackside customers.

Find “The Story of the BR&WRR“ on our YouTube link also on our Main Page.

Based on that narrative, after plotting the geographical story onto a satellite image, a draft Dispatcher Control Board was designed.

The Dispatcher Control Board (DCB) compliments the already deployed Car Card System ordered from the Micro-Mark catalog. That system was enhanced by printing on photo paper a spreadsheet of images of every piece of rolling stock dedicated to the layout.

Each photo was affixed to the car card above the fold and sealed with a wrap of packing tape, forming the pocket.

Subsequent and final versions of the DCB will colorize the service-able customers classified by geographic proximity on the satellite map. The color-codes will be added to each car card Waybill, making the Yardmaster sorting job visually easier.

To make all of this work easier to digest, the club members will wade slowly into the process.

Step 1: Run a locomotive following a numbered train scenario, becoming familiar with switch orientation, geography and notable operational risks.

Step 2: Run a short 2-3 car train from yard to yard.

Step 3: Select a switcher assignment at a larger industry customer becoming familiar with the sidings, drill track, caboose pockets, and the timetable that force a stop and wait at any mainline interface.

Step 4: Take a turn as Yardmaster at BR&W Yard, Kerns Yard, or Hamil Hill Yard sorting car cards and shifting consists together for pickup.

Step 5: Repeat steps 1-4 many, many, many times, increasing understanding and comfort with every turn.

Finally, have fun mimicking the prototype! We look forward to hosting guests and first-time operators. Given the steep learning curve, operations will happen by appointment. Guests will be assigned a throttle and partnered with an experienced conductor.

Our first “guest engineer“ event is scheduled for the end of September with some of our Eastern N Lines group friends in town.

All Aboard!

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