Last session the second section of No 98 had reason to pass the first section when the First 98 had problems in Midland City. See the previous post. This session, the saga of No 98 continues with the third section.
During the Sept 2017 operating session Rick encountered a challenging situation while operating the Third 98 through Midland City. Here is what he emailed me after the session:
Last Tuesday I think I screwed up. I was on a scheduled EB freight (3rd 98) which was about 3 hours late. The mail train was scheduled to leave behind me by about 1½ hours. I got a “right over” order leaving Cincinnati to yield to a local freight between Midland City and Leesburg. What I didn’t anticipate was that there would be a long delay at Midland City before the local showed up. While I was waiting on the EB Main the mail train (No 12) showed up behind me and had no way to pass me. Once the local showed up I proceeded and pulled into the siding at Leesburg to allow the mail train to pass.
So the question is, what should I have done?
Before we get into “what should I have done?”, I’ like to first focus on what to focus first on the #1 thing he should not have done: “I proceeded and pulled into the siding at Leesburg to allow the mail train to pass”
So why is it so bad? Let me paraphrase what Rick wrote in another way to that make it clear why his actions were poor. “I proceeded with Second Class Train Third 98 ahead of First Class Train No 12” Does this make it more clear? Rick proceeded ahead of a higher class train without orders to do so. Only the Dispatcher make change the authority of the Time-Table and that must be done by Train Orders. A dispatcher, I know that Rick did not have such orders. On the prototype, I’d guess that Rick would have been reprimanded as would the crew of the No 12 because both crews were in the wrong by proceeding without orders.
Given the situation, I think a better choice would have been for No 12 to backup flagging on to the single track main east of town and then flag it’s way down the WB main and proceed on east from Midland City to Chillicothe and beyond. No 12 needn’t have waited for the Extra WB local. No 12 did not have orders to wait for the WB local, instead the WB local should have been waiting in the hole for No 12. The Extra WB crew should also be reprimanded for not waiting for No 12. The failure to wait could have resulted in the death of N-scale crews…Jim you got lucky!
Now we know what third 98 should have done once No 12 arrived at Midland City, but Rick is really asking “What should I have done to avoid the situation?”.
RULE 99: When train is moving in manner that another train might unexpectedly encounter it, than the train must dispatch red flags.
The above is our simplified version that appears in the Operating Rules. The full version has much more too it, but I’ll leave that to a future post.
Clearly Third 98 was moving in a manner that No 12 might unexpectedly encounter it. So Third 98 should have dispatched red flags to the west to intercept No 12. At a minimum, the flags should have gone back to the west switch where the main splits from single track to double track. But better yet, they should have gone back sufficient distance so that No 12 could have stopped before the switch. That way No 12, could have flagged it’s way down the WB main rather than entering the EB main behind Third 98. No 12 is the highest priority train on the line at this hour in the day, so need not acquiesce to any other train. Flagging down the WB main would not be required as Midland City is within Yard Limits. Depending on how hard the yard limits go back to the West, flagging to the west might not have been required either.
Rick considered a two other options in his email.
“Hold on the siding at Blanchester until the Mail train showed up? (I think this is the correct answer). Thereafter stay clear of the mail train’s time. Problem is I couldn’t anticipate the local would have taken so long to show up at Midland City.”
If he could not anticipate the delay in the Extra WB local arriving, there is no way he could have made this choice. As a Dispatcher, I’m glad he did not choose this, as Blanchester does not have a station agent.
“Pull into one of the yard tracks at Midland City? This would have involved wrong-way operation on double track, plus I would have needed to double into the yard due to the train length and move some cars out of the way in the yard. (BTW, where are the yard limits in this area?)”
Rick goes not to acknowledge that that this is not practical and I agree. In comparison to flagging this is much more trouble and might result in more problems for the railroad.
As the dispatcher I must admit that I did not issue the best order. I gave an order giving the Extra WB local right over Third 98 from Leesburg to Midland City. Basically, I gave an order for Third 98 to wait an indeterminate amount of time.
Instead have I given a RUN LATE order to Third 98 it would have been much better. I could have issued THIRD 98 RUN THREE HOURS LATE. With the RUN LATE order in hand, both Third 98 and the Extra WB local could have negotiated the delayed schedule, THIRD 98 would still have kept it’s priority over the Extra WB local and THIRD 98 could have stayed ahead of No 12 for the remainder of it’s trip across the division to Chillicothe.
It is the Dispatcher’s responsibility to provide clear concise orders and the RUN LATE order would have been best. All dispatchers on the B&O Chillicothe Sub should make the RUN LATE a go-to order, specially when sections are involved.
There were other problems with the RIGHT OVER order as I gave it, I’ll address them in a future post