I get a lot of pleasure from building model railways, but what do I do with them when they are completed? Well that’s pretty obvious, why is the website called “Playing Trains”?
There’s much more satisfaction to be had in operating a model railway as if it has a purpose than there is in just running trains at random though. A good way of doing that is to have a sequential timetable where trains run in a pre-arranged pattern but not necessarily to the clock… A bit like the real thing do I hear?
I like to think of individual freight cars as basic units for planning, for this reason the two on-stage sidings (at Jones River Junction and Resurreccion) have destinations allocated to them for car routing purposes, just like the real SP/BR “TOPS” system gives every possible destination a unique code, while the codes for the off-stage tracks are used for routing passenger trains.
For example, an empty freight car might be heading south from San Fernadez to Cuarto de Pulgada, but empties don’t make money and there’s a load of potatoes at Resurreccion also destined for Cuarto.
Starting with the car located on track A in the north fiddleyard it would need to be routed via Jones River Junction (G or H) to the south fiddleyard (D-E) because southbound trains cannot set out or pick up at Resurreccion due to the siding facing north. The empty is then attached to the next northbound train so it can be set it out at Resurreccion (K).
Remember that the car is still required to run south and the siding at Resurreccion faces in the wrong direction.
The next day our car, now designated as a revenue earning load instead of an empty, needs to be picked up by the first available northbound service and set out in the off-stage area at Jones River Junction (G, H or I) where it will be marshalled into the next southbound train. Such routing is, or at least was when we still had wagon-load traffic, a daily event for freight clerks and dispatchers to deal with.
There’s more to playing trains than playing with toy trains!