Tuesday, March 22, 2022

A Long-Awaited Return to 'Regular' Operations

Everyone knows the slogan: 'You don't know what you've got til you loose it.'

That old cliche was never more true than as the Pandemic of 2020 set in for many people.  So much that we took for granted was suddenly threatened.  

Well, we will take good news as it comes, and as the pandemic has subsided early in 2022 the doors have opened on area layouts for a return to some regularly-scheduled, 'normal' operations.  Sixteen guests came to help bring the Onondaga Cutoff to life in March, and while the layout had a few 'rusty rails' and situations arise, we were able to work through them for a successful session.  I am especially grateful for the opportunity!

Operators arrived and the fast clock began after our usual pizza supper.  The railroad today was representing a September afternoon in 1994, and we began running at 3 p.m. fast time.  

Teddy and Pete have taken a real interest in the layout and especially in operating sessions, when they love joining in the running of trains.  Rich and the rest of the managers have been very patient with their excitement which I appreciate!   

Using the 3:1 fast clock it was only an hour or so until nightfall.

As the darkness deepens, operations continue unabated.  Chris, sitting as Dispatcher, and Rich as Trainmaster work together to coordinate power moves, crew availability, and train sequence across the main line while power is serviced at Island Engine Terminal.  

It is hard to overstate the dramatic change in the feel of railroading once the sun goes down.  Capturing that on the Onondaga Cutoff was an early goal, and as I became more familiar with operations I was surprised how few model nighttime.  Here we are at the westward home signals at CP 280, lined with a medium clear aspect for a westbound move from Track 1 to Track 2 while local power is serviced at Onondaga Engine Terminal.  

Engine Yards are fascinating all the time but especially at night as massive machines idle, awaiting a call to duty.  During the regular cadence of the session, four power sets ended up lined up across the Island, each with lit marker lights.  A fitting end to a session that was 'just another regular session' - except now we know how fortunate we are to be able to continue.