Before discussing some of the nuances of the TIBS method of car movements, I need to give credit where credit is due. The train information cards that were shown in the previous post, which inform the crews where the train originates, terminates, and what work it performs, were copied from cards that Mike Dodd developed for his HO scale Virginian Railroad. Here is a link to Mike's website: http://virginian.mdodd.com/. In addition to the train information cards, there is a lot of other interesting, informative, and useful information on his website.
Using the TIBS method of providing information for spotting cars and blocking trains appears to be a very clear and concise way to provide information to operators. It is also a fairly easy system to understand and doesn't require that operators be familiar with all the locations on the layout in order to properly spot and block cars. This can be particularly useful for individuals who are new to the layout or haven't participated in many sessions. I'm quickly learning that the more information you can provide crews regarding the operation of the railroad, the more comfortable they'll feel during a session. And the more comfortable they are, the more fun they'll hvae running the railroad.
The TIBS method of car movements also appears to be very flexible. I recently changed the track arrangement at Logan, WV in order to provide a location for an ammonium nitrate unloader. The spur here only served as a team track in the past, and while that provided for a number of different loads to be spotted at this location, there was only one TIBS code. With the addition of the unloader, I simply went back to the TIBS Directory and added another industry under Logan and assigned a new TIBS code. There is also great flexibility in changing the order in which cars are blocked on the yard blocing and in adding and deleting trains that can be made up in the various yards.
In his article, Dan Holbrook mentions that one of the drawbacks of TIBS is that it can remove some of the realism when operators are focusing on the alphanumeric codes on the waybills instead of actual locations and industries on the layout and the overall system. It appears to me that once operators become familiar with the layout, the focus will shift toward focusing on the actual industries and towns. Having completed structures in each location will also help this regard. But until then, TIBS should be able to provide them with confidence that they'll be able to successfully handle whatever tasks they are assigned. Time will tell, but Dan Holbrook was very impressed with how well the system worked for the Midwest Railroad Modelers club.
At some point in the future, I'll follow this discussion up with a look at some of the new waybills and empty mine car route orders that I've been adding to the layout.