Engine Terminal

Engine Terminal
Empties tracks at the Laurel Ridge Prep Plant- Summit Springs, WV

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Moving Freight- Part 2

In the previous post we reviewed how the Train Industry and Blocking System (TIBS) is used to assign alphanumeric characters to locations both on and off the layout. These codes assist operators in spotting cars at the appropriate locations on the layout. But the real key to making TIBS work effectively are the blocking charts. These charts are used to instruct road crews on what work is to be performed at each town on the layout and are used by yard crews to block trains.

Each town that has multiple industries has a town chart hanging on a clip board on the fascia. The town chart lists all of the trains that have work in the town and further describes exactly what duties the train crew is perform. Let's look at the town chart for Big Chimney, West Virginia to explore this further.

Note that the chart includes both locals and way freights that have work in Big Chimney and they are listed on the left hand side of the chart. You would know ahead of time whether or not your movement had work at Big Chimney by looking at your train card. These cards list the originating point, terminating point, and all the work to be done by the crew. The train card for NPNM-5, a way freight that originates at Hollister Yard in North Pierce, and the Big Chimney Roustabout, are shown below. 

The Big Chimney Roustabout is the local the originates at Hollister Yard in North Pierce, West Virginia. The train proceeds to Big Chimney, works all the industries there, and then returns to North Pierce. So the first step is to find our train on the chart. We can see that our train set outs any car with a K10 through K20 alphanumeric code. We know that K is the alpha code for Big Chimney, so these cars will be spotted at local industries here. The town chart tells us where to set out and pick up cars, and we're instructed to spot the cars according to the waybills. We can also see that we are to pick up cars at Big Chimney. The chart tells us to pick up any cars with N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, and U alphanumeric symbols. Note that all of these locations are west of Big Chimney. Any cars with alphanumeric symbols representing locations east of Big Chimney will be left here for other trains. The chart further tells us to take our pick-ups to North Pierce, where our movement terminates. The chart provides all the information we need to properly spot cars in town and instructs us which specific cars we need to pick up.

Now let's look at a way freight, train NPNM-5. This train originates at Hollister Yard and proceeds east, performing work at Big Chimney and Nelsonville before moving on to terminate in staging. At Big Chimney, NPNM-5 would set out and spot any cars classified as K and set out any cars classified as J, which is the Elkwater Branch. The town chart informs the crew where to spot the J cars. Note that the train picks up any cars headed east and takes them to either Nelsonville or staging. Any cars left by the Big Chimney Roustabout or the Elkwater Branch Roustabout that are headed east would be picked up by Train NPNM-5. 

The Elkwater Branch Roustabout comes out of staging at Big Chimney heading east and sets out any eastbound cars. As the Big Chimney Roustabout will work the town later, the Elkwater Branch Roustabout swaps ends with its power and cab and heads west to Hollister Yard without making any pick-ups.

For the two yards on the layout at Nelsonville and North Pierce, there are yard charts in addition to the town charts. The yard charts list the trains that originate in the yard and provide instructions for blocking the trains. The charts also provide instructions for the order in which the trains need to be assembled and dispatched as well as the motive power to be used. Let's look at the chart for Hollister Yard.

The yardmaster at Hollister checks the instructions in the lower left and sees that his first task is to begin assembling the 4 trains listed. He also notes that the Sand Fork Shifter should be sent out as soon as possible, so he focuses on this train first. Looking at the blocking chart, he sees that the Sand Fork Shifter, which is a mine run that serves the tipples on the Sand Fork Branch, is eastbound and will take cars with an I TIBS symbol. He scans the cars in the yard for any waybills with an I on them and begins to assemble the train. The cars will be assembled in the order listed on the blocking chart. As this is a mine run, he also checks the Empty Mine Car Route Orders to see if any of the mines on the Sand Fork Branch have ordered empties. The Empty Mine Car Route Orders will also have TIBS symbol on them just like the waybills. Once all of the I cars and any empty hopper cars are assembled, he calls the Dispatcher for a crew. When the crew arrives at the yard, the yardmaster assigns power and pulls a cab for the train. Once everything is together and the crew pumps up the air, they call the dispatcher for orders.

Now that the Sand Fork Shifter has left, the yardmaster focuses on making up the Big Chimney Roustabout. The yardmaster will look for any cars in the yard with a waybill that has a J on it and will begin to assemble them in the order listed. The process will follow the same sequence as was used for NPNM-5.

In the next post we'll focus on some of the nuances of this system and the pros and cons. 

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