Engine Terminal

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

Monday, April 15, 2013

From Mine to Market

Moving coal is a big part of operations on the Chesapeake, Wheeling & Erie Railroad. In fact, it's the primary reason for the railroad's existence. The coal comes out of the ground at locations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania and is then gathered at numerous marshaling yards where it is weighted in preparation for shipment to its ultimate end user. From the marshaling yards, it is forwarded to several large coal classification yards. Once classified, long trains of loaded coal cars are sent to either Tidewater ports or ports on the Great Lakes. As the time frame of the layout is is 1976, the railroad is straining to meet the demands of the "coal boom" taking place at this particular time in history.

Previously, we looked at how freight was moved on the CWE using card cards and waybills. Coal moves similarly, but with a few distinct differences. The cards used for loaded coal cars are based upon the waybills that Ted Pamperin described in the February 2012 issue of Model Railroader. If you register with the MR website, you can download his waybill forms, which are Excel spreadsheets, here:  http://mrr.trains.com/how-to/articles/layout-planning-and-operation/2011/12/waybills-for-your-own-model-train-layout. I made a few changes to Ted's form, including the addition of a small box in the upper right side for the TIBS symbol.

The waybills above are for loads that originate on the Sand Fork Branch and will be picked up by the Sand Fork Shifter. Note the TIBS symbol in the white box with the red lettering. The loads from McHenry Coal Company are headed west (TIBS symbol Q1) while the loads from Consol Coal and South Branch Loader are headed east (TIBS symbol B1). The crew of the Sand Fork Shifter isn't concerned with where the loads are headed as they only need to pick up the loads and return them to North Pierce. This information is shown on the Train Card for the movement.

Note on the Train Card that the crews are only instructed to pull loads at each location without any reference to TIBS symbols. Once the loads are returned to Hollister Yard at North Pierce, which serves as the coal marshaling point for mines in this area, the Yardmaster will block the loads according to the TIBS symbols. The crews only need to make sure that they have a waybill that corresponds to each loaded car at the mine. 

In order to get empty hoppers to the mines, the railroad uses Empty Mine Car Route Orders, which are also described in Ted Pamperin's article and included in the Excel spreadsheet available from MR. I made a few changes to the form, including the addition of the TIBS symbol for each mine as indicated on the order below.

These cards are located at North Pierce and Nelsonville at the start of each session. The yardmasters know that they will have to supply empties for the mines based upon the information on these cards. The train crews receive these cards in their train packets, along with any other car cards and train information, prior to departure. In the example above, the Sand Fork Shifter will need to supply 6 empties to McHenry Coal Company (TIBS symbol I13) and 3 empties to South Branch Loader (TIBS  symbol I11) at Irma. Once the loads have been pulled and the empties spotted, the crew will leave the Empty Mine Car Route Order in the bill box, in this case the one for either South Branch Loader or McHenry Coal Company.

The waybills are printed on regular paper and inserted into plastic sleeves in order to make them more durable and easier to handle. The plastic sleeves were purchased from Everyday Plastics (http://www.everydayplastics.com/). The addition of these waybills and Empty Mine Car Route Orders has provided some more realistic looking documents and has helped improve the overall operation of moving coal on the layout. Many thanks to Ted Pamperin for preparing the article and sharing the Excel spreadsheets.

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