Highlights of the November 19, 2005 Operating Session
The CSXT Shenandoah Division came to life once again on November 19, 2005.
There were nine members (including me) of the operating crew present for this
session. Continuing an initiative started after the May
21 operating session, management had instructed shop forces to focus on
increasing operating reliability of locomotives and rolling stock. These efforts,
along with management's agreement to eliminate some train movements for now,
paid dividends as the November operating session was our best session yet in
terms of reliability, throughput, and operating enjoyment!
The session started at 1:00 p.m. as usual with a briefing for the operating crew.
This briefing primarily covered
changes to operating procedures since the previous session as indicated in the Superintendent's bulletins.
This briefing was the shortest one yet since the crew is becoming familiar with the layout and the operating procedures.
In order to get more crew members qualified to serve in the Trainmaster and
Dispatcher roles, I did ask for folks to try either of these positions or
assistants to the Trainmaster and Dispatcher.
This session ran our "PM" sequence (1900 to 0700), with the addition of an
annual tradition on the Shenandoah Division, which is the running of the
Santa Claus Special. This train is based on the real Santa Claus Special
run every year over the old Clinchfield route, which CSX happened to be running
on the very day we were operating! In addition to the Santa Claus Special,
I had placed 18 other trains on the lineup sheet for this session. We were able to
get 17 of the 19 trains out on the road, and 15 of those completed their run!
Both of those numbers are new records for the layout, and while we're still trying to figure out the throughput on the railroad,
I'm pleased with the improvements we've made.
Since I requested volunteers from the crew to learn the session "management"
positions, I was able to serve in the Trainmaster
position for only the first half of this session. Jan once again volunteered to be
Assistant Trainmaster during the first shift of the session in order to learn
how to do the job. He then took over as
Trainmaster for the second shift, with Dave serving as his Assistant
Trainmaster. As a result, I was able to run several trains during the second shift,
including the high priority Q158, an northbound intermodal train. Thanks to some
excellent dispatching decisions by Marcus and Scott, Q158 owned the railroad and
moved over the division in priority fashion. I'd like to thank Marcus, Al, and
Scott for dispatching, along with Jan and Dave for working the Trainmaster
Overall, this session was our best one yet, and I'm already looking forward to
the next one!
Dave drew the assignment of B741, the Black Cat, which generally
gets no respect from the dispatchers since it is a road local. This session
was no exception, and while running B741 Dave would see every siding on the
railroad. He's preparing the leave the siding at Catawba, Va. in this view.
Rich is running P997, the Santa Claus Special, on the mainline
towards a stop at the south end of Catawba.