Yard Operations


Let me go ahead and write a quick note on how yard operations are done. For those not used to it, it’ll give some thoughts on how to do more than just, “uh… let me run all the tank cars on this train.”

My layout has three cities on it – Portland, Lisbon Falls, and Logging area in the mountains. I’m not sure exactly where that’s going to be. Maybe Lewiston wil be in there too. Stuck for room there, but hold that thought.

Union Pacific Railroad, Ames Yard, Ethanol, Ta...

Union Pacific Railroad, Ames Yard, Ethanol, Tank Cars (Photo credit: photolibrarian)

So, I’ve got two areas that are receiving, and three that are sending.

Let’s say stuff in a boxcar (#1, to keep it simple.) comes in from Boston. It arrives at the Lisbon Falls yard at 11 pm. Okay, the business in Portland isn’t ready to receive it at 2 am, so, guess what – it’s sitting in the yard until 5 am. Put it on the track.

So cars #1,4,&5 arrive in the yard on the track. (ignore the musical pun, please. If you don’t get it, no worrys).

A freight run from New London arrives at midnight. The yard boss chews out the driver for the over-long dinner break, and the driver dumps cars 2, 3, 6 & 7 on the same track.

last, another train dumps cars 8, 10 & 9 on the second track.

4 am rolls around, and the hostler has the engines turned, cleaned, serviced, ready to roll. So the yard crew starts grabbing the cars. Train A is going to Lewiston and train B is going to Portland.

Cars 1,3,5,7,9 are going to Portland.

Cars  2,4,6,8,10 are going to Lewiston.

start cutting your cars! Here’s a visual. Train A is blue. Train B is red.

track 1: 1, 4, 5, 2, 3, 6, 7 – outside

track 2: 8, 10, 9 – outside

You need Track Three to pull all the cars on the first cut, and drop the rest onto a fourth track. You now have car 1. cut 4 and drop it on track 4. grab 5 and drop 2. Etcetera.

It won’t make sense if you haven’t looked at it, and tried to work it in your head. This is why train yards need at least 5 tracks. 7 is better. 20 tracks is optimum, but as mentioned last time, who’s got room?

Anyone who reads this who has some extra thoughts on how to explain yard operations, feel free to add comments!

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About railroadonadime

Big fan of the Old Colony & Newport railroad, as well as the Maine Central! I'll be combining them as well as Freelance railroad on my layout - The Greater Rhode Island-Maine Railway! (G. R. I. M for short - an imaginary venture between MEC & OC&N!)
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