Local Jobs on the BS&T

In this post I’ll talk a bit about the work of a local crew on the Bayside and Tidewater. These guys deserve a lot of credit since they get very few breaks during a session. Wayfreight, Transfer, Interchange, and Passenger crews all get opportunities to look around and/or chat while they are waiting for clearance to proceed – usually as a result of a local crew finishing up some work feeding cars to a waiting wayfreight. The local guys don’t have these opportunities.

The local crew’s shift starts when the session starts. They have to pull the outbound cars first so they will be ready for the wayfreights when they arrive. The priority is to pull the cars heading in the direction of the first wayfreight to roar into town. For the Stevenville job this would be the West Bound Wayfreight. So, the Stevenville crew needs to pull all the west bound cars fairly quickly. Westbound from Stevenville is pretty much everything on the layout – Derwin’s Drop, Kenville, Chappellton, and Tidewater Yard. So there are usually a lot of cars to pull.

If they study their orders they will see that some industries have cars heading in both directions during the session. The crew can save some time by pulling all outbound cars at once, but they need to keep them sorted for outbound direction and destination.

All crews are given a switchlist, or a printed list of cars that they are responsible for during the session. Local Crews get a list of Pulls, Deliveries (drop offs), Local Moves, and Do Not Moves. These are printed by a computer program I developed many years ago. Other crews get a variation of these orders depending on the tasks they have to perform.

Pickups and Drop Offs

The lists above show the major work that needed to be done is Stevenville during the last operating session. Each set of orders is numbered so that if there are more than one set printed at a time they can be kept separate from one another. I’ve used the term “Waybill #” but it probably would work better with the term “Session #”.

As you can see on the pickups list, it tells the local crew which cars to pick up, where they are located, and the next destination (town) that they are going to. Cars on the list are sorted by next destination so crews can sort outbound cars easily. It makes it a bit of a challenge when pulling cars because they are not sorted by present location. AS a result, crews have to study the orders carefully to determine the most efficient way to go about their work.

Wayfreights drop off cars in two batches. In Stevenville, the West Bound Wayfreight drops off cars first, about 20 – 30 minutes after the session starts. It only drops off cars from Bayside Yard, so there aren’t many. There were only two dropped off from Bayside Yard during this session.

About 30 – 40 minutes later the East Bound Wayfreight pulls into town with the remainder of the deliveries. The East Bound Wayfreight dropped off 5 cars during the session.

Local Moves and Do Not Moves

Occasionally there are cars that must be moved from one industry to another in the same switching area. The Local Moves list handles that. There are rarely more than 2 or 3 of these moves per session.

The Do not Moves list just shows what should be left at each industry after all the pulls are made and before the deliveries are done. Once in a while operators pull a cut of cars from an industry and get them mixed up with a cut from another industry. The Do Not Move list helps figure out where mis-pulled cars should be.

Because the program generates car movements randomly, each session is slightly different. I believe that during the next session Stevenville will send out about 12 cars and receive almost 15.



No Responses to “Local Jobs on the BS&T”

  1. Doug says:


    Interesting report. I may have to add the DO NOT MOVE list to my paperwork. I have had the problem of people moving cars to get their work done and then forgetting where they should be returned to. A misplaced car can be a major problem if it happens on the first of the nights two sessions.


    Yup, that’s what happens. If you use car cards they are quite self-correcting, but switchlists, whether manually created or computer generated, are a little less forgiving of mis-placed cars. Car cards are nice in that way, but I prefer the simplicity of these switchlists.


  2. Will says:

    Hi Scott,

    Is the program something you can share? I’d like to give it a go! How do you deal with cars not being routed correctly? Do you amend the next set of orders, or do you move the car in between sessions?


    I can make it available for download. It’s a little over 6mb.

    The program is not perfect as there are a few little glitches (like if you click the blank space at the bottom of some lists the program craps out). The manual is not perfect either. It’s a little out of date and since I don’t have a staff of technical writers… Anyway, it should get you through. I don’t mind having a few people give it a try, but since I don’t have a lot of time to provide support I’d will hopefully not get swamped with requests.

    Every once in a while cars do end up in the wrong place. Before each session I check the Pickup instructions for each town, yards, and staging to verify that everything is where it should be. Every once in a while I have to go hunting to find a car. The verification process usually takes only about 20 minutes or so.

    I’ll send you an email with download instructions.


  3. Doug says:


    What is the size (paper) of the four sheets?


    Each instruction page 1/4 sheet (5.5″ x 4.25″). The program prints 2 instructions pages per 8.5″ x 11″ page. You can turn the paper around and print a second set of orders on each page (4 per page) to reduce paper consumption.


  4. Steve Mc says:

    Hi Scott:

    This post was very interesting. As one who uses car cards, I really enjoy the self-correcting feature, but I also long for a simpler way for crews to view the paper work. I appreciated the opportunity to get a sense of how your crews work on the BS & T.

    Steve Mc

    Thanks Steve! Self correcting would be nice, but it only takes about 20 min. before a session to make sure all the pickups for that session are in the proper place. Probably about the same amount of time it takes you to turn your waybills.


  5. Doug says:

    Steve Mc

    One thing many the people who use Car Cards is doing, is giving a blank switch list form for the crews to fill out before leaving the Yard. Which is what many of the crews did on the real railroads. The Crew handles this form and not the cards on route.


    I tried using this in conjunction with car cards, but it was too much stuff to carry around. Add to that that we are not used to car cards and it didn’t work very well (cards left in the wrong place, or forgotten about completely).

    The forms work if crews have time to flip through the cards and fill out the switch list form. Then they’d have to update the list at every stop where they add cars to their train. On busy railroads there’s not usually a lot of time for that.


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