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Dispatcher's Primer

If you've volunteered, thank you - it gives the owner a nice break, and offers you a different and hopefully fun job operating the railroad.  Dispatching the SNR is a bit of a challenge, because we run a lot of trains on a not-very-big layout - pretty much maxing out the capacity of the physical plant.

So, below are a number of important bits of advance prep - or at least refreshers - for the brave new dispatcher to review.  Most are links (in gray) to other pages on this website.  Trying to balance the risk of overloading and insulting your intelligence/memory here, vs. the risk of leaving you blindsided.  Forgive the former, and you decide which is useful!

  1. Suffolk Northern Ry:  Schedule - string diagrams show the sequence of events for each trick:
    •  Please spend a minute with the top text on that page, which discusses the nature of the schedule diagrams and shows a legend.  
    • Also please note the comments on the right side of the diagram(s) - there is a staging wrinkle or two you'll need to be aware of.
    • The "Orders" section is FYI.
  2. Suffolk Northern Ry.:  Schematic - second document shows the logical view, and corresponds to the dispatcher's panel.  Important notes:
    • Siding lengths are shown in the squares, given in net cars.
      • Road train standard lengths are 16 cars manifest, 19 cars coal, net of engines and caboose.
    • The only places to pass road-length trains are Mineshaft Gap, and St. Amour.
    • Bryan Ferry and Three Rocks are short runarounds, not road-train-length sidings.  You can pass locals, MoW, and 32/33 there.
    • In a pinch you can pass road trains at Segway using the arrival/departure tracks, but that can flummox the YM.
    • Beware, there is no passing siding east of the yard, between Segway and staging!  Be sure to check staging availability in Amherst before clearing eastbounds out of Segway. (This gets everybody at some point.  🙂)
  3. Suffolk Northern Ry.:  Track Plans - if you need a reference/refresher, the second one down, color keyed by division, is probably the most useful.
  4. Suffolk Northern Ry.:  Telephone System - you know most of what's in the text; the useful part will be the list of addresses down near the bottom of the page.  That list is posted at the DS's desk as well.
  5. Important Safety Tips for staging:
    • The numbered track buttons on the panel control power and routing, but you must actually throw the turnouts for a new alignment, using the red pushbuttons.  Push twice for best assurance.  
    • Track numbers correspond to the Arrival view.  So looking at the Departure side, the tracks are numbered 5-4-3-2-1.
    • Watch the clearances on the tail end.  And track 1 can be a hair short - road freights with 3 GPs will be tightm and you may need to compress the slack.
  6. www.SuffolkNorthern.com - there is a ridiculous volume of additional detail elsewhere on this website.  On the browser version, the "dashboard" of links is over to the right, if you want to explore.  However, the reference listed above should give you what you primarily need.
  7. Questions - don't hesitate to ask!

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