Thursday, June 02, 2011

Another shot at operations

I mentioned before that I feel too boxed in with doing car routing with the computer. I don't have that many freight cars on the layout that need routing (~35), and the operating pattern is fairly simple. I also don't want to chase after cars that are not where the computer says they are, nor do I care that much about preparing printouts of switch lists for operating the railroad.

So, I decided to try the traditional route with car cards and waybills. There is tons and tons of information on the Internet about how other people have done this (Google for [car cards way bills]), and including primers about the principles and mathematics of operations.

Here's my version 1.0 of Operations on the Welztalbahn. I'm using Micromark's car card & way bill set for this.


Each car is assigned a car card. The car card lists type of car, reporting marks, and has a pocket for the way bill card.

The way bill defines where the car is supposed to be delivered to next. Additional information may include load, shipper/consignee, and special instructions.

There are also engine cards that have information about a locomotive (road, reporting marks, and DCC address)


A train is formed by forming a stack of car cards representing each car in the train, and putting the respective locomotive card on top. I use colored paper clips to hold together the card stack.

Train types in priority order:

  • White - switching and deliveries
  • Green - Local Freight (typical stops in Emsingen and exchanges cars at the yard)
  • Blue - Through Freight (typically unit trains, their main purpose is to keep traffic up and get in the way)
  • Red - Local Passenger Train (typical on-layout stops are Emsingen and Talheim)
  • Purple - Through Passenger Train (typcial on-layout stop is Emsingen)
The pocket on the locomotive card has a schedule that describes destination, stops, and for passenger trains, length of station stops.

Car Routing

Following the principles of car card and waybill operation, the destination for each freight car is provided by the way bill. To keep things simple, at the moment not every way bill is fully filled in. Instead, I simply color code for the major destinations:
  • Blue - Deliver to the North
  • Yellow - Deliver to the South
  • Green - Deliver to Talheim
  • Red - Deliver to Emsingen
Unless the way bill has specific instructions, the operator decides on an appropriate industry spot based on the type of car. Future iterations of the operating scheme will likely improve substantially on this aspect.

We'll see how this works...

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