More progress on LCL and Express

It’s been a while since I wrote about introducing Express and Less than Car Load (LCL) operations to the layout. I’ve been testing various methods of determining how much time the mixed train should spend spotted at stations to perform this work:
M233 at St Williams photo StW-Crossing-Trees-04_zps73bc3d71.jpg
(M233 stops at St. Williams to transfer passengers, mail, express and LCL)

Handling LCL and Express is an important duty for the mixed train to and from Port Rowan. What’s more, I’ve determined that accurately reflecting LCL and Express during operating sessions is an important way to make running M233/M238 feel unique. (What I’m trying to avoid with the mixed train is having operators treat it like a freight extra with a really long, three-car caboose in tow…)

As noted previously, I’ve been testing two ways of determining the time required:

* The car must be spotted for a set amount of time for each package listed on the freight receipts.

* The car must be spotted for a set amount of time for each 10 pounds of freight listed on the receipts.

I’ve determined that basing the time on weight is easier for operators, but that 10-pound increments are too granular and require too much math. It also means that with any significant amount of freight, the station stop will become very lengthy. Since the reality is that this is forced idleness, I have to balance the need to represent the work with the need to not bore visiting layout operators.

So, I’m testing a third option:

* The car must be spotted for five minutes, plus one minute per 200 pounds (or portion thereof) of freight listed on the receipts.

The base time – five minutes – reflects the fact that regardless of the amount of LCL or Express to transfer, there are some basic operators that will take a set amount of time. These include things like opening and closing the Express (baggage car) or LCL (boxcar) doors, positioning the baggage cart and transferring paperwork between conductor and station agent.

The incremental time – 1 minute per 200 pounds of freight – means most stops will last six or seven minutes. With a 4:1 fast clock, that’s 90-105 real seconds. Not bad – and it’s likely the conductor will be busy during that time, checking freight waybills, drafting a switch list and so on.

On rare occasions, a heavy load – for example, a shipment of fifteen 100-pound sacks of tobacco seed – will require a longer stop. But still, not too long: Such a shipment would require 13 minutes (1500/200 and rounded up = 8 minutes, plus five minutes) – and at 4:1, that’s 3:15 in real time.

On other, rare occasions, there may be several freight receipts each with several packages/weights. But it’s still an easy calculation for the conductor to make and the 200-pound increments are coarse enough that I’m happy for a conductor to estimate the time required. For example, if there are three freight receipts and it’s obvious that each one has less than 200 pounds on it, the conductor may simply allocate eight minutes (five plus one per receipt) for handling the transfer.

More testing is required – but I think this is going to work.

6 thoughts on “More progress on LCL and Express

  1. Looks like you have an excellent tool here to pay amage to the function which was very important for your branch line. Do the M233/M238 collect milk containers from the local dairy farmers? I know that the eastbound passenger runs on the Colorado Midland collected milk at their depot stops east of Leadville and the westbound runs collected milk containers from Ivanhoe to Grand Junction. Yet another item that falls under the Express label from those depots where the dairy farms existed.

    • Hi Tom:
      Good question. I’ve found no evidence of milk being carried on this train. That doesn’t prove there was no milk traffic – just that if there was, I don’t know about it.
      I’ve read of other time-sensitive express, though. For example, Monte Reeves has shared stories via this blog of egg and chick shipments, which went in the baggage-mail car because of their fragile nature. Those shipments are briefly mentioned in the Ian Wilson book on the line, Steam Echoes of Hamilton.
      Cheers!

      • Trevor,
        Years ago the RLHSs Railroad History had an article on the Georgia Florida Railroad where one item of interest was their manned Chicken Car. The farmers along the line used standardized cages so a loaded cage was exchanged for an empty. Following that article I found that the Colorado Midland had one day a week when they would collect live poultry on the eastbound morning run into Colorado Springs. What I was never able to track down was “who collected the chickens at the end of the run and what happened.”
        Since I am modeling the 1886-1900 I suspect that collection of the chickens was accomplished by the branch houses of the Armour, Swift and Nucholls packing companies were probably the destinations. I have not been able to “nail it down.”

        • I’ve seen a photo of a manned poultry car on a mixed train on CN’s PEI operations. I will look around for it. and share. North of Toronto there were a significant number of poultry/egg operations. So much so that there was a poultry processing plant in Aurora for years (Now an Auto Mall). They shipped dressed birds in an express reefer that was picked up weekly in Aurora on a siding that was named the Poultry Spur near the station. I believe the consignee was Dominion Foods and the car was Montreal bound.

    • I hope it is, Chris.
      My intent is that if visitors run both a freight extra and The Daily Effort, I want them to have had two significantly different experiences.
      Only time and more ops sessions will determine how well I’ve accomplished this…

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