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 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.