Fixed Operating Positions on the Railroad

This page describes the jobs performed by four operators who do not run trains
around the layout. The Dispatcher directs and controls the flow of traffic over
the mainline. The Annville Yardmaster controls entrance to and exit from
Annville Yard and all movement of trains within Yard Limits. The Annville Yard
Switcher adds and removes blocks of cars from through and local freights and
classifies those cars into trains that run later in the session.
Finally, the Annville Hostler/2nd Switcher handles engine movements to and from
the steam and diesel service areas, switches express, mail and baggage cars for
passenger trains and runs some industrial switching jobs within Yard Limits.

Here is the P&W Dispatcher at work in his office (in the workshop adjacent to the main train room). He communicates with train crews using a 5-channel radio (on channel "D") and also can talk to the Annville Yardmaster (on channel "C"). He has a list of trains to be run during the session (we use a sequential schedule with no fast clock) and controls the flow of traffic by acting as "crew caller" for the trains originating in the staging yards. Train crews on the main line are required to call the Dispatcher and report their positions ("OS") as they pass through each town on the system. The Dispatcher keeps track of train positions by moving magnetic train markers along a magnetic board (a salvaged steel shelf) with a detailed track schematic attached to it. Since the majority of the railroad is single track with passing sidings, the Dispatcher's most critical function is to manage the flow of opposing traffic from passing point to passing point. PRR in the 1950's did not use CTC and neither do we. The Dispatcher controls one signal at Gap Junction for trains coming off the Cumberland line and joining the main. Dispatcher's Office
Annville Yard has 3 fixed operating positions: the Yardmaster directs train flow into, out of and through the yard, the Yard Switcher classifies freight cars and handles block swaps for through trains and the Hostler/Second Switcher handles mail and express car switching, engine movements for local trains and engine changes for through trains and also runs 4 switching jobs within Yard Limits. The Yardmaster also directs the activities of the Yard Switcher and Hostler. Three Yard Operators
The Yardmaster has a radio set to channel "C" to communicate with train crews and the Dispatcher. His control panel contains toggles to control turnout positions for all turnouts on routes through the yard and also toggles to set East and West approach signals at the Yard Limits. In the photo, the Yardmaster is preparing to throw the East end Approach Signal on the Secondary Mainline from "Stop" to "Clear" so that a train on the Secondary can enter the yard. The mainline is double track to the East and single track to the West. He also has a lineup of trains that will pass through the yard and a copy of the switchlist showing all cars that will be picked up and set out by all trains stopping at the yard. Yardmaster
Here is a closeup of the Yardmaster's lineup of trains sheet. As trains pass through the yard, he crosses that train off the lineup. This is a busy and popular job with my operators, even though the Yardmaster never handles a throttle during the session. Yardmaster Paperwork
The Annville Yard Switcher stands just to the left of the Yardmaster. In the photo, the Yard Switcher operator is uncoupling the tank car from a cut of cars. There is a switch control panel with toggles for all turnouts on the classification ladder and the Cabin Car (caboose) Track and a white board with dry erase markers so that the location of various cuts of cars can be recorded. Yard Switcher
Here is the Yard Switcher position showing the switchlist (see the section on switchlists for more information) control panel, schematic of the railroad (helpful in assembling eastbound or westbound local trains) and the whiteboard. Yard Switcher Panel
The whiteboard is used to show what cuts of cars are where. Since there are only 5 class tracks, the same track is used for multiple trains during the course of a session. Here Class Track 1 has cars for train AC-25, and behind them are an unclassified cut placed there "for now." Class Track 3 has cars for train AF-44 and Class Track 5 has cars for IND-2. Class Track 4 is empty at this point. Note that the diagram shows the capacity of each track in terms of the number of 40-foot cars (the most common length in the early 1950's) that will fit on the track. Yard Switcher White Board
Here is the Annville Hostler Station in the steam service area. A schematic of the railroad (so that locomotives will face in the proper direction for their train's destination), controls for the turntable and roundhouse tracks, a whiteboard with dry erase marker to record which locomotive is on which track (ID numbers are the command control engine number) and a work list. During the session, the Hostler gets to move a variety of locomotives as well as perform a fair amount of switching work. To perform these functions, the Hostler roams the length of Annville Yard and is not tied to this one location. Hostler Station
Here is the Hostler's work list for this operating session. There are typically 20-25 tasks to be completed during the 3.5 to 4-hour session, so this is also a busy job. Hostler Work List
Finally, this candid photo shows the Hostler closest to the camera, then a 2-man passenger train crew swapping some headend cars that had been pre-spotted by the Hostler, with the Yard Switcher and Yardmaster behind the passenger train crew. Given that one or two freight train crews could also be in the yard at the same time, I'm really glad that I designed a 5-foot wide aisle for the yard area! Crowd in Yard