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Pennsylvania & Western Railroad
Operation Topics

From the very beginning, the Pennsylvania & Western was designed for prototypical operation. This design sets it apart from most model railroads in general and from almost all other O-scale 3-rail model railroads in particular. Once a month, a crew of about 12 get together and run a schedule of trains during a typical "day" on the railroad. The trains include through freight and passenger trains, local freight and passenger trains, coal drags, some industrial switching jobs and an interchange run.

During these operating sessions the layout "comes alive" with four or five trains moving or switching on the Main line, a Yardmaster directing traffic through Annville Yard, one or two Yard Switcher Operators sorting cars and a Dispatcher orchestrating the whole thing. The crew and I have a great time every month. Even when the layout gets "finished," I expect that operating sessions will keep it interesting for decades to come.

The pages linked below discuss and illustrate the general operating concepts for the railroad, some ways that we assist new operators in navigating their way over the line, information on the computerized switchlists that crews use to know what work they have to do, some details on the fixed operating positions (Dispatcher, Yardmaster, Yard Switcher and Engine Hostler) and a little bit about developing the schedule of trains for the operating sessions. A selection of candid photos taken during past operating sessions is also provided. Finally, some step-by-step descriptions (with photos) of specific switching moves that crews perform in the towns of West Valley and Summit are presented. Those not familiar with the concepts of prototypical operation will hopefully find this step-by-step information useful.

Follow this link to read some general information about how we operate the Pennsylvania & Western.

Descriptions of the operating concept, equipment on the railroad,
crew positions, list of trains run in operating sessions, etc.

Follow the links below to see information and photos about:

Fascia Signs and Diagrams to Assist Operators (added 03/10/10)

Switchlists Used for Operation (added 03/13/10)

Fixed Operating Positions (added 03/17/10)

Train Scheduling Issues (added 03/20/10)

Note that there are 32 photos on the following page so it may take a while to load.
Candid Operating Session Photos (added 03/21/10)

Follow the links below to see switching moves for a few trains in the towns of West Valley
and Summit. These are shown step by step so that viewers not familiar with prototypical
operation can see how we do it during operating sessions on the Pennsylvania & Western.

Creamery Operation in West Valley (added 02/02/10)

Switchback Operation in Summit (added 02/05/10)