Friday, December 27, 2019

Waybills, Part 67: through trains

I have posted a number of descriptions of how waybills are used in the operating scheme I have for my layout, and I think the basics have been well covered. But there is one area that I know is not clear to some readers, because I have gotten questions about it. That is the use of waybills for cars in my through trains.
     What is the problem? Through trains on my layout, which mimic the prototype practice (Southern Pacific practices in train operation have been covered in one of my posts: ), simply run from staging, along the Coast Route main track through my layout town of Shumala, and back to staging. That is like the SP movement from division point to division point.
     These trains ordinarily don’t stop at Shumala, leave alone do any switching, as described in the post cited in the previous paragraph. So why would any cars in such trains have waybills made for them? Presumably no one would look at them if they existed, nor have any reason to do so.
     But occasionally one of them does have a reason to stop at Shumala. There are two reasons that I have used in sessions to date: one is a “bad order” car, that has to be set out because of a defect; the other is a car of some importance that can’t wait for the next local train that would serve Shumala.
     For the first of these, a train’s set of waybills, usually handled in a small cut-down envelope for convenience, would have one car with the Bad Order slip atop the waybill. The plastic sleeve for that waybill might look like this:

This Bad Order slip isn’t filled out, though for an operating session I might fill it out. But the crew running the through train would tell the crew at Shumala that the car needed to be set out. They would then hand them the bad-ordered waybill sleeve also, and the local crew would go ahead and cut out that car.
     For a “hot car” set-out, one possibility is a stock car, perhaps having missed a connection and coming up on its 28-hour limit, at which stock must be rested outside the car. Then the arriving through train, still subject to the division’s work agreement, could only make one cut and one joint in doing the setout, thus requiring the local switcher at Shumala to get into the train and pull the stock car. So the waybill might look like this:

This would be retained by the local crew, then the train reassembled and able to depart.
     So even though any through train would normally not need to carry waybills, there can be occasions when they do. That’s why I do make up waybills for the cars in through trains, to make a suitable package for the local crew to examine.
     On the prototype, of course, the conductor on the through train would ordinarily climb down off the caboose and hand to the agent the single waybill for the car being set out, and we can work it that way too. I am experimenting to see which way I like better for my operating sessions.
Tony Thompson


  1. Interesting. My crews spend a lot of time looking at waybills for destinations beyond the staging yards. I never thought of removing them altogether, so the focus is just on the cars that need to do work on the layout. Let us know how your experimenting proceeds...

  2. Actually, Burr, my process is sort of the opposite of what you describe. My through trains simply pass over the layout and no one has any reason to see any information about the cars in the train. I am experimenting to see if I can change that situation a little.
    Most of my outbound waybills are indeed destined to places far away from the layout, but that kind of car blocking is done at San Luis Obispo, to which the local train returns with everything picked up at Shumala. Thus the switch crew at Shumala need not care about final destinations.
    Tony Thompson