Operating sessions are when the Georgia Northeastern Model Railroad comes to life. All the hours of working on the layout pay off as operators take the throttle and set out to switch the various industries. Operating sessions give a purpose to our model railroads.
For operating sessions I prefer to operate with a two person crew, one taking the role of conductor while the other is the engineer. Having a two person crew replicates how the Georgia Northeastern Railroad operates and allows for prototypical communication as the conductor directs the movements of the locomotive. A two person crew also allows each person to concentrate on the specific duties required of their job. Crews use a prototype based switch list, and by working together, they determine the most efficient way to get the job done. My operating sessions are very relaxed as crews don't have a timetable or a specified time limit to complete the job. I only operate one train at a time, which allows crews to take their time and follow the prototype operating practices. Crews are given an Absolute Block which allows them to move in any direction or use any track necessary to complete the work without having to worry about opposing trains or needing to be clear of the main by any specified time period. This type of Verbal Block operating system adapts well to small switching layouts.
Today, Jeff from South Carolina came over for an ops session on my layout. Jeff had seen my layout in You Tube videos and on my web site and contacted me for a visit. He wanted to see what was possible in HO scale for a small room sized layout. After a brief tour of the layout, Jeff took the role of Conductor for the North Local while I operated as the Engineer. We switched the industries in Marietta while I explained how the GNRR operated and assisted him with planning his switching moves. The operating session went very smoothly and Jeff did an excellent job especially since this was his first ops session on the layout. Once we completed the North Local job, we moved on to the Elizabeth Turn job where Jeff took the role of engineer and I was the conductor. In the photo above, Jeff prepares to take the two consisted locomotives from the locomotive service facility to the yard to begin building the outbound train. After building our outbound train, we departed Tate Yard and headed to Elizabeth Yard where we would drop off our consist and pick up empties to take back to Tate Yard. Overall the operating session lasted about two hours and was a very enjoyable way to spend a Saturday afternoon.
I highly recommend setting up an ops session if you have a model railroad layout. It dosen't have to be anything complicated, just develop a few switching jobs for the industries you have and then mix in a few other trains if you have the space. I think you'll find you don't need a large layout to have a great ops session. Ops sessions are an excellent way to meet new friends and enjoy some of the best aspects of model railroading. If you are interested in operating on my layout, click on the contact me tab and let me know.