Thursday, May 14, 2015

The ROCK 3.0: Traffic Management Department

So, even though no progress reports are being posted, I can't get this Peoria Branch Extension out of my head, but am afraid to pull the trigger.  To ensure I can do what I want to in my head, I started creating traffic flow scenarios.  I originally started doing this with just a spreadsheet to keep up with cars being dropped off and picked up at each town.

Today, I got super nerdy and took it to a new visual level.  The drawings are crudely created in Excel, but it allows me to visually see how traffic is moving between stations, take notes about pickups and setoffs, etc.  I used the cars' locations leftover from the previous session to stage the traffic at Ottawa Yard, LaSalle and Peoria (assumed from traffic bound for Peoria) and added in the traffic for the next session to predict the traffic flow.  A reminder, I'm extending the #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn to work LaSalle and travel to Bureau Junction.  I also added train #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn.

For this first scenario, I allowed trains to go over tonnage.  I discovered a few things today working this out on the spreadsheet.

1) Both locals ended up being monsters increasing in size well over 20 cars at points.  I need to set limits on the number of cars staged.  I will have to assume that another local during the night picked up some of the cars from Ottawa and Bureau which was the greatest source of traffic congestion on the layout.  I don't mind the locals growing in size between towns, but anything over 20 cars is just going to be too much for my small layout.

2) LaSalle Yard needs to have more capacity than two tracks or reduce the number of cars for pickup.  In my scenario, the yard tracks were full from outbound cars brought back from yesterday's Utica Switcher.  I had to start today's UTSW from the mainline due to lack of space.  I may be able to squeeze another track in at LaSalle as I had considered that once before, but it would take some work.

3) Bureau is going to be one happening place.  A lot of traffic flows through here.  Traffic is left over night by the Silvis to Bureau Turn, traffic is present from the previous day's Peoria to Bureau Turn, plus a Soo Line freight is staged on Main 2 in the northwest corner of the junction.  Looking at dimensions, I feel I can store 22 cars total at Bureau Junction (15x on the Peoria Storage Track and 7x on the Silvis Storage Track).

Overall, I feel the operations will be very interesting.  I just need to reduce some of the volume.

Here are my computer drawings to help visualize the movement of freight on my layout.

#113 Joliet to Bureau Turn departs East Staging and works Ottawa Yard.  This is where the trouble begins.  There was a lot of traffic bound for the ATSF (yellow) and Silvis (orange) that made my train way over tonnage.  I had considered running another train later, but the end result at Bureau will be the same (more cars than storage available).

By the time #113 Joliet to Bureau Turn arrives at LaSalle, the train has grown to be a mega monster.  The train arrives at Bureau with no room at the Inn for all these cars!

The return trip is more civilized, but still ends up being an issue at Ottawa as only so many cars can fit in the small east staging yard.  DOH!

For the second part of my scenario, I show here how #130 Peoria to Bureau Turn handles the cars.  This train runs around the same time, but arrives later in Bureau than #113.

Again, no room at the Inn in Bureau.  There are cars everywhere!

Although a short run, I believe this would be an interesting job for operators.  I like the thought of interchange on the layout.  

So, as you can see, I went WAY nerdy on this, but I enjoy it.  I like problem solving when it comes to the logistics of trains.  Maybe I should have went to college for that.  Oh well.

Thoughts anyone?

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