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BNSF Clovis Sub

Session 1: Belen Dispatcher


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IMPORTANT NOTE:  This session uses a large amount of high-poly rolling stock made up into very long trains (6,000 - 8,000 feet).  The session works the AI hard and requires at the very least a moderately fast computer.  FYI the session was created on an Intel E6300 2-Core CPU running 2 Gig of PC6400 DDR2 Ram and an 8600/512Mb Graphics card.  The session taxes that system.


The Session:  It's just before 7.00am on a beautiful spring morning and you have just walked into the Belen Yard Office to take over your shift as BNSF Dispatcher for the western end of the Clovis Subdivision, a vital part of the BNSF's Transcon rail link.  You are responsible for 62 miles of a modern high speed double track railroad.  The two tracks are not 'eastbound' and 'westbound' but rather are two parallel bi-directional Mains on which trains may run in both directions on either track.

The night dispatcher you are relieving looks tired and somewhat harried, it has been a long night with 52 trains cleared through the sub in the last 12 hours - busy, but nowhere near a record.  He reports that the line he is handing over is fairly quiet, but traffic is building.  The traffic snarl is, as always, the short length of steeply graded single track through Abo Canyon, the operational bottleneck of the route.  Two Eastbound trains are stacked up at bottom of the canyon at East Sais and there are three Westbounds headed towards them.  The lead train in the convoy is a hot Westbound trailer train.  Your relief reminds you needlessly that 'Z' trailers are the hottest trains on the route - impede them at your peril!  Behind the trailer is a long drag of westbound auto racks from Detroit.  A pair of Union Pacific pool units (still in SP paint) are in the lead.  The train would normally be pretty low on your priority list, but in this case you are informed that it has been stuck at Mountainair for 12 hours with electrical problems which rendered the dynamic brakes on both units inoperative.  The radio has just announced that repairs are complete and the train is expected to get underway in the next couple of minutes, way overdue.  Not far behind the auto racks is a Westbound Union Pacific freight down from the UP junction at Vaughn - an off-line 'H' classified train which is well down the pecking order.

Eastbound traffic however is light with not much expected for the next hour or so.  The two trains waiting at East Sais are of no great importance - a couple of BNSF 'Dogs' - a lowly 'H' general freight and another comprised of empty covered hoppers.  Clearing East Sais is not immediately urgent, but another train or two stacked up at the bottom will result in a mess that will take all day to clear up.  You need to get something moving up the canyon fairly soon. The only other Eastbounds in sight are Q-LACKCK-3 currently re-fuelling in Belen and not expected back on the line for another ten minutes or so and an empty coal train just coming off the Albuquerque line.  The 'Q' is not quite as hot as the westbound 'Z', but it is still an important train - mostly Hurst trailers with a head-end cut of domestic containers from LA to Kansas City.  The coal empty is not stopping for fuel, so it will take the Belen Cut-off straight to Jarles, you might have to hold him on the cut-off if that Q is near ready.

Your relief is a nice guy who knows you are new on the job so he suggests starting things off in this order:

1. The hot trailer train (Ami) has to be allowed through the canyon first.

2. Exploit the gap between the trailer train and the auto racks to get the Eastbound BNSF 'H' (Adair) up the canyon.

3. Let the UP/SP auto racks (Scott) down the canyon.

4. Let the Westbound UP (Frankie) down the canyon hard on the heels of the auto racks.

That just leaves the eastbound empty hoppers (Alastair) stuck at East Sais.  They might be there for a while - by the time those other four trains are through the canyon more Eastbound traffic will be arriving.  The night Dispatcher thumps you on the shoulder and heads for home just as the radio crackles to life to inform you that Z-WSPLAC-9 'Whipcrack'  (UPS Chicago-LA trailers) is passing Scholle and entering the single track section through Abo Canyon.

The rest is up to you....


Keeping it moving.....

I have run this session dozens of times and it never runs the same twice.  Variations can happen even when leaving things entirely to the AI, and the variations can start within five or ten minutes of starting the session.  Untouched by the user, roughly 90% of the time Ami will make it to Belen unimpeded by any other trains.  The other 10% she gets stuck in a three-way meet with Cafe and Scott.  If you spot it coming, you can get the trailers through first.  If you miss it the only resolution lets two off-line trains through in front of the hot trailers and your job is on the line!

My first hint is 'Leave it alone'.  I am truly amazed at the ability of the much-maligned Trainz AI to sort things out.  I have seen it resolve three way meets several times.  If in doubt  - let it be!

'Instant Unload' Despite the use of the AI Brake Fix (two or three on each train) there are still a few instances where trains still fail to stop.  In dozens of session runs it has only happened a couple of times, but once a loco slides past a red signal the session is dead, the AI does not appear able to recover.  If you spot a train sliding towards a red signal before the signal is passed the 'Instant Unload' command can be used to stop the train. 'Instant Load' can be used to rectify the damage once things are under control!

'DerailTrain' Drastic times call for drastic measures.  If things come completely unstuck - I had two 8000 ft trains try to pass each other on a 5000 ft siding - one of the trains can be derailed.  There is a confirmation prompt.  The derailed train will be removed from the route.  Yes, I know I could have used a saw-by, but by then everything else would have been in chaos!

User Locos Occasionally when things go wrong it may be useful to take locos out on the line to retrieve runaway rolling stock etc.  User controlled locos are located at Belen Loco and near Mountainair Depot. The secret to things NOT going wrong is 'save often'.  The longer the session runs the more likely unpredictable outcomes become, presumably as computer resources become over-committed.


For folks not familiar with changing Driver Commands here is a quick tute:

Although the AI will keep things moving some judicious intervention can keep things moving faster - just setting the goal of just keeping the 'Z' and 'Q' trains moving through the traffic has had my pulse racing.  Although the AI will almost always sort things out intervention from the user will often speed things up.  The most-often used intervention is allowing Train 'A' to keep moving by ordering Train 'B' to release a junction.

In the intro ramble above, the night dispatcher suggests squeezing Adair up the canyon between two westbound trains.  If you  leave it to the AI it won't happen, the westbound auto racks will come through first.  For the first run of the session I suggest leaving the view immediately on starting with Ami, the westbound BNSF Trailer train at the top of Abo Canyon.  Just sit back, hit '1' or '3' on the keyboard depending on your preference and enjoy the ride through the canyon in the desert sunrise.  Stay with Ami until she reaches the western end of Abo Canyon at East Sais, then change the view to Adair - cab view is great as the westbound trailers thunder past!  As soon as Ami is clear of the junctions we want Adair to get under way, but he can't because the junction in front of him - EastSais02 - is controlled by Scott in the approaching UP/SP auto racks.  To get Adair under way:

- Transfer the view to Scott.

- If necessary toggle F6 and/or F5 to see Scott's schedule.

- Hover the mouse cursor over the very left-hand end of the Driver Schedule panel - the grey area across the bottom of the screen - and a downward-pointing green arrow button will appear - left click this button.

- A Driver Command menu will appear.

- Hover over 'ReleaseJunction' then work the mouse across the menus till 'EastSais02' is highlighted. Click the junction name. The screenshot below shows what you are after...

As soon as Scott releases the junction, Adair will get a green light and get under way. 

Whether you now hold the auto racks at the top of the canyon and let Alastair out of the hole at East Sais next or allow the late-running train down first is up to you.

After all, that's the Belen Dispatcher's job....


Traffic Density

The real Clovis Sub handles over 100 trains a day.

This session theoretically handles about 110.  Trains are produced by three Portals at the following intervals:

Eastern Entry - 30 minutes

California Entry - 35 minutes

Albuquerque Entry - 45 minutes

El Paso - 60 minutes.

The El Paso  trains are not included in the 110 total - they are eye-candy through trains that add visual interest to Belen yard, but do not run out along the main part of the route.  If framerates through Belen are a real problem edit the El Paso Portal and delete these trains.  On the other hand if you want some extra action on the main line, direct some of the El Paso trains into Belen yard, run the locos around the train and send them to the Eastern Exit Portal.

The line can easily handle the traffic offered, but there are rather too many trains on the route initially.  If traffic density gets out of hand after the first hour or so, try re-starting the session but save it immediately after the first new Westbound train is created - about 7.34 am.  Quit and re-start using the saved session.  This will delay production of any more new trains for half an hour, by which time several of the initial trains will have left the route.  If you need to reduce the number of trains in Belen Yard to improve frame rates, cancel some 'Wait' commands at the fuel racks.

If you tend to run Trainz in short sessions, try changing the portal intervals to 20, 25  and 30 minutes.  Loading a saved sessions re-starts the portal clocks, so the more often the route is saved the lower the traffic density becomes.


Rolling Stock...

There is a lot.  Some of it is even on the DLS, but this lot isn't....

Please note that most - if not all - of the sites linked to here will require users to be registered and/or logged in before downloading.  Registration with all of these groups is quick, easy and hassle-free.  Links to group homepages are included below....

from Checkrail.com

NS C40-8 - thanks Sean for letting me host these fine skins.

 

from West Coast Trainz:  NOTE WCT is currently rebuilding the site and some content may not be available.

Locomotives - get them all, but you need:

                    C44 -8 and -9 variations - all the BNSF, SP, UP and ATSF variants.  Some of the hornsounds are packed separately and I believe you         also need both ES44s to get other needed dependencies.

                    SD70ACE - all BNSF and KCS

                    GP60 - ATSF and BNSF

Rolling Stock -     5 car articulated spine set

                              89' Piggyback Flat

 

from TPR Download Depot:

Homepage

BNSF Well Cars - Thanks to Shane (CNR) for allowing me to modify the configs to change the default load on these cars.

SP AutoRack

 

from RRMods.com:

Homepage

ALL RRMods freight car trucks are here.  Get the lot!

60' Boxcars - For the session you need the NS, BN, BNSF, UP, Rail Box and Santa Fe skins.  Don't forget the trucks and other dependencies at the top of the page.

BN Hopper  - about half way down the page

86' Boxcar pack1

 

from USLW:

Homepage

CSX C40-8 Three Pack

CSX Gp40-2 Pack

NS Gp40-2 Pack

BNSF SD40-2 plus SD40-2B

Also required from USLW are SD40-2 and Gp40-2 Dependency Packs and this hornsound.


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Andy Turnbull 2008