Operations Blog

New CTC Screen

This past week I had the pleasure to participate in remote operations on Dave Abeles' Conrail Onondaga Cutoff. While remote dispatching is nothing new, remote control of actual trains is leading edge. Dave probably wasn't the first, but he is definitely at the forefront and has gained a lot of visibility over the past year.

I met Dave through Lionel Strang's A Modeler's Life podcast. He's also been featured in Railroad Model Craftsman and Model Railroader over the past few months and, this coming month, has a feature on remote operations in Model Railroader... look for it!

The Employee Relations bureau of the PRR Middle Division in HO Scale is pleased to release the initial employee orientation and operational documentation.

Documentation covers house rules, operating philosophy, movement of freight cars, movement of trains, roles and responsibilities, throttle instructions, and telephone instructions.

"The operation of the PRR Middle Division is intended to adhere to prototype practice where possible and reasonable."

--Bureau of Employee Relations


The PRR Middle Division in HO Scale has taken its technology to the next level. The JMRI web server has been enabled, which offers JMRI services in several ways. A wireless access point (SSID PRR) has also been installed.

WiFiThrottlehas been enabled. This allows an engineer to use their smart phone as a throttle! 

To use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with JMRI as a throttle, you run the WiThrottle app on the iPhone or iPod Touch. The basic application is available for free download from the iTunes store.

 SPRUCE comm

Two nice pics off of eBay this past week... former PRR tower communications equipment. My intent is to restore the equipment for live use by the LEWIS operator.

First up is a "scissors" phone. Some prior owner had cleaned up and repainted the "scissors" an aluminum color. I may repaint into the black one sees in most photos. Though not marked "PRR", it is a dead ringer (pun intended) for those shown in tower interior photos.

Based on the Arranged Freight Services document, the above graphic illustrates the flow of freight traffic in and out of Lewistown via various train symbols.

This does not reflect cars moving around through locals. Rather, just the routes and trains that carry cars in and out of the Lewistown operating scenario per waybills.

It is interesting to note that less than half a train per day is exchanged with Enola. There is actually more -- a full train -- exchanged with Northumberland! Altoona provides the greatest interchange, with a dedicated train per day plus as much as a third of another.


This past weekend I purchased MiTrains & Waybills from Shenandoah Software.

MiTrains maintains a complete inventory of your locomotives and rolling stock. Tracks list price, actual cost, enhancements, condition (unbuilt kit, on layout, etc.), etc. Produces reports and prints your car cards.

Waybills is exactly that, it prints way bills. You enter your online industries and it supports color coding by switching area, which can aid the yardmaster in classifying work. For offline shippers, there is a sizeable database of real industries included. You can search these by car type, commodity, railroad, etc. You can then ship to or receive from these entities.