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Train Operating Sessions – Do You Have A System?

It would be interesting to hear some different views on train operation methods. There will probably be many differing views. You can add your comment or suggestion using the COMMENTS link below.

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model train waybillsFor example; when you operate your trains do you start each session with the trains staged, or have you masterminded your operations plan thoroughly enough to enable you to complete each op session, and then start off from precisely where you left off the night before?

When you operate your railroad alone, do you use waybills, car cards, and a train sheet so you can begin the next time at the mark where you concluded last time?

Or, when you operate your trains with friends, do you start off each op session with the first moving train in the morning? This is presuming you have pre-positioned trains in the yard so that crews have a ‘soft’ start. Do you finish every session with the last train for the night? Or, when ‘time is up’ do you pick-up the session at a later stage?

Or, do you prefer to just run your trains with no real system in mind.

To be honest; there really are no right or wrong answers, so long as you are having fun and don’t cause a pile-up or derailment that could damage your trains or layout.

Those are just some possible scenarios that you might personally adopt, or that you might have at least considered.

Share your thoughts on op sessions and how you personally like to operate the trains on your layout by adding a comment (or advice) in the COMMENTS below this posting.

7 Responses to Train Operating Sessions – Do You Have A System?

  • Alan McCallsays:

    I’m a rookie to train operations. The only style I’ve been exposed to is with card cards, waybill, prestaging locals and mainline trains in yards, prestaging cars in businesses for the locals to work. I love this style.
    But I am open to other styles as well.
    I also need to let you all know that I don’t have my own layout at this time. I do operations at train clubs I belong to.

  • Wolfgang Secklersays:

    My operating sessions always starts with some trains at stations or on loading tracks, ready to leave. Each train has a package of carcards with waybills for every car and the engines. So the engeneer has to read the waybills and then plan his moves for himself and after that start to run the train

  • Bill Moseleysays:

    For some years now I have been wondering why we don’t convert to battery powered trains powered by lithium rechargeable batteries. The loco could be controlled by a transmitter as is used for RC planes. The loco could simply be parked on a battery recharging section of track when the battery runs down. Imagine the headaches removed when track no longer needs to be wired.
    Are any manufacturers considering this?

    • Rick Dowsays:

      Hi Bill,

      I run my trains with LiPo batteries. The transmitters and Receivers are by Del Tang. The battery charging on the track is essentially not possible at this time, but recharging the batteries is easy. The Receiver and the battery fit into the tenders of my steam locomotives



  • David Broadsays:

    Red Arrow controls were making a system. It is brilliant. Drawback for me is I need fail safe as in keep going if contact lost on my 00 garden line. Most systems shut down, not good in a 9ft tunnel 2 feet underground. Currently my trains are Ni Mh battery powered and I am developing simple R/C from cheap Chinese toys to control them

  • David Broadsays:

    Operating “Style” depends on a number of factors, mainly whether the line is a traditional freight line as used in Europe up to the 1990s and the US to the present day, a modern block freight line for folks with a basement 100 yards long, a passenger line or a mix of the two.
    The playing cards is great for local freight operation. Passengers need a timetable. The morning and evening peaks, commuters one way Empty stock the other. Sleeping cars running overnight ( and back empty in the day on some lines, 2018 GWR in UK) Some branch trains used to run with 4 coaches in the peaks 2 off peak.
    Playing cards are great for shunting, if you can identify which wagon they relate to. On the full size they try to get all the cars for a given station or siding together in a block, you can do it before departure from the main yard as I do, or at an intermediate station, loop or siding. They even swapped wagons between trains at wayside stations like Okehampton in the UK using the train engines for the shunting, bit of a nightmare with a BoB or WC.
    I suggest if you want the layout to look real work out what time of day / week you are modelling and suddenly you find the layout looks like some of the photographs of the real thing. Remember trains don’t just turn up, the timetable is planned, no need to keep main lines clear if no train is due for an hour or ten

  • Skip Duldsays:


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