Signals and Train Symbols on a Shortline
As some of you may have read in the past, I am developing a fictional shortline that runs between Plainville, CT (central) and New London, CT (southeastern). I have the route planned out (in my head) and most of the industries have been visualized and their locations along the line determined. The next step for me is to figure out how trains will operate along the mainline. I am modeling "current era" in HO scale. I don't have a track plan, which I know would be helpful for all of you to visualize, but I am in the process of finalizing an official version as we speak. I am loosely (and I mean loosely) basing my railroad off of the Georgia Central.
Some basic information to aid in visualizing the route:
The plan calls for a double-deck layout joined with a helix. The upper or "main" level will model central CT including a main terminal in Plainville. This level is designed primarily for switching operations and contains numerous small industries, the majority of which have one or two spots each that are worked on a weekly or bi-monthly basis (every other/every 4th op session). The two main industries on the upper level are an auto unloading terminal built on a peninsula at the "western" extreme of the layout and a polyiso insulation manufacturer on the other extreme end, located on top of the helix. There will also be minimal staging beyond the Auto Facility to the "west" which will produce a single train from a foreign road every other operating session. No home road trains will utilize this staging yard.
The helix represents mainline between New Britain and Norwich, the latter is the railroad's midway point and a major hub of activity, modeled immediately beyond the helix portal. The largest customer here is an electrical wire manufacturer. At least two additional customers will exist here, including a Home Depot distribution center (the prototype of which is in Bloomfield, CT about 50miles away) and an appliance manufacturer. Beyond Norwich, the line will "follow" the Thames River south to New London where the second terminal is located and is shared with the Providence & Worcester. There will be several customers along this line but the details of which have yet to be determined. Beyond New London is the main staging yard which represents 90% of traffic entering/exiting my railroad. Some home road trains will utilize this staging yard between sessions. This will depict haulage rights over a foreign road's mainline for interchange service). Also, a branchline to DOW Chemical in Gales Ferry to the "north" will be positioned on the peninsula under the auto unloading facility - this will follow the prototype.
Now that I've set up the layout, I need to determine what is the best routing of trains. I also need to determine train symbols and would like to use abbreviated town/terminal names. Each terminal and its town, from "east" to "west" is as follows: Gregoryville Siding (Gregoryville, fictional), Hannah Yard (Plainville), Talman Street Yard (Norwich), Winthrop Park Yard (New London), Long Hill Yard (Groton, staging, fictional main yard of another freelanced railroad I am working on - see: Boston Road & Eastern).
I'd like to have daily trains between New London and Plainville. I'd also like to run a twice-weekly unit auto train which runs from staging via PW to Winthrop Park Yard where it will run to Gregoryville Siding via the home road. I have a pretty good idea of what will be in each train but I'm not so sure as to how to route/name my trains as they traverse my layout. I'm finding it difficult to translate train symbols of the big Class I and Class II railroads into a shortline operation.
A secondary question is how I'll go about governing traffic along the mainline. I do not want a CTC system as I wish to avoid a dispatcher's desk since it will mostly be me operating. I'm looking for a bare-bones ABS system but, again, am confused as to how to simplify a traffic control system when modeling a shortline.
I hope to have a trackplan up and added to this blog soon. Thanks in advance for any comments and suggestions.
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