Operations > Crews


Session Management and Crew Roles

Each operating session includes a session superintendent, a dispatcher, Iaeger yardmaster, and train crews. Eight to ten operators are needed for each session. Crews typically operate multiple trains during the session.

Trains are managed using an assignment card given to crews by the session superintendent, while movement of the trains across the mainline is directed by a dispatcher. The Iaeger yardmaster directs movements within the Iaeger yard limits, while serving to keep the railroad fluid.

Dispatcher's Desk

Dispatcher Darin Umlauft views the JMRI PanelPro screen, which is a virtual
US&S CTC panel of the layout's mainline from Bluefield to Williamson. A map
schematic of the main and branchlines hangs on the wall, while a trainsheet
lays on the desk in front in him to record all train movements.

The dispatcher provides verbal authority to train crews using two-way radios for movement across the railroad; a track warrant control is not employed. As of this writing, the dispatcher controls all mainline switches via the JMRI graphical computer interface, which also displays block occupancy on the main via the C/MRI system. Eventually, the mainline will include signals at all control points allowing for full CTC between Bluefield and Williamson.

The Iaeger yardmaster handles many duties at the railroad’s classification yard. The yardmaster’s roles include handling inbound and outbound cars and trains, directing trains within the yard limits, and communicating with the dispatcher directly using a dedicated two-way radio. Car management on the Norfolk & Whey is achieved through a car card and waybill system commonly used in model railroading.

Operator at Longfork Jct.

Operator John Leister contacts the dispatcher on the two-way radio for verbal
authority to depart the Pardee Branch and enter the mainline at Longfork Junction
following completion of the work of the Dismal Paper job.

Trains crews receive their assignments from the session superintendent. The order and timing of train movements is determined by the superintendent with input from the dispatcher and yardmaster. Currently, a time schedule and fast-clock are not used; however, this method is likely to be adopted in the future. Crews must communicate via two-way radio with the dispatcher to receive authority to operate over the main and/or branch. For some assignments, crews must first speak with the yardmaster to obtain locomotive assignments and locate their outbound cars. All crews are responsible for switching out their loads/empties and handling their train’s car cards and waybills.