Train Symbols And Numbers

Discussion in 'Model Rail Operations' started by brakie, Jan 21, 2007.

  1. brakie

    brakie Active Member

    Nov 8, 2001
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    Let's look at another way to run our freelance railroads-you prototype modelers has this work done for you by the prototype you model.:D

    Why bother with a train number or symbol?
    Simply put we can run our trains without numbers or symbols and do just find but,listen..
    Tonight our assign run is JLT and LJT..See we are now running a train that has meaning and a reason to be ran..You see this is Jackson-Logan Transfer and its return trip Logan Jackson Transfer.Now when we call the dispatcher we can tell the man what train we are..See? Even if we don't have a dispatcher for our layout we still know what train we are.
    Which is better train number or symbol?
    While both works equally well I favor the symbol over the number because its easy to remember where the train is headed.
    First let's look at symbols..I will use CR's formal symbols..
    PICO tells us this train is running from PIttsburgh to COlumbus.Let's look at INPI..This tells us this train runs between INdianapolis and PIttsburgh.See how easy it is to identify these trains?
    Now let's look at NS numbers..
    Can anybody tell me where 234 is going? Without knowing we can not..However by glancing at a time table we see 234 runs between Norfolk and Chicago.
    So in my mind symbols are much better for identifying a train.

    C&HV Symbols.
    Let's look at the Jackson Sub trains. We have the following trains.

    TSE (Traveling Switch Engine) This is the Jackson yard crew that works the yard and switches the Landmark Elevator,CDBI/C&HV Distribution Center and Midland Foods Distributor since these are located in the Jackson yard area.

    JIS1(Jackson Industrial Switcher) This is the urban local that switches industries around Jackson.

    JWL.This is the Jackson to Wellston Local.

    CCE (Coon Creek Empties).This is the mine run that switches the mines located on our Raccoon Creek branch better known as Coon Creek.The return train is CCL Coon Creek Loads.
    JLT Jackson to Logan Transfer..Returns as LJT(Logan Jackson Transfer)

    NSOPL Norfolk Southern-Ohio Power Loads.This train will run between Athens and Jackson..This train operates over Norfolk Southern's West Virginia Secondary to Athens and then on the C&HV to the Ohio Power Plant near Wellston.The return trip will be NSOPE
    Norfolk Southern Ohio Power Empties.This operation is due to come on line April 1st.

    JACO..Jackson to Columbus.These are coal trains to the Mound Street yard the the JACO is followed by a number that represent the day of the week and train..Thus JACO12 is SUNDAY train 2.Here these trains will be turn over to either NS or CSX forwarding to the docks at Toledo or Sandusky.

    Note..CDBI is in the process of buying the Jackson & Springfield Ry.When/if this buyout is approved the coal trains will operate to Springfield and then over our C&LE RR to Toledo after the J&S track is refurbish between Jackson and Springfield.This will cut transportation time between the mines and the Lake Erie docks on the C&LE..The current hold up is from NIMBYs that doesn't want the extra rail traffic through the West side of Jackson.

    I hope this helps you in some way.
  2. Ralph

    Ralph's for fun!

    Jun 18, 2002
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    Thanks Larry! Naming trains adds to the fun and realism and makes operations a lot more interesting than simply saying something like "run a mixed freight train to _______". I found it personally interesting to learn that Penn Central freights were designated by a system of two letters and a number to indicate origin/destination and direction. I haven't decided how to identify my freelanced road's trains yet but will come up with something...probably less formal since its a small line (The West Mill turn, for instance).
  3. spitfire

    spitfire Active Member

    Jul 28, 2002
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    That's great Brakie. Makes a lot of sense, and I can see how it would help out during an operating session.

  4. nhguy

    nhguy Member

    May 15, 2003
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    Since I model a specific prototype, I used the train symbols they used for my trains. But you can adopt from the prototype to suit your needs.

    The New Haven had a simple Alpha/numeric system. Each letterin the alphabet represents a Town/Yard on the railroad. The numerals indicated the direction of the train and what train of the day it was. 1,2,3,4 Ect. Eastbound/Northward trains EVEN numbered and Westbound/Southward trains are ODD numbered. Take trains AO-1/OA-2 for instance. The first letter is the originating location. In this case "A" stands for Maybrook Yard in Maybrook,NY. The SECOND letter indicated the desination. In this case O=Hartford, CT. The number was the first train east/north of the day starting at 12:01 am. So this is the first Maybrook to Hartfod train of the day. It's counter Part is OA-2. Since this is the first train West/south, it starts with the lowest even number or 2. So OA-2 would be the first Hartford/Maybrook train of the day.

    Locals can be a bit confusing or as simple as you want simple. NH used to have most of it's local trains scheduled at one time. They start and end at a certain time. They usually used the Division letter designation and an "X" with a number. The number in this case was assigned to that train permenantly independant of direction. So a New Haven Division local would be NX-31. A Boston Division local train was BX-23. Or you can run the local as extras.

    Extras were labeled by an "X", the engine number and direction indicated by E or W/ N or S. That's pretty self explanitory. X1234W or X4321E.

    That will give you something to mull over. If you freelance, look to the prototype that best fits your freelancing. You can adopt one or combine some different railroad practices for designating trains. Research is part of the fun in that. You can discover some very interesting things about railroads and how they operated.