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Erie Northern Railroad Guide to Operations

Version 1.1 Updated for the Beta 3 Release, July 2009 Welcome. This operations manual for Erie Northern was prepared to help explain the features and activities you will encounter as work with the route and the associated sessions. Overview Erie Northern is a fictional American railroad, set roughly in Pennsylvania and the surrounding east coast area. Some of the city names are familiar, but their actual placement is not to scale. The map was originally created in 2002 by David Fiore, as Erie Limited. When I got my copy of Trainz in 2006, it was the first map I downloaded, and I learned to use Surveyor experimenting on Dave's route. In late 2008, I thought of updating the route to a more modern version of Trainz, and it became Erie Northern, now posted on the Download Station with Dave's permission. The route consists of a double-track mainline extending 37 miles from the Washington portals in the east to the Pittsburgh portals in the west. In addition, there are three branch lines: · · · Southwest to Erie, South to Montrose Northwest to Buffalo and onto Toronto via portals.

There is also an iPortal, permitting EN trains to be sent to another map via the internet. Passenger operations are handled through ten interactive Amtrak stations, and both commuter and long distance through trains between portals are possible. Thirty-five interactive industries provide plenty of opportunities of freight activities. Erie Northern handles many types of cargo, from traditional bulk loads such of coal, wood and limestone to more modern items such as electric motors and HVAC units. Erie Northern's main facility and corporate headquarters are at Binghamton, mp 178, which also has a small, five-track yard.


The milepost system A unique milepost system makes it possible to locate various places on the map. For example, the eastern Washington portals are located at milepost 165 and the western Pittsburgh portals are at milepost 192. Everything else on the map is located between them. Trackside milepost markers every mile or so pinpoint your location, and they are particularly easy to see using the overhead map view. The three branch lines have milepost numbers with letter prefixes, as follows: The southward Montrose branch mileposts all have an "S" prefix, such as S3.2. You reach this branch off the mainline at mp 171.0. The entrance to the Irving iPortal is located off this branch line, at mp S2.2. The northwest branch, to Buffalo and Toronto, has "NW" prefixes, such as NW1.5. You reach this branch off the mainline at mp 185.5. The southwest branch, extending to Erie, has "SW" prefixes, such as SW3.0. You reach this branch off the mainline at mp 189.5. Passenger Stations From east to west, the mainline passenger stations are: Concord, mp 165.5 Culpepper, mp 175.5 Binghamton, mp 178.0 Port Jervis, mp 182.5 Greenwood, mp 184.8 Clearview, mp 186.3 Pocono, mp 188.3

Each of these stations has two platforms. Platform 1 is eastbound and Platform 2 is westbound. The three branch line stations are a bit more unique, so let's take a moment and look at each. The Erie Station, shown on the next page, is at mp sw4.5. It is single-ended, and requires inbound trains to use the Y-track and back into the station.


The four Erie station platforms are numbered, right to left, 1-4. To route a train into the Erie Station, your driver commands would be something like this: Drive via trackmark Erie Passenger Turnaround (a TM near the lower grade crossing) Drive to trackmark Erie Y Drive to Erie Station/Platform n, where n is a number from 1-4. The Buffalo Station is different, in that it has both four single-ended tracks like Erie, plus a pair of through tracks leading west to the Toronto portals. Let's take a look:

As you can see, the through tracks are platform 1, westbound, and platform 2, eastbound.


As with Erie Station, the single-ended station tracks require the use of a Y, but the placement is different, as shown below:

The programming sequence to reach the single-ended portion of Buffalo Station from the mainline would be: Drive to trackmark Buffalo Y Drive to Buffalo Station/Platform n, where n is a number 3-6, right to left, in the station. To reach the westbound through track at Buffalo and continue to Toronto, use the following: Drive via trackmark Buffalo Yard Bypass WB (to avoid detouring through the yard.) Drive to Buffalo Station Trk1 WB Trk2 EB/Platform 1 Drive to Toronto portal WB Trains inbound from Toronto stopping at Buffalo use this sequence to reach the mainline: Drive to Buffalo Station Trk1 WB Trk2 EB/Platform 2 Drive via Buffalo Yard Bypass EB (to bypass the yard) Drive to... next destination All trains leaving the Buffalo station eastbound should travel via Buffalo Yard Bypass EB to avoid taking an unwanted detour through the yard. Trains on the mainline traveling west to Toronto should likewise take the westbound yard bypass to avoid the yard.


Unlike Erie and Buffalo, Montrose Station on the south branch line is small, having only a single platform. It is, however, single-ended, and will require the use of a Y, but the Y is small, allowing only the locomotive to turn.

When a passenger train arrives at Montrose station, it's on track 2. After unloading passengers, the loco detaches, as you can see above, drives to the far end and crosses over to track 1, then runs past the cars to the Y, as shown below.

As the arrows show, once the loco moves to track 1, it backs toward the bottom of the picture, then drives to the Y, then backs up to couple to the passenger cars. From there it's clear to return to the mainline. To facilitate an AI train stopping at Montrose, you'd need the following sequence: Drive to Montrose Station/Platform 1 Unload Uncouplez From 0 (to detach the loco) Drive to trackmark Montrose Trk1 S (the south end of track 1) Drive to trackmark Montrose Y North (north of the Y, near the bottom of the picture) Drive to trackmark Montrose Y West (the Y track itself, to the right of the picture) Couple to _____ (whatever the last passenger car is)


The Uncouplez From driver command While we're here, this is a good time to talk about the "Uncouplez From..." command. It is a third-party, user-created command, and is much more user friendly than the standard Auran Uncouple command. The Auran command requires that you know the specific car number you wish to uncouple from. Even worse, which car number you specify depends on which way the train is facing. Finally, if you're programming a sequence of driver commands for a session, you can't easily specify a car that's in the middle of a train. In short, Uncouple is very cumbersome to use. The Uncouplez From... command, on the other hand, requires you know only the car's position in the train. The locomotive is car number zero, so if you want to uncouple behind the fifth car, you just use the command, "Uncouplez From 5". Very cool, and much less cumbersome to use than the Auran command. There are two restrictions on the use of Uncouplez you need to be aware of. First, the command will only handle up to 20 cars. So, if you want to disconnect from the 35th car, you'll have to do it the hard way, with the Auran Uncouple command. Second, remember that any extra locomotives count as a car. For example, if the consist has three locomotives and you want to uncouple after the 10th car, you'd issue the command, "Uncouplez From 12", ten for the cars and two more for the extra locos. Get the idea? The Uncouplez From command is a most useful addition to Trainz. Many thanks to Smileyman (Brian Round) for making it available. Important Operational Concepts Portals Erie Northern has three sets of dual portals to allow trains to enter and leave the route. The mainline portals are Washington, at the east end of the route, and Pittsburgh, at the west end. As noted earlier, the Toronto portals are on the northwest branch line, west of Buffalo. Since this is an American railroad, traffic runs on the right side, so traffic exiting the route does so though the right-hand portal, and inbound traffic enters through the left portal. Now let's discuss a unique feature of Erie Northern (and also my other route, Midwest Central.) The standard Auran portals have the ability to allow outbound trains to return to the route after a time period the user can select, say, ten minutes. The problem is that you cannot select which trains return and which do not. If you turn on the "trains return" option, then all trains return. On Erie Northern, the portals are set up so that trains exiting the route on the right track do not ever return. Instead, if you have a train you want to return to the route, you send it to the left portal, via a crossover provided near the portals. The left portal is set up so that all trains exiting through it return, again at the interval you specify. Get the idea? If you want a train the exit the route permanently, let it go to the right portal, as usual. If you want a train to return, send it to the left portal instead.


The picture to the left shows the tracks leading to the Washington portals, mp 165. The portals themselves, in the side of the hill in the distance, are too far away to see, but what I wanted you to notice is the crossover. Trains you want to exit the route continue past the signal to the portal on the right track. Trains you want to return to the route take the crossover to the left track and the left portal. Why is the crossover so far from the portal? An excellent question, the answer to which is very important. If you visit the tutorial section of my website, you'll see a complete illustrated example, but here's the short version: Inbound trains that exit a portal are not controlled by the game's AI until they are almost completely out of the portal. What does this mean? It means that when a train emerges from a portal it will not respond to driver commands, speed limits or signals until it is completely out of the portal. A train with three locomotives and fifty 40-foot boxcars is over 2000 feet/615m long, and the whole thing must be clear of the portal before it will respond to any commands. This principle is important because, in the drawing above, if a long inbound train reaches the crossover before it completely exits the portal, it will take whatever path is set on the crossover, without regard to where the train is supposed to go. Even more important, if an outbound train heading for the left portal is waiting at the crossover, it may have the crossover switches "locked" in that direction. Because the game's AI does not control a train until it completely exits the portal, the AI cannot stop the incoming train before it reaches the open switch, and it will take the crossover and collide with the waiting outbound train! (No kidding, I've seen it happen, folks.) The moral to this story is if you create you own sessions on the Erie Northern map, make sure any inbound trains from the portal are shorter than the distance from the portal to the switch, plus a safe stopping distance. Otherwise you risk a collision with a train waiting to take the crossover. "Inbound" also means any train that exits through the portal and will return. It, too, must be shorter than the distance from the portal to the switch. Said another way, if the distance from the portal to the switch is about 30 cars, that's the longest train you can have without risk of trouble. Since Erie Northern is a short line, trains generally are 25 cars or less. With that in mind, here are the maximum recommended train lengths for the inbound portals: Washington: 40 cars Toronto 37 cars Pittsburgh 28 cars


Of course, these distances are based on a train of average weight. If your train consists of 3000 tons of iron ore, or something heavy like that, you'll need longer stopping distances, so plan accordingly. Invisible Speed Signals (ISS) One of the less prototypical characteristics of Trainz is the lack of speed control through switches. If the mainline speed is 70, a train will also take the switch into the sidetrack at 70. Fortunately, there is a third-party workaround, in the form of the "Invisible Speed Signal," created by BPanther (Mike Bremer). It allows you to control the train speed through either or both sides of a turnout. My website has a complete tutorial on the operation of the ISS, and new surveyors are strongly encouraged to check it out so you understand how it works. In brief, you place the control some distance from the switch. You then tell the control the name of the switch it's supposed to watch and what speed you desire. You can opt to control only one path through the switch--the sidetrack, for example--and the other path is unaffected. In the drawing below, taken from the Midwest Central manual, the left picture shows how the ISS is controlling train speed into the freight platform and also thru the crossover. The right picture demonstrates how mainline traffic is unaffected by the ISS. The ISS can control either or both paths, even a 3-way switch.

There is one important restriction on the use of the ISS. It is a session-based control, which means if you load the Midwest Central map without loading a saved session, ALL of the ISS controls will return to their default (turned off) values. Since there are 50+ ISS controls in Erie Northern territory, it would be a tedious, time-consuming project to reprogram them all for a new session. With that in mind, there is a Erie Northern "base" session available on the Download Station. This session has no rolling stock, but it does have the mainline portals and all the ISS controls set to the correct values. If you're planning to create you own sessions, I strongly recommend using the base session as a starting point. Just load it along with the map, then immediately


save the session under a different name of your choice, then add any rolling stock you wish. Since you haven't changed the base session itself, you can reload it again anytime you wish to create an alternative scenario. The Signal System and Dummy Junctions Erie Northern uses the standard USA2 signals, and the route has been subjected to hundreds of hours of testing. The Auran AI system has well documented flaws and it's been a challenge to work around them. For some problems, there's not much you can do but clean up the mess when an AI train decides to run the wrong way through a directional arrow. The train ends up on the wrong track and blocks oncoming traffic. The only thing that seems to help is to keep trains well separated. The Auran AI system looks two junctions ahead of the train to calculate the train's path. If the track ahead is clear, that's fine. If not, if a track is occupied, and there is an alternate path to the destination--such as through an industry--the AI will choose that path. Furthermore, once it has chosen the bogus path, the AI doesn't not seem to check again to see if the path becomes clear. So, when you have one train closely following another, there's an excellent chance it will decide to take a little detour through an industry instead of staying on the mainline. The best way to work around this problem is to keep your trains well separated. There's one other characteristic of the AI system you should be aware of. Because the AI looks ahead two junctions to set a train's route, it may "lock" those switches, no matter how far away they are. Let's say you have a train waiting to leave the yard, but it can't seem to get a green signal. Sometimes this problem is caused by an approaching train, which has "locked" the switch in front of your waiting train. Usually that's fine, but if the oncoming train is miles away, your train may be in for a long, unnecessary wait. Consider the following example:


In the right-hand picture above we have our train waiting to leave the yard. The left picture is our oncoming mainline train. Notice the turnout is aligned toward the mainline train and it has a green signal. The yard train has a stop signal. What you can't tell from the drawing is the mainline train is three baseboards away...more than 6300 ft/1938m. If we start the session, which train do you think will cross the switch first, the yard train or the mainline train? The answer depends on the timing. If both trains start at exactly the same time, the AI will change the switch to the yard train and it will leave the yard. If, however, the yard train starts anytime later than the mainline train, the mainline train will "lock" the switch...even from 6300 feet away...and the yard train has to wait. How long? At the default 40mph/63kmh track speed it will take the mainline train almost two minutes to reach the switch. What can we do to let the yard train leave earlier? I've developed a technique to help work around this problem, by inserting a "dummy" junction in the line, like this: The dummy junction is created by inserting a piece of invisible track, which joins the mainline to form a switch. The default switch lever is replaced with "Lever Invisible" to form an almost invisible junction, with only the red/green arrow showing. In the drawing to the left, the switch is named with a single comma (,). What happens is when the AI looks ahead of the oncoming train, it will find the dummy junction instead of where you train is trying to exit the yard. That prevents the train from locking your yard junction until it is closer. There are 16 of these dummy junctions on Erie Northern, all of them named with a comma. I wanted you to know about them so when you see them you'll know what they're for. The process of debugging the AI and signal system on any Trainz route is a very timeconsuming process. On Erie Northern, I've spent a LOT of time debugging the signaling. For that reason, I strongly suggest that you do not change the signals. If you do find some that don't appear to work correctly, please report them and I'll have a look. The Portal Manager The portals that come with TRS2004 and later are major improvements over earlier Trainz versions, in that they allowed trains to enter and leave the map, much as real trains travel from one railroad to another. The default portals, however, have a number of limitations. For one, new trains are generated at random and you have no control over the sequence they are emitted from a given portal. So, if you have four trains programmed for a given portal, the AI might emit the same train three times in a row, rather than emitting them one after the other.


Secondly, the interval between trains is fixed, so if you wish to set the time interval to, say, 30 minutes between trains, the first train doesn't emerge for 30 minutes, either. Finally, you have to go navigate to each portal separately to set its parameters. What's needed is a central place to administer them. Fortunately, we have the Portal Manager rule by Jürgen Schmitz, <kuid2:192081:14:1>, another fine thirdparty addition to Trainz. The Portal Manager gives the user a much greater degree of control. You can now specify whether you want new trains generated randomly or sequentially. You can also specify if you want the first new train from the portal emitted immediately. Let's say you set the normal portal delay to 30 minutes. With the Auran portal, you had to wait 30 minutes before the first train would emerge from the portal. With the Portal Manager, you can get the first train right away, if you wish. Finally, the Portal Manager allows you program all the portals from the same place. Just add the Portal Manager rule to the list of available commands in Surveyor and click "edit" to program your portals. Let's take a look.

With the Portal Manager, we can build a list of as many portals as we wish to control, and in the drawing above, I've entered the name of three portals. "Why only three?" you might ask. "Aren't they're six portals, two at each location?" That's a good question, and here's the answer. We only need to control the three portals that emit trains--the ones from which trains will enter the route. The other three portals don't do anything but accept outbound trains, so there's really no need to control them. These non-controlled portals are Washington EB, Toronto WB, and Pittsburgh WB. In each case, we simply direct our trains to them and they exit the route without any further action on our part. The three portals in the drawing above, however, all have the capability to emit trains, so we want the ability to control them from one place, hence the Portal Manager. In the drawing, you saw the main list, now let's take a look at the dialog for one specific portal:


As you can see, we're now looking at the Toronto EB portal. You have a choice of allowing trains to be created at random, sequentially or by time. You also have a choice to have the first train emerge from the portal immediately, if you wish. You can set not only how often the trains emerge, but you can also add a random delay as well, so each session is a bit different. Once you've set those parameters, you just add one or more consists, in the same way you would with the Auran portals. And, unlike the Auran portal, you can change the order of the trains in the portal and give each a name. The only thing you apparently can't do with the Portal Manager is have trains return. For that, I simply go to the portal itself and just turn on only the "all trains return" option. I use the portal manager to generate the new trains and the combination of the two works fine. I have found the Portal Manager a useful, easy-to-use tool, and a great addition to Surveyor. Portal Trackmarks One of the things that has always bothered me about portals is how trains slow almost to a stop before they enter a portal. Over the years I've tried various methods to work around this problem, and recently I came across one that seems to work well. What we do is place a trackmark a short distance from the start of the portal, like this:


In the drawing above, we're looking at the Washington portals again. There's a trackmark near the entrance to each. Notice that I named the trackmark very similar to the portal, with only the "a" in "portal" removed. Doing so makes it easy to remember the trackmark name. In building your session, just tell the train to go to the trackmark first, then the portal, such as: Drive to trackmark Washington Portl EB Drive to Washington Portal EB In practice, a train doesn't see the portal until it passes the trackmark, and so enters the portal at track speed. This method seems to work well with 80mph US trains, but I haven't tested it with very high-speed trains such as the TGV. If you run such trains on your other routes, drop me an email if you have trouble with this technique. One word of caution: This technique does not work with iPortals, and may result in a collision, so don't use it with the iPortal. The use of this technique is purely optional. You can simply command the train to drive to a portal, and it will work just fine without the trackmark. Using Bells and Horns at passenger stations Another neat thing you do with the Erie Northern map is to use locomotive bells and horns at passenger station. For example, you can start ringing the locomotive's bell when you reach a point a short distance from the station. Then, when the train has finishing loading passengers, you can sound the horn just before the train pulls out. It's pretty cool, so let's take a moment to explain how we do it. First, we need to define a point where we want the bell to start ringing. Does that sound like another trackmark? Yep, that's exactly right. Have a look: In the drawing, we're looking at the Pocono station. I've placed a trackmark called "Pocono Bell WB" on the westbound track leading to the station. When the train passes the trackmark, we'll tell it to start ringing the bell.


As you might suspect, there's also a companion trackmark for the eastbound track. Look for the white line near the top of the picture and you can see the trackmark. It's called, appropriately, "Pocono Bell EB." To use this technique, we tell the train to "Drive via Pocono Bell WB", start the bell, then drive to the station. The distance from the trackmark to the station is important. Why? Because since the train is scheduled to go to the trackmark first, it will not know it's going to the station until after it passes the trackmark, and we need to make sure the train has enough time to stop. The track speed at Pocono is 45mph, so slowing a passenger train is not too difficult, but the track speed out east at Concord is 79mph, so the trackmark needs to be considerably further away. To give our AI driver the ability to sound his bells and horn or whistle, we need to add two new driver commands to Trainz. They are: Hornz <kuid:66277:80001> and Bellz <kuid:66277:80002> (both created by Smileyman.) To use the commands, simply insert them in the driver sequence for each train where you want the bell or horn to begin. The Hornz command blows the horn once, for a short duration. The Bellz command toggles the bell on and off, so we'll need to give the command a second time when we want the bell to end. Here's an example, taken from the Erie Northern Demo session, where the eastbound commuter train is stopping at Pocono.

The first red trackmark tells the train to "Drive via Trackmark Pocono Bell EB". As soon as the train hits the trackmark, it sees the Bellz command and the bell begins to ring. At same instant, the train sees the command to drive to the station and begins to slow down. When the train reaches the station, the bell continues to ring while the passengers are loading. When loading is finished, we issue a Hornz command to sound the horn, preparing for departure. The horn lasts a few seconds, but while it is blowing a second instance of the Bellz command turns the bell off. A repeat instance of Hornz keeps the horn blowing a few more seconds, and the last red trackmark sends the train to the bell trackmark at the next station, in this case Clearview. In practice, the two Hornz commands blend together and the horn sound is continuous, with the bell stopping about halfway through. As I said, the overall effect is very cool, but here are a couple of things to remember. First, the ability of the bell to sound is dependent to some extent on your hardware and the complexity of


your scenery at each station. On Erie Northern, I've found the bell works fine at the smaller stations, but where is station is located in a large city, such as at Erie and Buffalo, the presence of a large amount other scenery and dense trackwork makes the bell somewhat intermittent. The other thing to remember is that the locomotive you use must have a bell as part of its configuration, or you won't hear it. On Erie Northern, the F40PH has a bell, whereas the Genesis locomotives, the P40 and P42, apparently do not. That's too bad. You could delete the P40/42's and substitute another loco of your choice, if you wish. Using the iPortal New for Erie Northern in Beta 3 is the Irving iPortal, which allows you to send and receive trains from other users via Internet. It's located just north of Montrose on the south branch line.

Let's take a look at the setup screen.


On the first line, we give the iPortal a name. The second and third line is where we specify where we want the trains to go. To be honest, I haven't had a chance to experiment with iPortal on the Internet, so what I've done is provide a second "no frills" iPortal on the Erie Northern. It's located in the hills north of Buffalo. This iPortal is called "iPortal Staging" and I have successfully sent trains back and forth between the two places. Returning to the dialog above, you can see the Irving portal is set up to send trains to the "iPortal Staging" portal, and only within the local computer. This is the second iPortal and it consists simply of the iPortal and a couple of tracks for sending and receiving trains. The train you see here is from the Demo session, and it is poised to travel from this location and emerge at the Irving iPortal. As you might guess, the setup dialog is similar, with the names changed, as you see below.

Take a moment to examine the two dialog boxes. There is one important difference I want you to notice, other than the names. It is the Driver Mode, which tells an inbound train what to do once it comes out of the iPortal. On the Irving iPortal, it is set to manual, which tells the train to come to a stop once it leaves the iPortal. At iPortal Staging, it is set to Auto, which tells the train to continue driving once it leaves the iPortal. A train set to Auto will follow signals, speed limits and existing junctions. Why the difference? Well, at the Irving portal is the gateway to the rest of Erie Northern and I didn't want an inbound train to simply go driving the down the track without some supervision. I


would rather have it come to a complete stop once it leaves the portal, so I can decide what to do with it. At the iPortal Staging area, the situation is a bit different. If you check in the picture above, the switch is facing to the right, into the empty track next to the freight train. When a train emerges from the iPortal, we do want it to continue, into the sidetrack, not just sit at the portal entrance blocking the freight train, so we set this iPortal to Auto. Get the idea? In experimenting with the iPortals, I've found that before a train emerges from the portal, the portal will detect the presence of another train and delay the inbound arrival until the track is clear. In fact, in the demo session, there are two iPortal trains, marked inbound and outbound. The inbound train, which is the freight train on the previous page, simulates a train coming from the Internet to the Irving iPortal. The drawing to the left is the outbound iPortal demo, a long coal train, located in the pass track at Falsburg, about a mile from the Irving portal. If you start the two demo trains at the same time, once the coal train enters the main track toward the iPortal, the inbound freight train will wait in the portal until the coal train safely exits. As I said, I haven't had a chance to play with the Internet option yet. Once I do, I'll have more to say about it.

Programmable Turntables Erie Northern has three turntables, created by Andi06, and located at Binghamton, Erie and Buffalo. Each turntable can be controlled from within a session using the new driver command "Move Turntable". There is a complete tutorial on the website explaining how to install and setup a turntable, so this discussion will be limited to what you need to know to program an AI driver to use it. Check out the drawing below.


Each turntable has 24 positions, or "stops", located every 15 degrees, and numbered clockwise from 023. Stop 0 is the direction the turntable bridge faces when the turntable is installed.

The Erie Northern turntables are named as follows: Binghamton Buffalo Erie TT-Bingtn TT-Buff TT-Erie

Even though a turntable has 24 possible stops, not all are needed. Check out the Binghamton portal in the picture below. See if you can determine which stops are actually in use. Disregard all the trackmarks for the moment; we'll deal with those shortly. For now, just figure out which stop numbers we need to service the tracks that are hooked up. Do that now, then scroll down to continue.


Ready? Here's the answer. To service the roundhouse itself, we'll need stops 21, 22, 23, 0, and 1, in that clockwise order, with stop 21 on the left side of roundhouse and stop 1 on the right side. We'll also need stops 2, 3 and 4 to service the three tracks to the right of the roundhouse. And some of you sharp folks might have noted we also need stop 12 for trains entering the turntable from the yard. In using the turntable, what we want to do is drive the locomotive onto the bridge, stop, and then rotate or "move" the turntable to whichever track we need. In the drawing above, notice the trackmark near the roundhouse, labeled "TT-Bingtn-Stop0". This trackmark is not on the bridge itself, but on the far side, on the turntable apron. Assuming our loco is in the yard, we then issue the command "Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop0". The loco will pull out onto the turntable, and stop. And because the loco always stops short of the trackmark, it ends up centered nicely on the bridge. (Having the trackmark on the apron and not the bridge works well, because the trackmark is valid no matter which way the bridge is facing.) Now once we get the loco onto the bridge we need to rotate the turntable. Let's say we want to park the loco on track 23. We issue the command, "Move TT-Bingtn to stop num:23" to position the bridge at that track. Below is what the dialog looks like:

Once we issue the command, the turntable rotates to stop 23. Okay, we've driven the loco to the turntable and moved the turntable to stop 23. How do we get the loco into the roundhouse? We do it by providing trackmarks on each turntable track and each track outside. Check out the drawing below:


Well, that's a lot of trackmarks, isn't it? Yes, and we'll be adding more in just a moment. What I want you to see here is each track has it own unique stopping point. A moment ago we said we wanted to drive to track 23. Now you see it's pretty simple. Once we've moved the turntable, we just say "Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Trk23" and the loco will drive off the bridge and into the roundhouse. To summarize what we've just discussed, here's the driver sequence. Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop0 Wait for 5 seconds Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop:23 Drive to TT-Bingtn-Trk23 Hmm, where did that "wait for 5 seconds" come from? Remember we said when the loco drives onto the bridge it will stop a short distance from the Stop0 trackmark? Actually, that is not quite true. What actually happens is the loco will slow down and then stop. That's important because once the AI commands the loco to stop, it will move immediately to the next command in the driver sequence, and rotate the turntable, even though the loco has not yet come to a complete stop. So, without the wait, the turntable will start to turn even while the loco is still moving. Very unprototypical at the least. By adding the 5-second wait, we allow the loco to stop before the turntable moves. Once you see it in operation, you'll agree it looks much better. The above sequence, then, drives the loco onto the bridge, waits five seconds for the loco to stop, rotates the turntable and then moves the loco into the roundhouse. It all happens automatically, and it's very cool to watch! So far, so good, but now it's time to get the loco out of the roundhouse again. Furthermore, we need to turn the loco around, so when it drives off the bridge into the yard, it will go headfirst. This is where we'll need those extra trackmarks I mentioned a bit ago. Up to this point, we've only mentioned driving to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop0. That's because at Binghamton there is only one entrance track from the yard to the bridge, so every loco that enters the turntable from the yard has to drive to Stop 0. That is not the case when we want to leave the roundhouse. There are a total of five roundhouse tracks, plus the three outside. Each of those tracks also has a stop on the opposite


side of the bridge. For example, TT-Bingtn-Stop0 has TT-Bingtn-Stop12 directly opposite it. Look at the drawing below.

If a loco is sitting in roundhouse track 0, to drive it out onto the bridge, you tell it "Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop12." If the loco is on track 1 of the roundhouse instead, we have to drive to Stop13, and so forth. Get the idea? Here's a little mini-test for you. Looking at the previous drawings, answer the following questions: To drive a loco from track 22 onto the bridge, which trackmark do we drive to? _____ To drive a loco from track 3 onto the bridge, which trackmark do we drive to? ______

To get from track 22 onto the bridge, we drive to TT-Bing-Stop10, and to drive from track 3 onto the bridge, we drive to TT-Bingtn-Stop 15. Did you get it right? Now let's deal with that loco we left in track 23. We want to move it out on the bridge, rotate the turntable, and then drive off. For now, let's assume the turntable is still facing track 23. The sequence is as follows: Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop11 (the trackmark opposite track 23) Wait for 5 seconds Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop:12 Drive to ... next destination.


Stop 12? What's with the stop 12? Well, remember we said we wanted to turn the loco so it faces out into the yard? If we just move the turntable back to Stop0, the loco could leave, but it would be facing the wrong way. We need to rotate the bridge 165 degrees counter-clockwise to have the loco facing out into the yard. All right, the loco has left the roundhouse and is now in the yard. This brings us to our first rule regarding turntables: If your train moves the turntable to a stop other than Stop0, move it back to Stop0 before you leave the turntable area. In our earlier example, where we rotated the turntable to stop 23, once the loco drives off the bridge, we need to move the bridge back to Stop 0. Why? Because the next loco that comes to the roundhouse will expect to find the bridge at Stop 0. Get in the habit for restoring the turntable every time you move it. Furthermore, there is a big gotcha regarding turntables. If the bridge is left in any position other than Stop0 and a driver issues a command to drive to Stop 0, the train will freeze and refuse to move until the loco can "see" the Stop 0 trackmark. The AI thinks the track is broken, and cannot "see" its destination. So, ALWAYS restore the bridge to Stop 0 when you're finished with it! How do we handle restoring the bridge once the loco has left the roundhouse area? We accomplish that by placing one more trackmark near the entrance to the turntable, as you'll see below:

At the bottom of the picture, you can see trackmark Bingtn Turntable Exit. This is a point where we can pause to rotate the bridge before we drive off. Let's say the loco is on the bridge and we're ready to leave the roundhouse area. Here's the sequence. Drive via trackmark Bingtn Turntable Exit Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop:0 Drive to... next destination


The loco drives off the bridge, and when it reaches the trackmark, the turntable begins to rotate. We don't need a wait command this time, because the loco is well clear of the bridge before it begins to move. While the turntable is rotating, the loco slows and stops, then, once the bridge movement has stopped, it will continue to its next destination. Now it's time for a quiz to test your understanding of what we've talked about so far. Write a command sequence for the following conditions: Assume the loco is sitting in track 4, to the right of the roundhouse and facing outward, away from the bridge. Move the loco from there to trackmark Bingtn Yard Trk4 W, a place in the yard. Look back to the drawings above and on page 21 if you need a reminder where track 4 is and the various turntable stop positions. Assume the bridge is pointing to Stop0 when you start. Take a moment now the write down your solution to the problem. You could even start up your copy of Erie Northern and do some experimenting with it. Once you've finished, scroll down to see my solution.

Done? Great. Compare your sequence to mine: Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop:4 Drive to trackmark TT-Bingtn-Stop16 (opposite track 4) Wait for 5 seconds (to allow the loco to stop on the bridge) Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop12 (to face the loco out into yard) Drive via trackmark Bingtn Turntable Exit Move turntable TT-Bingtn to Stop:0 (to restore the turntable to Stop0 Drive to trackmark Bingtn Yard Trk4 W See? That wasn't too bad, was it? You just have to think through each step. (And maybe make a few corrections when you try it and it doesn't work right the first time! Been there, folks!) Before we leave the subject of turntables, we need to take a quick look at the other turntables, which are different than Binghamton, in that they have more than one approach track. Below is the Buffalo turntable. This turntable has two approach tracks, the first on track 1 and the other on track 13, as marked in yellow.


One important thing to remember here is the turntable bridge does not point toward the entrances. (I initially had it that way, but it caused AI trains from the mainline to detour across the turntable!) So, when we want to move the loco to the turntable, we have to rotate the bridge first. We use the same technique we used earlier: We pause the loco on the approach trackmark, rotate the bridge, then drive onto it. Let's assume the loco is entering from track 13 and we want to loco to move to the engine shop. Here's the sequence: Drive via Buffalo Turntable Exit Trk13 (the loco moves to the trackmark and pauses) Move TT-Buff to Stop:01 (the stop opposite track 13) Drive to TT-Buff-Stop01 (the loco moves out onto the bridge) Wait for 5 seconds (wait for the loco to stop) Move TT-Buff to Stop0 (rotate to the engine shop) Drive to TT-Buff-Trk0 (enter the engine shop) Since the turntable ends up at Stop 0, we don't have to move it again, but if we had gone to one of the other tracks, we would have to restore the bridge to Stop 0 again. Here's another test for you. Let's assume the loco is sitting in track 11, with the loco facing outward, away from the turntable. Write a sequence to move the loco onto the bridge, rotate the turntable and drive to Buffalo Station/Platform 3, which is just beyond Exit Trk1. Refer to the drawing above. Once you've got it, then scroll down to see my solution.


Ready? Okay, here we go: Move TT-Buff to Stop:11 (facing the loco) Drive to trackmark TT-Buff-Stop23 (the stop opposite track 11) Wait for 5 seconds (wait for the loco to stop) Move TT-Buff to Stop:1 (rotate the bridge to track1; the loco faces toward the exit) Drive via Buffalo Turntable Exit Trk1 (pause while we restore the bridge to Trk0) Move TT-Buff to Stop0 Drive to Buffalo Station/Platform 3 Cool, huh? By now, I think you've gotten the idea, and it's really fairly straightforward once you play with it a little. Before we close this section, let's take a quick look at Erie:

Erie has three entrance tracks, track 14, track 11 and track 2, and, as with Buffalo, the bridge faces into the roundhouse, which has tracks 22, 23, 0 and 1, in that clockwise order. You program Erie just like you did Buffalo, and you have to pause at the entrance trackmark and rotate the turntable before you drive onto it. That's it for turntables, and this wraps up this version 1.1 of the Erie Northern Operations Manual. I'll be adding to it as we go along, and if you're not already a member of the mailing list, I suggest you join, so you can receive updates on future EN progress and manual releases. Chuck July 7th, 2009



Erie Northern Railroad

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