If you were attempting to operate a steam railroad and had locomotive service facilities you would have a coaling station and ash dump. From what I understand the ashes are loaded into a gondola and hauled where?? Also the coaling station would get loads of coal from where? Directly from the mine or is there a a distributor that the railroad buys from?
As for the ash disposal question, here's a thread from the MR->profotype info forum:Ash pit disposal thread