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Article about how to draft a train operating chart

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Article about how to draft a train operating chart
Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 2:27 PM

I remember reading an article in Model Railroad within the past couple of years (I think... I have also been going through my back issues recently) about how to take the schedule/list of all of your trains and make a color-coded operations diagram for them. At the time, the article didn't seem interesting but now I need to draft one as part of the MMR program and that article would sure be handy.

Does anyone remember what issue it was in? Thanks.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by dknelson on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 4:55 PM

The one I remember is not so recent: it is in the June 1995 MR as part of the Computers in Model Railroading series.  Scheduling with a spreadsheet.

It was a computerized version of the old string charts that dispatchers and train schedulers actually used, with real string!  (I have seen one in a railroad museum in Nebraska).  But they are also easily done with colored pencils.

As I recall the vertical shows the lists of stations/stops/mileposts and the horizontal is 24 hours of time by hour probably each divided into ten minute intervals.

One side is east bound trains the other is westbound trains.  Lets say east is on the left side, west is on the right side

An east bound leaves Afton for Birch and takes an hour so the string or colored pencil line with angle down to the left.  If it waits an hour in birch the string or colored pencil line would be horizontal for the hour length.  If it then leaves for Capriol the string or pencil line would angle down again,  Perhaps there is no stop at Capriol but it leaves at once for Driftwood, so the string or pencil line angles down again.

Meanwhile westbounds (on the other side of the sheet remember) might be coming from Driftwood to Afton so that string would angle up.

If the strings meet at a station or passing siding then the strings tell you you have a meet.  If they meet between stations or passing sidings then the strings tell you you have to hold the inferior train at the prior station or siding.  It is a planning device for creating schedules.  

Actual string with thumb tacks or pins is easy to change; colored pencil means erasing.  

It sounds complex and string line schedules look daunting but once you figure out the system (and I have likely botched the explanation somewhat here) it is actually pretty easy to do and figure out.  I have some recollection that a dispatcher for the New York Central was the first to create a string line chart probably in the 19th century.

Perhaps there is a more recent article but the magazine index that is part of this website does not come up with it in my search.  If you Google string line train dispatching and scheduling you'll come up with some stuff, including this:

http://virginian.mdodd.com/string_diag.html

Dave Nelson

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted by dehusman on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 5:14 PM

If you put EWD and WWD trains on the same chart you can easily see where they meet (the lines cross).

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Colorado Ray on Wednesday, September 4, 2019 9:47 PM

dehusman

If you put EWD and WWD trains on the same chart you can easily see where they meet (the lines cross).

 

This is correct.  

Dave N. you have the concept correct, but you dont "go to the other side of the chart" for the opposing direction.  Both go on the time scale together as Dave H. points out.  One direction will angle upwards and the other downwards.

Ray

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, September 5, 2019 8:40 AM

I have used string diagrams to help plan the scheduling on my layout.  

I built a grid in Excel and then just added lines for the trains, they weren't actually calculated, just lines copied and pasted where I needed them.  I had basically 4 lines SWD freight, SWD passenger, NWD freight, NWD passenger.  The passenger lines were "steeper" (higher speed), with the SWD slanting from upper left to lower right and the NWD slanting from lower left to upper right.

I used them for a very general scheduling to make sure I hadn't overloaded anything and to make sure I didn't have more trains than crews out on the layout at any given time.  By doing it in Excel I could copy the worksheet, then change the colors of the lines to represent the different classes of trains or extras, or a different color for each operator/train crew to make sure I had enough operators to cover the trains and to not schedule an operator with a tight connection (in case one train becomes late it won't take down the whole schedule for the rest of the session).

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Thursday, September 5, 2019 10:49 AM

Thank you all!

I found a couple of examples online and then drew one up in Microsoft Paint (my preferred program). Coloring and lettering were a snap. It shows all 10 trains pretty well and I am happy with it. It really makes the Timetable come alive, and I could see a better spot for one train so I shifted it pretty easily and then adjusted the timetable accordingly.

I appreciate all of your input.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by dehusman on Thursday, September 5, 2019 11:49 AM

Glad you got it to work.

On my website, www.wnbranch.com,  I have an Excel spreadsheet based timetable development app, that allows you to make a timetable and adjust times, etc.

https://wnbranch.com/home/operations/timetable-and-train-order/

Dave H. Painted side goes up. My website : wnbranch.com

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Posted by Outsailing86 on Thursday, September 5, 2019 12:40 PM

It can be done easily in Excel...

Column A, list your Mileposts in Order (can be arbitrary or protoype)

Column B, Add your Station Names for Reference

Column C, Enter your first train number

Column D, Enter your second train number

Then for each corresponding milepost, add the time. 

You should have multiple times listed with corresponding mileposts. Note Eastbound and Westbound times should make sense. Use the distance between mileposts to check your speed. Use 24 hour time. 

To graph... Scatter Graph with Smooth Lines and Markers

The Y axis will be your mileposts and the X axis is your time. From there you can doctor it with keys, labels, etc.. 

 

 

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Posted by Benjamin Maggi on Friday, September 6, 2019 9:34 AM

I wish I had waited an extra day. Using Excel would have been easy... perhaps too easy! Thanks again all.

Modeling the D&H in 1984: http://dandhcoloniemain.blogspot.com/

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Posted by BroadwayLion on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 9:50 AM

Route of Broadway LION has such a string chart.

Trains run from 242nd street to South Ferry, which is on a loop, and then back up to 242nd Street. So this chart shows southbound to South Ferry and then North bound to 242nd street without any break in the direction shown on the cchart.

On my railroad this is used to assure tht I have enough equipment in the right place to run the railroad according to schedule.

Typically a chart would list the stations from top to bottom and the hours from left to right. Westbound trains move from top to bottom, and East bound trains are shown vrom bottom to top. If you are operating a single track line, then your lines must not cross each other except where a siding is provided.

All lines move forward in time, and time does not stand still or worse yet go backwards. But at a meeting point one of the trains will have a flat horizontal line. It is marking time.

On my chart there are verticql lines, since a train arrives at 242nd street at the bottom of the chart and leaves 242nd street from the top of the chard. I use colored lines to incicate that the train is in fact the same equipment.

The other place I use a vertical line is to indicate that a train went into service (a put-in) or out of service (a lay-up) at a station other than 242nd Street.

 

Now then, click here, to see a .pdf diagram of my amazing string chart.

And here is the tower diagram of the railroad according to LION.

ROAR

 

 

 

The Route of the Broadway Lion The Largest Subway Layout in North Dakota.

Here there be cats.                                LIONS with CAMERAS

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