Operating Barchester

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The Movement Cards.

As you can see from the diagrammatic picture of the layout it is effectively divided into two halves. The top half being main line operations, with one exception, and the bottom half branch line and goods.

The break in both rails adjacent to platform 4 is easier to see in the enlarged version of this picture.

Click on image for a larger picture.

Platforms 1, 2, 3 & 4, plus both engine shed roads and the first 4 of the fiddle yard roads come under main line operations. Platform 5, storage roads 6 & 7, the two goods roads plus the remaining two fiddle yard roads are all for branch line operations. Platform 2 is just a bay and is used solely by an auto-trailer.

Because of the deliberate crowding of locomotives and rolling stock, and the way I have chosen to operate the fiddle yard, Barchester operates to a sequence of movements which HAS to be adhered to, otherwise there is chaos, with the operator, or operators, not knowing where some of the stock is.

Rolling stock always starts the day in the same position. A sequence of movements has been worked out for each half of the layout so that at the end of the working day all stock finishes up back where it started. The mainline has 65 train movements in this sequence and the branch line 63 train movements.

The two sequences are then married together into a timetable that serves the surrounding communities. We are now in the position where the main or branch lines can be operated entirely independently of each other with either one or two operators or the whole thing with just one operator. It is also possible for one operator, say myself, who just fancies running the branch line, to do so, and the rolling stock will still finish up where it should be for the start of the next days operations.

The first job was to place all the rolling stock I wanted to use on the various main, branch and fiddle yard roads. The day then starts with a main line arrival to the only vacant platform face. From then on it was a case of moving things around as each road became vacant whilst bearing in mind that eventually there was to be a timetable so all movements had to make some kind of sense. Many false starts were made with departures finding that they had nowhere to depart to and arrivals having to wait in line. After hours of operating, loads of scrap paper and innumerable cups of coffee a rough system was worked out. The movements that had been generated were then transferred onto separate filing cards as shown in the example.
You will have to click on the picture for a larger image to make out what has been written on this temporary operating card.

Click on image for a larger picture.

Using this card as an example we have the first line showing a departure from platform 5.
The second line shows the train makeup, in this case a Class 20 with 3 suburban coaches. A quick glance at platform 5 shows us that the correct train is indeed where it should be so we can carry on.
The third line tells us to set the route which is Barchester to South Bridge (F6), the (F6) tells the operator that South Bridge is fiddle yard road 6. The operator then activates the section switch for platform 5 and operates the various points, as per the control panel layout, for the road to F6. On all departures, without exception, route selection MUST ensure that ALL fiddle yard switches are in the OFF position before moving the train.

The next line indicates the regulator (speed) setting as a percentage. This is the MAXIMUM speed for that particular locomotive as all behave differently at the same speed setting. The traffic movement line is when the movement takes place. The following two lines indicate the speed and switch positions as soon as the locomotive comes to rest. This is the same in all cases, speed controller zero and all electrical switches in the off position

Finally there are the Information lines where relevant information to the trains movement is recorded.. It is possible that there may be a slight change to these cards when the final version is printed.

Barchester Timetable.

Now I have the movement cards all working and in the correct order it is time to turn to the timetable itself. The times as shown may have to be altered slightly to fit in with the passenger flow that is being thrown up as I turn my thoughts to the Barchester Chronicles, the why and wherefor of Barchester itself. Be that as it may this will be a simple matter if and when the time comes.

This picture shows the first few arrivals of the day. You will have to look at the larger image to get a bit better view. It's not brilliant even then but I may be able to do better later on when I have more time. These are scanned pictures whereas photographs might be better.

Click on image for a larger picture.

Here we have the first few departures of the day. The same remarks apply to this as the one above.

Click on image for a larger picture.

Whilst looking at the larger picture you may be able to make out the names of all the stations that are served by Barchester and if so the more experienced modellers will realise that they are all names of well known model railways. In fact they are all the names of my favourite model railways. These layouts have provided me with countless hours of pleasure and inspiration over many years and this is my way of saying thank you to the many modellers involved.

Just in case some people can't make out the names here is a complete list, not in any order of merit but how they appear on the timetable. :-

Arne Wharf
Common Lane
Hudson Road
Buckingham - Which includes Leighton Buzzard and Grandborough Junction.
Autumn Lane
Cranleigh Down
The Dittons - Which includes Long Ditton, Ditton Marsh and Ditton Heath.
Aston Park
Clayton East
South Bridge
Bishops Vale