Written by: jostrep
My hat is off to all of you in the community who are gifted artists, talented software script writers, or technical gurus that design the content in TS2016. From the routes, locomotives and rolling stock to different horn sounds, locomotives that behave historically and are visually correct; you people are doing an amazing and fantastic job. Your efforts are worthy of praise. Alas, I have not been gifted with that type of talent. My talents lie in story telling and taking screenshots to back up the story that I am telling. As such, I rely greatly on all of you talented people to supply me with the tools I need to do what I do in the simulator. Recently, I took up the task of following a train from its point of origin through to its final destination. So here his the story behind, and with, some of those screenshots. All of the scenarios are quick drive, with content that is payware and freeware from DTG and from third party developers as well.
It has been a cold winter here in the Northeastern United States in nineteen sixty-something. So cold, in fact, that companies throughout the region who thought that they had ordered enough coal for heating and power generating purposes are now experiencing shortages as stockpiles dwindle and in some cases freeze. Calls have been placed to coal mines all over the country, ordering more coal to help bolster those stockpiles. And the mines are working to fill those orders. One such mine, the Emerald Mine, in southwestern Pennsylvania, is where we’ll begin following the train. After pulling a 75 car string of 70 and 100 ton hoppers through the loaders, a Pennsylvania Railroad quartet of F unit locomotives starts out in the snow. After a series of mergers and bankruptcies, the Emerald Mine will find itself as part of the Norfolk Southern Coal District. For the present, however, the Pennsy has this run.
The cold weather differed the maintenance engine repair program, and overworked diesels attempt to derail this train before it even gets rolling. Our lead unit, F7A #9647 experiences some electrical malfunctions on its was through the Allegheny Mountains that make this a cold and dark ride through the late evening and early night. After leaving the mine around 4:30 pm, the train limps into Johnstown at 10:30 pm, where the entire set of F’s will be replaced. It is important for this train to get through, so they’re taking no chances. After the power change, the train pulls out to begin its ascent up the mountains over the famed Horseshoe Curve.
The snow has stopped here, but it is still a foggy and wet night, with high winds and temperatures just above to just below freezing. Ice is forming on the tracks and playing havoc with the signals. Add in a dense fog, and you have all the makings of white-knuckle ride over the Curve into the Railroad City of Altoona. The engineer and crew on this run are a veteran crew, having a lot of experience with the diesels that they are using and even more with the route they’re using, but they almost lose control of things on the descent on the East Slope a couple of times. Gathering things in just in time using air brakes, dynamic brakes, and a good bit of luck from lucky rabbits’ feet and four leaf clovers, the crew makes it into Altoona with train intact and nerves shot. The rest of the trip eastward is fairly uneventful, as the cold weather front seems to have stalled out. Our train reaches Philadelphia and changes out its power once more for its run to New York. EMD GP7’s are the power that is assigned to carry our load of black diamonds up the Northeast Corridor.
While in New York, 15 hoppers are dropped off of the train for a customer in New Rochelle. The New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad picks up the train for its trip northward from here. Like the Pennsy, the New Haven is on the verge of collapse as economic factors and poor management practices have hit the road hard. In a short time, both of these companies will be merged into the Penn Central, but that is a few years distant. All the New Haven has available for power is a four unit set of Alco FA/FB-1’s. Anticipating the upcoming storm, the New Haven is in panic mode and is trying to get every last piece of freight that they can possibly deliver to its customers before the storm hits. This won’t be a quick trip from New York to New Haven, but the train is still on the move, all 60 cars of it.
The rain that has dogged the train through its trip through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York is starting to change over back to snow as that stalled out cold front moves with a sinister purpose and takes aim at the rainy wet weather that has been making it way up the east coast. No sooner does the train arrive in Hartford, Connecticut, it is shipped out on the Springfield Line as the New Haven rushes to pass these cars off to the Boston and Maine Railroad. The B&M is sending some units in by special arrangement to Springfield to pick up the train. The good luck that followed the crew out of Johnstown seems to have been an exception on this move. As the train arrives in Springfield, we learn that icy tracks and drifting snow have stranded the B&M units well short of Springfield. Those hoppers will have to head back down the line and find their way into Boston.
After changing the Alco RS-3’s that brought them into Springfield, more FA/FB-1’s pull the train further up the tracks over the Connecticut River, past the Branford Steam Railroad (BSRR), and into New London, where they are again switched out for different power.
It looks as though a pair of FL9’s will be taking things into Boston. Maybe they should have been routed directly from New Haven to Boston to begin with, as that side trip to Springfield has allowed the storm time to catch up. Snow is bearing down on the interior of the New England states as the cold front meets the rain on the coast, creating a double whammy of winter weather. We’re hoping to make it into town and hand off these hoppers to the B&M.
Racing the storm is usually a losing proposition, but the Fates were looking elsewhere as the B&M picked up the precious 25 remaining hoppers and quickly haul out of Boston for the long trip to Portland, Maine. GP9’s are the power selected for the train. These last coal loads have now reached Pine Point on the Portland Terminal Railroad, 32 hours and counting from the time they left the mine in Pennsylvania. The B&M will handle these hoppers through Portland and after completing some switch outs, convey the remaining 15 cars to Fort Kent. From there, the Maine Central Railroad will take these 15 loads to their final destination, Eagle Lake.
The run to Eagle Lake was a nice, trouble free trip in a winter wonderland full of snow and cold. The good news is that this train load of coal reached its destination on time, keeping homes warm and the lights on for a while longer.
I hope you enjoyed this story. All the screenshots were taken during quick drive scenarios. The routes used were the NS Coal District, Horseshoe Curve, The Northeast Corridor, NEC: New York to New Haven, The Virtual New Haven Railroad (third party payware), The BSRR and Boston to New Haven (Steam Workshop third party freeware), The Portland Terminal, and finally The Fort Kent Subdivision. The backstory came to me as the son of a former coal miner and a train enthusiast and (here is the hard to believe part) the entire run was taken BEFORE Winter Storm Jonas hit the coast. I want to thank all of you who made the routes, locomotives, and rolling stock that were used in these quick drives. I hope that you, and all the other readers find that I have done justice to your work with my words and my screenshots. Until next time, happy railroading! ■