We ran light the two miles returning to the main line. I stopped on the North Line between the city street crossing and the main line switch. We had been locked in on the North Line for 58 minutes at that time. Two EBs had gone by on the main while we were switching.
I called the dispatcher for permission to enter the main and she said she had a WB leaving Benteen (MP 761)and it was lined through Dunmore so she had to knock down his signals. They have to time out before she can talk us out onto the main at the electric lock switch. Dunmore is MP 775, the next CTC siding east of Hardin, MP 784. A few minutes later she said she was going to re-clear Dunmore and let the coal train go by us first and we should call back after it goes by.
We sat there between the street crossing and the main another 30 minutes. From the looks on peoples' faces as they drove past us you can tell they aren't used to seeing 3 locos parked there.
Finally the coal train appears on the curve just off the Bighorn River bridge.
It approaches and roars by at 50 mph.
When the train started by us I called the DS and she gave us authority to enter the main. If you open the electric lock while the switch is occupied you don't have to wait for it to time out, it unlocks immediately. So my conductor opened it up as the coal train was speeding by at 50 per. As soon as its FRED went by he opened the switch and I backed out onto the main. We backed up to the siding switch just west of the depot and opened it and backed into the siding.
I was watching in my mirror while backing up and when the engines curved around the jog all I saw was a big letter "D" for Derail and the red target on its mast. I went to emergency and the 3 units stopped quickly. I thought my conductor had forgotten the derail. He came walking out from around the curve looking puzzled. The instant I dynamited the consist I knew I had screwed up. The damn derail sign was the one for the spur track next to us not the siding. Oh well :-) Things look different in a mirror. After I sheepishly recovered the air we backed onto our train.
Here we are getting ready to pull out of the siding. You can see the "derail" sign, which gave me a scare, on the stub track to the right. That track has a standard cast steel derail. The siding ahead of us has an identical sign (though lined green now for our movement) that warns of a split point type of derail.
We got the air and I pulled the train out of the siding and my conductor set the derail and lined the switch back behind us. We had previously obtained permission from the dispatcher to make a blind "Back Up" move so I then backed up the main to pick up the conductor. By then I had the required air charge on the cars so I made a set and release test utilizing FRED. We then departed EB on a red block.
The WB coal met an EB empty at Rowley (MP 793) and the dispatcher said she was having trouble getting the signal for the EB at Rowley. I told her she was not going to be able to get the signal because I had a WB green behind my train. So she tells the EB that she'll have to talk them out of Rowley "account the local made a back up move to pick up their conductor and I think they caused a signal direction change when they did that".
I held my tongue but I felt like saying;No dear, YOU just ran a WB by us and we came out as soon as he cleared the North Line switch. The signals were set for WB for the coal and even though he is now by Rowley, as far as the CTC is concerned it thinks he left part of his WB train out here at Hardin. So the CTC is not about to let you line an eastbound into it.Oh well, she is a pretty good dispatcher, she just gets a little confused every now and then. She talked the EB by the red absolute at Rowley.
When I came around the curve at the Bighorn River bridge there was a red intermediate at the east end of it. I was only going 17 mph because we were running on a red from Hardin. I was expecting this intermediate to be red but we had been talking and, though keeping a lookout ahead of us, I had half forgotten about the need to stop. So when I saw it I grabbed the air and jokingly asked my conductor, "We have to 'stop and go' for this one don't we?"
He got a bit excited. "Yes, stop stop!"
I was laughing. We stopped on the bridge. My conductor is a bit touchy on the subject since he was fired for that very thing at that very spot about 3-4 years ago. On the MRL you don't have to stop for red intermediates. On the BNSF you do, unless you were talked by a red absolute previously or when you are switching you can pass one without stopping to couple onto your own train. The EB empty that got talked out of Rowley behind us would not have to stop at any of them, but we were not talked by an absolute and we were no longer switching so we had to stop. It sounds simple enough but when you are not paying attention it is easy to forget just what you are doing.
By the time we got back to track speed on green signals at Dunmore we had lost 2:58 running time switching and fooling around at Hardin. Ya gotta love that North Line. We tied up in Sheridan at 2345.
For more photos of the Hardin North Line Click Here.
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