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Operating Sessions


First operating session

First Operating Session - January 13, 2009


Operating Jobs on the Great Lakes Western


Summary: This job involves intense classifying & flat switching and coordination of traffic.

This is the pivotal job on the GLW. Every mainline train traverses the yard. Most drop and pick up cars. There are transfer runs from the BRC (Clearing) yard. The yard has 8 classification tracks. The good news is that you have an assistant to help with the duties.


Summary: Works with the Hammond Yardmaster to coordinate the general movement of traffic on the GLW layout.

The primary Yardmaster can have the assistant do whatever is needed, but typically the assistant would be responsible for directing traffic in and out of the yard, flip turnouts at the far end when needed, etc., so the primary Yardmaster can focus on the yard classifying & switching. This position will most likely be filled by a PCMRC club member to assist a visiting operator who selects the Hammond Yardmaster job.


Summary: This is an intense classifying & switching job, but is largely an independent operation (you run your own interchange trains in and out of the yard, and there is no outside traffic running through).

The trackplan for this is old. What was previously labeled as Milwaukee has become the storage/staging for five Class 1 trains that interchange with the Clearing yard. Traffic moves from Calumet City and Hammond to the BRC yard, where the Clearing yard operator sorts the cars and runs the interchange trains. For example, he brings in the IC transfer into the BRC yard (from the area labeled MILWAUKEE on the web site), swaps the cars on it for cars in the yard destined for IC, and returns the train to the same track it came from.

There are 5 such transfer trains to run, and the order is up to the Clearing yard operator (i.e. depending on which has more cars ready for it). Also two or three "BRC transfer" runs to Hammond are done by the Clearing yard operator, unless there is another available operator to run them for him (typically the South Bend or Carbondale operator will have spare time to run these). Cars are exchanged with the Calumet City yard on an ad-hoc basis, working with the Calumet City operator.


Summary: This is a large industry switching job, with no "end" -- cars will be swapped with the Hammond Yardmaster on an ad-hoc basis, usually at least 3 or 4 times in the session, for continuous switching to industries.

This is probably the most challenging industry job on the layout. It covers a lot more track than what is shown on the web site. There is a lot of traffic controlled by this job: all of the industries in Blue Island (the track shown in the track plan on the web site) plus the GLW marine operations (car float), the industries behind Hammond yard and the GLW maintenance facility. You would generally grab a load of 12-15 cars from industries that go back to the yard, and work with the Yardmaster to exchange those for cars destined for your industries. When those are switched, then grab more outbound cars, exchange, and switch some more.. The job is finished when you get to a point near the end of the session where you can tie up in an orderly manner.

Also note that Blue Island is not only within yard limits, it is on the mainline. So you will need to work with the Yardmaster when he needs a clearance track for switching, and work with through traffic to make sure the mainline is clear when necessary.


Summary: A medium-sized industry switching job, running as a single "turn" from Hammond Yard.

Usually the first train out of Hammond, The Rockford Turn runs to Rockford, works the industries in the Rockford town and the CNW interchange track and returns to Hammond. This job involves switching a lot of industries and has a few run-around puzzles. You should also keep the mainline track clear as much as possible, and may be asked to clear it when a through train runs.

Frequently the South Bend turn is also run by the operator from Rockford, if he gets done quickly.


Summary: This job usually takes all of the operating session, as it revolves around three trains. There are basically 3 separate runs to/from Hammond, with local switching in Aurora for each one. There may be some free time during the session, between trains.

First is the CB&Q turn - originating in Aurora (on the CB&Q Interchange tracks), it collects the CB&Q cars and the full cars from the limestone mine and runs to Hammond. It returns with empty limestone cars and CB&Q traffic, which is moved to the CB&Q by spotting it on the appropriate track in the interchange yard. Pay special attention to cars that simply stay in Aurora instead of going to Hammond, and cars that simply exchange between CB&Q and Bjorn Limestone rather than going back to Hammond.

Following that, depending upon where the Hammond Yardmaster is in setting up the Aurora Turn, the next train is usually the Grain Freight, which comes out of staging, exchanges cars at the grain terminal and returns to staging.

Usually the last train is the Aurora Turn, coming from Hammond to Aurora. It works all the industries in Aurora, including Fox Valley Brewery, and returns to Hammond very near the end of a session. The double-ended switching here can involve some puzzles, but there are runaround tracks. There are usually additional cars for Aurora left in the CB&Q area as well, so be sure to switch those as needed.

You should also keep the mainline track clear as much as possible, and may be asked to clear it when a through train runs.


Summary: This is a large industrial switching job with its own classification yard available. One or two runs to Hammond Yard will be needed to exchange cars, plus ad-hoc exchanges with Clearing Yard and an incoming turn from Carbondale.

This job works Inland Steel's plant and rolling mill, plus a few other industries. You'll typically start with some cars needing to be switched already (plus Off-Spots), and should also gather cars to make a run to Hammond Yard as soon as possible so you get more cars to switch. Close coordination with the Clearing Yard operator helps, as both jobs have cars for each other and if they can be easily interchanged occasionally, both jobs are better.

In addition, one incoming turn from Carbondale will be made by the Carbondale operator, which will drop off cars in your yard and take any Carbondale-bound cars you have ready for him in the yard. Since this is not on the mainline, you work mostly in isolation from other traffic (except for the exchanges noted above). This job can take the whole session, but winds down toward the end as incoming traffic from Clearing Yard diminishes, and you may end up with several cars left as "to switch" because the industries are full.


Summary: This job has minimal in-town switching, but makes 4 separate runs from Carbondale to other destinations to swap cars, with some stops/exchanges with Hammond Yard. If things run smoothly, you will likely be asked to run another mainline train or two in the meantime or when Carbondale is done.

This is primarily a mine operations job, but as part of "Inland Steel" it also includes 3 simple runs to exchange cars. Each turn originates in Carbondale.

Furnace turn, which runs to Furnace (above Calumet City), with some cars being picked up in Hammond Yard on the way, exchanging cars in Furnace, and also drop some cars in Hammond on the way back.

Calumet City turn, which runs all the way to the Calumet City yard (going through Hammond Yard but not stopping), exchanges cars, and returns (again without stopping in Hammond Yard).

Hammond turn, which runs only to Hammond Yard to exchange cars.

East Hammond, which exchanges cards with Hammond Yard.

The timing of these turns should be coordinated with the dispatcher, to make sure that there is sufficient need for the turn (and the order could be switched if needed), and also coordinate with the Hammond Yardmaster since each turn will affect Hammond traffic.


Summary: This is a quick industrial switching job. You will likely be asked to run another mainline train or two prior to running this job and/or after it's done, so if you prefer running mainline trains to doing industry switching, this is the best job to choose.

The South Bend Turn comes out of Hammond Yard, usually near the end of a session. It has a short run to South Bend where it switches all the industries. The turnouts all face the same direction, so the only switching puzzles come from keeping the mainline clear and the fact that there are frequently more cars than places, so clearing and setting "off spot" cars becomes a necessity.


There are several through freights that originate in staging and serve the Hammond Yard. They tend to run as requested by the Hammond Yardmaster, and are typically done by the South Bend and Carbondale operators to help them fill their time, rather than as a completely separate job. If desired, there are two passenger trains (a full service and an RDC plus coach) that can be added to the mix for more interest and a greater challenge.

General Notes:

When switching, be aware of cars that are destined for another location within your area -- not all cars "on spot" will be "outbound".

Off Spot -- often there will be "Off Spot" cars that did not get spotted yet, due to the space constraints at an industry. These should be spotted first, before any new incoming cars are spotted. If you have more cars for an industry that it can hold (pay attention to the diagrams for the maximum cars allowed), then those should be marked as "Off Spot" using the placeholder cards.