Dec 2009

P&EBR Workflows: Hauling Passengers

The primary reason for the existence of the Piedmont & East Blue Ridge Railroad is to move soapstone for the parent company, Piedmont-Standard. Since no other shippers use the line it is strictly an industrial railroad, not a common carrier.

As such, the P&EBR is not responsible for providing transportation services for the public good. Its singular priority is stone. But since the rails link all the various facilities and operations of Piedmont-Standard, the rail line does provide a convenient means for moving people. In this remote corner of Nelson County the roads are unpaved, and many streams must be forded due to lack of bridges. So using the railroad to haul people is a necessity for much of the year. But only employees, and only on company business ... at least that is the rule.

Passenger service on the P&EBR is small scale and low key, Still, in order to be effective, passenger trains run on a schedule. The train schedule reflects the times workers need to commute to and from their homes in Ariel Church and Winwood. There is also a connecting train to meet the standard gauge daily passenger train of the C&O Railroad at Winwood.

From a model railroading standpoint, having a train that runs on a schedule introduces a lot of interest to operations. All crews running trains on the line during the time a passenger train is scheduled will have to have a copy of the schedule, and make sure they clear the mainline in time. And to keep track of time, there will have to be clocks displaying the “relative time”, which is the compressed time of performing all the daily activities of the railroad in a few hours. Compressing the work day requires the layout clock to run fast.

The blue track sections show where the passenger train would have a scheduled stop. These stops are located for the convenience of the employees of Piedmont-Standard Soapstone Company.

Since providing passenger service requires running all the way from the company offices in Piedmont to the tiny depot in Winwood, the P&EBR may increase the utility of passenger trains by using them to haul some freight as well.

Freight cars in the Shops Yard bound for Winwood could be hauled by the passenger train, as could freight cars in Winwood bound for the Shops Yard.

The passenger train would originate at the office of Piedmont-Standard, which is immediately adjacent to the soapstone mill. The departure time from Piedmont would be determined by the connecting passenger train on the C&O at Winwood, allowing for stops along the way.

From Piedmont, the passenger train would run to Ariel Church, stopping at the yard office which will double as a small depot. While at Ariel Church, the train crew may pick up freight cars bound for Winwood. Then the train would continue on down the line, stopping at Cove, Dust Mill, and Meridian. There would be very small buildings at each of these stops to allow a few folks to get out of the rain while waiting for the train.

The depot at Winwood is very small and spartan, with a small office and freight area for transferring packages and express between the narrow gauge P&EBR and the standard gauge C&O.

The passenger train would have some layover time at Winwood. This allows the train crew to leave the passenger car sitting at the station while they pull the freight cars down to the transfer warehouse and work the small yard there. Then the passenger car is coupled up and the outbound train is assembled and ready to go. The same stops are made on the way back to Ariel Church, where any freight cars from Winwood would be dropped in the Shops Yard. Then the lone passenger car is pulled to Piedmont to complete its run at the company office.