Operation: The Reading Lines is operated monthly by a crew of up to twelve people. The timetable allows for nearly thirty trains to be run during each session. Most of the freight traffic is bridge traffic, that is, coming on line at one connection (staging) and making its way to another connection (staging). About 15% of the freight traffic finds its way to on-line industries or yards. Movement of trains is done using a CTC machine, operating rule book and radios for communications with the dispatcher, tower operators, yardmasters and train crews. A fast clock is used to pace the rail traffic and an operating session usually last about four hours. Operating positions include yardmasters, CTC operator, tower operators and various engineer/brakeman jobs. Four separate hidden staging yards are used to bring traffic onto the railroad from un-modeled portions and connections with other railroads such as the B&O, PRR, NYC, ERIE, LV, CNJ, and PRSL.
CMRI: The Computer/Model Railroad Interface (C/MRI) has been used since 1993 and mainly acts as an interface between the CTC panel and the railroad. The CTC panel is based on a prototypical Union Switch & Signal panel. There are presently over 500 I/O lines controlled by 2 USIC’s which are used mainly to monitor and relay information via the CTC panel. All main line switches and signals are interlocked by way of the computer and several modes of operation can be used (i.e. CTC, ABS, etc.). During operations, CTC mode is used where the CTC operator routes traffic over the system. At “open houses”, a modified “Automatic Block Signal” mode is run and several switches (turnouts) are automatically controlled thus eliminating the CTC operators position. Since installing the CMRI, I have been able to increase the volume of traffic over the system while cutting down on the radio communications. Additionally, since interlocking, there has not been one derailment caused by inadvertently throwing a switch under a moving train! This is especially important to me since there are lots of hidden track and staging yards on the railroad.
DCC: When the railroad was converted to CMRI control, DCC was installed concurrently. The Reading Lines uses a Digitrax system. Some cabs are radio controlled. All locomotives are equipped with decoders.