An article about timetabling & wagon control on the layout

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Years ago I had an enjoyable weekend operating Ian L's Appledore layout to timetable. However the hobby's enthusiasm for operating layouts, like the prototype, with timetable and/or wagon control waxes and wanes and currently the hobby enthusiasm has waned. In many ways a good thing at exhibitions as the public wants to see trains in action not operators fiddling with paperwork even if fiddling with paperwork is extremely prototypical - as Ian D can confirm.

The imaginary Vejle Banen a privatbane (light railway) follows the Grejs Å (Grejs River) from a junction with the DSB (Danish State Railway) at Grejs 9.5 kilometres (5.9 miles) to Skovdallund on Fårup Sø (Fårup Lake). The 50-70 meters high, forested slopes and tufa cliffs of the Grejsdalen (Grejs Dale) as it cuts though hilly terrain makes it a scenically unique part of Denmark. The Dale and Lake are considered beautiful parts of Denmark so tourism is a major source of traffic with the 22 kilometres long Fårup Sø having boat rental, campsite, fishing, and a reproduction Viking ship the Jellingormen, seen by 150,000-200,000 tourists a year. Goods traffic includes agriculture, forestry, and stone cut from the Dale's tufa cliffs. Historically the 13 water mills along the Grejs Å were a major source of traffic for example the Grejs Mill which in 1830 was the country's largest private clothing factory and employed 150 people.
Denmark fitted most goods stock was with air breaks in the 1920's so goods stock was found in most local passenger trains and favoured forgons (road vans) combined parcels/break vans. The first thing I do when timetabling is to look at the constraints. For
Skovdallund it's the fiddle yard there can only be two trains on the layout and the maximum train length is as in the photos below.

After a bit of head scratching I decided that a prototypical through coach (above) service would be two round trips a day. An early morning departure would provide a semi-fast commuter service to Vejle and towns to the east ideally as far as Copenhagen. The coach would then return to Skovdallund in the late morning brining in inbound holiday makers. Shortly after lunch it would head east again with outbound holiday makers the return yet again as a semi-fast commuter service. I had hoped the coach would have time for round trips to Copenhagen. However Copenhagen is 150 miles away and until 1997 required a ferry to cross the Great Belt so there wouldn't be time. The though coach will have to terminate fifty miles away at Odense Denmark's third-largest city. The train would run all stations to/from Grejs and drop off/collect any goods wagons. Beyond the Grejs stops would be at Vejle, Fredericia, Middelfart, and Odense. If I can get a second through coach, a break composite would be ideal, the service will extend to/from Copenhagen - unfortunately there is no suitable coach currently in production.

More head scratching and a look at some Danish websites determined there would be four local trains (above) a day augmented by a late train Friday and Saturday evenings and, for tourists, a mid morning and mid afternoon train during the summer. Two local trains each way would run at similar times to the through coach. Which passengers' use which train is determined by their ticket - reduced price tickets, like students, would use the local passenger trains.

There are only two timetabled goods train (above) a day. The first runs to Skovdallund in the morning and shunts Skovdallund Mill before collecting the though coach from the carriage shed (see above) to start its trip to Odense. The other mirrors the first and after putting the through coach in the carriage shed shunts Skovdallund Mill and runs to Grejs. Good traffic for the station yard and Hopballe Mill (below) travel in passenger trains. Extra goods trains are run as required, mostly when the mills further down the valley are busy, so they mostly run round at Skovdallund rather than shunt. Goods trains can be annulled when not needed.

The above gives the following timetable. The timetable is sequential - trains run to sequence rather than time.
Having trains run to time needs information about connecting services I haven't been able to obtain.

Grejs depart

Skovdallund arrive

Skovdallund depart

Grejs arrive

1.              Goods

2.              Through passenger

3.              Local passenger

4.              Local passenger

5.              Local passenger (summer) or goods extra

6.              Local passenger (summer) or goods extra

7.              Through passenger

8.              [1]

9.              Local passenger

10.           Local passenger

11.           [1]

12.           Through passenger

13.           Local passenger (summer only) or goods extra

14.           Local passenger (summer only) or goods extra

15.           Local passenger

16.           Local passenger

17.           Local passenger

18.           Local passenger

19.           Through passenger

20.           Goods

21.           Local passenger (Fridays & Saturdays only)

            or goods extra (Fridays & Saturdays excepted)

22.           Local passenger (Fridays & Saturdays only)
            or goods extra (Fridays & Saturdays excepted)

[1] Through coach to carriage shed for cleaning and the loco to shunt Skovdallund Mill.

Wagon control

When operating Vale of Alyn I found that I got more enjoyment if wagons moved with a purpose. So each wagon was described on a card indicating were it should be shunted.
The objective was to run through all the cards in the least possible time and moves then shuffle the cards and repeat. This approach was developed for Skovdallund and would include which door to park beside at Hopballe Mill. The card (below) describe the wagon allowing it up to three moves - for example a van might come out of the fiddle yard unload at the goods shed, move to and load at Hopballe Mill door A, and return to the fiddle yard. Inappropriate moves can be avoided for example as there are no facilities to handle oil at the station tank wagons would only go to Skovdallund Mill. This approach also helps to identify which wagons to buy. Though the layout can hold up to twelve wagons experience suggests nine will give the best balance between demanding shunting and smooth operation. The next step will be to trial the timetable and wagon control.





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