Sunday, January 16, 2011

Timetable Creation

This week, we were sent home from the city and advised not to come back while the flood was in full force. Thankfully, I am nowhere near any river, creek or other type of waterway and thus I was not affected.  I do not know any relatives or work collegues who were involved in this terrible natural disaster. The total devastation and horror is just unimaginable. However, the response from the rest of the maroon army has been overwelming.

On Friday night this week, I started work on a new timetable for my layout. This was triggered by my reading of the September Issue of our Club Magazine - The Semaphore, where one of our members concludes his three part update on his layout and an overview of his timetable running. His layout, is also in a shed, I think 9m x 5m and is also a multiple deck construction, however his is based on US prototype.  We can't all be perfect!

I created my timetable in EXCEL. I started off by listing the crossing loops across the page, with columns for Arrival and Departure. By default, all loops took 5 minutes to undertake safeworking practices - so departure was arrival time plus 5 minutes. I also included space at the left of each row for the train type (conditional/manditory), and direction (Up/down), and also if it was a branch line or main line train. I then added a column for time at which the train started at its source. I then also created a column for its destination arrival time from the timetable. I then used formulas for each crossing loop to calculate based on start time, direction, and type of train, the timetable for each crossing loop arrival time, with departure time 5 minutes after arrival for safeworking etc.

The first trains put in the timetable were the 4 named passenger trains on the north coast. The Brisbane Limited and the Gold Coast Motor Rail. Between these trains were the following trains on the branch, a cement, a banana freight, a pick up goods and a container to and from Grafton and Murwillumbah. This was supplemented by a steel train, a fruit express, the Park Road paper train and two container trains.
I had previously worked out the running time between each crossing loop. So these times were worked into each formula. After inserting the basic starting times for each train, and getting their stopping patterns in the spreadsheet, I then used formulas to display the times between each crossing loop and for the up and down trains for each section and then sorted these formulas. In another sheet I consolidated the times when each section was in occupied.  I then used conditional formatting to highlight times when there were two or more trains scheduled to be in the same section. I then went back to the original time table and adjusted either the start time of the train, or made that train dwell longer at the previous crossing loop. I then sorted the data again, and checked for clashes. A very time consuming and repetative process but I now have a basic timetable that I will look at implementing at the next running session. What I don't know is how many people I might need to run it, or if it will actually work. I guess the fun in in the trying.

I got down to the shed this afternoon for a couple of hours and started making up these trains from the various wagons on the layout.  While I did have these trains basic trains made up, the current trains are completely different from the originals ones and some are much longer.  I also started to run the first three trains that are required to start at Acacia Ridge Yard to that yard, checking the running times.  While some were a bit tight, others were too large.  So I think I might have to do some adjustments to the running times between some loops.

I will now make up a number of conditional trains that hopefully will fit between the currently running trains for additional variety. These trains will include the Mountain goat - but run by a 620/720 rail motor, and a few ballast trains and possibly a stock train and a concrete and wooden sleeper train or two with a few rail wagons on the end. I'm just not sure how much spare capcaity there is in the timetable. If it looks like there is none, I might have to change down my time factor and re-adjust the running times between crossing loops and see if that gives me more capacity.

Currently it takes me 3 hours and 45 minutes to travel from Acacia Ridge Yard to Grafton Yard for a passenger train and 3 hours 55 minutes in the reverse direction as it is uphill! This includes the long station stop at Cassino. For a goods train it is 3 hours 55 minutes down hill and 3 hours 25 minutes up hill. I think this train is the only one that does not make a cross anywhere. It must be just lucky.

After just playing with some calculations in EXCEL, it appears that one of my sections (Cassino to Rappville) has a train on it for 10 hours 30 minutes out of the whole 24 hours in the timetable. This is interesting when I thought it might have been the section from Cassino to Fairy Hill as it is the longest section, but there is fewer trains running on this section, as the branch lines trains don't travel over it.

See you next week.

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