Dutton Bay Tramway - Operations


Operating the Dutton Bay is currently a "work-in-progress". To see the latest innovations, techniques or experiments, click here to go to the bottom of the page for the latest news

Gavin captured Leo (rear) and myself (nearest camera) shunting our respective trains at Anunaka on the first operating session on the reopened tramway, October 30,2002
Now that the DBT is moving towards completion - at least of this particular stage - with the addition of Wirrandra, operations resumed in late October 2002. The first operating session was attended by Leo Kennedy and Gavin Hince and ran to the sequence used at Hobsons Bay and Adelaide exhibitions, suitably modified for the extra station

The previous sequence and "timetable" used at Liverpool in 1998, can be seen on the Exhibition Operations page.

At the moment we are running to a sequence, although ultimately we would like to run to a version of "Permissive Block", and fast clocks have been purchased to equip each of the stations with necessary and vital piece of equipment in this form of operation - the station clock.

The timetable used in the first session after reopening is shown here: It represents the four localities which exist: Anunaka, Wirrandra, Kelvin and FidYard (the Fiddle Yard), and no attempt has been made to schedule any trains beyond these stations. As the layout progresses a timetable may be created which has all stations shown on the map listed, although the current arrangement does not match the map, which makes such an idea a little tricky!

The chart or graph of the train movements for this timetable shows the three operator's rosters. This was all produced very quickly, a day or two before the session, and where the lines extend above or below the chart represent an operator having to transport himself from one end of the line to the other to work the next train. There will be many changes to this timetable over time, as we become more experienced with operating the layout in its current configuration, and as we move towards a card or computer generated system to control movements of goods vehicles. One of the first changes I shall be trying to make is to produce a timetable which doesn't require operators to move per taxi from one station to another for their next train, no matter how prototypical such rostering appears to have become in the modern, privatized era of railways in Australia

Random Goods Movements - December 29 2002

John Humphrey visited from Perth on December 29, and Leo and Gavin came along for a session at which we introduced two new innovations. I had developed a little "quick-and-dirty" program to generate pseudo-random goods stock movements, and we also trialled a new approach to handling each operator's roster.

Above left we see an operator's roster - a set of slips, one for each train in the roster, stored in a clear plastic envelope. After each train is run that train's slip is moved to the back and the next train's information is then exposed. Each slip includes information such as the scheduled times and crossing details, and for the goods trains, an additional slip is provided showing the vehicles to be picked up and dropped off along the way. These envelopes are pocket size, and coincidentally, about the same size as a tethered throttle, so can be carried in the same hand as the throttle.

Above right the Yard Master working sheet for Anunaka is displayed - click on the image for a larger image. This shows the work needed to be performed by the Anunaka operator, and clipped to the sheet is a slip showing the wagons needed for the outbound goods train, and those expected to arrive on the inbound goods, along with their destination in the yard.

Time will tell whether this is the best way to run a session on the Dutton Bay, but feedback from the first session was positive, and work is underway to expand the movement generator to cater for the next timetable revision.

Actual Timings - January 8 2003

At the regular session on January 8, attended by Gavin, Rod and yet another new operator in Denis Kahl, I took actual timings of the trains. This should mean the next timetable revision, designed to work with the fast clocks, is likely to be workable. One interesting aspect of this session was that the whole sequence was run through in just 75 minutes - obviously as the operators become accustomed to the railway things run smoother. The clocks will be running so a session takes two hours - each operator is likely to have more "dead" time so it looks like the crew lounge will need a selection of books and magazines to browse...

Fast Clocks - and other changes - 30 July 2003

During an extra session to demonstrate the use of EasyDCC on an operating layout, a number of small changes to the method of operation were introduced:

  • A fast clock was hung on the wall, and operators were instructed that there are no penalties for running late - there are severe penalties for leaving a station early. It took some time to find a ratio which seemed to allow reasonable running times and shunting times, but by about midway through the session everybody seemed comfortable. I need now to determine what the ratio we used actually was.
  • Operators used a different technique to determine their next train. Instead of a fixed roster for each operator, the trains to be run were listed in departure time sequence. As each train completed its journey, the operator took the next train off the list. This will allow for extra trains to be included in the schedule without the problems inherent with fixed rostering. This seems to be well received too.

    The next step now is to revise the timetable to drop a few minutes off the sectional running time so there is less time spent "waiting for the clock". This will also allow for paths for a couple of extra or conditional trains to be included in the schedule.

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    Last Modified August 1, 2003