Moving Cars on the BNSF Railway

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Another fascinating and unique feature of Bruce Carpenter’s HO scale model railroad portrayal of the BNSF is the practice of moving cars. MRA’s Allen Keller learns that with seven different railroads interchanging on his layout, his friends get to run their favorite home road cars on the BNSF.

At the start of each four-hour session, the cars are brought downstairs and staged in one of four yards. Each will end up at a different place by the end of the session, usually making just one movement. For those which are going onward to other railroads according to the card routing system, those cars are taken off Bruce’s layout and on another layout next month. Outbound movements take can two months to reach their destination, sit for another month, and ultimately return to Bruce’s railroad in two more monthly movements. Ultimately, a car can take five months to make the entire circuit of layouts. Literally “moving cars” in such a fashion increases the variety of cars and road names and makes for an always interesting parade of cars and mimics the prototype.

As he tells Allen, such collaboration of sharing and transporting cars is not for every operating group; Bruce says the guys must be careful, trusting and close-knit.

He also shares how he constructed his CTC panel and how it’s essential to smooth movement of cars while operating up to 50 trains every session.

Tags: Allen Keller, model railroad operation, operations