Originally, the Eagle River Division was a two-level layout. Two levels allows for double the operations in the same amount of space – or so it does in theory. In actual practice, I learned that two people cannot occupy the same floor space, with one working the upper level and the other working a lower-level job in the same area. Attempts to schedule jobs so the upper and lower jobs in an area were not being worked at the same time never seemed to quite pan out because different operators work at different speeds.
Also, because of the direction of travel to the upper deck, it could not be reached directly from the main working yard on the lower deck, without making a reverse move. This necessitated a second yard or staging area on the lower deck, one with more direct access to the upper level. This was taking up space. A yard on the upper deck made it difficult to work a part of the job directly below it on the lower deck.
Upper Deck has to Go
So, one day I started removing the upper deck yard and the connecting grade to the upper deck. My intention at that point was to continue removing the rest of the upper deck, but I just couldn’t convince myself to remove it entirely. Instead, I decided to keep what remained of it and operate the upper level as a separate 2-person operation layout. I did this for a short time, but never stopped thinking about reconnecting the two levels. If I did reconnect them, there were 3 requirements:
- Connection between the levels needed to be opposite from what it was originally for better traffic flow between upper level and the main yard on the lower level.
- Grade between levels had to be maintained less than 3%.
- Any switching jobs on the upper deck could not be immediately above or interfere with jobs on the lower deck.
The solution had me stumped until recently, when I finally figured out just how this could all work.
The right-of-way to the upper level will be single-track until it is about 8 feet from the rear wall, when it will become double-track before eventually splitting on the upper level into a single east-bound and single west-bound track.
The problem of two operators trying to occupy the same space has been solved by redesigning the main upper level job so that the only work to be done in the same general area on the lower level is performed by the same crew that will work the upper level in that area.
I am excited and anxious to finish the framework and lay some track to reconnect the upper and lower decks of the Eagle River Division!