I've recently been doing some more planning for the Canton layout, and figured that a walkthrough of a typical day (well part of it) for a crew working the branch will make it make more sense than simply explaining what all the things on the plan are, so enjoy the little story below. Use the map to orient yourself.
I'm going to walk you through the day of two of the crews to explain what you're seeing, since the primary goal of the layout is to replicate the experience of working for the railroad (as opposed to the NCR shelf, which replicates the experience of railfanning).
WHPM-03's crew (the local) is called for 7am. That's given YHPM-01 (the yard job) about 8 hours to sort the cars that arrived in last night's inbound trains for the various locals working out of Penn Mary yard (hence the "PM" in the train symbols).
WHPM-03's engineer and fireman check out their power sitting on the pit track in the yard. It's often just whatever the Blue Room in Philly finds laying around, anything from an RS3m to a pair of (relatively) new GP38-2s. They do the daily inspection while the conductor and brakeman climb on board the caboose to get their paperwork in order and figure out their day ahead. When the locomotives have been given the once over, and everyone's had their coffee, the engines take the caboose down to an open yard track, grab the cut of cars made up for them, tack the caboose on and head off town the outside track (the Canton Secondary, but we'll just call it the "main" for our description here).
Their first stop is at the industry lettered "A" on the plan. This is an Alcoa warehouse, where aluminum ingots are transferred to and from boxcars. There are three cars to be pulled from the warehouse, and an equal number to be spotted. This is an easy switch since the cars can simply be shoved into the spur in any order.
Next up is "B", a chemical plant who's ownership has changed a number of times recently. Now it's owned by FMC, and because of the unloading specifics, it's a pain in the a$$ to work. Each car has a specific spot that it has to be placed in, while some cars aren't finished being unloaded, and need to be moved to get to the cars behind them, then placed back in place. Work can't begin here until you talk to the plant foreman, and inevitably there's some reason you have to wait while his guys get done screwing around with one of the cars. It's time for another cup of coffee while you wait for them to get done and unlock the gate. Finally it's time to pull out the cars from the tracks, tack the ones you need back in your train, build up each track to put back in there, and shove them in. Oh well, the longer it takes the more money you makes...
Once that shenanigans is done it's time to switch the state salt terminal ("C"). Because it's December, the state is stocking up on rock salt for the winter, and so you have six covered hoppers to shove into the siding, but only 5 to pull out. This is an easy one, just make sure they didn't leave the portable conveyor under one of the cars (again).
You've got a car of steel for Free State Steel ("D"), and need to pull a gon of scrap out of there.
[This is the part of the day where you head out and switch the rest of the branch's trailing point switches in the areas without sidings on the plan. Those haven't been planned out yet.]
When you're coming back down this way it's time to drop off cars for the Brewery Crew. Their cars are left on the two interchange tracks at "I". They're still CR employees, but they don't usually leave the immediate area unless the power needs fuel or a 92 day inspection. These guys just sit here and spot the cars you've left for them at the National Brewing Company when their foreman asks for them. The industry generally gets switched three or more times a day because they don't have enough unloading space for all the cars they need to keep them cranking out the land of pleasant living's favorite beer (or Canton Sewer Water, take your pick...).
The final stop on the way back is at "E", which I'm honestly not sure what it's going to be yet, possibly a team track. I'm open to suggestions on this one.
After that it's back to the yard where the train gets pulled into a yard track, the power runs around it, grabs the caboose, and parks it all back on the pit before the crew heads into the yard office to turn in the paperwork.
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