Thursday, October 29, 2009

In Name Only

I repeatedly make the mistake of wading into discussions of Timetable and Train Order on Internet forums. TT&TO is certainly the flavor of the month in model operations right now. Many are attracted to it because of the publicity from some well-known modelers who are TT&TO enthusiasts.

That's fine, except that folks are now going through all kinds of mental gymnastics to justify naming whatever compromised and bastardized version of the operating rules they adopt "TT&TO".

Some of these schemes are little more than sequence timetables that are set up to extend as trains run late. Others are Track Warrant Control in disguise … having none of the flavor of individual crew decision-making that so typify TT&TO.

But folks are obsessed with the Timetable and Train Order "badge of honor" -- so they call these weird hybrids "TT&TO" and are hyper-defensive toward any thoughtful consideration of what they are planning (or viable alternatives). No matter how much they corrupt the concept, they fight fiercely to keep the TT&TO moniker.

Bottom line, there are some circumstances of layout infrastructure, crew desires and capabilities, desired train densities, etc. that just don't work well with TT&TO in the model environment. But instead of facing that reality, these folks cling to the cachet of TT&TO -- even if in name only. Oftentimes, it seems to me they would be better off with another method of train control, even if slightly anachronistic for the modeled period, to more smoothly handle the high traffic volumes folks tend to run on model railroads. But no, it's TT&TO sine qua non.

I enjoy operating on TT&TO layouts (if the infrastructure and concept can support it) -- I've even helped set up TT&TO sessions on some layouts. So I've got nothing against TT&TO in principle. But it does bug me when people delude themselves and others with their ersatz schemes by labeling them "TT&TO". Choosing a train control method as a status-seeking exercise is a mistake, in my opinion.