It is now early January and the AFK is still battling the snow and fog as before. Today is one of those clear winter days however with bright sunlight forecast and none of the mists and snow storms that plagued the last session. There will be a number of extra trains connected with the beet rush at Boursson. Having worked in a sugar factory myself I have a little insight into the need to run 24/7 and to ensure that there is a constant supply of beet.
1. At the ungodly hour of 01.30 the empty beet train crosses the Kasatritikakamparoj. The large SG bogie wagons lurch and sway alarmingly, as they did on the prototype. Unfortunately the AFK's vegetation is not quite so forgiving as the real thing. I suspect that its passing would have been marked by severed branches and general devastation!
2. All dressed up and nowhere to go! The Meyer and the snowplough standing in Fenditavalat's Basabazaro are stood down given the weather forecast. A nice little earner tonight for the engine crew!
3. The equivalent train leaves Ithilarak on the other side of the summit to return to base. The 'creature from the black lagoon' is in charge. The new 0-8-0 is slated to 'run-in' on the Relforka goods from Lacono.
4. The beet special's progress relies upon the crew working the block instruments themselves. Boursson's home halts proceedings temporarily as the loco stops, blows its horn and proceeds at caution prepared to stop short of any obstruction as allowed for by the AFK rulebook when the station is closed. The usual kerfuffle ensued with starting a heavy train on a steep gradient. The big Co-Co uses parts from a Heljan class 47 chassis and often has to be reversed to persuade it to move forward!
5. Train 9721, the beet special leaves the two SG bogie opens at Boursson and picks up an open wagon of beet loaded yesterday and gets ready to leave. It is supposed to be running engine and van to Lacono but Relforka spotted an opportunity to sneak a load into the consist to ease pressure on themselves. Already there are problems! The timings of the train seem to have been miscalculated in the office and not enough time was allocated for the train to do its work. Familiar failings from my days on the real McCoy.
6. Lacono's pilot comes on duty at 02.00 towing an empty tanker which has replenished the depot supplies.
7. The cement train has been despatched early to try to reduce the problems arising from the mistimed beet train. It should have crossed the morning Urteno goods at Glissent but will now wait here.
8. The crew have got the road at Glissent for the Urteno goods. Although it is carrying SG wagons there are not enough transporters for all the loads so some have been decanted into NG wagons.
8. The following train, headed by the 0-8-8-0T stops at Glissent. It is booked to cross the conditional cement train when it is running. The cement train has left just behind time so the goods will get away roughly on time.
10. A look over the wall from Gasafabrikatastrato in the early hours shows that Lacono's pilot has the yard totally blocked having pulled the vans from the goods shed. The partially ready local goods waits on the nearest road.
11. The beet train's arrival at 03.45 finds Lacono already a hive of activity. The pilot wants to get out of the yard to shunt the vans and the loco for the local wants access to the main line as well. Today's Urteno banker, a familiar face (the 2-8-2T) waits behind the goods loco to get away.
12. The 0-8-0 has run onto its train after receiving attention for a number of minor problems.
13. Running slightly behind time the Urteno goods runs into the passenger station to ease congestion in the yard. Despite appearances it could not be accepted into the usual loop as this is blocked beside the station wall.
14. The plough train stops outside Calodnno before proceeding. Rumour has it that control might run a special to relieve Rivabordo yard of a build up of wagons. The Meyer is in steam so it could well get a run out on an unfamiliar part of the railway as it normally works on the plain.
15. The crocodile pushes SG wagons across the Karushnastrato over the little used direct connection into the goods shed. As has been remarked before, the AFK is large enough to support these occasionally used connections which come in handy in times of need.
16. The cement train waits at Glissent to cross the Eromarbordo local as is usually the case. Relforka depot have turned out the 0-10-0T to run this service today.
17. The banker has arrived at Urteno and picked up the reach wagon for the ferry. Unfortunately the railcar is standing on the wrong road, preventing the banker from shunting the furniture factory siding, although it does not appear that this will cause too many problems at the moment.
18. The local goods goes about its business at Boursson illustrating why it acquired its nickname of Hercules (for clearing out the Augean stables). The SG bogie beet wagons both need to be in the goods loop which needs clearing before anything else can happen.
19. The cement train rolls under the bridge at Relforka providing the first train of the day from the interior.
20. The sun is still not up as the branch goods clatters across the swing bridge at Eromarbordo.
21. For the first time in memory the railcar service will be formed of a matched set, livery wise at any rate. The rod driven railcar at the back will work the branch all day whist the front one will provide the Lacono-Urteno shuttles throughout the day. These will be a busy trains today as skiers go to Varden.

22. The daily rituals are beginning as the AFK comes to life. Lacono's shunter pushes the railcar trailer, that will be added to the morning's down service, onto the mail van at the Post Office.
23. The Fenditavalat goods engine, as usual, does its own shunting in the yard. As it backs down onto the cut of wagons left to pick up it becomes apparent that the train will be over the locomotive's tonnage limit if all the wagons are picked up. Fortunately the most important load, precision optical and electrical goods for the armaments factories at Krelm, is at the front which means that the lower priority pipes for Ithilarak can wait until later. The office are probably on the phone to Relforka/Control wanting to know why they were not told or more likely questioning these idiots' sanity whilst making the best of a bad job as usual. Perhaps I should retitle this thread to "Just like the real thing" although I think this has been used elsewhere!
24. At 05.18 the railcar departs Urteno having made its connection with the ferry. The banker standing on the ferry road and the train engine from the terminating goods train watch it go.
25. Once the railcar has left the two locos work together to assemble the next raft of wagons for the ferry. Karamspur is now short of wagons, although they will probably look askance at the bogie wagon, full of empty beer barrels, as it will cut their flexibilty in allocating loads
26. At around five in the morning the AFK begins plaguing the good burghers of Fenditavalat. Here a van is pulled from the blanket factory on one of the tightest corners curves of the system.
27. Due to an oversight in  the loco allocations the 1-Co-Co-1 backs down onto the goods. This was supposed to be the reserve loco in case the up express is late as it often is. There is another option available but it lacks the luggage capacity of this recently modified loco.
  28. The Billard  has been rostered to the school train this morning. Here it crosses Akvalando viaduct above the Carramassco Gorge.  
29. The crocodile draws forward onto the swing bridge at Urteno to attach the beer vans onto the school railcar. Practical experience gained over the years of operating the AFK have shown that there is rarely enough room on the Fenditavalat goods to take these up the Vulpafaŭkanagulo so at the very least they can be tripped up the hill before detaching if necessary. The ferry which connects with the Karamspur brewery remains a plank, as ever.

30. As far as the train crews are concerned the railcar is nothing but a nuisance which has to be worked around. The wagons shown in photo 25 are now being pushed towards the ferry slip by the banker, which was not the original intention. Another lesson taught by experience is that it is best to have the banker at one of the station and the goods engine at the other to provide the flexibility to work around the problems caused by the railcar service.
31. The northern part of the line wakes up some hours after its southern counterpart. There is less traffic over this remote line, with the exception of the snowploughs during the winter.
32. The rolling stock often becomes associated with various parts of the line. With the exception of the website's heading photo the Billard rarely works on the Altingablecaŭtoj section for one reason or another. Here it makes a brief stop at Varden but there are no takers at this time of day. The swans need painting and perhaps removing as the Vardenamero is meant to be frozen at this time of year.
33. The snow train leaves Ithilarak. Although it will be a clear day today the roads over the passes are closed by six feet plus of snow. The early morning train is reserved for lorries which have struggled along the RN424 to this point.
34. Clearances along the AFK are very tight and the cutting by the lorry has had to be chopped back to accept the well wagons. This section of the line predates the wagons and was wide enough for all the stock when built. The wagons are converted Tri-ang trestrol wagons with the new floor added over the original girders. Replacing the hideous plastic wheels with the rather finer metal sets common today proved to be fun because the axles were much longer than anything now available. In the end the modern sets were forced onto the original axles. The wagons also need some form of chocks because the lorries currently roll backwards as the train moves.
35. The snow train and the Relforka goods are timetabled to cross at Ospicio d'Helcaraxë. Unfortunately whoever wrote the timetable did not leave a great margin for error and it is common practice to allow the snow train into the station before the goods, even if the snow train is running late. This avoids the need to restart on a steep gradient in adverse weather conditions. Here the goods train drops down into the station having been held at the (imagined) enirasignalo. There is no work for the goods train in winter in any case at this remote point. The station was built for operational reasons (i.e to split a long section at the summit of the line) rather than economic ones but its availability persuaded the military authorities to set up a summer base nearby.
36. The railcar has had to be put into the loop because of the shunting at Boursson. The forirasignalo is displaying a restricted speed departure from the loop. Based on a PLM prototype, the signal displays an aspect that had become obsolete by the end of the nineteenth century, except on the Herault system.
37. The engine for the URT-RFK goods stands on the lifting bridge once again. Once the Fenditavalat goods has cleared the station the crew will have some uninterrupted time in which to prepare their train.

38. The banker/pilot and the mallet are ready for the off at the foot of the bank. I suspect that this train will require the old H&M controller to persuade it to complete its trip.
38A. The session was paused at this point for two or three weeks to allow for the building and preparation of Bodran, an exhibition layout. I'm not a great fan of exhibitions personally but I decided some months ago to show a layout at the 7mmNGA Bradford members' day. The layout was shown in its basic state and requires a lot of work to bring it to completion. It is shown here parked in the spare bedroom where it will be left until the current session is finished.
39. The main layout re-awakens. As I noted in an article in Narrow Lines, the operating system was designed to make it easy to pause and resume sessions. The down railcar passes over the minor road level crossing (No 20) just outside Boursson.
40. Once the railcar has left the 0-8-0 finishes shunting the local goods. The two vans at the front are for Sojonno.
41. The snow train is also on the move in the pre dawn darkness. The village is yet another area needing development.
42. The down goods kicks its heels as it awaits the arrival of the school railcar. This is a daily event at this time of year as no traffic is offered due to the snow. Even in summer the train often spends most of its booked time wating for the single line to clear.
43. the up and down railcars cross at Breĉo de Glissent. The down train is taking the PFT because the up train has run into the RT in error. Any late passengers for the Urteno train sface the possibility of being mown down by the Relforka train. The AFK tries to avoid this. Hopefully no-one will complain to Jasmond (the Lines manager and martinet)!
44. Lacono's pilot pulls the SG wagons from the Carrodantis confectionery factory at 06.20. This move is timed so as not to conflict with the vans standing at the Post Office for much of the day. Today's shunt consists of 3 SG vans, the slide wall wagon used to deliver milk from the Fenditavalat creamery and an empty van that had delivered oranges for the flavourings.
45. The Urteno railcar arrives on time. The yard is full with the SG wagons and the beet train (out of view) ready to leave.
The work was only just completed in time to avoid delaying the railcar.
46. The beet special departs as soon as the railcar clears the yard throat. The NG load was tacked onto the back of the crew van to leave more room for shunting at Boursson.
47. The 0-10-0T shunts the quayside at Eromarbordo in the early morning. Although it is standing in the middle of the road no protection has been provided.
48. The shunting is completed and the train stands ready to leave, as evidenced by the tail lamp. There is a long wait and so the crew will have gone into the town to find breakfast.
49. The schools railcar crosses the Altingablecaŭtoj. Two lively looking students emerge from the shelter of the chapel roof as it approaches Ayleha, another little used halt. As is the usual practice no timetables are displayed and the only 'facility' is a battered sign. The site is well known to tourists however as the Randonno (long distance footpath) crosses the railway here having climbed up the valley side and passed the chapel. The chapel is dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows although the scene is modelled in high summer.
50. The snow train has arrived at Fenditavalat Basabazaro and the shunter waits to take it down to Rivaborda where it will be unloaded.
51. The local goods shunts Sojonno, another area awaiting scenic development. The siding into the jam factory is on a very steep slope although the wagon table below the van has been levelled. Stock is retained by brakes which stick up out of the track. The operating knobs for the one in the turntable (which obviously does not rotate) and the other in the mainline are just visible in the right foreground.
52. Locos are limited as to the number of wagons that can enter the siding and shunting can get surprisingly complicated for such a simple layout. Today there are just two vans to drop off and none to pick up. Over half an hour is allowed for working the factory but the train will leave 20 minutes early today. The tree at the right is a Pola LGB specimen with the intention of providing a realistically sized example. Real trees are BIG!
53. The Urteno railcar crosses Akvalando viaduct above the Carramasco Gorge. The flat area is once again a storage ground for various items so perhaps this is another area that could do with early development. The railcar has backed down to Aspargo depot to attach the driving trailer to supplement its capacity for the morning rush hour shuttle between Urteno and Lacono. On its way up (here) you might recall that it conveys a large number of staff going onto the morning duties at the regional hospital.
54. The railway's ferry acts as open staging. The wagons are being transferred across the Spegulalaguno from the brewery at Karamspur and will be unloaded at Urteno before going forward. At this time of day (around 08.00) all these wagons are bound for destinations south of Urteno. The AFK's bus is on the 312 service from Callistano to Urteno. This is extended to Luscidato on the Thalnian Railways mainline when the passes are clear from snow. Railway vehicles take priority on this early morning sailing but once these have been unloaded the service becomes a RO-RO vehicle ferry until the evening. The ferry is yet another project awaiting development.

55. The railcar makes its arrival, on time for once!
56. The ferry loads are obviously staged (see picture 54) and the ferry is never removed from the layout in actuality. The ferry 'arrives' shortly after the railcar and it is being shunted by the URT-RFK loco. The train loco is diagrammed to do this as the banker/pilot is returning from Ithilarak at this point. The cafe/bar provides a welcoming cup of coffee for those people transferring to the railcar shuttle to Lacono which departs approximately 20 minutes after the ferry's arrival.

57. As has been remarked before, but is worthy of reconsideration, one feature of the AFK is the number of semi redundant connections and sidings on the layout. Most modellers cannot countenance such features because of space pressures. There is no traffic on offer today at Varden and so the open wagon will simply sit there the whole sesion without moving. This was quite a common situation on the prototype and one that I wanted to emulate  within reason
58. The tanker sitting in the siding on the moors at Gyorsmorabu has not moved for a couple of 'days' and is not needed today either.
59. Returning to more frequent and congested haunts, at Glissent, the railcar has pulled clear of the running lines but has left a wagon of beet for the local goods to collect. Glissent will have high beet loadings today but the focus is on Boursson.
60. The special train's loco backs down onto the loaded beet wagons at Boursson. The NG wagon will be tacked onto the back of these to avoid having a light wagon between the powerful loco and the heavily loaded SG bogie wagons. The quick turn around of these wagons is accounted for by the concentration of men and equipment at this location today to ensure that the beet is promptly loaded. Having worked a couple of 'campaigns' I have some idea of how orchestrated this industry is.
61. At Ithilarak the Mallet tank has dropped off the interchange wagons for Jakarutu, on the branch, in the exchange siding in the foreground. It has also placed a van in the goods siding at the far side of the station building and shunted the colliery siding. The bogie coal wagon, a crude conversion of a Lima SG item, has been placed onto the front of the train.
62. The first connection from the north, the CFS school train has arrived in the Basabazaro at Fenditavalat. Not having a driving trailer is a pain but this is how many of these prototypes operated and so it looks like the process of running round will continue. In actual fact the normal procedure is for the AFK's school railcar to tow the ensemble back to Rivaborda (the upper fiddle yard).
63. The RFK-FDV train's shunting (photo 61) has slightly delayed its down counterpart's arrival at Ithilarak. Here it crosses the upper Aepto Gorge viaduct as it leaves the tunnel to the right. The signal that once stood here has long been mended but will not be reinstated until the gorge's scenery is completed. The steeply graded colliery siding is in the background along with the equally steep forestry siding in the foreground.
64. Although nominally on the same diagram it has become the practice to change the motive power from the URT-RFK railcar (photo 43) and the schools train, seen here stopping at Lamassco in the Kasatritikakamparoj. The 1-B-1 was technically designated a railcar by the OBB and so it takes over the duty with the railcar trailer which is supplemented by a couple of six wheelers. With more stock becoming available it is now possible to ring the changes.
65. Lacono's pilot makes its second foray of the day into the Danulbo industrial district to work the carpet and agricultural machine factories. Once again this is open staging and the wagons were placed onto the layout. The photo was taken by opening the station roof, of which the supporting wall is visible in the foreground. The trolleybuses still wait attention and the signal blanks, cut ages ago also wait their turn.
66. In a familiar scenario Gasafabrikatostrato yard is now plugged again with 6 SG and 3 NG wagons awaiting transfer to Relforka. It is beginning to look as though the spare engine will be called upon to run a second section of the FDV-RFK goods.

67. Meanwhile, in another familiar picture, the local and the express line up for the off. I had intended to use the Swedish diesel for the express but as the cab has sufferered damage it is currently on the workbench and the 2-6-6-0T is on duty instead. The 2-10-2T, which was the other obvious candidate, is also slated to go onto the bench to receive some detailling.
69. Referring back to photo 68 the URT-RFK goods is now ready to depart at Urteno. although the railcar will  depart first. The train is almost fully loaded as there are 3NG wagons beyond the 2SG ones. These are from the ferry and will be dropped at Lacono but between this train and the following one (photo 63) there will be insufficient capacity to take all the traffic forward. The banker has returned in the meantime and stands on the middle road.
70. Having deposited the van of beer that it was trailing, in the yard, the AFK railcar trips the CFS schools train down to Rivaborda. Note that the pans are down (although from the model point of view the railcar is still electrically live).
71. The Post Bus makes the connection with the FDV-RFK morning train in the square at Fenditavalat. The formation is a Billard two car set, the ambulance and a 6 wheel Post van, none of which are currently complete. The shunter brought the trailing vehicles up from Rivabordo.
72. The schools railcar retreats to Aspargo shed at around 08.55. It will not be needed again until the late afternoon. Although it is named for the Lyceo pupils that use it, the railcar carries commuters to the offices in the city. The colour light signal, at the end of the platform, showing diagonal yellows indicates that the route is set all the way. In fact the train will stop on the main and the equipment will be lifted off the layout and placed on a shelf. It is just another way in which the AFK pushes the envelope. The two blue ground signals on the platform protect various items of pointwork for shunting moves, as does the one just inside the wall.
73. Gasafabrikatostrato yard is full to capacity and the express has just arrived. The white 'tail' of the Post van where the corridor connection will go is quite obvious.
74. The only way in which the URT-RFK goods could be fitted into the yard was to run it into an already occupied siding. The logic is that it can set back when the express departs, leave the 2 SG wagons in the loop and run onto the 3 SG wagons further down the siding to reform its train. The three NG wagons on the tail are not going further than Lacono on this train. An alternative option would have been to run the goods into the passenger station but this is avoided whenever possible.
75. The FDV-RFK goods is descending through the lower Aepto gorge with the maximum load allowed following shunting at Ithilarak. Train weights are limited to prevent runaways down the Vulpafaŭkanagulo. This is really an operating wrinkle as the electric motor would simply lock when the current was cut stopping train dead. The main problem with running down the bank in model terms is that locos tend to surge due to slop in the drive trains. Usually this effect is not too bad but speeds are kept low to avoid this problem.
76. The goods has now arrived at Urteno but is held by signals (yet to be made) to allow the banker/pilot to finish shunting. The accumulation of coal wagons shows why these sidings are known as the coal sidings. At some point in the day it seems likely that the 2-8-2T will have to work a trip up the bank to get these wagons back to the colliery.
77. The RFK-LAC freight leaves Relforka behind the 0-4-0TT. The SG wagon is carrying smashed glass (cullet) to the glassworks at Breĉo de Glissent. This was bought as a commercial load but will probably receive home made additions. The lack of SG transporters, numbering about a dozen at the moment, is reflected in the 2 opens travelling to pick up sugar beet at Glissent. The SG open's transporter was obtained by unceremoniously decanting a SG wagon onto the ground at Lacono. There should currently be 16 or 17 on the layout. The parts are there but it is a matter of getting round to it. Relforka have sneaked a 6 wheel flat holding brine containers for Lacono into the consist because the Boursson loads are being held back for the sugar beet workings. The drawers under the layout hold some of the spare stock that is supposed to be in the yards at Relforka.
78. The express arrives at Urteno. It was held for a minute or so outside the station whilst shunting finished. The FDV-RFK freight then dropped into the station and ran into  the siding allocated for the Pullman whcih will be detached here. The express will then be short enough to take the Vulpafaŭkangulo without banking assistence.
79. The URT-RFK goods has reformed in the sidings and will convey 5 SG wagons to the junction. It would be nice if it could take a longer train but this is one of the compromises imposed on model railways. The local passenger, running along the mainline,  is arriving on time so the goods will probably leave early.
80. The beet train is finally on the move and is shown crossing the cattle arch above Sojonno. This area has become the empty quarter of the Kasatritikkakamparoj's scenery despite having had the earliest start.

81. The RFK-LAC goods has unusually found a lot of work at Breĉo De Glissent today. Here it is pushing the wagons for the glassworks onto the siding 'behind' the station. As in many other instances this is simply a short spur used for manual staging. The wagons will be placed into a nearby drawer.
82. The KTT through train is also scheduled to take forward wagons from Eromarbordo if needs be. This option is not normally exercised but it is today. The branch engine has added the wagons to the front of the goods and has returned to the RT (through road) at the left to wait for the goods to clear the PFT (loop) so that it can run round. The goods train's engine is backing down onto its train. The signal has already been cleared for its departure.
83. The RFK-FDV goods is over the weight limit for the descent to Fenditavalat and will have to jettison part of its load at Calodonno. In actuality the problem is that Fenditavalat's loop is too short because the approach, behind the goods yard backscene, was originally built as a fiddleyard when the station was a stand alone layout. The background is still at a preliminary stage.
84. Jakarutu's loco shunts the exchange siding at Ithilarak before forming its train for the trip back up the rack.  

85. The mallet backs the entire train into the goods yard at Fenditavalat after arrival. The train engine will return to Calodonno to pick up the coal wagon whilst the shunter will deal with the wagons.
86. The express has detached the Pullman at Urteno and pulls into Varden. The train runs all stations over the Altingablecaŭtoj despite its name.
86. Having been held slightly at Boursson the URT-RFK train runs down the hill towards the Ero bridge at Glissent. There is currently little warning for road traffic and you would not want to be in the way of this thing as it careers out onto the roadway with a train totally formed of SG wagons! The RN424 runs through the arcade of trees in the background. In model terms this is the bottom end of a 35-40 foot piece of open line with only one point in it (at Sojonno). AFK trains get a chance to stretch their legs here.
87. The usual chaos reigns in the square at Fenditavalat. The express has just arrived at the left and the snow train, for car traffic, is about to leave in the foreground. The CFS electric and the shunter stand in the middle road. Once the snow train leaves the PO van will be transferred to the railcar and the steam loco will go down to the shed.
88. The FDV-RFK goods was late leaving Urteno due to congestion and has now shunted at Lacono, where it has attached some of the waiting SG vehicles. It is booked to run in front of the FDV-RFK railcar but it has lost its path and is being held to be overtaken.
89. The railcar pulls out of Lacono on time with the freight sitting in the goods loop. The railcar dropped the Post van and ambulance at Urteno and has picked up a strengthening coach at Lacono for its run over the more populous lower section of the line.
90. As has been noted in previous sessions apparently minor decisions can have far reaching consequences on such a complicated system. Train length, you might remember from previous posts, is determined by the tonnage which is tied to the axles. The class III engine is restricted to  a 160T load. The inclusion of a three axle flat in the consist by Relforka (see photo 76) means that the train is effectively limited to 150T. The trajnaĉefo has just realised that he cannot pick up the two vans at Boursson without exceeding this limit and so one will have to be left for a later train.  Cue irate phone calls questioning the sanity of the yard foreman, as was sometimes my experience on the real thing!  
91. The late running FDV-RFK goods still waits for the road as the Aspargo spare engine and brake back down from the shed to couple onto the excess wagons that are blocking the yard at Gasafabrikastrato. This decision will also have ramifications.
92. The AFK's base timetable is shown on a train graph protected by plastic, hence the reflection of a fluorescent strip on the photo. Regular passenger trains are shown in red and goods trains in blue. The extra trains are shown in a water soluble pen  which can be erased as necessary. These are the green lines here. The smudges at the bottom of the sheet show the hectic rescheduling of trains to accommodate the late running freight (arriving at Relforka at 12.35). The gap between the down railcar's arrival at 12.22 and the mixto's departure at 12.55 was originally the slot in which the beet extra would have run. This has hurriedly been retimed to reach Glissent (BDG) and leave at 12.15. The extra goods will leave Lacono at 12.33 and will take the afternoon local good's path to reach Relforka. The local will have to run later.  The Tippex in the bottom left corner indicates that the freight has been retimed from its old path in any case and the green lines at the top indicate paths for trains to the ski lift at Varden which are in the master timetable but not included on the daily version unless required.  
93. The relevant "documents" for the re-timed trains are written onto plastic covered post cards. From left to right these are; train 9146 the LAC-RFK extra; train 9323 the RFK-BSN extra sugar beet train; train 2719 the RFK-LAC local goods and train 2116 the FDV-RFK goods. For modellers who just like to run trains as and when this might seem to be an avoidable layer of administration. To me this is the whole point of modelling and replicates the 'scrambling' that would have taken place on the real thing to try to square things up. I remember once reading an article in Railway Magazine (back in the seventies) about how Newcastle control could write the schedule for a mineral lead diagram on the back of a fag packet and provide a day's work for a class 37, brake van and crew without any problem in about 2 minutes. The AFK has not quite reached that casual level of impromptu sophistication at the moment but it is trying!
93. the 2-8-2T works a trip of empty coal wagons up the Vulpafaŭkangulo (train 6950). The AFK rule book authorises such trips to run without a brake van providing that the tonnage does not exceed 80 tons. The train is passing the (incomplete) Lido with the golf course in the background. It is not quite a von Ryan express (see session 2) but it is definitely another cigarette packet job!
94. The branch railcar, which has just arrived at Breĉo de Glissent, will have to move into the sidings today to allow the beet special and late running freight to pass one another.
95. The long distance railcar finishes its journey as the retimed beet empties stand in Relforka's platforms waiting for the off.
96. Its not every day that you see steam super power in the town square, even on the AFK! The shunting of the Post van onto the electric railcar has taken long enough for the 0-8-8-0T to return from the trip working to Caladonno. It has coupled onto the 2-6-6-0T to save a path down to Rivabordo depot.
97. The trip working is supposed to terminate at Ithilarak, where the banker pushes the empty coal wagons into the steeply graded colliery spur. In a change of orders the loco has been 'advised' to pick up an empty open wagon and then wait for the snow train to arrive before running to Cadsuine-Fanhuidol. Here it will collect a wagon of pit props which should have been picked up earlier.
98. The re-timed beet special waits in the loop at Breĉo de Glissent for the late running freight to pass.
99. The late running freight arrives at Relforka, passing the mixto standing in platform 3 at the left. The adjustments to the cab on the 1-D-1 have not entirely been successful (see photo 67). The cab is made of styrene and the original was soon smashed. This is the second cab, which was made to be removable to avoid damaging it. As time progressed it too became frail and also warped.  Although this has been remedied the fit of the pieces is now poor and either more work is needed or a new cab, probably made of metal, will be fabricated.
100. The railcar forming the LAC-URT shuttle is extended to terminate at Varden in the skiing season. This is a view looking down the gorge over the forest track which crosses the line. One day (hopefully not too far into the future!) a signal will be erected here to protect this move.
101. The 2-6-2T is in the process of shunting the ambulance into the platform alongside the station buildings at Lacono, a daily ritual. The ambulance will return with patients to the regional hospital at Urteno behind a later railcar.
102. The carefully (?) choreographed world of the AFK is slowly unravelling again! The Kitson-Meyer has been called to work an extra train over the wilds of the Altingablecaŭtoj to remove a build up of wagons in Rivabordo yard. This is one of many sets of drawers and shelves under the layout. The early indications are that the scheduled freight will be unable to remove them. Train 9464 really will be a "von Ryan's express" as very little is known about it at the moment other than that it will leave Fenditavalat running southwards as soon as possible, hence the clear signals. This eventually happens at 12.33 and the train will take the siding at Ospicio to minimise the delay to the following express as far as possible.
103. Trip working 6950 (a case of numerical dyslexia as it should be 9650) has arrived at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol at 12.57 to pick up a wagon of pit props form the siding and replace it with an empty. This has been detached from the loco and is being held on a track brake. Although the siding in the foreground is quite long the curvature severely restricts its useful length. The goat, often tethered to the wagons parked in the siding, has been unchained!
104. Train 9323, the re-timed beet extra, has reached Boursson and is about to run round prior to pushing the SG wagons into the siding for loading.
105. Train 9146, the additional freight relieving Lacono, is shown here leaving the yard. There is a path for this train but it will interfere with local freight workings on the lower part of the line. Despite Lacono being the provincial capital this has become yet another backwater for layout development not having scenically been touched for years, except to remove previous works interfering with operational requirements.
106. Train 9464 stands at Ospicio d'Helcaraxë waiting to be overtaken by the express which it has delayed by 10 minutes. This is a rare shot of the loco doing anything useful other than on the relatively flat Eromarbordo branch. The Rivarossi gear train gobbles up all the power put out by the (strong) motor restricting its performance. I suspect that it is only coping with this train because it is running down the steep grades on the upper part of the system. To continue one of the earlier themes of this thread, the brake is a semi-redundant six wheeler that usually languishes in a forgotten drawer and rarely sees the light of day, which is ironic given the amount of unfinished stock running about in daily use!
107. Seen from over the coal heap, the 2-6-2T has retreated onto Aspargo shed. The photo was taken with the flashlight as Aspargo is a dark hole normally, although a light was bought some time ago to illuminate it but this is not a priority. I suppose that this photo and the previous statement, encapsulate my ambivalent attitude to model sheds. The loco will simply stand here, (looking pretty?) until it is needed for another duty. It is also apparent that the shed is empty because its allocation is out on the road earning its keep. These are some of the reasons why the shed was an afterthought squeezed inside a semi circular curve.
108. Two of the AFK's veterans pass at Lacono. The pilot, on the right, is shunting Postal vans under clear signals, whilst the RFK-LAC goods engine shunts its train in the yard. The latter diagram includes a conditional path extending this train's run through to Urteno if there is enough traffic. This option will be exercised today hence the 0-4-0TT will not be joining its colleague in a lunch time siesta on Aspargo shed. Having vented my spleen on the uselessness of model sheds I suppose that my idiosyncratic views also extend to the fact that my steam locos all have (removable) "smoke" coming from their chimneys. That of the 0-6-2T is particularly dirty as it is fired by waste oil.
109. The lunch time shuttle between Urteno and Lacono clatters across the diamonds, arriving slightly late having been held for the shunting of the Postal vans. The city's main sorting office is behind the (still emasculated) trolleybuses. The railcar is one of only a couple of services scheduled to use platform 1 throughout the day as it generally serves as a carriage siding. It will run onto the ambulance which has now been loaded with patients (see photo 101). The "extended" freight waits at the left for the railcar to clear before going on to Urteno.
110. The mixto waits for the freight extra to pass it at Glissent. The timing is tight and so the mixto will lose a little time this afternoon. A concerted effort has taken place with the cab including a more substantial rebuild during the interim between this photo and photo 99, although I suppose it is still a case of "could do better!"
111. Shortly after 13.00 the 2-8-2T shuffles wagons at Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol. The scenery was deliberately designed to drop away behind the railway here to create a sense of height, which isn't quite so apparent in the photo. The tops of a couple of trees are just visible behind the open wagon loaded with pit props and the background mountains, viewed across the valley, are painted at  around  eye level to help the impression. The pergola outside the station cafe needs painting but it is any-one's guess when I will receive the Preiser tables and chairs that I ordered about 2 years ago.
112. A further shot of an otherwise unremarkable scene shows the loco standing in the siding. Thereby hangs a tale. With a nod to photos 57 and 58 this is one of the semi-redundant sidings which can sometimes throw up problems due to the infrequency of their use, especially in the context of a large layout.. The express is bearing down on the station at this point and so the loco needs to wait in the siding. (This is the theory because as noted previously a tardis comes in useful in Altonia. In actuality the train has not even been formed yet at Fenditavalat.) This is permissible because the station is a block post, even though there is no loop. It was discovered upon closing the point into the siding that it was wired into the mainline section and that the loco could not therefore be isolated. This is obviously the first time in the dozen or fifteen years since the siding was put in that this facility has been needed! The reasons for this decision have been lost in the mists of time but it was a relatively easy task to put in an isolating section controlled by the switch in the right foreground. I say relatively because this meant digging around in the substructure of the area and trying to extricate wires from places that they were not intended to go! More fun looks to be on the horizon when the  block signals are installed. As an aside it is noticeable how the "enamel" sign on the fascia has faded within a short time. Printer ink obviously is not permanent.
113. The express referred to in the previous picture is now being formed in the square at Fenditavalat. The train engine runs down onto the CFS railcar to pick up the Post van before shunting onto the carriages just visible in the background. The shunter on the left has not been able to push the coal wagon into the blanket factory because it was blocked by the carriages.
114. Lacono's pilot shuffles wagons in the sidings. There is often "time" pressure to get things done due to the "click-clocks" used on the layout. These manoeuvres will have to be left unfinished as the pilot must attach the slide wall van next to it onto the soon to arrive mixto. This vehicle is used for shuttling empty milk containers between Fenditavalat dairy and the chocolate factory. Despite its size most of the layout's operation is shunting moves rather then train running moves.
115. Returning to Fenditavalat Basabazaro the railcar and the shunter have completed a complex 'dance' so that the through vans for the CFS can be carried forward behind the railcar....
116. ... allowing the shunter to finally dispose of the coal wagon once the van has been removed from the factory siding. Shunting under the wires at eye-level needs a little care when coupling or uncoupling and wagons on the front tracks often have to be pushed out of the way to give access to those behind. As at Eromarbordo the town was deliberately designed to stand behind the foreground tracks. The location of  a factory in the middle of the town might raise eyebrows but it adds to the traffic mix. This is a tight curve and stock and locos that use it are restricted. The main problem is the exceedingly sharp reverse curve behind the backscene which can cause derailments in a most inaccessible place. A stick is kept to poke wagons out onto the layout by reaching over the Carramassco Gorge section!
117. Control is up to its usual tricks again (see session 2). With Urteno's banker now marooned in a siding 20 kms away number 101 has been seconded for pilot duty at Urteno. Here it attaches the ambulance to the down railcar. More problematically, with the mixto now approaching Lacono it would seem likely that 101 will be asked to bank this train up the Vulpafaŭkangulo which will result in knock on effects for the timing of the mixto and the local goods that 101 is scheduled to take later this afternoon.
118. The afternoon FDV-RFK goods pulls out onto the viaduct at Caladonno. This working is potentially going to cause problems because....
119. ....with the car train having arrived at Ithilarak it will have to stand on the mainline and wait until the extra train pulls out of the loop, thereby delaying the shuttle. Still, the passengers will get a chance to view the snow covered scenery and stretch their legs if they can stand the cold.
120. The afternoon Eromarbordo goods has little trade this afternoon as all the wagons are empties. The two opens on the tail will be dropped off here and the vans taken down to the port. The only reason that this train is running today is the need to pick up a SG refrigerated van loaded with fish.
121. The Varden shuttle service returns to Lacono with the ambulance on its tail. There will only just be enough room in platform 1 to accept this train and leave clearance for the mixto to depart from platform 2. The embryonic interior of the ambulance, complete with patients is visible here.
122. The station, as with most other aspects of the layout, is an exercise in compromise. Stopping short of the platform ends to allow clearance for the points results in the mixto overhanging the platform when the extra van is added to the tail.
123. The imminent arrival of the extra goods has led to the Jakarutu branch service being pulled as far up the PFT as possible so that the goods can run in behind it. It is standing just short of the rack section. In a short time there will be four trains in the station once the mixto and the banker's trip working have also arrived.
124. Urteno's stand-in pilot has pulled the Pullman from its siding to allow the passengers to board. The Cadillac from one of the hotels delivers its passengers whilst their luggage is piled on the platform barrow. Once the express arrives the Pullman will be attached to the rear.
125. The square at Fenditavalat is a busy place and just before 15.00 the shunter pulls the vans from the dairy. These need shunting to reverse their order so that the slide wall van is at the back of the mixto and can easily be detached at Lacono. The other van conveys the empty milk churns back to their originating stations.

126. Once the wagons have been reversed the shunter can retire to the Station Bar for a little relaxation with the locals. Perhaps a quick game of table football would be in order if he can persuade the fellow in the leather jacket to remove himself from the table! This is one of those old fashioned open topped ones with metal figures that they use on the continent. The ball can shoot out onto the pavement (or into your face) if it takes a ricochet, although they seem to use a much heavier ball in my limited experience! One team have been repainted by the proprietor into black and white of VFF, the Fenditavalat side, even though they do not usually play in the 2-5-3 formation!
127. The soldier obviously is not used to AFK trains as he is trying to board the ambulance, although he can be excused as there is currently no indication of the vehicle's purpose. He has a few minutes in which to board the local passenger even though it is now signalled away (the two vertical greens on the gantry).
128. The afternoon up local goods was held to let the extra goods run through to Relforka. It has now arrived at Glissent running approximately an hour behind time. It has obviously lost its path and, with a heavy load and plenty of shunting to be done it does not seem likely that it will recover it.
129. The afternoon railcars serving the schoolchildren at the Lyceo have run into Fenditavalat's square. As was observed in photo 62 the CFS railcar does not m.u. with its trailer and has to run round. The trailer is pushed up the hill by the AFK railcar which then pulls down the loop to allow the electric railcar to run in front of the trailer. The brakes are then released and it rolls down onto the CFS railcar. Assiduous readers, if there are any (!), will remember that this process was shown in photo 165 in session 1. Then it was held by a peg which was a temporary expedient for a track brake. This brake has now been inserted into the road although.....
130. .... actually fitting it was a ticklish process. The brake is sited directly above the (delicate) lifting bridge across the Spegulalaguno. A wooden block holding a crank was attached onto the main baseboard above and then a recessed alcove was drilled with a hole saw for the operating handle. This could not be left proud of the board as the aisle is too narrow and it is nearly at eye level. The resulting mess was then cleared away by opening up the bridge. The story of the bridge's construction was told in Narrow Lines issue 190.
131. The small tender tank pushes valiantly on the rear of the mixto as it traverses the lower part of the Aepto gorge. Quite how much assistance is being given is, however, another issue. The Urteno bankers are often accused of coming along for the ride and this could be a genuine case. (In reality the actual loco performed better than expected.) The shelf for the rack branch is visible at the top of the unedited photo. It could have been edited out but sometimes it helps to see what is really there. The mainline gradient is supposed to be 1 in 30 but given my carpentry skills that is an approximation!
132. Control's decisions have resulted in Ithilarak being besieged by traffic and trains by mid afternoon. At the lower left the Jakarutu 'ezuko' waits to leave. Behind it stands the goods extra. On the main, loco 101 stands in the foreground, behind the mixto, from which it has uncoupled, with the big Swedish diesel just visible on the front end. Alongside it stands the designated banker and slightly nearer, standing on the goods loop, the connecting bus for Rigua and Melik can be seen. There will be no journey over the snow covered passes to Gujentin, on the Thalnian Railway's Ruritanian mainline, today. The ezuko is the "eagle", the branch train's nickname.
133. Number 202 leaves the end of the rack section to continue its run across the moor. I suppose that it is a case of "Where eagles dare". Running through a trench of snow three or four feet deep with the winds whipping up the snow, even on a clear day like today this is, as the account puts it, "not an enticing prospect for the fainthearted". (See the Ticket to the Moon page by pressing the button.)
Go to branch journey
134. The new loco on test is proving to be rather like a sheep in wolf's clothing. The train is loaded to its 160 ton maximum (16 axles plus the crew van), the sort of load that this loco is expected to bully on the AFK's gradients, despite there being 2 SG wagons in the consist. The 0-8-0 refused to take the little rise in the road at Breĉo de Glissent  before slipping to a halt. Close inspection revealed that the heavy Brawa stake wagon's transporter was fouling the platform accounting for part of the problem. This was solved by scratching away the ground with a screwdriver blade until the transporter rolled freely past the offending section. When everything was cleaned up the loco still refused the rise resulting in the extra lead being added to the tender. These problems are one reason why this and the partner turn are used for running in. This particular spot in the track always was a blackspot that needed three of four rebuilds before the it performed properly. As has been noted elsewhere the turnout beneath the hay wagon drops across the cant and dips sharply into the yard. Passage across it is often used to test vehicle's suitability for use on the layout.
135. Although the mixto arrived late due to its underpowered banker it was held for the freight extra at Ithilarak, leaving thirteen minutes late. The banker attaches to the front of the freight which will be pulled by the Meyer as the train engine. The Meyer will act as the Urteno pilot/banker for the rest of the day and the 0-4-0TT will take any traffic forward before picking up its usual path at Lacono. That is the plan anyway! The 2-8-2T will go to Fenditavalat to work snowploughs later in the day, the crews having swapped locos. Having picked up a few extra wagons the freight is now loaded to the maximum allowed down the bank.
136. The RFK-FDV goods crosses the Akvalando viaduct running slightly early. It will do its own shunting at Urteno, a not uncommon occurrence. The two layers of the layout are visible in the right background with Ithilarak at the top. The train is on the turnback "blob" at the end of a peninsula which makes it difficult to photograph other than looking directly into the scene.
137. The 0-8-8-0T Mallet leaves the snowsheds as it drifts down towards Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol. There should, of course, be thick snow here today but there are limits in railway modelling! The train will be held here for a while to allow other parts of the layout to catch up time.
138. The school's railcar waits in the loop at Caladonno for the late running mixto. It is intended that this area will be covered with snow eventually.  This crossing is the only train scheduled to use the loop today, although freights leave wagons here sometimes (see photo 82). As has been recorded elsewhere the loop was a late addition to the layout installed when the limiting effects of the short loop at Fenditavalat became apparent. That station had worked perfectly well as a stand alone layout but train lengths increased once the current layout was begun.
139. One of the problems with a large layout operated by one person is to keep everything roughly synchronised (see photo 147). The bottom half of the layout has fallen somewhat behind the upper part. This would not perhaps matter in an ideal world. The AFK reflects reality which means that late running trains have knock-on effects on the single line, often in two or three hours time. Having run the local and express into Relforka (last seen in photos 127 and 113) the local goods crosses the Kasatritikakamparoj. This journey has not been without a few more minor problems but once out on the main there was no problem pulling the train (apart from the supposedly trimmed vegetation's interventions). The method of supporting Cadsuiane-Fanhuidol is clearly visible in the background, which it is intended will be hidden with a curved backdrop.
140. From the train watcher's point of view, three to four in the afternoon is a slack point for seeing any action at Lacono on a 'normal' day. The time is now 15.51 and the pilot has been in constant motion shuffling wagons since the RFK-FDV goods left (photo 136). Once again it is necessary to keep the state of the yard in synch with the rest of the layout. It will soon be time to consider going over to the Post Office to remove the van that travels behind the next Urteno shuttle, something that I often forget to do and which sometimes magically descends from the sky at Urteno. The seasonal and daily variations inbuilt into the traffic generator mitigate against any two days being similar so 'normal' is a relative term.
141. The Autumnora jam and pickles factory at Sojonno has acquired a new shunting tractor as the old one could not cope with the gradients and the size of  the railway vehicles. Anything that deals with AFK equipment has to be large and robust. It has been a while since a SG wagon was left in the siding but the works tractor is expected to deal with these also.
142. The RFK-FDV goods shunts at Urteno. The two vans in the siding will be added to the empty which has been pushed into the near loop. These will be taken across the lake to the brewery by the ferry, later in the evening. The remainder of the train will be able to take the Vulpafaŭkangulo without needing banking assistance.
143. The double headed extra has arrived at Urteno, clearing the way for the scheduled goods. The 0-4-0TT will take a couple of loads forward and the 0-4-4-0T will sort out the wagons remaining. There is only one other train booked for banking, besides the freight, which is probably just as well given the Meyer's performance so far!
144. The 0-8-0 shunts Boursson in the late afternoon. Much of this shunting has been held back to allow the beet trains to access the goods loop. There is still another extra booked to run but that will have to cope as best as it can! The local goods will have to have the line clear for the schools' and commuter train booked through at 17.08.
145. In what is proving to be one of the worst performances by a new engine the 0-8-0 fails again. It has only just been returned to the layout after a session fiddling with various aspects of its current collection. Now it slips to a halt on the grade during shunting. Yet more lead is added before sufficient weight allows the wheels to grip. Fitting all this weight into the tender could be a concern but without it the loco will join a long list of failures deemed inadequate to work on the AFK. This is one reason why only a basic shell was provided. As a side issue it is apparent that the loco is now sandwiched into the middle of the train as it looks to propel the SG van into the loop. Although it is quite common to see this on US layouts British modellers seem to avoid this situation at all costs.
146. The CFS schools' railcar looks to depart Fenditavalat having made its connection with the mixto. A set of instructions were once issued about how these trains and vans should be arranged, although this seems to have disappeared into the ether at the moment. It might seem unnecessary to go to these lengths but the turn around of the mixto is tight and the two sets of vans need swapping with the minimum of fuss. Unfortunately the presence of the railcar complicates things and one of the problems of ad hoc working is apparent here. The clearance out of the middle loop is tight and the railcar perhaps should have moved into the near loop or alternately the shunter should possibly have removed the vans. I suppose it is time to search for the instructions more thoroughly or to issue new ones in a condensed form that don't become lost.
147. As the light fails the two schools' trains await departure time at Lacono. The pilot has had to interrupt its shunting to attach the Post van to the Urteno railcar which is hidden behind the curtain wall of the train shed.
148. The RFK-FDV goods is lightly loaded beyond Urteno today and so the train loco easily takes the vulpafaŭkangulo in its stride without assistance. Darkness has fallen and the lake is frozen of course.
149. Its late arrival, and the misplacement of various wagons notwithstanding, the loco of the mixto has just backed down onto the southbound version with a minute or two to spare. The timings are tight but fortunately the diesel can turn straight round whereas there would have been problems with a steam engine. The removable cab at least ensures that the highly visible driver has changed seats but the problems of blending the thing into the body remain apparent. Still it is in better shape than it was at the start of the session!
150. Urteno is a busy place this afternoon. The extra train needs sorting into loads and empties and the railcar runs through to Varden as it is the winter sports season. As the railcar begins the climb the 0-4-0TT retrieves its van and pushes three vans into the coal sidings. The railcar dropped the Post van in the station. The dishevelled state of the work bench is fairly typical of its condition towards the end of a session despite it having been cleared at the start!
151. Immediately after the railcar clears the southern approaches the Meyer is out on the bridge shunting wagons. There is not a lot of time to prepare the extra before the railcar returns.
152. The railcar drops down from Varden as the complex shunting continues. By now the extra is made up (behind the railcar) and is ready to go forward. In some respects the railcar could have been held if necessary as it is only ferrying skiers back to Lacono. Whilst a number of those staying in the Urteno hotels avail themselves of the service the town's tramway system also has a line out to the foot of the slopes as well.
153. The school's train makes its stop at Rhoenna. This is the only down train booked to use the conditional halt and the AFK does not display timetables or inform prospective passengers that other trains can be stopped with a hand signal. As is usual at such locations the only 'facility' is the battered tin sign.
154. The third beet special of the day is held outside Boursson to allow the local goods to depart early whist the large SG bogie open lists on its transporters in an alarming fashion. Once the local has cleared the station the enirosignal will swing "off" into the clear position and the train will then proceed into the station to pick up the last beet loads of the day. The depiction of special traffic surges such as this was a motivating factor in designing the layout.
155. The 0-10-0T pushes a couple of 4 wheel vans down to the cocoa store at Eromarbordo. There is currently a shortage of the bogie vans used for this traffic as a number were taken to transport loads that would normally have been carried in SG vans. If you remember there was a shortage of transporters in the early morning as  many were taken for the beet special's SG wagons. This is yet another unforeseen but reasonably realistic consequence of decisions made earlier in the session. As I have noted there are plenty of parts to build more transporters. It is just a matter of finding time to assemble them.
156. A rare view of some of the complicated trackwork at Eromarbordo in use. The loco has pushed the NG wagons down the goods loop to couple onto the SG refrigerator van. This has then been pushed into the headshunt to pick up the crew van and to tow the other SG refrigerator back to the fish market. At last it looks like this will free up the headshunt and also stop the van accruing demurrage charges!
157. Eromarbordo is noted for its complex trackwork but this is necessary to allow for reasonably easy shunting. Even so, as has been noted before, it is not too difficult to tie the station into knots. The local arrived with just two vans and will leave with a single SG refrigerator yet a number of convoluted moves were required to reposition empty equipment for loading. Two vans are being pushed onto the Town Staithe for loading with seaweed fertiliser or smoked fish, as required. The vans were actually uncoupled here and ran down the grade onto the quayside before smashing into the substantial wooden bump post just short of the creek. What Elf and Safety would make of this procedure is open to speculation!
158. After the Lord Mayor's show! Once the mixto has departed from Fenditavalat the snow train loco pushes the vans into the dairy for loading and unloading. Providing a cobbled surface here is on the long list of jobs to do.
159. The URT-LAC local goods is finally on the move, about three hours behind time. This will cause problems at Lacono as it will arrive almost simultaneously with the up local goods, which has run early, thereby overwhelming the facilities. The yard staff will doubtlessly cope in their usual pragmatic manner. It is difficult to get good photos of the viaduct because it is so large and the area in the foreground keeps accumulating "stuff" despite my best efforts to keep it clear. The arch springing from the rock wall is, of course, a cheap and nasty take off of Landwasser viaduct.
160. Just after 18.12 both goods trains have arrived at Lacono. The RFK-LAC goods is standing on the goods reception road whilst the URT-LAC goods has been run into the passenger station, a common practice if there is capacity in the train shed. The pilot (bottom centre) is currently trapped in the yard.
161. A quick perusal of the consignment notes shows that if the loco, crew van and the front three wagons of the goods move down onto the train standing in the yard they can couple up and be away quickly. The cut of wagons is being pulled forward. The 0-8-0 is already standing at the platform end waiting a path to the shed.

162. At 18.24 the LAC-RFK goods loco stands next to the yard office cum groundframe waiting for the ground signal to clear. The 0-8-0 has dropped down to the ground signal in the mainline which resolutely shows blue (for stop). Knowing what loco crews are like they will probably be on the phone to the signalman asking why they are being held. I was always tempted to reply along the lines of you have seen greens and yellows all the way from London so I thought that red would make a nice change ~ but I never did!
163. The last train of the day over the whole length of the line leaves Relforka 5 minutes late. This is quite punctual by this train's standards as it is often held to await mainline connections.
164. The beet special has propelled the bogie SG wagon into the siding at Boursson but there is insufficient space for the loco and van to get into the clear. It will wait for the down local goods to arrive and then pull out onto the mainline at the north of the station before shunting the local from the rear. Crossing the passenger will involve an American style 'saw-by' with the passenger train. Perhaps yet another example of over egging the pudding!
165. The first indication of the shunting problems that the railcar receives is that Boursson's enirosignal (home) is on. The railcar will be allowed into the station having been checked. This will avoid any possibility of a collision. Obviously this was the over riding concern when operating real signal boxes.
166. The FDV-RFK goods has picked up a couple of loads at Urteno and is loaded almost to capacity. The train will leave early and will in all probability be held outside Lacono until a road has been cleared in the goods yard to accept the train.
167. The counterpart RFK-FDV goods similarly leaves Ithilarak early having finished what little shunting was required. The signal has been returned to danger by a treadle. (That is the theory. It was not, in fact, cleared in an oversight. At least when you forgot to pull the signal in a real box it soon became apparent why the train was not moving!)
168. The 2-8-2T detaches at Ospicio to wait the later arrival of the plough train. I have to be honest and state that I am not sure how many hours a steam loco could remain in service without dropping the fire. I suspect that I am pushing the limits here. The goods is standing on the loop (PFT) and the mixto has pulled onto the main (RT). The goods, as usual, has no work here in the winter but will wait for the 'snow' train to arrive.
169. The schools railcar marks time at Ithilarak. The last of the children left the train here and, as has been noted before, it is something of an orphan from here on in, with little demand for its services. The observant will note that it is now correctly orientated with the radiator pointing northwards ( unlike photo 138!) The eagle eyed will note the absence of a tail lamp though!
170. The down goods has now arrived at Gasafabrikastraro thereby swamping the facilities once again. Whilst it would have been nice to have had half a dozen roads and a similar number of sidings the AFK manages with its cramped facilities. I suppose modellers are the same the world over, "If only I had a bit more space.....!"
171. The pilot hastily pulls some wagons from the goods shed. The SG van and the finished van in the foreground are 'road vans'. These are consolidated loads that run through to designated points before being unloaded and sorted into other vehicles to go on to their final destination. The SG van is not touched once it leaves the AFK but small consignments can be placed into the CFS road van which will run through to Krelm tomorrow morning.   The railway has no compunction about blocking the Karushnostrato, one of the city's main thoroughfares as it uncouples from the wagons behind these. The road traffic can wait!  
172. The school railcar has picked up a few stragglers at Varden before dropping down to Urteno. They cannot have been fresh off the slopes because it has been dark for some time! I suppose they have been frequenting one of the off piste watering holes and found the railcar more convenient than the trams. The railcar will also take on some of the hospital staff for their journeys home to Lacono.
173. As was anticipated the Meyer's performance is giving rise to concern. It has stalled just in front of the golf course (which is theoretically supposed to be a mile or so away from Urteno) with a cut of four vans and the ferry reach wagon. It runs fine until it has to pull anything, which is not a tremendous recommendation for an AFK loco. One wonders quite what its Italian designers' thoughts were, if any, when it was on the drawing board. I suppose that running up a 1 in 30 gradient on a two foot radius curve was not on their minds but the other locos manage easily enough (except, significantly, the big sister Rivarossi mallet).
174. The snow train waits for departure time in Fenditavalat square. This is the last scheduled down train but the up goods and passenger have still to arrive and the snow ploughs will also be active.
175. By 19.00 control has demonstrated previously unsuspected perception. They have become sufficiently concerned about the potential for disaster if the Meyer attempts to bank the railcar that it has found a crew and called the 0-8-0 from Aspargo shed to act as a pilot. The school railcar has just terminated having been held outside the station for the shunt move that now occupies platform 1. These are the wagons shown in photo 171. The pilot will run round once the railcar goes to Aspargo.
176. The Eromarbordo goods is directed to pick up the sugar beet traffic at Glissent as it has time and spare capacity. The beet loads were made from pearl barley ages ago, although the one in the unfinished wagon is similarly incomplete and required attention to allow it to fit into the wagon. There are now about ten loads but inevitably they often do not fit whatever wagon is at hand. I suppose I will have to follow a policy of swapping wagons, as is used for some of the loaded vans with opening doors. The first van is one of these, being loaded with cattle. It will be exchanged with another van when a cattle load is needed and the doors will be opened. Whist swapping is allowed there must be a van on site to exchange with and if there is not then the loaded van will be worked in as an empty. The watering crane leans alarmingly.
177. Just before 19.00 the early running FDV-RFK goods pulls into the tunnel below the Terramazim, at the south end of Lacono, to rearrange its train. This will result in the engine remaining in the tunnel throughout these procedures which, with a large Mallet repeatedly restarting on a stiff grade, will make footplate conditions unpleasant to say the least. The tunnel has a large bore, however, to take the SG wagons, so conditions are not quite as bad as they might be. The model's bore was forcibly enlarged with a knife, hammer and chisel when it was discovered that a German Großraumwagen would not run through it. This accounts for the current short lining which was once longer. Something else to attend to!
178. One consequence of the shunting in Gasafabrikastrato yard is that the schools railcar cannot get into Aspargo depot which in turn means that the pilot is waiting at the end of platform 2 before it can get into platform 1 to shunt the vans. Very shortly the RFK-FDV railcar will arrive as will the mixto. Things could be about to become interesting!
179. At 19.15 the goods train is still blocking the mainline form the south but the schools railcar has gone to the depot and the pilot is waiting to get clear of the main. This is the railcar's booked arrival time but of course it left Relforka late only to be delayed by the congestion at Boursson. As regulars, both of the train and the thread, will be aware, the timings of this train are regarded by its patrons as a work of fiction at best. The main priority at Lacono will be the despatch of the mixto and so the railcar is likely to take another hit to its schedule when it finally arrives.
180. The few patrons of the snow train have had an exciting ride. Firstly one of the low loaders derailed, catapulting a lorry into the frozen lake, then its mate tried to demolish the snow shed! The problem, as ever was clearances. As noted in photo 34 these large vehicles were built after the infrastructure was in place. The viaduct parapet has now been pared back and the snow shed has been slightly relocated, although this is the sort of work that I try to avoid during an operating session. Ospicio's backscene and foreground can easily be removed to allow access to the site and the pointwork at this northern end needed a lot of attention in the early days. The snowshed was once square but it now leans rather alarmingly. This is not too apparent when the backscene is replaced and for most of the time it is barely visible unless one deliberately looks for it. You probably did not even realise that it was there!
181. The snow train eventually negotiates the scene successfully and is about to enter the very small part of Ospicio, the lake with the melting ice, (on the flap across the doorway) that has been completed. [A better photo of the lake can be found by going to the Opiciod'Helcaraxë section of a journey along the line in the photos section. It does not seem to have featured prominently in Operating sessions.] The two trains at Boursson, visible in the gloom at the bottom right, have been in suspended animation for some time as has the railcar last seen in photo 165. This is a common practice on the layout. It is a one man band and currently there are supposedly eight trains 'in motion' over a 75kms mainline with another two or three scheduled to begin their runs shortly. There are also two pilots active as well. One aspect of the compromises necessary is that the loco for the beet train has been brought into the station and the goods pulled forward to foul the points at the entry. This is necessary to clear the circuit (which can be switched between Boursson or Lacono as necessary) for shunting to take place at Lacono. No DCC here and there never will be! It would be possible to insert a cut into the rails but given the likely derailment issues that would occur on such a curve this also remains an unlikely solution.
182. The mixto has arrived at Urteno, although the shunting of the ferry has meant that it is put into the outside platform. The Meyer can be seen coupled to the reach wagon by a pole. The ferry's slipway is electrically dead so the loco could not go onto it even by mistake. The other end of the reach wagon is coupled to the wagons coming off the ferry.
183. The local goods leaves Boursson after the railcar has arrived. The problem is not with the goods per se but in the fact that a large loco and bogie coach also have to cross the passenger. As the whole ensemble cannot fit into the loop, which is one of the shortest on the network, the loco and van are waiting on the mainline to the north.
184. At some cost to its timings the railcar can finally leave once the beet train equipment has pulled into the loop. This was one reason why the real thing tried to avoid such complicated situations as far as possible. The other obvious reason was the danger involved.
185. The late SG connection and the problems at Boursson mean that the railcar arrives at Lacono 18 minutes behind time thereby delaying the mixto, but only by 5 minutes. The mixto was scheduled to run into platform 3 because it has to detach the sliding walled van which may have caused problems in platform 2 with the railcar being late. The railcar's pilot has moved across to platform 2. The goods train loco has used the wait to cross to the near siding to pick up the van and the load of pit props in the foreground left by the local goods, hence the apparently empty siding alongside the main.
186. The RFK-FDV goods is on the move again and has just pulled into Caladonno. It is unlikely that there will be any passengers but small consignments can be loaded into and unloaded from the van which is why the train has stopped with it opposite the goods shed.
187. The snow train reaches Ithilarak where it terminates. It will lay over until tomorrow morning when it will transport more lorries over the high passes. I might be a philistine but all lorries look very similar to me so the same vehicles are likely to form tomorrow's load. (Addendum; another lorry has been purchased relative cheaply via eBay so there might be a change!)
188. The shunting continues at Urteno and the ferry has received a full load of wagons to take to Karamspur. The last vehicle, an open, contains barrels of Marronĝaco, a spirit named for the area. These will be used in the blending process. The unpainted van is, despite appearances, a grain hopper which has been converted from a normal van and fitted with a permanent chute inside. The other vans are empties as the brewery is now short of wagons. Any road vehicles wanting to use the ferry at this time of evening either have a long wait or a lengthy drive around the shore of the lake. The incoming wagons removed from the ferry include a van of beer for Eromarbordo. Experience has shown that attaching this to the last railcar of the day is the easiest way to get the beer to its destination
189. With the railcar gone the beet train can shunt Boursson. The agricultural machine (a maize harvester) was detached from the local goods during the long wait. The SG wagon loaded with beet stands in the station goods loop.
190. The local goods meanwhile has reached Sojonno where it will attach a van of pickles from the factory. Rather unusually this train will then be running near its load limit.
191. The mixto is not hanging about and reaches Boursson only slightly behind time. The beet train is waiting in the loop. In some ways this epitomises the NG layout that I always dreamt about building from being a primary school kid. Big locos, large rolling stock, long trains, signals and (relatively) fast running. It is not everyone's cup of tea but for me personally it beats four coupled tank engines pottering around shunting minute wagons carrying four milk churns or two spadefuls of coal!
192. The railcar has arrived at Urteno running 33 minutes late. As can be seen this is already a long train and its pilot is under the road bridge. The station pilot is waiting to attach the Post van and the brake used on the extra train across the Altingablecaŭtoj earlier in the day. The railcar is supposed to be piloted when snow has fallen in any case and the 0-8-0 will run through to Ospicio d'Helcaraxë where, having almost reached the watershed between the Ero and the Orbon, it will leave the railcar to slither down to Fenditavalat. The van at the current rear of the train is the road van from Lacono to all stations on the CFS and Krelm.
193. The late evening goods (RFK-URT), loaded with Großraumwagen, stands in Relforka's platforms waiting for the road. It will stand for some time as the mixto will take priority. AFK's control has more pressing problems. Nerv, the junction of the Ruritania/Narnia lines on the FT (Thalnian Railways) has rung through to say that the last train will be 45 minutes late, a not uncommon event as the train has a long journey from Sarip, the capital. The knock-on effect will be that the connecting railcar will not reach Urteno until well after midnight. One problem with a multi deck layout shows up here. It is difficult to avoid dark spots in the gaps between the fluorescent lights, as is evident on the two vans at the left. The camera accentuates this but the brain 'airbrushes' out the problem. It is a bit academic in any case as I usually operate Relforka without lights on as it is simply a fiddle yard that has been dressed up.
194. The local goods loco has now run round its train at Breĉo de Glissent and is about to deposit the beer van in the siding. Having shunted at Sojonno there is not much time before the mixto arrives so the engine will wait on the main leaving the train to run through the loop nearest to the station buildings. The road sign directs traffic to use the 'ring road' through the industrial area rather then to negotiate the town's gates and tortuous Medieval street pattern. It is, of course, on the wrong side of the road but the siding into the Co-op prevents a more appropriate location.
195. The FDV-RFK train has finished its shunting and will leave the SG road van for the late evening goods which will make a connection with the FT in the early hours of the morning. The crew might have a long wait as the beet special has resulted in every loop being occupied between Lacono and Relforka. The up evening goods is also waiting for a path.
Last photo of previous post [above]
196. The beet train left Boursson hot on the heels of the mixto, dropping down to Sojonno as soon as the section cleared to the IBS (intermediate block signal). The FDV-RFK goods has left Lacono and is now standing on the RT (main) at Boursson. The train is running early but the crew are optimistic about getting the road because of the way things are shaping up with other trains.
197. The Fenditavalat 'railcar' storms up the Vulpafaŭkanglo in the lower Aepto Gorge piloted by the 0-8-0. Given the remoteness of the location the passengers will be unable to see anything but the moon's reflection upon the snow. Darkness fell long ago and there is no habitation anywhere nearby.
198. The RFK-FDV goods has arrived at its destination. It is at this point that two wagons for Ithilarak are discovered in the consist which have been carried miles past their destination. I must pay more attention to the consignment notes in future! This was not an uncommon problem in the pre TOPS era when everything relied upon paperwork. As I think I have remarked before one of my father's jobs during the sixties was to chase wagons that had disappeared en route.
199. The train has been partially sorted by the shunter which has pulled into the siding to let the train engine push the brake into the yard. The van behind the engine is going to the CFS which is why it is coupled to the engine which will take it down to Rivabordo on the way to the shed. Once it has departed the shunter will put the remaining wagons in the yard before waiting for the railcar to arrive.
200. The plough train is preparing to leave Fenditavalat and run up the northern slopes to the summit. Three out of the four ploughs and the scraper form the main body of train 9905 but some argument has ensued about returning the over-carried wagons back up the hill. Given the prospect of snow and a relatively small loco the crew, understandably, are not keen. It is only because the van carries military supplies for Jakarutu that control insists that it is attached to the train. The concrete pipes in the open can wait! It is also well after 21.00 and the railcar is due so the train will need to fit into the loop at Caladonno. This is the shortest on the network by far so train length is also a consideration.
201. The express goods train's crew, standing at Boursson, (photo196) have their hopes of an early finish dashed by the local goods' shunting at Breĉo de Glissent. As was observed in photo 190 this is a long train for this particular service and many of the vehicles are bound for Glissent. There is, in addition, the need to take two vans round to the glassworks so that tomorrow's loads can be forwarded as early as possible. In this view the train is occupying the RT (main) and the loco shunts the FT (siding).
202. The beet train is already in section and could easily overtake the local goods as it shunts. The main consideration, however, is that the RFK-URT goods is now clear after the mixto's arrival at Relforka and so it is given priority. Glissent has a long loop so it will be quite easy to pull the beet train into it behind the wagons of the local goods. The train has been halted by signals (yet to be built) outside the station so that shunting can continue without interruption.
203. The beet train has pulled forward so that the goods train can pass it. Once again there is a little legerdemain in that the goods was pushed down the loop by hand to give the clearance. The left hand end of the layout is inaccessible from the operating position because of the workbench and it would be silly to walk around the room to the other side to couple and uncouple locos onto the train. The main function of the up goods is to bring empty SG wagons onto the AFK for loading. The local goods, just visible behind the up goods, is meant to be well down the truncated siding alongside the river bank at the glassworks (another compromise).
204. The railcar from Lacono arrives at Urteno to form the last down passenger train of the day, albeit that it runs to Eromarbordo rather than Relforka. It was held in the tunnel for the Meyer to finish shunting a van of empty bottles (for the perfume factory) to the goods shed for unloading (visible at the left).. The railcar should have found the van of beer for Eromarbordo (photo 188) on the loop but there has not been time to fish it out from behind a van bound for Relforka. The railcar crew will probably have to do this themselves, there is just about time, because the pilot's crrew are trying to sort out the next load for the ferry. The railcar has a driver at both ends which seems to be a better compromise than simply having one in the wrong end. The passengers could sit alongside him, as here. Having seen what went on with first generation BR dmus one can imagine how coveted this viewpoint would be!
205. The up goods has arrived at Boursson. This is in reality yet another area where the AFK cheats, as has been noted before. The loco is blocking the main road and standing on a factory spur both of which would not be allowed. I used to think that the key system, used to release the points, would also prevent this but recent rereading of arcane texts about minor continental signalling systems, as used on the byways, suggests that it could have been configured to allow this. 
206. At around 21.00 Lacono's pilot pushes a cut of wagons into the Carrodantis chocolate factory. The SG vans will be loaded with finished products by the night shift whilst the slide wall van contains pasteurised milk in containers brought from Fenditavalat which will be used in the production process. The other van contains cocoa delivered from the company's store at Eromarbordo. This shunt move requires access to the factory which is beyond the Post Office loading bay so the moves have to be carried out within a certain time window.
207. At the same time the last down railcar is just about to depart from Urteno having made its connection with the railway's last bus of the day from Callistano (see also photo 54). The pilot is pushing another set of vans onto the ferry for Karamspur. Unless there is a very large demand for beer wagons tomorrow there should be enough vans across the lake to meet the brewery's needs.
208. The local has finally finished shunting at Breĉo de Glissent where, ironically, given the congestion that it has caused, it has been reduced to a two wagon train. The open at the back is empty and the only load is the pickles from Sojonno. It will depart before the FDV-RFK goods arrives.
209. The SudKasatritikakamparoj Co-op siding is filled to capacity with grain hoppers. The wagons have had to be pushed into the overgrown siding by hand and the central buffer of the furthest one is actually hanging out over the fast flowing waters of the Ero! There is no buffer stop on the siding but two clamps prevent the wheels from over running the end of it. The scotch, locked by a key kept by the Co-op foreman, is visible in the left foreground. The road sign at the left is also removable as it has to lean away from the track to let trains through yet in this position it blocks the siding. The gradient to the crown of the bridge is also evident, although the Co-op siding slopes down towards the river in contrast.
210. The last train of the day (except for the ploughs) has slithered down to Caladonno over the icy rails without mishap (photo 192). The plough train just fits into the siding along with the extra van.
211. The local goods rattles into Relforka as the 'railcar' waits for the late running Ferovojoj Thalnia connection. The train engine (technically a railcar) is being piloted as Lacono's spare engine returns to shed. It was last seen in photo 91 waiting to back down onto an extra goods train.
212. The last train of the day arrives at Fenditavalat at 22.00. The pilot will trip the tail traffic down to Rivaborda and the railcar will follow. The townsfolk might get a good night's sleep if there is not too much snow.
213. The RFK-URT railcar has been further delayed at Glissent by having to wait for the URT-ERO railcar and then having to work the instruments at Sojonno. Iti s now running about 45 minutes late and will accrue a further delay as it makes the compulsory 'out of hours' stop at Boursson's home signal. As with the previous shot the AFK's term 'railcar' is a little loose. The I-B-I and two six wheelers are deputising for the standard railcar, there is a strengthening carriage as far as Lacono and two Post vans bring up the rear.
214. The plough train has arrived at Ospicio. The equipment will be left in abeyance until 'tomorrow' when the snow dice be thrown. Other trains will continue to run to their destinations after midnight until a natural breakpoint is reached.
215. One train likely to be running into the next day is the "evening" goods bringing in SG wagons. This has now reached Lacono and, as usual in slack times for passenger traffic, it has been put into the platforms. It will leave a couple of SG wagons behind and proceed to Urteno.
216. The RFK-URT goods should almost have finished its return journey by now. The train nears its destination as it crosses Akvalando viaduct. The two SG vans will go to the furniture factory and the long tail of NG opens is intended to clear a long tailback of forestry products in the Altingablecaŭtoj. These will have to await an opportunity to climb the Vulpafaŭkangulo.
217. The last train of the day, which serves the cement works at Lydattyl on the CFS, leaves Relforka having had to wait for the down goods (last seen in photo 195) to arrive. It usually has a long wait at Breĉo de Glissent to cross the down goods from Urteno, which is running late, so it will probably make up time.
218. To add insult to injury the late running railcar is checked for shunting on its arrival at Urteno and has to stand on the lifting bridge over the Spegulalaguno. The crew will not be phoning any-one here about being held (photo 162). There is no walkway and so there would be a dip in the icy cold lake just before midnight! The design principle was based on the Southwold Railway's swing bridge over the Blythe. I have always been intrigued about how the track on this was maintained. Presumably a couple of planks were placed over the girders that held the sides together and the gangers worked above the tidal race.
219. The cement train terminates at Lacono. It will resume its run in the early hours of the morning after a change of crews.
220. In the final move of the session the returning URT-RFK goods is now formed in Lacono yard at 00.45hrs. The session ends here and the train will complete its run "tomorrow" despite a considerable jump in dates between sessions. The session is now finished and the drop flap at Boursson is now open once again.