It's About Time

I recently discovered the above time table, thanks to the Santa Cruz Trains website, and found myself instantly engrossed with it. A lot of information can be found from this simple chart. For my layout, I can pick which stops to model, add flagstop stations as needed, and I can approximate the routine speed of the trains traveling from Watsonville to Spreckels. Using that, I can determine how fast trains should be running on my railroad.

The total distance traveled on this line is 27.2 miles, over the course of 1 hour and 45 minutes, which gives us a pace of 15.5 miles an hour. Assuming my proposed track plan is somewhat accurate (it likely isn’t), the distance my trains will cover between my version of Watsonville and Spreckels, will be closer to twenty one feet. If I use a 12:1 fast clock (which is what is used at the Belmont Shore RR Club I belong to, so I'm using it for this thought process), then I will need to make the journey is 9 real time minutes, which is a pace of approximately 2 ft/min. This is amazingly slow.

Courtesy Ed Gibson, "The Wx4 Dome O' Foam." The Tim Zukas Collection

 I also found this time table that had recently been posted on "The Wx4 Dome O' Foam" (which I originally discovered while researching the Southern Pacific's Monterey Branch. Much appreciation to Ed for sending me a few pictures of the PVCRR that I didn't have.) This time table is from 1919 when the railroad was no longer operating scheduled trains along the main line from Spreckels to Watsonville. The branch line was still under a schedule, and covered 4.7 miles from Spreckels to Salinas, with eight daily round trips during the week to bring Spreckels Sugar Company employees to and from work at the factory.

This trip took 15 minutes each way, at a pace of  about 19 miles an hour. If my math is right, that speed would reduce the one way trip on my layout to a whopping 7 minutes from Watsonville to Spreckels, at a speed of 3 feet per minute of real time. While not as slow as the 2 ft/min discussed above, this is still slow, and I'm not entirely sure N scale steam engines can travel at that pace.

Numbers and spotty math aside, what this has really illustrated is that while this was a small railroad, there were a number of trains operating at a slow enough pace to easily keep me busy for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours, which is ultimately my goal. 


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