Welcome to the Pennsylvania Railroad's Middle Division! Congratulations on signing on; we wish you the best during your tenure as an operator on the line.

A few house rules:

  • No surprise visits! If you would like to operate on the railroad, please gain permission in advance.
  • If you have to cancel your attendance at a session, please do so in a timely manner so that an operator on the stand-by list may be offered your position.
  • Please plan to attend the entire session as an early departure may adversely affect the experience of the other operators.
  • Please do not bring guests without first gaining permission.
  • No children under the age of 16.
  • You may park in the street or the driveway. Limit parking in the driveway to the left hand side, as far forward as the lamp post; do not park on the right side.
  • The powder room is on the first floor, opposite the door to the basement.
  • Soft drinks are available in the train room's refrigerator, please help yourself. A recyclables container is located opposite the foot of the stairs.
  • Handle locomotives and rolling stock with extreme care. They are not only expensive, but have very delicate parts, including but not limited to, grab irons, brake wheels, etc.
  • Hand throws on switches are for decoration only! All switches are powered and are operated either by a tower operator or via toggle switch on the fascia.
  • When switching within an area, “normalize” all switches when leaving the area. The switch is in the normal position when the toggle is in the down position.
  • Have fun!

Human Resources

The Middle Division maintains an Employee Directory, a Seniority Roster, and confers the status of Fully Qualified Operator upon employees that meet the criteria. 

Operating Philosophy

Source Documentation

The operation of the PRR Middle Division is intended to adhere to prototype practice where possible and reasonable. The following are links to prototype documents for reference.

The Rules for Conducting Transportation (a.k.a. Book of Rules) is the general “rule book” for the entire railroad.

The Eastern Region, Middle Division, Employee Timetable #7 includes rules specific to the locations depicted as well as timetable schedules for passenger and freight traffic.

The Makeup of Trains includes the specific consists of all of the passenger trains passing through the locations depicted.

The Through Freight Train Schedules Between Principal Points includes the blocking information and makeup of all freight trains passing through the locations depicted.

The Appendix to General Notice No. 234-B: Local Arranged Freight Train Service, Eastern Region provides information on intradivisional local freight service.


Operating sessions run on a 2:1 fast clock and alternate between two scenarios:

  • The First Trick scenario depicts a 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. shift. All scheduled trains are run plus local service on the secondary lines. Mineral trains and other extras are operated as capacity and crews allow.
  • The Second Trick scenario depicts a 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. shift, with a break, and resumes at 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. All scheduled trains are run. In addition, non-prototypical local service is operated on the secondary lines. Mineral trains and other extras are operated as capacity and crews allow.

The schedule is derived from the prototype Employee Timetable and provides target o/s times at LEWIS. The ETT provides times at LEWIS for passenger trains. The ETT provides start and end times between Altoona and Harrisburg/Enola for freight trains; time at LEWIS is interpolated.

As it is impractical to separately model each and every train on the schedule, the approach is to group trains by typical consist and create a model consist for each group. These "composite" trains then run multiple times, but as different symbols (freight) or named (passenger) trains. You may view the representative and prototype consists by clicking on the train symbol on the Sequence of Trains document.

Movement of Freight Cars

The Middle Division uses a "car card and waybill" system for freight car movements.

Car Cards

Shenware's MiTrains is used to manage the freight fleet and print car cards. All locomotives and rolling stock are issued a car card prior to placement into service on the railroad.

For rolling stock, the car card bears the AAR type, the reporting marks (and verbose name of the railroad), the road number, the home road's class (if different than the AAR type), and the color (optional).

When the car card lacks a waybill, it is empty. Foreign road car cards will have instructions for disposition of the empty car -- East to Enola, West to Altoona, or East or West:

car cards

Home road cars, unless assigned to a specific service, do not include Empty Car instructions. Local yardmasters may hold the empties for future customer fulfillment and assign as needed, when needed. Yardmasters must maintain an inventory of empty cars of various types, ordering empties from Enola or Altoona when needed.

For locomotives, the car card is similar except that the AAR type describes the model of locomotive:

loco cards

Prep Cards

Initially, all car cards receive the addition of a "Prep Card" which tracks various preparatory tasks the locomotive or rolling stock requires. Once complete, the Prep Card is removed.

prep cards

DCC Function Cards

A DCC Function card is included in the Locomotive Card of the lead locomotive in a consist. The card documents the DCC address of the consist as well as the primary functions.

dcc cards

Bad Orders

When a locomotive or rolling stock develops a mechanical issue or a breakage, please remove it from the railroad and complete a Bad Order form. On the form, include the nature of the problem and the location from where the locomotive or rolling stock was last assigned.

bad order


Shenware's Waybills is used to generate multi-move waybills.

Waybills contain the information that you would expect: the shipper, the destination, and the contents (which may be "Empty for Loading"). They may also contain special instructions, such as icing a reefer prior to delivery.

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The title bar of the waybill is color coded for the convenience of the Yardmaster. The color is an indicator of the destination of the shipment, making classification easier. The waybill may also include routing information.

Waybill Color Codes for Destinations:
 Newport Turn (LE)  
 Mount Union Turn (LW) 
  Lewistown Junction (XA) 
 Lewistown Secondary (LN) 
 Milroy Secondary (39) 

Sorting and Spotting of Cars

At each local switching location there is a fascia control panel with a diagram of the local traffic. Industries are labeled alongside their corresponding siding. Switches are controlled electronically from the panel. 

The icons of turnouts indicate their "normal" position. Crews shall always return switches to their normal positions prior to leaving the area.

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At each local switching location there is a sort rail upon which crews may sort car cards/waybills and plan their switching moves.

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At each local switching location there is a car card box with three slots -- labeled Inbound, Hold, and Outbound.

Switch crews shall place into the Inbound slot the car cards for cars that they have delivered to the destination customer indicated on the waybill.

Between shifts, the Freight Agent will move car cards from the Inbound slot to the Hold slot where they will remain while the car is loaded/unloaded. The Freight Agent will also move car cards from the Hold slot to the Outbound slot once they are fully loaded/unloaded and are ready for pickup.

Switch crews shall pickup cars whose car cards are in the Outbound slot and shall add the car cards to their train packet. If the number of pickups exceeds the limit for the train, the priority of pickup shall be loaded cars (perishables first), foreign road empty cars, then home road empty cars.

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Movement of Trains

All trains run as extras per prototype practice. The employee timetable does not provide timetable authority.

Movement of trains is based on a Sequence of Trains table. Sequences for each line are independent from one another.

Main Line Operations

Crews follow signal indication and operate their trains out of staging, proceed through Lewistown, and return to staging.

Some trains will originate or terminate at Lewistown. Crews will follow signal indication to/from the yard.

Secondary Line Operations

All non-main line trackage is categorized as secondary lines. Secondary lines have no passenger traffic (or they would be “branches”).

Authority to proceed is granted verbally at the leisure of the LEWIS tower operator via telephone.

The LEWIS operator will grant permission between points on the secondary line. Crews must contact the tower operator by telephone to indicate that they have reached their destination so as to clear the block.

All movements on secondary tracks are at restricted speeds with crews responsible for stopping short of obstacles or other trains.

There are numerous “yard limits” along the secondary lines. Movements within the yard limits are coordinated among affected crews.

Train Order Cards

A Train Order card is included at the front of every train packet. The card provides the train symbol, the train name (if one), the class, the origin, and the destination of the train.

An Instructions area provides information such as stops or work to be performed during the course of operation of the train.

train orders

Roles and Responsibilities

Supervisor and Freight Agent

Reporting to the division superintendent, the supervisor is the railroad's executive at the local level. Interfaces with other crew and operators as needed, performing all necessary supervisory functions.

Supervisor 43, "LEWISTOWN", covers the main line from milepost 156.0 to 186.5, including the Denholm coal wharf, the Lewistown station, and WALL and LEWIS interlockings; the Lewistown Secondary; and the Milroy Secondary.

The Freight Agent collects car requests from online customers and forwards waybills to the Lewistown Yardmaster.

LEWIS Operator

Manages main line traffic through LEWIS interlocking via simulated CTC machine. Communicates with crews via signals and lineside telephones. Manages branch traffic via magnet board. Maintains the Tower's Record of Trains.

Main Line Crews (4)

Each of the mainline crews operates trains on an assigned track(s), executing a prototypical schedule. These are "rail fan" positions and may be automated by JMRI if the position is unfilled. A seasoned crew may be capable of holding both Main Line Crew #1 and Main Line Crew #4 positions concurrently.

Lewistown Junction Yardmaster

Yardmaster of the Lewistown yard. Directs yard crews and engages in subordinate's work as needed. Receives empty car orders and waybills from Freight Agent; assigns freight cars accordingly. Orders empty cars from Altoona/Enola as needed. 

Lewistown Junction Drill Crew

Classifies and builds trains at the direction of the Yardmaster.

Services customers within the Lewistown (LX) limits.

Lewistown Secondary Turn and Furnace Branch Siding Turn Crew

Turnaround service for the Lewistown Secondary, operating out of Lewistown Yard, within the Lewistown (LN) limits. 

Turnaround service for the Furnace Branch Siding, operating out of Lewistown Yard via the Lewistown Secondary, within the Lewistown (LN) limits.

Milroy Secondary Turn and Naginey Stone Turn Crew

Turnaround service for the Milroy Secondary, operating out of Lewistown Yard via the Lewistown Secondary, exclusive of the Standard Steel Turn and the Stone Turn.

Turnaround service for the quarry at Naginey, operating out of Lewistown Yard via the Lewistown Secondary.

Burnham Steel Turn and Standard Steel Crew

Turnaround service for Standard Steel at Yeagertown, operating out of Lewistown Yard via the Lewistown Secondary.

Internal switching at the Standard Steel Plant in Yeagertown/Burnham.

Pennsylvania Midland Operator

Manages main line traffic via simulated prototype dispatching system.

Operates main line traffic.

Operates Big Valley Yard.

Operates local traffic.

Throttle Instructions

Digitrax Throttles

UT4 jpg 350x900 q85

The PRR Middle Division utilizes a Digitrax digital command control (DCC) system. Operators are encouraged to bring their own Digitrax throttles. Wireless throttles are supported.

A limited number of Digitrax UT4 throttles are available for those who do not provide their own throttles.

 Digitrax UT4 Series Throttle Manual

SmartPhone ThrottlesiPhone 5 Throttle

To use your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch with JMRI as a throttle, you run the WiThrottle app on the iPhone or iPod Touch. The basic application is available for free download from the iTunes store.

To use your Android device with JMRI as a throttle, you run the Engine Driver program or Digitrains on the Android device. These free apps are available from the Google Play Store or the EngineDriver site.

Follow the configuration instructions for the respective application. The wireless network SSID is PRR and the server to connect to is Lewistown. (The Supervisor will provide the password on-site.)

Web Browser Throttles

webThrottle runs on the most recent browsers on computers, smartphones and tablets. The device and browser must support HTML5 and websockets.  It has been tested on Safari, Firefox and Google Chrome running on Windows, MAC, iPad/iPhone and Android - it should run on Internet Explorer 10. There is nothing to install on the device! webThrottle is completely resizable and it ajusts automatically to the size and orientation of the device screen.

The wireless network SSID is PRR and the server to connect to is (The Supervisor will provide the password on-site.)

Telephone Instructions

Mainline crews communicate with tower operators, when needed, via train phone. Train phone is simulated via lineside telephone.

Secondary crews communicate with tower operators via lineside phones. Locations of lineside phones are indicated on fascia control panels and represented trackside; locomotives/cabins should be stopped close to lineside phones for the convenience of the crews.

Until such time that lineside phones are implemented, crews shall walk to the tower operator to communicate. The act of walking to the tower operator shall simulate the act of walking to the lineside telephone. FRS radio shall be used temporarily between the yardmaster and the tower operator.