Operations – Why should you care?
Model Railroading is unique among all of the scale modelling disciplines. Not only do you get to build and admire your models you also run and interact with them in the same way that real railroaders do with their full size counterparts.
Most use electricity to move, some use live steam others diesel or gasoline/petrol powered engines move trains around the track. Some are small and fit in the palm of your hand while others are big enough for you to ride on. No matter the size you get to interact with them in a way that for example plastic aircraft, armour and figure modellers do not.
Now some may say that a tank or a plane can be remote controlled and so you get to operate with it too. But this is only true to a degree. An aircraft modeller’s fighter or bomber no matter how well detailed is not legally allowed to blow up targets, nor carry high explosive ordinance or shoot other aircraft out of the skies – though if they ever allow it I might just add that to my modelling repertoire. Trains on the other hand in all their many and varied forms allow you to do to almost the same degree what the prototype does:
- Go from A to B under while acting as driver or engineer,
- Do work as directed at B by customers and the railroad,
- Return from B to A when you are finished, and
- Switch out your train in the yard, detach and park the loco where directed.
This is the basics of operations. We can add complexity to make game play more realistic or simplify it depending on your tastes and desire. For right now I hope this has whet your appetite for more. If it has we’ll get into more details in the next section: 103 – Ops as design goal.