2011 NMRA National Convention
July 3 to 9, 2011 - Sacramento, California
The Unconventional Convention

Operations SIG Activities & Schedule

Initial operating session assignments have been made!

Information on initial operation session assignments has been sent out to operators and hosts. If you made a request before May 15th for an op session slot and have not received an email with your assignments, please contact Jim Providenza at opsigcoord@x2011west.org.

Click here for a list of layouts that still have slots available.

Carpools Forming for OPSIG Op Sessions!

It is only a week until the beginning of X2011 West! I'm looking forward to seeing you all in Sacramento.

We use carpools to get to and from the OPSIG op sessions. If you are driving and have room for passengers, please e-mail me with the session name and date, plus the number of passengers you can take. We will post this information with the op session rosters at the OPSIG table.

We will not be making any further pre-convention changes to the op session assignments. All future additions or changes will be made at the convention.

See you in Sacramento!

Jim Providenza
X2011 West OPSIG Coordinator
e-Mail: opsigcoord@x2011west.org

OPSIG Operating Sessions Op Session Signup (Hover over button and read text before clicking)

Layout owners are working hard at fine-tuning their railroads. Schedules are solidifying as OPSIG members in the Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Areas continue preparing to host operating sessions for you. We have a wide range of layouts and styles of operation for you to select from. Layouts range from small switching pikes to large mainline railroads, feature steam, transition and modern eras, employ everything from Time Table and Train Orders to Track Warrants to Centralized Traffic Control.

As expected, over the last few months there have been some changes to the layout mix for OPSIG sessions at X2011 West. The good news it that we still look to have 30 layouts and something like 450 operating slots during a period of 10 days, starting Friday July 1st and ending on Sunday July 10th. Again, I expect that these numbers will change a bit more as we get closer to the convention.

While most of the weekday op sessions will be in the evening, some of those in the Sacramento area will be during the morning and afternoon. Weekend sessions – both for the Advance Section and for those scheduled on July 9th and 10th will be during the day.

The Layouts

If you are an OPSIG member, you can read over the X2011 West articles in the January and April 2011 issues of the "Dispatcher's Office." If not an OPSIG member, click the link below for a spreadsheet of the layouts that you will be able to operate on during X2011 West.

X2011 West Operating Layouts

Each of the layouts described in the X2011 West OPSIG Operating Layouts spreadsheet has been rated on a standardized Layout Evaluation sheet to assure “truth in advertising”. What you see (or read) should be what you get. Here's the Layout Evaluation protocol, originally developed by NMRA VP Bill Kaufman, which we used. Reading it will help you decipher the “spreadsheet shorthand” in the descriptive columns of the table.

Layout Evaluation Protocol PDF Document icon

You can see more in-depth descriptions and photos of the layouts by using the "Operating Session Index" to locate the desired layout and clicking on the host or layout name.

The Schedule

Here's a spreadsheet showing the day and start time for each op session and the estimated travel time to the various layouts to assist in your planning. There is one exception: the time shown for the Hayes / Zach "two-fer" is the DEPARTURE TIME from the convention hotel.

Op Session Days / Times / Travel Times

NOTE: For operating sessions during the Advance Section (July 1st to July 3rd), travel times shown are from the Hilton Newark/Fremont Hotel and for regular X2011 West operating sessions, the times are from the Convention Hotels in Sacramento.

"Cattle Call"

Speaking of travel, the OPSIG will continue our tradition of a daily “cattle call” at 4:00 PM in the SIGs Room. At this time we will confirm that everyone who has signed up for that evening’s op sessions is present, fill any vacant slots with volunteers, and assist in forming car pools to the sessions. We will continue the practice established at the Milwaukee convention last year of expecting car pools to use GPS devices; we will not be providing maps.

Operators who are signed up for the following day's daytime sessions should also attend to confirm their arrangements.

Mother Lode Op Sessions

The trip to the California Mother Lode for op sessions at Steve Hayes’ Western Pacific and John Zach’s Sierra RR will take place on Thursday July 7th. This will be an all-day event. Those who sign up for this “two-fer” will leave the convention hotel at 7:00 AM Thursday morning and return in the evening. Driving time is about 2½ hours, but will be absolutely worth it for those who make the trip.

Depending on the number of operators that sign up, John and Steve will either run one session each, with lunch in between, or they will each run two sessions with crews swapping between layouts at lunch time. If 28 folks sign up for the sessions, John and Steve will run the double sessions. If less than 28 sign up only the first 14 signing up will get to go and the sessions will run one after the other.

Back-to-Back Events with Op Sessions

We are already getting asked, “Can’t I go on the “XYZ” afternoon prototype / layout / non-rail tour and still sign up for an operating session that evening?” The answer, in two words: “Strongly discouraged!” We know from experience that even with the best efforts convention tours often return late. It may work for a local Sacramento session, where the travel time from the convention to the layout is relatively short, depending on when the tour is supposed to return. It definitely will not work for layouts in Marin or the East Bay or North Bay, where travel times are 80 to 100 minutes and folks will have to be leaving by 4:30 to make a 6:00 or 6:30 op session.

Once again, here's the spreadsheet showing the estimated travel times to the various layouts to assist in your planning.

Op Session Days / Times / Travel Times

NOTE: For operating sessions during the Advance Section, travel times shown are from the Hilton Newark/Fremont Hotel and for regular X2011 West operating sessions, the times are from the Convention Hotels in Sacramento.

Will I get the layout I want?

I want to reiterate that we will work to make sure that all convention registrants who sign up for OPSIG operating sessions get at least some of their higher picks. The plan is to sort and balance requests after the majority of the requests have come in. I expect the first hack at assignments will be made when we have requests back for 80% of the available slots, or by April 15th, whichever comes first. New this year: you will be able to modify your signup requests up until this cutoff time. We will reserve a number of slots for late registrants.

Schedule Changes

Before submitting your operating session requests, check the following link for any schedule changes:

OPSIG Op Session Schedule Changes


OPSIG operating session signups are handled at the X2011 West convention website.

To enter your operating session schedule requests, click on the button below. If you get prompted for a name and password, enter your e-mail address and a password. Any password will do, just remember it so that you can come back later if you want to change your requests. This password can be different than the X2011 e-Store password. After entering your email address and your chosen password, you'll be taken to a page where you can enter or update your requests

Op Session Signup

Annual Meeting

The OPSIG 2011 Annual Meeting will be held on Monday, July 4, at 1:00 PM, in the Beavis Room at the Sheraton Grand Hotel.

Please go to the OPSIG web site (www.opsig.org) for more information about our SIG.

Looking forward to seeing you in July!

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SIG Clinic Track (jointly with the LDSIG)

See the X2011 West "Clinics Schedule" page for up-to-the minute details on clinic times and locations. We'll also have a Twitter feed on last-minute schedule changes.

OPSIG Clinics Schedule OPSIG Clinics List
LDSIG Clinics Schedule LDSIG Clinics List

Monday — 9:30 AM to 10:30 PM
• Using Logistics to Develop a Model Railroad Operations Scheme by Dustin Shoup. Repeated Friday 1:00 to 2:00 PM.

Monday — 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM
• Other Layout Design Clinics, including Tony Koester and an LDSIG Panel on "What would you do differently?"

Tuesday — 8:00 AM to 9:00 PM — So You Want to be a Dispatcher?
• 8 hours of clinics on Dispatching strategy and specific techniques for Dispatching under Timetable and Train Order (TT&TO), Track Warrants (TWC), Direct Traffic Control (DTC) and Centralized Traffic Control (CTC). Led by former LDJ Editor Dave Clemens, retired UP Dispatcher Steve Gust and a host of current and retired Train Dispatchers and signal maintainers.

Thursday — 8:00 AM to 12:00 PM — Grade Crossing Warning Systems – CSRM, P523
• Our morning will start in one of the Railroad Museum's presentation theaters, with a discussion of not only how track detection and grade crossing signals work, but also the Federal Regulations that control those activities. The how and why the signals are where they are and operate the way they do. After that we will board a Sacramento Southern train and visit three different grade crossings on the line. The trip requires boarding and disembarking from the train in multiple locations, and a half mile walk along the track. The Sacramento Southern Railroad's trains are not fully accessible to persons with disabilities, due to historic, limited doorway widths and steep stepwells. Closed-toed shoes must be worn by all session participants for safety reasons.

Price: $10.00 (limit 125)

Thursday — 1:00 PM to 10:00 PM — Signaling Symposium, Day 1
• Clinics by many hobby leaders on Signaling and CTC, including Bruce Chubb, Dick Bronson, David Metal, Rodney Black, Joe Melhorn, and Dave Megeath. Bruce Chubb's three signaling clinics will be repeated Saturday afternoon starting at 1:00 PM.

Friday — 2:30 PM to 5:00 PM — Signaling Symposium, Day 2
• Day 2 of the Signaling Symposium continues with clinics by Rodney Black, Joe Melhorn, and Dave Megeath.

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