The 2016 Fall Open Meet on the Big Creek & Southern is scheduled for Monday, September 19th, through Sunday, September 25th.
Daily operations get started by 9 a.m. each morning. The railroad is open for operations as long and as late as attendees wish to run into the night. During peak operations, train traffic on the railroad is coordinated by a dispatcher located in HK Tower on the west side of the property. The dispatcher operates the C.T.C. (Centralized Traffic Control) machine which controls signal and switch functions on the main lines. The railroad generally shuts down each evening between 5 and 7 p.m. when most attendees go out to eat as a group at a local restaurant (optional attendance).
Due to the high volume of train traffic during meets, a radio is REQUIRED on every train. We use FRS radios (Channel 8, NO privacy codes!) for communications between train crews and the dispatcher. We highly recommend that you purchase an earphone as it may be difficult to hear radio calls to your train in noisy conditions! The BC&S has a limited number of radios on hand which crews may borrow but we encourage everyone to purchase his/her own radio and plenty of extra batteries!
Beginning in 2016, the BC&S will conduct a morning briefing. Participation is expected. During the briefing, the superintendent and chief dispatcher will go over the general operations rules, alert you to special conditions/situations, and answer any questions.
All crews will be provided with a current timetable upon arrival. We ask that you read through this document to familiarize yourself with both the railroad and the special instructions included in it. This will help you get familiar with the railroad as well as alert you to special situations you may encounter as you operate with us. Note that while a "timetable" is included, we do not run trains "on the clock" and the trains listed on the timetable are intended primarily for sequencing rather than set running times.
Since 2015, the BC&S has been gradually adding switching opportunities along the railroad. We encourage you to try running a local switch job train at least once during your time with us! We think you will enjoy the railroading game and that it will add to your enjoyment as well as extend the amount of time it takes to navigate the entire railroad! We offer pre-planned trains ranging from simple passenger trains to unit coal trains and locals, opportunities to take the role of yardmaster and classify cars and build new trains for the next crew and, if you're really ready for a challenger, the opportunity to try your hand at the C.T.C. machine and dispatch the railroad (with assistance from the chief dispatcher!).
If you plan to run at night, your engine and caboose (or other final car), must be equipped with an operating headlight and rear marker lights (red lamps to the rear). We prefer that your rear is equipped with a high intensity red flashing lamp in addition to any scale size marker lanterns. Headlights and rear markers are required to be lit from 7:00 p.m. onward each evening.
UNLOADING AND PARKING OF TRAINS
In order to facilitate getting trains out on the railroad quickly and to minimize delays to other trains that may already be running, we ask that you unload "nose first" if at all possible. Steaming bays are provided in the loading area. There is a wye located at Langeston (loading facility) to turn your engine or you may run north to Big Creek and use the reverse loop there.
Due to high train traffic and our desire to get you out and running as quickly as possible, we ask that all initial unloads that do not require turning be unloaded on tracks 1 through 4 (numbered from the north), engine leading outbound. Track 5 (wye track) should not be used for unloading unless you are able to load "nose first" and intend to get out on the railroad immediately. All departures from Track 5 should go uphill toward Big Creek, please!
Starting in 2016, we are asking that overnight parking of trains take place in Sterling (yard or on one of the station tracks), Bethel Park station track, or at Big Creek. Steam engines will always return to Langeston for overnight/parking purposes but we ask that owners of long trains (more than 6 cars) park their cars in one of these locations.
Also this year each train crew departing from Langeston will draw a number at the beginning of each day. That number will be used to route your train over the railroad. When you call the dispatcher to depart Langeston you will be asked what your route number is which will allow the dispatcher to line up the appropriate routing at HK Tower. This process is done to place trains out over the entire railroad up front rather than have delays associated with too many trains following each other "elephant style" out of the same location and having to be held up to allow trains to get spaced out.
The BC&S is located in an area that features many motels and eating establishments from fast food franchises all the way up to 4-star dining establishments. Reasonably priced motels are located within 15-20 minutes drive time of the railroad in Belton, Lees Summit, and Raymore. We also have a gas grill available at the railroad which you may use for cooking your own meals. The railroad itself does not offer any "dining car service" but will have light snacks (chips, snack crackers, etc.) and canned soda pop or bottled water available. We employ an "honor system" to pay for drinks and snacks. Canned pop and bottled water are $0.75 each, chips/snacks are not priced but we ask for a reasonable "donation" so we can restock as needed during the week.