If I establish a staggered starting time for operators, how will a typical session flow?
6.15 AM (Session Start)
Cut from OA-6 is on Highland Track #5
Cut from NY-2 is on Berlin Track #6
Agent #1 starts
6.30 (7 minutes)
Yard Crew #1 starts
7.05 (12 minutes into session)
NY-4 arrives. Yard crew switches the train.
444 makes station stop
8.00 (26 minutes)
Stanley Works crew starts (?)
446 makes station stop
10.30 (1 hour, 7 minutes into session)
Yard Crew #2 starts
Crossing gates at Whiting Street are not manned until 12:00, stop and protect.
131 makes station stop
1.30 (1 hour, 49 minutes)
Agent #2 on duty
YN-3 arrives. Yard crew switches the train.
2.30 (2 hours, 14 minutes)
Yard Crew #1 off duty
2.45 (2 hours, 22 minutes)
Agent #1 off duty
4.00 (2 hours, 25 minutes)
Stanley Works off duty
157 makes station stop
463 makes station stop
136 makes station stop
Freight House closes
6.30 (Session End)(3 hours)
Yard Crew #2 off duty
Agent #1 is off duty for 35 minutes at the end (35 minutes).
Agent #2 is off duty for 1 hour, 49 minutes at the start (109 minutes, or more than half the session).
Yard Crew #1 is off duty for 7 minutes at the start, and 45 minutes at the end (52 minutes).
Yard Crew #2 is off duty for 1 hour, 7 minutes at the start (67 minutes).
Stanley Works Crew is off duty for 26 minutes to start, and 35 minutes at the end (61 minutes).
The through trains could be handled by the off-duty crews, except YN-3, which comes through when all crews are on duty. However, if the Agent's shifts are 8 hours, instead of 8.5 including a lunch break, then Agent #2 can bring YN-3 into Whiting Street Yard, and Agent #1 could pull it out once the switching is completed.
Would this work for other sessions too, when there are more through trains? In general yes, the Agents trade off in the middle of the day, and the other off duty crews can also sign up for some of the trains. Which means I don't need a separate through train crew member.
At Chicagoland RPM, Lowell Smith ran an operations roundtable. At his sessions (and it sounded like those of his friends), everybody is put on an extra board when arriving at a session, and those with seniority (the most hours on the layout) get to pick their job first. This type of approach didn't make sense to me for my layout, since people aren't typically running multiple trains. But I think I might try it for the next few sessions, once the layout is operational again. The "off-duty" crews can sign up for the through trains, which will still be a conductor and engineer, so they can work in different pairs.
Chances are the sessions will never run this smoothly, and the yard crews will probably work longer.