The CSX Florida Funnel refers to a relatively short section of double track mainline that runs from Folkston, Georgia, about 20 miles south to Callahan, Florida. This trackage sees 50-60 trains a day, depending on traffic levels. However, the short neck of the Funnel is just part of the story. On this track, trains from the Midwest and the Northeast come together, all bound for east, central or west Florida. From Jacksonville and Baldwin Yard, trains serve Miami, Orlando and Tampa, as well as points west to New Orleans. Almost half of all southbound freight traffic diverges from the Funnel on the Callahan Subdivision of CSX's Jacksonville Service Lane to Baldwin. The rest of the trains, including four daily Amtraks, continue southeast to Jacksonville.
Northbound the story is similar...Florida trains, including the famous Tropicana Juice train, come together from Baldwin and Jacksonville's Moncrief Yard at Callahan and pack the double track to Folkston, where most freight traffic goes up the single-track Jesup Sub to Waycross, while Amtrak, some intermodals and some coal trains continue up the Nahunta Sub toward Savannah.
These maps may help put this mega-21st-century rail operation in context.
The main flow of train traffic is to and from Waycross and Jacksonville. The lines from Waycross and Savannah come together at Folkston, an amazing little town of 3,000 people who love railfans (and the money they bring with them)! The State of Georgia gave Folkston a grant to build a train-watching platform which was dedicated in August, 2001. From Folkston, the neck of the funnel runs southeast to Callahan, which is not depicted on the map above, but which is at the junction of US Highways 1 and 301, about half-way between Folkston and Jacksonville. At Callahan, the Nahunta Sub double track contines southeast to Jacksonville, while the Callahan Sub diverges southwest to Baldwin. A better look at the Funnel lines can be had from the next two maps.
The gray line is the single-track Jesup Sub between Waycross and Folkston. The blue dashed line shows the portion of the Nahunta Sub north from Folkston which is not included in the MSTS Florida Funnel route. The dark blue marks the beginning of the modeled route, at Burch, about three miles north of Folkston, where double track begins. The Nahunta Sub continues south and southeast to Dinsmore, north of Jacksonville, where the Jacksonville Terminal Sub begins.
This map continues the Nahunta Sub across the St. Mary's River into Florida, to Callahan, the southern end of the Funnel neck. There the yellow line to the southwest marks the Callahan Sub to Baldwin Yard, which is the southernmost point on the modeled route. The dark blue continues southeast to Dinsmore and Jacksonville. Most intermodal trains diverge at Dinsmore on the Duval Connection to the Jacksonville Intermodal terminal, while Amtrak and general freight continue south to the suburban Amtrak station or the huge (20 tracks wide!) Moncrief Yard.
For more information on the Florida Funnel, see my web page at http://www.trainweb.org/folkston .
The CSX Timetables site at Trainweb is an essential part of any simulated experience on a CSX line. You can view and print employee timetables (ETT's) for the four subdivisions that are a part of the Florida Funnel MSTS route at these URL's.
I make the three-hour trip from my home to watch trains at Folkston several times a year, and as soon as I got MSTS I wanted to build this route. The frustrations of the Route Editor deterred me for many months, until I finally set about to learn it last February. Within a few weeks, I had my track laid for the 95 miles from Jacksonville to Waycross, plus the Callahan Sub to Baldwin. Unfortunately a program bug rendered the Jesup Sub useless for activities, and the entire route had to be built from scratch exactly one degree south to avoid the bug. That's why, if you view the route in the Route Geometry Extractor, it appears that Jacksonville is actually in the Ocala National Forest, about 70 miles due south of its actual location!
After four months of work, I am pretty much satisfied with the route as it is, and it's offered for your enjoyment. This is a mostly flat and straight route with a minimum of switching opportunities, but that's because I like mainline running. If shunting cars hither or thither is your thing, this route may not be for you. There are some industries in and around Moncrief Yard and east of the mainline on the Grand Junction wye. Likewise, a little exploration in Waycross will show some tracks both east and west of downtown for serving local industries. However, most Florida Funnel trains do their thing at 60 mph+, and that's what I like about MSTS.
You will see some bugs in the route. First, there's the Moncrief hump yard, which of course does not work as intended. Worse than that, I used some wye switches in the hump yard layout which have proven impossible to delete. Please do not try yourself---it will crash the Route Editor. I have successfully switched the hump yard tracks, so the quirky track layout does not affect operations. The three major yards---Moncrief, Baldwin and Rice---are stub-ended, so any yard switching will need to be done from one end only.
Yes, I know the crossing gates go through the vehicles at most crossings, apparently because I set them back too realistically far from the tracks. I'm sure you will also find some missing whistle posts, and there may be some speed limit issues in some places. There have been some signal bugs from time to time, but I think I have them licked.
I spent a lot of time putting forest objects on the mainline to improve performance, and on my mid-range system---900 mhz Athlon, 64 mb Radeon vid card and 128 mb RAm (yes, the Route Editor will work with that, though you have to treat it kindly), I get 20-30 fps on the mainline. I have compromised on performance vs. scenery in favor of ambient surroundings in Jacksonville, Folkston and Waycross, and you may experience some slowdowns or stutters in these object-heavy areas.
Meet the Funnel activity
I have literally a score of realistic activities that I have designed for the route, but since they all require lots of custom downloads, I haven't included them. You will find an introductory activity called "Meet the Funnel" that takes you on a 1:40 run from Moncrief Yard in Jacksonville to Rice Yard in Waycross with lots of pop-ups along the way to help you get acquainted with the route. This activity includes all default equipment and consists, so it's ready to run. If you are interested in CSX loco downloads, the best sites are http://www.calmstorm.com/scl-csx/ , http://www.alabamarailfan.com/msts/ and http://www.dekosoft.com/design/msts/index.html .
I hope you enjoy my route. I did it for me, so I know not everyone will share my likes and dislikes about MSTS routes and operation. If you like it, please let me know. If not, take some time to let me know why it doesn't meet your needs. Maybe I can make some changes in a future version you might like better. Obviously, if you find any bugs I haven't mentioned, or things that just don't look, feel or seem right, let me know that too. My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Kent aka flarrfan
This route would not exist but for the assistance of Jason Webb of the A-Line project and Michael Vone, who has written the definitive Route Editor treatise, which is worth much more than the $15 I paid for it. The generous contributions of Rich Garber, Jim Ward and the other regulars at the Train-Sim Route Design Forum also made this route possible.
My fellow members of the A-Line team have also been very supportive. I have borrowed generously from the custom creations of the A-Line team and the creators of custom content on that route.
Because so much of this route relies on these custom objects, I must note the following (not all of the people below conributed directly to the Funnel Route, but it sure doesn't hurt to mention them again):
These people contributed in one way or another to the A-Line, and I thank them for helping make my Funnel route a reality:
The SCL/CSX A Line Development Team
Jason Webb General Superintendent (3D Modeling, Route Design)
Ken Wright - Superintendent - Paint Shop
Bill Cline - Road master (Research, 3D Modeling)
Chris Reichert - Division IT Manager (Web Space)
Shawn Treloar - IT Operations Superintendent (Web Site Design)
Brian Hankey - Virtual Family Lines Operations (Virtual Railroad)
Kelley D. Ellison - Division Engineer (Lighting Effects)
John Peterson - Road Foreman of Engines (3D Modeling)
Phillipe Andre - Assistant Superintendent - Paint Shop
Chip (Dekosoft) - Road Foreman of Engines (3D modeling)
Hank Sundermeyer - Supervisor Communications and Signals
The following people have contributed in one way or another with either their support or their objects.
If I have missed anyone please let me know.
Arnie Lee - President Abacus Publishing (for general inspiration and TS Modeler)
Louis Sinclair (Creator of TS Modeler)
Enocell (Teemu Saukkonen) - 3D Models, Bridges
Ron Paludan - 3D Models
Bruce Bridges - Signs, Bridges (some awesome traffic signs and traffic signals)
John Tackett - Krispy Kreme, Waffle House Etc
Brad Miles - 3D Models
Rick Lamp - 3D Models
Ron Picardi. St Johns Bridge
Scott Miller - Track Textures
David Klemm - 3D Models
Okrasa Ghia - 3D Models
Barry R. Munro - Capt. Bazzara - for the cool ship models
P.C. Wise - An awesome Palm Tree
...and some special thanks from flarrfan to:
Mike Woodruff and Brian Woodruff for their inspiring pictures of the prototype.
The contributors to the SERails Yahoogroups mail list for putting up with questions on details.
Marvin Williams, "Mr. Cookie", and the wonderful people of Folkston GA, and especially Danny Harmon and Crick Hatch, for making train-watching on the Funnel from the Folkston Funnel platform true railfan heaven.
Bill Boyle, Bob Sayes and the other members of the Gulf Wind Chapter, NRHS, the Tallahassee contingent who shared my first wonder at railfanning the Florida Funnel almost ten years ago.
and finally to the engineer who opened my eyes to the excitement of running fast, hot mainline trains. ;-)
The A Line Route for Microsoft Train Simulator is Copyright © 2002, By Jason Webb and the SCL-CSX A Line route development team. Neither any portion of the route nor any objects or other files included with the route may be offered for sale or added to a CD or any other media to be offered for sale without the express written permission of the SCL/CSX A Line Team.
Any use of custom objects from the Florida Funnel route is strictly subject to the terms of the paragraph above.