Happy National Train Day 2011!
Massive Horsepower (Train Snow Plow)
Watched the video. The railroad V-plow has snow and or ice built up on the
mold boards causing friction. In my V-plow days we waxed the mold boards
to circumvent snow and ice building up on the plow. I don't know if they are
still in business, but I bought the wax from the CB Dolge Company in Westport,
Conn. I still wax my 12 foot Wausau plows and wings, along with my Fisher plows
with silicone in spray cans obtained locally.
If the railroad plow had been waxed it would have parted the snow with ease.
Rail-plows amaze me. On one Lakeshore Limited trip from Chicago to Boston, we pulled out of Union Station with black ice (the train departed but O'Hare cancelled all flights) and the train moved at slower than normal speed into Indiana. By the time we woke up in Cleveland there was a full-scale blizzard. Out the window we saw I-90 crippled and cars stranded but we moved, albeit at a slower-than-normal pace. Despite all that, we only arrived at South Station 40 minutes behind scheduled. That's far more timely in foul weather than airline travel!
When I commuted into Manhattan, I might have a couple hour delay in a heavy storm but I always got home on the LIRR while those who depended on bus commutes were stranded overnight in the city. The same when I commuted from New Jersey into Center City Philadelphia on the Lindenwall High Speed line. It might be off-schedule but the rails didn't close down like bus commute lines.
Talking about trains.....and snow.......takes me back to my childhood memories of one of the great snow/train epochs of my time.
Donner Pass, the gap through the Sierras that Southern Pacific and Union Pacific have used for their main line into California is notorious for snow. On January 13, 1952 SP's crack streamlined passenger train the City of San Francisco, was buried in the snow and stranded in the Pass for three days before the nearby highway could be plowed and passengers taken out by automobiles. There were 222 passengers and crew totally stranded. There was plenty of food but little fuel to cook with and the story is that they burned much of the wooden furniture to keep the stoves going. Wikepedia has a story here. I remember this pretty well as I was about 5 at the time and very interested in trains. My dad kept me up on the details. There were quite a few phototgraphs in Life Magazine about it at the time.
There is a great Warner Bros/Pathe News 4 minute video of the event HERE
This was inspired by the latest issue of TRAINS magazine which arrived yesterday. Finally got a chance to dig into it this morning with coffee. In one of the first pages is a picture of UP putting the rotaries to work in Donner pass this past winter. This is the first time they have been used in some years.
Rotaries Return to Donner
Also, for your viewing pleasure we have former D&RGW rotary snowplow OY, built in 1923. OY is now a permanent resident of the Cumbres and Toltec Narrow Gauge Railroad and, when conditions permit, bring OY to life and run a snow train. OY is probably one of the best known railroad rotary snowplows on the planet, loved by railroad fans around the world. There is a Youtube preview of OY at work, which briefly highlights its operation, still fired by coal, being pushed by three narrow gauge steam locomotives.
Coal-Fired Rotary snowplow OY in action!
We moved to NH for two years, as an experiment, eventually returning to our native Maine. One of life's little pleasures for me was the Conway Scenic Railroad, particularly my love affair with former Canadian National 0-6-0 steam locomotive #7470. Each winter, when conditions permitted, they would run a snow train with 7470, an event looked forward to by thousands of enthusiasts.
#7470 "Snow Train"
Unfortunately, when this video was made, there was little use for the plow, but it is still impressive to see steam in the snow. While living there I worked briefly for the railroad on the restoration of chair car "Gertrude Emma" which is the first car behind the engine in the video. All of the men who worked for the CSR loved running 7470 so a rotation of crews was set up in order to be fair to everyone. We had a home in Bartlett that was 1/2 mile from the tracks and it was sheer pleasure to be eating my lunch and hear that steam whistle blow for the crossing on Rolling Ridge Rd. One of the things I miss the most.
In '97 the wife and I took Amtrak from Boston to Orlando, and back, with one change each way in NYC. We had a private room, whatever the term is, from NYC <-> Orlando - kind of cramped, but with an interesting combo toilet + shower. Meals were included and they were actually pretty good. It cost about 3x flying, but I sure found it relaxing. Watch the scenery, stretch out and nap - I slept overnight like a baby.
Speaking of Florida, has anyone taken the AutoTrain which runs Virginia to Florida? For a longer stay when one might want his own car, it seems like a great idea. But I don't know anyone who has ever taken it.
A PATH commuter train crash that left dozens with mostly minor injuries and the derailment of an empty Amtrak train in a tunnel put Monday morning's commute in jeopardy in New York City, where travelers were urged to allow extra time even though additional buses and ferries would be provided and most agencies planned to honor each other's tickets.
The PATH accident blocked the major tunnel from New Jersey to Penn Station in Manhattan. The separare Amtrak accident blocked the Long Island Railroad East River tunnel to Penn Station from the other side of Manhattan. At least 13 commute trains were cancelled outright and WCBS Newsradio was reporting delays of up to three hours this morning for commuters.
Penn Station at Seventh Avenue and 33rd Street is the nation's busiest and claims it handles a million passengers each day. (Although that statistic is suspect because if I arrived on a commute train and left for home on a commute train that counts me twice and if I went from the train to a subway within the station and arrived for the commute train on a subway, I was counted twice more. So that would count me as four passengers in one day!)
RAILROADS: SERVICE IS OUR MOST IMPORTANT PRODUCT
Workers repaired damage caused when a PATH commuter train crashed....all three tracks were up and running at the Hoboken station Monday morning and no delays were reported so far...Many riders Monday were unaware of Sunday's crash and some learned about it while reading the paper.
However, the tunnel on the East Side is still blocking LIRR commute trains from entering Manhattan from Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Amtrac lost $16.71 per ticket nationwide in and around 2006.
I have a hard time with folks who classify themselves as conservatives
extolling the virtues of a Govt. supported rail system. I have no
intrest in subsiding a cross country trip for anyone.
Already on high alert because of the killing of Osama bin Laden, rail services in the Chicago area took extra steps Friday to protect their passengers after learning of terrorists’ scheme to derail a train in the United States.
The Department of Homeland Security and FBI released an alert Thursday saying that since February 2010, al-Qaida was discussing a terrorist operation against trains, said Roderick Drew of the Chicago’s 911 center.
After the alert was issued, Metra boosted its track inspections, said agency spokeswoman Judy Pardonnet. Metra is guarding against derailments by using “geometry cars” to ensure tracks are the proper width and “highliner” trucks to inspect the tracks, Pardonnet said.
....."I have no intrest in subsiding a cross country trip for anyone"........
First of all I come from the point of view that government can do NOTHING as well as private enterprise can. Wasting money may be the exception.
For the most part railroads never made much money hauling passengers. The money for railroads has always been in freight. Railroads started losing passenger business to the public roads and the automobile before 1920. After WWII, and the advent of inexpensive air travel, the moving of people by rail was, for the most part, done.
The public has subsidized air travel and the trucking industry for over 60 years. These are the main competitiors to railroads. The fact that it is way more fuel efficient, and manpower efficient to move both people and freight on rails than on public roads, and through publicly constructed airports is lost in the equation.
Just like you don't like subidizing someones rail trip, I dislike the fact that we have to subsidize the trucking industry and the Interstate highway system. I don't think the trucking industry built the interstate system, and pays to maintain it nor do I believe the airlines built all the airports and air terminals.
leaving Amtrak out of it for the moment, think about this: Railroads hauled goods and people in privately owned cars, pulled by privately owned locomotives over privately owned tracks. Most of the railroad tracks in the United States is still privately owned. And they had to pay taxes on all of that to subsidize their competitors the airline industry and the trucking industry. What private business could withstand competetion funded in part by the government?
The answer is No one could of course. But better days are coming. Rail traffic is growing at astronomical levels as the interstate highway system becomes so clogged in places that traffic comes to a standstill and trucking companies see their schedules shot all to pieces by the logjam. And the highway system, in terms of maintenance, is falling further behind each year as government struggles more and more to find the funds to keep up with the wear and tear.
Fresh produce can leave California and be on the Hudson River in NJ in only 2 and 1/2 days. You don't have to be too bright to see the future of mass transportation of goods, and the mass transportation of people won't be far behind either as governments run out of money to keep the infrastructure up and running.
I ought to take a trip on Amtrak someday and get some of my tax money back.
National Train Day Photos
RR HEADS UP: Fox Business News is reporting on the business of railroads throughout the day. Deagan McDowell is reporting from the Council Bluffs, IA yards and Omaha, NE headquarters of Union Pacific RR, the nations largest private rail service.
Some history and then a question.
During Cold War days of the 1980s I was part of a group visiting the USSR on an exchange program. We traveled by train a couple of times from Moscow to Leningrad (now St.Petersburg) and once from Moscow to Vilnius in Lithuania, which was then part of the Soviet Union. The trains were not particularly fast but they left and arrived on time and our compartments were not fancy but still quite comfortable, even for sleeping four.
On the downside the car's one (unisex) bathroom was down the aisle and the its faucets didn't work.
Still, it appeared that our Soviet hosts wanted to impress their rare American visitors since all our accommodations seemed to be a cut above most on those trains. We noticed the other cars were more crowded and appeared somewhat shabbier.
On all of our trips, food was non-existent for all passengers. On the overnight Leningrad run we were served hot tea by the porter in glasses that had been used by other passengers. The train to Vilnius, also overnight, had a dining car which, we were told, was closed "because of gypsies." We never did figure that one out, but the USSR at the time was, as Winston Churchill once said, a mystery wrapped in an enigma.
But that was then and my question today is: Has anybody here traveled by train in Russia lately and, if so, what was it like?
Dave Jackson: " That train stopped at every siding for a freight train to pass"
Freight train companies own most of the tracks in the US. So guess who decides who has priority?
Mediadog: Never been to Russia. But in Israel they have a unique food system on the long coastal run from Ashdod on the south to Nahariya on the north (serving Tel Aviv and Haifa). There is no lounge car or dining car. But there is a hostess who pushes a cart down the aisle of the passenger cars and sells food, beverages and newspapers at your seat. Very civilized.
On the train from Venice to Vienna, in lieu of a snack car, venders stood at station platforms and sold food through the windows of the cars.
I just read Woodcanoe's post above. There are some excellent points there. We need to realize exactly how much we are shelling out directly to subsidize airlines and indirectly to subsidize trucking and buses. Private enterprise often does things better than government, but to be dogmatic about it always being better is just socialism flipped over. I have taught at public colleges, non-profit private ones, and for-profit private ones. The for-profits aren't all bad, but they operate at a lower level and couldn't exist without indirect public subsidies.
Since the beginning of the Republic and before, we have never had real private enterprise in either transportation or education. Transportation has always been subsidized by the government with cash, land grants, and privileges. Education has usually been supported by state or church or both. The institutions that were once private enterprises now run on government financial aid.
Maybe there are good reasons for that and maybe there aren't, but until we see one or the other operate without government support, it's hard to say private enterprise is better. I'm not averse to seeing someone try it.
A CSX railroad engine en route to a delivery in Taunton’s Myles Standish Industrial Park derailed Wednesday afternoon after thieves cut away two 8-foot sections of solid steel track, authorities said.
“Idiots,” (CSX trainmaster Mark) Smith, said of whoever used a welding torch to cut away the steel rail. “They have no regard for anyone’s safety. Imagine if it punctured a fuel tank or if it was hazmat (hazardous material).”
Returned yesterday from a 16 day Amtrak adventure. It started as a mis adventure when a bridge failed to close near Albany NY resulting in a 13 hour delay into Chicago causing us to miss our connection on the Empire Builder. Amtrak put us up for the night, but could only get us in coach for the next leg. We ran into a helpful ticket agent who was able to get us a roomette for part of the trip - Minot ND to Whitefish MT. The coach seats aren't bad as they have leg and foot rests and recline a bit. Still not a lot of sleep. A lot of flooding in ND causing a small delay into Whitefish. Beautiful scenery along the way and we went through Glacier while there was still day light. The meals were suprisingly good, there's an observation car and the roomettes are not bad at all. We lost a day in Whitefish due to the delay. We rented a car and spent two great days exploring Glacier. Whitefish is a great town - good food and atmosphere. Back on the train for an overnight jaunt to Seattle. Beautiful scenery through the Cascades and along Puget Sound. Arrived in Seattle on time and spent the rest of the day exploring the city. Great food in the Pike Market area. Spent the following day on a tour of Mt. Ranier National Park. The last part we were on snowshoes for about 10 minutes when the clouds parted and there was the mountain in all it's glory. Amazing views!! The next day we were back on the Coastal Starlight for a 36 hour trip down the coast to LA. They have a fantastic parlor car for sleeper passengers that has swivel seats, and a small dining area. They had a great attendant and we pretty much hung out there. A snowy trip through the mountains and fantastic view of the Pacific from San Louis Obispo to Santa Barbara. Our favorite train portion. We overnighted in LA and did some touring the next day prior to catching the Southwest Chief to Flagstaff. We left on time, but about 10 miles east of Riverside, two women apparently got into a fight in the lounge car. The train stopped in the next town and the two were to jail! We were a bit late into Flafstaff with a 6 AM arrival. We arranged a tour to Sedona that day and another to the Grand Canyon the second day. The final day we toured around the city iisiting the observatory where Pluto was discovered. Back on the train for a pretty ride through AZ and New Mexico. Varied but beautiful scenery. We awoke in Kansas City but not much to see from there other than the Mississippi at Ft. Dodge IA. We arrived in Chicago on time. We went out for a meal and caught the Lake Shore Limited around 9:00. We slept all the way to Buffalo. Due to track work, we were bussed from Albany to Boston which was OK as we arrived over an hour early. A real great trip after the stumbling start.
Mr. Magoo: I enjoyed my corss=country trek so much that I'd do it again and recommend it to others. After your trip, would you?
A couple I know highly recommend the Canadian National Railway tour from Toronto to Vancouver. It is a 10 day/9 night trip with layovers.
From Toronto it is ViaRail which traverses the Ontario lake region and goes through the prairies and Rockies to Jasper where there is a two-day stop to tour the Icefields and Atahbasca Glacier and see Banff. From Banff it is the CN Rocky Mountaineer (which has an outdoor viewing platform as well as a domed observation car) to Kamloops, BC, then through the Cascades to Vancouver.
The service runs April through September.
They are experienced world travelers yet rave about this trip more than any other they've taken.
I agree with Vic's enjoyment statement. My wife and I had a similar fantastic journey, except for the first leg of Boston to Rensaellar. I haven't taken that CN trip, I'd like to think "yet," But in the 1970s I did take a trip from Montreal to Vancounver and it was a spectacular time. Even a day's delay due to a train wreck (our train) didn't put a damper on that trip. Unfortunately, that one is no longer in existance.
And The Leader has never recovered from your departure.
Another 'rail crime' posted on Drudge:
Two arrested for trying to steal railroad track parts
Ruskin, Florida -- Two people have been arrested for trying to steal parts of a Ruskin railroad track.
The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office says detectives were conducting surveillance in the area, due to a recent increase in metal thefts.
"Would I do it again?"
If I took the trip again, I would fly to Chicago and start and end there. The Lake Shore Limited makes no sense from Boston. A future possibility would be to fly to Toronto, do Via Rail to Vancouver, Amtrak to Emeryville, and the Zephyer to Chicago and flying back to Maine. Another future possibility is flying to St. Petersburg, then taking the train to Moscow, Mongolia and Beijing. I think next year we're back to overseas, possibly to Peru and Patagonia. We're trying to get the distance stuff done while we're both gainfully employed. Bhutan still remains our favorite destination.
I agree with you that the Lakeshore Limited is a wasted part of the trip. At least you sleep through the Lake Erie rust belt and are awake through the Mohawk Valley and Finger Lakes. And the Boston to Rennsaleaer stretch is basically a standard commuter train until it connects to the Limited coming out of Manhattan.
I, too, would fly to Chicago and get to Union Station for either the California Zephyr to Emeryville,CA or the Empire Builder to Seattle. Or, if I had the time, I'd make it a loop and take the Empire to Seattle, the Coast Starlight to Emeryville and the Zephyr to Chicago.
I'm too old to camp on an island in the middle of James Bay in an Ojibwa settlement again as I did in my twenties, but I would love to retake the Polar Bear Express (which I describe way up above earlier in this thread.) Only I'd book rooms at the Polar Bear Lodge in Moosonee this time. The contrast is fascinating for rail buffs because the Ontario Northern overnighter from Toronto to Cochrane is a fine passenger-oriented train with all of the ammenities; whereas, the Polar Bear Express is a work and supply train with a couple of passenger coaches attached to move people with the goods.
I'm not sure about the Lakeshore Limited being a waste. Coach is cheaper than a bus to any destination and the eastbound trip through New York and Massachusetts is in daylight and historic in a quiet, pleasant way. Bus or train, one will encounter a very aggressive local ICE detachment between Rochester and Buffalo. They will not hesitate to wake passengers in the middle of the night to ask proof of citizenship. It is timed for convenience between Boston and Chicago and vice-versa, so people along the way have to get on and off at strange hours. A second train on a different schedule would more than double ridership.
Rail fan humor I just got in an e-mail and thought I'd share with the thread:
Two small-town merchants were visiting New York City for the first time to attend a conference. There was a large party thrown, with lots of food and drink. At the end of the party, they both staggered outside.
One guy crossed the street, while the other stumbled into a subway entrance.
When the first guy reached the other side of the street, he noticed the other emerging from the subway stairs.
"Where ya been?" he slurred.
"I don't know," gushed the other guy, "but you should see the train set that guy has in his basement!"
EL PASO — A border security program to X-ray every train rolling into the US has prompted as much as $400 million in fines against US railroads, which are held responsible for bales of marijuana, bundles of cocaine, and anything else criminals cram into the boxcars as they roll through Mexico.
Railroads are fighting the fines arguing that "being punished for something it cannot control: criminals stashing illegal drugs in railcars in Mexico."
Amtrak passengers and rail commuters between New York City, New Jersey and Philadelphia have suffered three consecutive days of delays due to power outages in the midst of a heat wave.