Fred Frailey Blog
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    Posted 19 days ago by Fred Frailey
    For BNSF Railway, the winter just now fitfully fading away in the upper Midwest was one for the record books, or at least the recent record books. I was in North Dakota this week, curious to see if any of the congestion remained. I found very little of...
    Posted 28 days ago by Fred Frailey
    In a blog titled Amtrak’s Best Train? We’ve Got a Winner , I wrote that the Coast Starlight between Los Angeles and Seattle has become the premier U.S. passenger train. And I promised, in the due course of time, a bake-off between it and VIA...
    Posted 30 days ago by Fred Frailey
    Well, finally! It's 6:10 p.m., we are still 200-plus miles from Toronto and 16-17 hours late on VIA Rail's Canadian. But at last it looks like winter outside. This is as good as it gets on a train. Outside, the snow is falling pell-mell. The sight is...
    Posted 30 days ago by Fred Frailey
    "I have a best case scenario." It's Mickey Keating, the Park car attendant, who has bounded up the steps into the dome. "If we keep moving along nicely, we can make Toronto by 10 tonight." Okay, that's twelve and a half hours late. But Mickey continues...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Had breakfast in the dining car this morning with Susan. She boarded VIA Rail's Canadian at Rivers, Man. Hmmm, I said, we were due there about 5 o'clock yesterday afternoon. Four-thirty, Susan replied. What time did we get there, because I must have been...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Backing out of McGregor, Sask. UPDATED 5:30 PM CST I dreamed last night that the ground was uneven when I tried to walk. Then I was in an airplane and discovered we were flying below the level of buildings we approached. We'll crash for sure, I...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    The relationship between a writer and an editor is an intimate one, almost as intimate sometimes as between a man and a woman. But it’s a different sort of intimacy. We writers and editors argue and fight, yes, but to succeed, we must share the...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    And it is the Coast Starlight. Simply put, it has everything. The Empire Builder, California Zephyr and Auto Train, my runners-up, each have much to commend them. But the Coast Starlight just overwhelms the opposition and wins on points. Let's start with...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    When a railroad makes the front page of the Wall Street Journal, it’s almost never the cause for celebration at corporate headquarters. It means you have screwed up big time. Now it is the turn of BNSF Railway to do the front-page perp walk. ...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    I’ll be frank with you: I am one of those people I used to despise. But it’s cold outside, I need to exercise to keep the pounds I took off last summer from coming back on this winter, and so I go to Tysons Corner Mall in Virginia for 90 minutes...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Those of you who read Trains Magazine may have run across my column in the April issue, wherein I ridicule the moves afoot to put inward-facing cameras in locomotive cabs. Actually, that’s not really correct. I sought to beat the living hell out...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    The situation facing Canadian grain farmers is almost Biblical. Their 2013 crops of wheat, canola, barley, and other grains was 40 percent greater than that of 2012 and far above average. Moreover, the harvest was a bountiful surprise forecast by almost...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    In journalism we call it a slow news day, and at such times we try to think of anything we can write about. I don’t know the term securities analysts use on these occasions, but it obviously was such a day last week for two Canadian analysts, who...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Fireball explosions, dozens of deaths, congressional hearings, emergency orders by regulators, potentially unsafe tank cars, incendiary stories by the score in newspapers . . . none of this has seemed to affect the ardor of crude oil producers and refiners...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    There was quite a dustup Thursday on Trainorders.com when webmaster Todd Clark published what he believed to be an internal Amtrak memo about changes coming to the Auto Train in about two weeks. I asked Amtrak for comment and thus far gotten no response...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Interesting experience on the eastbound California Zephyr today, as I head from Sacramento to Salt Lake City. We leave Sacramento at 11:28 a.m., 19 minutes late, then Roseville 22 minutes late and Colfax (at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountain range...
    Posted 1 month ago by Fred Frailey
    Late this afternoon, photographer Bob Eisthen and I stand on a dirt levee in the Texas border town of Presidio. To our south sits Presidio's larger sister town of Ojinaga in Mexico. To our north, literally beneath our feet, a pair of rails is smothered...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    I'm coming to you from the Auto Train , a truly unique train on Amtrak or anywhere else, for that matter. It is passenger railroading on a grand scale. Consider tonight's stats: 2 P40 locomotives, 17 bilevel passenger cars, 29 auto carrier cars (all told...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    I've had bad luck riding Amtrak recently, but in the process I have come to realize a few things and feel like sharing them with you. Two weeks ago, I was in Chicago. The weather was bitter, below or barely above zero, with gusty winds. Conditions...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    Jim Young, the retired chairman and former chief executive of Union Pacific, is dead at 61 of pancreatic cancer. It's a vicious disease that is rarely detected before it spreads to other organs; then it is incurable. Through good care and stout heart...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    Wish me happy birthday. I begin my eighth decade Wednesday, hopefully aboard the Auto Train. As appropriate for someone of my teetering gait, I sometimes enjoy thinking of the past. I try to sift the few meaningful memories from the far larger ocean of...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    Okay, where was I? In A traveling man’s further adventures , I wrote that I flew from Washington, D.C., to Chicago to ride the Pullman Rail Journey train, attached once a week or so to the rear of Amtrak’s City of New Orleans. Pullman is the...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    Amtrak in Chicago is on life support. Did I just say that? Actually you could say the same of the entire railroad industry east of the Rockies and north of the Ohio. Trains are moving, but just barely. Today I don't give a hoot about the rest of the railroad...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    The U.S. Department of State’s Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement tells us what a lot of people already suspected: TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline is largely irrelevant to the future of the oil business in the U.S. and Canada...
    Posted 2 months ago by Fred Frailey
    I don’t usually write about my train travels, but every now and then things happen that are so interesting or unusual that I beg your indulgence. This is one such time. It begins barely a week ago with an email from my buddy Al DiCenso: Would...

Fred Frailey