THE magazine of railroading

SEARCH TRAINSMAG.COM

Enter keywords or a search phrase below:

11

DC Metro to Disney monorail: apt comparison?

Posted 11 months ago by Malcolm Kenton
In the latest congressional oversight hearing about Washington, DC’s troubled Metrorail system held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Daniel Webster (R-FL), whose district includes Walt Disney World, compared Metro with Disney’s monorail system. Walt Disney World is the world’s most visited theme park, located 15 miles southwest of Orlando in Lake Buena Vista, FL. “I have never seen [Disney’s monorail] broken in the 30-some years they&rsq...
8

Loss and Mourning on the High Rocky Rails

Posted 11 months ago by Hayley Enoch
I will say little about character and quality of the Royal Gorge Route except that it is well worth the time and cost, because a tragedy occurred in the interval between jotting down notes about the journey and sitting down to organize them into coherent prose. Rumors of a fatality on the Royal Gorge Route began to filter in as drove to Durango and settled in to our first night at the Strater Hotel. By the next morning, newspapers and various journalistic websites ran official confirmation...
5

The town that loves the train

Posted 11 months ago by Chase Gunnoe
Steam locomotives have a way of grabbing the attention of everyone. There’s 35 of us on board the latest Colorado Tours trip that have traveled to the Rocky Mountains from all corners of the United States, Canada, and Japan to learn about, ride behind, and experience the coal-fired creatures. It’s a fascination that spans multiple generations and cultures. This weekend alone, hundreds have also gathered trackside in Virginia, Minnesota, Tennessee, Ohio and neighboring states to see...
10

The Trains That Dare to Touch the Sky

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
Leadville, and many of the other small towns nestled high up in the Rocky Mountains, make you think that you must have traveled more than an hour or two to get to them. They have a picaresque, timeless look reminiscent of colorful villages in Austria or Germany. The train station at Leadville is one of the most familiar things about the town, one of the only buildings that could be transferred to a main street in any other city in the United States. Our boarding on the Leadville, Colorado and ...
1

Summer Snow, and Other Lucky Contrivances

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
Ours is one of the quietest train groups to ever depart with Special Interest Tours, our tour guide says, before he  nods to himself and follows with a confident assurance that by the time the tour ends nine days later, we’ll have turned into a loud, raucous group of friends. We exchange our names and home cities and favorite railroaders at the introductory dinner and during the bus ride from Denver to the Colorado Railroad Museum, but remain somewhat reserved during our first sc...
2

SP&S 700 Boiler Inspection: We Have Separation, Now Let's Go Pound Some Bricks

Posted one year ago by Stephen P. Sedaker
As our preparation phase for the inspection continues, we have basically cleaned up the boiler exterior in preparation for mapping and marking the measurement areas for the ultrasound. We will be using our map from the year 2000 as a reference, but we will still have to completely map out the boiler surface again for the new inspection. Earlier this month (May), when some of the equipment was being maneuvered around in preparation for Portland Train Day, we had the opportunity to wash out the in...
6

The worst that can happen is we'll all enjoy the ride

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
The Cumbers & Toltec. The Colorado Railroad Museum. The Royal Gorge Route. The San Luis & Rio Grande.  Railroad enthusiasts speak these names, and the titles of all the other Colorado tourist railroads,  with the utmost of reverence. Many cite these rides as the standard by which all other tourist train trips are judged. The Trains Magazine and 2016 Special Interest Tours’ Rockies by Rail Tour covers all of them in a comprehensive, bucket-list-toppling trip through some ...
5

Industry innovation + regulatory adaptability = endless possibilities

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
Many who advocate bringing greater balance to the US transportation system, myself included, argue that planning and funding mechanisms would deliver projects that provide greater choice to travelers and improved interconnectivity between travel modes if the long-standing silos between the modes were broken down. These silos exist at all levels of government and dictate on what basis public funding is distributed, how safety and performance standards are overseen, what types of work rules and la...
7

TRAINS 611 chase guide: Manassas-Front Royal, Va. June 4 and 5, 2016

Posted one year ago by Dave Crosby
The first weekend of June may prove to be the last chance to ride behind famed Norfolk & Western 611 in 2016.  The weekend will see three round trips depart from Manassas, Virginia for Front Royal, some 51 track miles to the west.  These half day excursions – one on Saturday, two on Sunday – allow for a weekend of chasing AND riding.  At less than four hours, they are also the perfect bite-sized excursion, appealing to those who may not want to spend all day o...
10

My hometown route gets a new lease on life...

Posted one year ago by Chase Gunnoe
When I first started writing stories on railroad news, preservation and other topics, I enjoyed how it pushed me beyond a comfort zone. I broadened my interests as I learned more about different facets of the rail industry. Initially, I cared more about what I was exposed to on a daily basis. For me, a West Virginia kid entering college, I felt more confident about coal and Class I railroading than third rail electrification systems used by transit agencies. After all, here in West Virginia,...
13

Full Throttle, and a Seat In the Tool Car

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
It’s very early in the morning--only a quarter of an hour or so past five.  The sun is still in full retreat., and the 611 does an expert job of camouflaging into the backdrop.  I find it by sound and by smell, not by sight. The rest of the consist, most of it painted in similarly dark colors, is likewise rendered invisible. Here and there, light from the railyard behind the train gives the outline of wheels or brake hoses, and a there are a few fleeting glances through th...
8

The Sky, the Rails, and All of Our Stories

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
I begin writing this blog from the yawning halls of DFW airport, the start point on my journey to Roanoke, Virginia to cover another round of the 611’s excursions. It is one of those days where the trials of travel compound in every way they can: I have difficulty checking in curbside and must solicit the assistance of a live customer service representative--quite the endangered species these days--then I endure a TSA line roughly the same length as Terminal C. By the time I find my ga...
0

Last train today, first train tomorrow

Posted one year ago by Jim Wrinn
Greetings from Durango, Colorado, where we introduced our new Colorado Railroads magazine today to several hundred people gathered for the opening season day thank you to the people who make all of this possible and to the town that hosts the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. We had a gorgeous day, so before the event, which features great western music and free hot dogs, I had to follow the last train of the spring to go to Cascade Canyon and return.I managed to catch it once along...
4

There are no substitutes for being there...

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
...But these days, at least, we can still enjoy railroad events even if we're stuck at home. Running a railroad blog and contributing to periodicals like Trains means always keeping one foot in the world of social media. Web sites like Facebook and Twitter provide an invaluable platform for building an audience and keeping in touch with hundreds of people involved in the railroad industry. I have the pleasure of being connected with so many people in the industry, in fact, that pictures of ...
4

Connectivity means prosperity

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
A recent New York Times opinion column by Singaporean public policy professor Parag Khanna echoes what many experts and observers have been saying — that in the current age, the US and other countries are increasingly being organized along the lines of mega-regions and multi-city clusters that disregard state lines and other pre-determined political boundaries. Our political system has yet to catch up with facts on the ground, Khanna argues. If we fail to invest in connecting our mega-regi...
34

A hundred Warbonnets, put out to pasture

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
Two or three seconds of confusion is all it takes: I miss the exit for I-35, and end up heading through the center of Oklahoma City instead of to the north-east, where I am expected at the Oklahoma Railway Museum. Past the center of the city, the highway arcs upwards to cross over a decently sized rail yard, crowded from end to end with equipment. I catch the unmistakable flare of a a locomotive painted in the Warbonnet scheme, then another, then I see a dozen or more of them. They are strew...
1

The SP&S 700 Boiler Inspection: The Effort Continues

Posted one year ago by Stephen P. Sedaker
Last time I discussed the initial tear-down preparations, and the early activities associated with the rebuild, as well as our fundraising activities. This month I will provide an update on where we are, and look ahead to the months ahead. The jacketing and lagging on the engine are now completely removed and stored, including the jacketing on the back-head inside the cab. The fixtures and gauges inside the cab are now removed and safely stored. The water glasses are put safely away, the MU con...
3

Century Notes: Michael Gross comes to Denver

Posted one year ago by Richard Luckin
Last week, television/movie actor/model railroader and railfanMichael Gross was in Denver to do our on-camera narration.I’m always impressed with the way Michael can bring a scriptalive with his wonderful voice and his knowledge of railroadingis a true bonus.Historian and editor of Railroad History Peter Hansen also providedsome excellent on-camera material as well. Pete produceda top-notch script that is well-written and easy to follow.We are now in the process of assembling all the visua...
5

Time to get back to business

Posted one year ago by David Lester
    When Canadian Pacific announced on Monday that it was suspending efforts to acquire Norfolk Southern, you could hear a collective sigh of relief from rail headquarters, many shippers, and government agencies around America. No more do we need to worry about a nasty proxy fight at the NS shareholders meeting. Worries are also over about reactive mergers that would have totally disrupted the industry in the unlikely event that CP+NS was approved. The collective wisdom seems to b...
25

Visionary, long-term thinking needed

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
You may call me a dreamer, but I envision a future where rail plays a much more central role in the movement of passengers and freight throughout the US. For the sake of a livable planet and the health of our communities, I foresee the role of automobiles and trucks eventually being limited to providing first and last-mile connections, with cars primarily being used for shared ownership and ridesharing services. An interconnected rail network will provide most medium and long hauls of people and...
10

An Appreciation of Good Spots

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
    Most of us who watch trains as a hobby, or latch on to them as artistic subjects, have a few favorite locations. Often, these spots are extolled for their convenience: They may be close to home, or on the way to work, or the geography means that the light is always perfect. Other spots, though, are discussed more reverently.  Something about being in exactly that spot, as opposed to another one a quarter mile up or down the track, graduates train-watching from amusement t...
16

Expanding travel possibilities with bikes on trains

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
As someone who enjoys train travel as well as exploring places without a car, I am excited about Amtrak and commuter/regional railroads’ expansion of the number of routes and stations on which passengers may bring unboxed bicycles. Bikes on trains has long been popular on the West Coast and in other countries, but it has taken a while for East Coast train services to catch up. The delivery of Amtrak’s “Viewliner II” fleet of baggage cars from CAF USA late last year has en...
13

More cooperation needed to improve rail travel to, from and within Canada

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
Among the outcomes of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s official visit to Washington and meetings with President Obama last week is an announcement that pilot programs will begin to allow for travelers — going by car, bus or train — to be pre-screened by both countries’ border control agents before actually reaching the border. Airline passengers already clear US Customs and Border Protection screening at several Canadian airports before entering the US, and US imm...
33

Bus company messaging evinces shirking of civic pride and responsibility

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
I’ve recently begun seeing Facebook advertisements for another new mobile app-based on-demand transportation service, this one called Skedaddle. This Boston-based startup is bringing the Uber/Lyft ridesharing concept to intercity bus and van travel. It promises to match a user up with at least nine others going to the same destination on the same day, and give users a quick, comfortable ride in “a professionally driven luxury vehicle” with “comfortable seating and plenty ...
3

SP&S 700 1472 day FRA-Mandated Boiler Inspection: The work ahead

Posted one year ago by Stephen P. Sedaker
In anticipation of the 1472 rebuild, the Pacific Railroad Preservation Association (PRPA), the 700’s support team of volunteers, recently began planning for this big project. In autumn of 2015, the scope of the project was carefully studied and a timeline was formulated. A project plan and accompanying budget was created, and was finalized and approved at the beginning of this year. A fundraising strategy was identified, and teams were put into place to finalize the rebuild plan, and ...
25

How inventive use of a stick saved the day aboard The Canadian

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
I returned on Tuesday (Feb. 23) from my second journey (first eastbound) aboard VIA Rail Canada’s The Canadian, North America’s finest passenger train and its last transcontinental streamliner. I chose this particular late February eastbound run from Vancouver to Toronto at the recommendation of a friend who traveled a year ago with an informal group of railroaders who call themselves the Moonlighters. The name comes from the fact that the trip is timed to coincide with the full moon...
15

Punctuality gains boost Amtrak ridership despite falling gas prices

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
To what extent is intercity passenger trains’ ridership and revenue affected by their on-time performance (OTP) and by the cost of their chief competition, driving a private automobile? These are the questions that Mark Feldman, a senior consultant at Steer Davies Gleave in Boston, answered in a study conducted on behalf of Amtrak in late 2015 and presented in a session on intercity passenger rail performance at the Transportation Research Board Annual Meeting in Washington, DC on January ...
3

The SP&S 700 1472 day FRA-Mandated Boiler Inspection

Posted one year ago by Stephen P. Sedaker
Spokane, Portland and Seattle (SP&S) 700, one of several remaining operating Northern class steam locomotives in North America, is going back into the shop for her FRA mandated 1472- day inspection. The 700's home base is in Portland, Oregon at the Oregon Rail Heritage Center, accompanied by stable mates Southern Pacific 4449 and Union Pacific (OR&N) 197. This facility is owned by the Oregon Rail Heritage Foundation (ORHF),and is the result of a combination of hard work by a group o...
5

Where a train stops, it helps to know

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
Does it really matter at what point along a platform a passenger train stops, or “spots,” to board and alight riders? According to a Dutch researcher who compared rider behavior when trains were stopped at different points on the platform at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport station (one of the Netherlands’ busiest), it matters a great deal. Most of the Netherlands’ long-distance and regional trains run through Schiphol, with longer-distance trains running once or twice...
4

Meet the MARTA Army: A citizens’ corps making the transit rider’s experience better

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
Have you ever wanted to see changes made to a passenger rail or transit service, even something as small as putting a display of route and schedule information at every stop, that would make riders’ lives easier? Have you tried to get the operator, transit agency or local government to make such improvements, but been stymied by complaints of “not enough money,” bureaucratic finger-pointing, concerns about liability, or other such obstacles? Have you then wished that you and a ...