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...
14

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 ...
12

A Texas Steam Railroad Reinvents Itself

Posted one year ago by Hayley Enoch
This Friday finds me covering the Railroad Passenger Car Alliance convention in Tyler, Texas. This year’s conference has been hosted by the Texas State Railroad, which connects the nearby cities of Palestine and Rusk, Texas. Texas State Railroad doesn’t tend to be one of the places that springs immediately to mind, but that’s no fault of its history or the location. You’d have to wile away hours on the road, perhaps traverse entire states, before you find a railroad ru...
10

Get 'em while you can

Posted one year ago by Chase Gunnoe
NS freight No. 380 rolls through Poca, W.Va. on the NS West Virginia Secondary in March 2011. NS announced on Jan. 12 it would idle "portions of its 253-mile West Virginia Secondary". In the background? The coal-fired John E. Amos Power =receives coal-by-rail from a coal mine in Cabin Creek, W.Va. that announced it would "permanently terminate" employees by March 11.  Act now. Those two words are the most important thing to take away from this blog post. The repercussions from a struggl...
46

How about that Powerball?

Posted one year ago by Chase Gunnoe
N&W 2-6-6-4 No. 1218 sits under the VMT canopy in Roanoke, Va. during a Nov. 2010 photo event. Let’s put all of life’s daily responsibilities aside for just a moment and say you have just claimed the winning ticket to this weekend’s Powerball. You’re looking at a total jackpot of around $700 million with a cash value of $428.4 million. And you have it all to yourself. Not too bad, right? But, there is a catch. Let’s pretend mortgages, credit card debt, and ot...
9

The Expected Happens

Posted one year ago by David Lester
As most steam fans expected, or deeply suspected, Norfolk Southern announced on December 21 that the 21st Century Steam program is over.  This means, according to the railroad, that no steam trips will be operated in conjunction with either the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum or the Ft. Wayne Railroad Historical Society in 2016.  One can reasonably assume that this will remain the case for the next several years, possibly forever.   The announcement also included the news that N...
5

2015: A game changer for the U.S. rail industry?

Posted one year ago by Chase Gunnoe
Well, here we are. There’s one week left in 2015. Typically, I spend holiday break reflecting on what made the past year memorable. What were some of the events or developments that made the year stand out? Typically, I would reflect, but I think there’s something a bit different about 2015. I think instead of reflecting, it may be time to do some research. 2015 was a tough year for the U.S. rail industry. It was tough for inevitable declines on coal volumes to be neglected any lo...
6

Century Notes: The latest

Posted one year ago by Richard Luckin
The NEW documentary 20th Century Limited is an exciting project that is progressing along nicely. Just this past week, I had the pleasure of conducting the last interview for the film. We have recorded over two dozen people this year. My travels have taken me to New York City (Grand Central Terminal), Albany, New York (Albany Union Station), Washington, D.C. and Raleigh, North Carolina. Several interviews were also conducted in the Denver area. These interviews provided a great deal of informat...
6

Can new Board member infuse Lyft’s customer-focused ethos into Amtrak?

Posted one year ago by Malcolm Kenton
On Wednesday, Dec. 16, the Senate confirmed President Obama’s nomination of Derek Tai-Ching Kan, the General Manager of the app-based ride-sharing company Lyft, to Amtrak’s Board of Directors. Kan will replace Jeffrey R. Moreland, the Board’s outgoing Vice Chair and former Vice President for Public Affairs at BNSF Railway, whose term had expired. Kan’s addition to the board holds the promise of infusing some of the innovation that has disrupted the ride-for-hire industry ...
11

PTC & Mergers

Posted one year ago by David Lester
The United States railroad industry has just completed a protracted fight to extend the due date for PTC implementation.  Congress and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) stood firm on the December 31, 2015 deadline, and threatened to issue fines on a “per day, per incident” basis for non-compliance.  The railroads, government agencies and others argued that meeting this deadline was impossible.  Only after the rail industry threatened to shut down lines that car...

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