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4

10 minutes at Brookfield: Good for the common cold

Posted 6 days ago by Jim Wrinn
10 minutes in Brookfield: Good for the common cold BROOKFIELD, Wis. – Saturday was a gift in southeastern Wisconsin: A winter thaw, a rare January day in the 40s. I was just back from a quick road trip for work, fighting a head cold, and trying not to think about how much fun my friends in Mississippi or North Carolina were having riding or photographing Iowa Pacific special trains operating that day. I suffered through moving boxes around the house my wife and I bought last fall, did a f...
10

Elmer Lam's wonderful life

Posted 9 days ago by Jim Wrinn
I write this to you from Virginia, which is very appropriate because the subject of this message is about a true gentleman from Virginia you should know. He passed away Wednesday night. His name was Elmer Lam, and he was the son of the air brake shop head at the Norfolk & Western shops in Roanoke, Va. When he died in Charlotte, N.C., he had done a remarkable thing: He’d saved a railroad museum, one that is close to me, North Carolina Transportation Museum, and one that is well known to...
24

Is the CP+NS combination worth $3.48 a share?

Posted 17 days ago by Jim Wrinn
There is a lot of talk about operating ratios when it comes to Canadian Pacific’s proposal to acquire Norfolk Southern. CP’s Hunter Harrison, the master of operating ratio at Canadian National and now CP, says he can shave a full nine percentage points off NS’s operating ratio of just over 69 percent. What does that mean in real numbers? Now, I’m no math guy. That’s why I went into journalism. Words are my friends. Numbers, not so much. But I still figured that we ...
2

TRAINS chase guide: Norfolk & Western No. 611 Spencer-Asheville, N.C., April 10, 2016

Posted 19 days ago by Jim Wrinn
One of the most incredible railroad journeys in the Eastern U.S. is about to see big steam for the first time in 22 years. Norfolk & Western No. 611 will traverse the famous Southern Railway Loops near Old Fort, N.C., on April 10. This offers an incredible opportunity for those who want to experience a true engineering feat from on board, and those who want to photograph this legendary 4-8-4 in a unique and amazingly scenic area.   I grew up not far away from the Loops, and for the la...
71

Three theories about why CP wants NS

Posted 23 days ago by Jim Wrinn
In the February issue of Trains magazine, which has been in subscriber hands for better than a week now and is available to newsstand buyers now, I wrote an editorial in opposition to Canadian Pacific’s proposed takeover of Norfolk Southern. My reasoning is that there is little business incentive to combining tese two railroads. They do a slim amount of business together and the cultures are dissimilar. I’ll let you read the editorial on page 4 and decide if I got it right or not. &...
2

Swiss model railroads, oil train crashes, and more, all at TRB

Posted 26 days ago by Steve Sweeney
WASHINGTON, D.C. — There is a story around every corner at the Transportation Research Board conference.  Google is giving a presentation on self-driving cars, the University of Illinois has a seminar on concrete ties, and I just left a presentation given by a European researcher on how to optimize Chinese freight railroad operations based on customers' needs. There’s more than 1,000 separately planned meetings, sessions, or workshops packed in between Saturday and Wednesday fo...
11

Ticket to ride? Taking stock of 2016 excursions with N&W No. 611

Posted 26 days ago by Jim Wrinn
OK, now we know what NS’s 2016 excursion schedule for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 looks like. Thank you to NS for seeing the value in getting steam out on the main line once more. While compact – the window of opportunity is a slim eight weeks from early April to early June – the steam schedule is filled with some great classic steam excursion trips behind the biggest steam locomotive in excursion service in North America. There are some exciting changes this year, ...
13

23 events to look forward to in 2016

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
As the new year begins, there’s lots on the horizon to anticipate. Here’s what catches my eye so far this year. Stick around and read all about it on our News Wire at www.TrainsMag.com and in the pages of our monthly magazine. And don’t forget, we’re doing a weekly video roundup of the week’s news and the news ahead every Friday on our website. January7-9National Railroad Construction & Maintenance Association meeting in San Diego.Why it matters: Railroads anno...
14

New Year’s eve on the rails 2015

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
The headlight swings around the curve and catches the distant shape of the yard limit sign in the darkness. Snow swirls around us, and I glance across the cab at my fireman, who is looking ahead and being “ever vigilant” as he is supposed to be. Soot stains his overalls and face, and grease has found its way onto his long-cuff White Mule gloves. Steam pressure is still near the peg and that the water glass is half full. Behind us our train snakes through the darkness, the lights from...
7

Notable railroad books of 2015

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Despite proclamations from the tech industry, printed books are far from dead. While it may be easier to read the latest novel on an e-reader type device, the printed page is still the preferred media for railroad content. The closing year brought us a number of significant and railroad books, and here are some of my picks for you:First up is Railroaders Without Borders, by H. Roger Grant, chronicling the history of the Railroad Development Corp. (Indiana University) and its worldwide operatio...
12

Remembering my mentor, Dan Ranger

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
All of us have a mentor. This is about a man who influenced my life. He is a man who deserves a lot of credit for developing my love of railroading. Indirectly, he helped to put me on the path to becoming editor of Trains magazine. His name is Dan Ranger, and he passed away Friday at age 77. I met Dan in 1973. I was 12, and Dan, at age 35 was already a seasoned veteran of the Southern Pacific and a bunch of California tourist railroads. He loved steam and had just gone to work as the general ma...
6

Why Federal interest rates matter to railroads (but later next year)

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
Phew. We're all still here, thank goodness. With the hype and speculation leading up to the Federal Reserve's interest rate rise today, I thought the world might come to end, or worse, the stock market might go down. For the record, the Fed raised interest rates from near ZERO to between 0.25 and 0.5 percent, representing the interest other banks pay the Federal bank, not what you pay on a new loan. It is the first rate raise since before the Great Recession. "So what does this mean for railro...
23

Hunter Harrison for President (of Amtrak)

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
So who should replace Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman when he retires next year? The long-time passenger railroad boss told employees in a letter Wednesday that he would step down in September 2016. That begs the question of who should replace Boardman, who’s served longer in the job than anyone except the venerable W. Graham Claytor Jr. Trains editors hashed out names from Donald Trump to Elon Musk, and even Mickey Mouse. We refused to agree on one person, so here are three sort-of serious picks...
3

Say it ain't so, Norfolk (Part II)

Posted 2 months ago by Brian Schmidt
The followers of Trains Magazine's Facebook page are still speaking out on the proposed Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern merger. On Dec. 8, CP all but confirmed it would launch a hostile takeover bid for NS following two rejected offers to its board of directors. Immediately after, Trains' Facebook followers sounded off: Radford Bean: Don't be badmouthing Canadians. It isn't a Canadian at the controls of CP. It's another greedy American tycoon. And did anyone actually understand the first ...
17

How could a merger bring MORE variety for railfans?

Posted 2 months ago by Brian Schmidt
Although I’m still not convinced by the business case of a proposed Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern merger, the railfan side of me is intrigued by the inclusion of an “open access” carrot for shippers. A major merger – or mergers – could bring regular Pan Am Railways trains to Columbus to interchange with the Ohio Central. It could morph Florida East Coast into America East Coast with service to New Jersey and Virginia. It could even bring new, non-railroad...
99

CP+NS logo contest

Posted 2 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Steve Glischinski's Nov. 18 blog post on what possible names a Canadian Pacific-Norfolk Southern combination could take brought some startling possibilities. Of course, that got us thinking: "What would the logo for that look like?" Luckily for you dear Trains readers (and especially for us artistically challenged editors) the Trains Art Department developed a list of possibilities displayed below. They are the brain children of Tom Danneman, Rick Johnson, Scott Krall, and Drew Halverson. Seei...
10

Which Railway Interchange vehicle got the most attention at the show?

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
We're wrapping up our February issue, and inside it is a 10-page photo story on this year's big trade show in Minneapolis, Railway Interchange.  We saw three vehicles there that garnered the bulk of visitors' attention.  Which one do you think got the most attention? Look for the story about the show in the February issue of Trains magazine. ...
17

Say it ain't so, Norfolk

Posted 2 months ago by Brian Schmidt
CP and NS trains meet in Binghamton, N.Y., in July 2014. Photo by Amanda Oakes The followers of Trains Magazine's Facebook page are speaking out on the proposed Canadian Pacific and Norfolk Southern "business combination." On Tuesday, CP confirmed it had sent an offer letter to NS executives outlining the benefits of such a deal. Immediately after, Trains' Facebook followers sounded off:Robert Burns IV: That's all anyone thinks about is the "steam" and the "heritage units." Big whoop. I lik...
39

CP+NS merger: Where would the new headquarters be? Here’s our best guesses

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
When Canadian Pacific announced that it was interested in acquiring Norfolk Southern, I wondered where such a combined company would be located. It’s a good question to ask. The two outfits are on opposite sides of the continent, and they are in two different countries. But everybody has to be somewhere, so if this combination goes through, they’ll have to land here or there. By tradition, the victor usually keeps its headquarters and shuts down the offices of the vanquished. That g...
5

There was nothing dull about Fenner Stevenson

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
The tourist railroad and railroad museum world lost a great family member this week. Fenner Stevenson was the heart and soul of the Boone & Scenic Valley Railroad deep in Iowa. As general manager, Fenner nurtured and developed this tourist line near the famous Kate Shelley Bridge, complete with steam, diesel, and electric railroading. He worked tirelessly to create a railroad museum at Boone that everyone could be proud of. He and his son, Travis, also on the railroad staff, were a great fat...
10

The tour of Germany: Some final thoughts

Posted 3 months ago by David Lassen
I’ve been back from the magazine’s anniversary tour of Germany for about a week now, still digesting and savoring the experience as I worked through the inevitable backlog that comes from being out of the office for 19 days. (In addition to our 11-day tour, I used some vacation time to visit Berlin and Prague.) Before the tour slips too far into the past, however, I wanted to offer a few more thoughts on the experience. From a railfan perspective, the Harz steam railroad was, for m...
8

Trains at 75: Happy birthday to us — the first issue

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
If I could go back in time, I would love to ask our magazine’s founder, Al Kalmbach, why he chose the image he picked for the first issue of Trains in November 1940. The irony is that for a magazine called “Trains” it depicts no locomotive, no speeding passenger express, and no plodding freight hog. The black and white cover subject was a close up of a steam locomotive water tower, the spout raised, counterweights down, its well-weathered wooden body showing evidence of the com...
10

Of living time machines … in Colorado

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
We’re rumbling along the 3-foot gauge rails near Osier, Colo., in a beautiful wilderness that, thankfully, is unspoiled, non-commercialized, and truly the home of the deer and the antelope. A group of us who love mountain railroads and steam locomotives have come to play. Ahead of us are two narrow gauge Mikados built for this part of the Denver & Rio Grande Western almost a century ago. They roll off the miles effortlessly as they have almost continuously since Baldwin outshopped the...
12

The tour of Germany: The Harz of the matter

Posted 3 months ago by David Lassen
Well, that was pretty amazing. We’re only at the midpoint of the Trains 75th Anniversary tour of Germany, but for spectacular railroading, it’s going to be hard to top the Harz Railway, the meter-gauge steam operation in the Harz Mountains where we spent Monday and Tuesday.Here’s a quick look at our visit to the Harz. (No doubt it deserves more, but with our tour still ongoing, time constraints dictate a relatively brief post.) Imagine the Durango and Silverton — excep...
7

Colorado calls

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
I’m off to one of my favorite places in the world this week, Colorado. The very mention of the state evokes visions of narrow gauge Mikados fighting for every inch of rail, Rio Grande F7s summiting the Rockies, and UP action on the Moffat Road west of Denver. It is every railfan’s dream come true with plenty of freight and passenger action and amazing stories. I’ve been a visitor since 1987, and for the last 10 years or so, I’ve made an annual pilgrimage to enjoy some asp...
8

The tour of Germany: Cologne, and the busy bridge.

Posted 3 months ago by David Lassen
Our Trains Magazine tour of Germany is off to a spectacular start. After assembling in Frankfurt, our group of 43 received its first taste of the German railways, the Deuche Bahn, with a trip along the Rhine River to Cologne, where we stayed almost in the shadow of the famous Cologne Cathedral — once the world’s tallest building — and just a few hundred yards from the main train station. This also meant we were adjacent to the Hohenzollern Bridge — reputed, believably, t...
27

Why we love the Clinchfield

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Erwin, Tenn., was in the not too distant past one of the most difficult places to reach by car. Even today, with modern four-lane Interstate highways in the East Tennessee region, the few additional mountain roads in and out of the headquarters city of the Clinchfield Railroad are steep, twisty, and slow. It was in this challenging environment that railroaders of great talent on the throttle and the air brakes ran this railroad, a veritable Rio Grande of the Appalachians, a north-south through r...
5

Railway Interchange's outdoor display is filled with goodness

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Trains gang, Steve Sweeney, correspondent Steve Glischinski, and I spent Sunday at the outdoor exhibits for North America's largest railroad trade show. It was a better than expected showing of locomotives, freight cars, and on track equipment. In the span of a few hours we toured Electro-Motive Diesel's new Tier 4 SD70, Greenbrier's new DOT 117 tank car, and a surprising track inspection vehicle. We were at BNSF Railway's Northtown Yard. It was filled with dozens of displays...
2

10 things we’re looking forward at Railway Interchange

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
 The Trains staff is off to the Railway Interchange show Sunday-Tuesday in Minneapolis. It’s the big biennial North American trade show. About 10,000 people will show up. Think of it as a state fair for railroaders. Think of it as the toy store for the industry. You can join us for a live look Sunday from 1-4 p.m. and Monday from 1-4:30 p.m. with our Trains livestreaming camera at http://trn.trains.com/interchange/. Meanwhile, here are 10 things we look forward to at the event. &nbs...
16

Thank you, Wick!

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Today is Wick Moorman’s last day as executive chairman at Norfolk Southern. It is no secret that he has done a lot for all of us who love history, tradition, and pride in being a railroad, both fans and NS employees. We all know that under Wick’s tenure, the business train got tuxedo-painted F-units for power, 20+ modern units got historic predecessor paint schemes, and steam excursions returned with not one, but four locomotives. Those were dramatic steps for a company that long had...

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