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Private car Georgia 300 was Obama's 'blue caboose' 8 years ago

Posted 3 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Eight years ago today, Jack Heard was still trying to figure out how his private passenger car, Georgia 300, became known as “the blue caboose” that carried President-elect Obama to Washington, D.C. On Inauguration Day, while Donald Trump was about to become the 45th president of the United States, Heard and I talked on the phone about his Jan. 17, 2009, trip with Obama, campaign trains his car has been on, and the duties of a private car operator when it’s carrying the new le...

Is Hunter Harrison headed to Washington, D.C.?

Posted 4 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Where is Hunter Harrison headed next? That is the question on everyone’s minds after Canadian Pacific announced Wednesday that its leader of five years will retire immediately instead of July 1. He’s definitely got something lined up. After all, he’s foregoing a package worth $118 million, won’t be bound by a non-compete agreement, and is free to work with other Class I railroads. It definitely sounds like Harrison has a better offer.   The Wall Street Journal says ...

Preparing for the Ringling preservation movement

Posted 6 days ago by Brian Schmidt
Money, like in the rest of the world, gets things done in railroad preservation. So now is the time to start a fundraising campaign for any museum that may want to acquire a piece of the soon-to-be-idle Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus trains. The trains are in use until May. That gives many organizations a great head start on fundraising for any possible acquisitions related to the circus trains. Even if the preservation group manages a donation of the equipment, fundraising is s...

Where you can see the Ringling Bros. circus train

Posted 7 days ago by David Lassen
Since the stunning news of the imminent demise of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, many readers have been asking us where they can go to see the circus train before it rolls into history. Sadly, fans in most of the country are out of luck — the farthest west either the circus Red or Blue units will reach is Cincinnati, where the Red Unit plays in March. But as it happens, long before Saturday's announcement, we were working — with a great deal of help from the folk...

End for Ringling's train merits a return to where it all began

Posted 8 days ago by Jim Wrinn
As news spread Sunday that the vaunted Ringling Brothers & Barnum and Bailey Circus will end its more than 130 year run in May, there was only one place for me to go, the Circus World Museum in Baraboo, Wis., about 2 hours west of Trains’ world headquarters. This place is hallowed ground for circus history -- the town of 12,000 today where five brothers in 1884 came up with the idea for the show that would go worldwide, the place that was once Ringling’s circus headquarters, and ...

Timetables, a railfan's request

Posted 10 days ago by Brian Schmidt
A westbound South Shore Line train holds up cross traffic on Washington Street in Michigan City in September 2013. Photo by Brian Schmidt I don't think it's any secret that I like to watch trains. So I like to know when trains are coming, and that's of course easiest with passenger trains. Passenger train operators publish their schedules, or at least they used to. A few months ago I was looking to photograph a train in Michigan City, Ind., on the famous trackage down 11th Street through d...

The steam fan's 2017 dilemma: How to fit it all in

Posted 10 days ago by Jim Wrinn
So, my fellow steam locomotive fans… we have an issue here. No famous locomotive is going away. No locomotive is being defiled with a pink paint scheme with purple handrails (although I swear I dreamed about this not long ago). No, this time we have too much of a good thing. And we all remember what Mae West said about that… ok, well some of us old geezers do. Anyway, suffice it to say that Ms. West was right. More is better. Here’s the situation. Just this week, tickets for...

'Wired' to a work train

Posted 11 days ago by Steve Sweeney
PHILADELPHIA — While colleague David Lassen basks in the sunshine of new passenger equipment in Florida, I got into the nitty gritty of keeping older service running with an early morning tour on one of Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority's catenary repair, or Wire Trains.  How early you ask? Fellow rail photographer Michael Murray and I drove up to SEPTA's Market Street headquarters for a 2 a.m. meet with SEPTA managers who escorted us to the train that was position...

Big times for Brightline

Posted 12 days ago by David Lassen
Spent a big part of my Wednesday in West Palm Beach, Fla., attending Brightline’s media unveiling of its first passenger trainset (our News Wire report is here), then joined Trains passenger columnist Bob Johnston and correspondent David Lustig (in this case representing, as they say, another publication) in touring the new Brightline station in downtown West Palm Beach, and wanted to offer a few thoughts on each. I am tremendously impressed by the thought that went into the design of the...

Wednesday ... a big day for Trains but I'm stuck at the desk

Posted 12 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Every day is a big day at Trains. We get to explore our favorite subject and share what we learn with you. Some days are just bigger than others. Today is one of those.  Three staff members are in the field. That doesn't happen every day. Heck, I get bored and lonely here, but I am glad that we're out there on the front lines of railroading. While we freeze on the tundra here in Wisconsin, Associate Editor David Lassen is in Florida, checking out the new Brightline train set to debut later...

The lunch break

Posted 18 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Let’s talk willpower. You know, it’s that thing inside you that allows you to deny yourself even when you really want something badly. How good is your willpower? Mine, it turns out, is pretty lousy when presented with the following situation: A new bucket list camera lens, two mainline trains executing a meet, and a gorgeous, sunny winter day. I mean, who could resist all of those temptations lined up perfectly? That is why, even through it’s deadline week for the March issu...

In Chicago, a reminder that change is constant

Posted 18 days ago by David Lassen
To paraphrase a line of the narration in our DVD, Chicago: America’s Railroad Capital, railroads have been serving the city for more than 160 years, but they continue to evolve. Some of that evolution is coming in 2017 to one of my favorite spots — River Forest, on the Union Pacific and Metra’s UP West line. The change will no doubt be good for the railroad and commuter passengers. For photographers? Probably not so much. Just yards west of the River Forest Metra station is t...

Will Donald Trump top railroad news in 2017?

Posted 19 days ago by Jim Wrinn
When we put together list of the top 10 railroad stories of 2016, we put Donald Trump’s election as the next president as No. 10 and Wick Moorman’s appointment to Amtrak’s president as No. 1. Our choices were more of a predictive designation, not unlike President Obama’s Nobel Peace in 2009: It’s about what we expect they’ll do. I’ve been thinking about that, and I’m going to predict that 11 months from now, when we compile a new top 10 list, that ...

What's ahead in railroading for 2017

Posted 22 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Are you ready for a new year? It’s upon us. And no one is more surprised than I am that it’s time to plan the year ahead. The railroad world is already busy. Here’s a month-by-month calendar of what we’ve got on the radar so far. Check back here often for additions. January 8-12, Transportation Research Board. Big-time gathering of the best and brightest minds in railroading and other modes with an eye toward the future. Associate Editor Steve Sweeney, who edits our tec...

Looking back at Trains -- 1967

Posted 25 days ago by Brian Schmidt
As we 're about to flip our calendars over to 2017, I'm continuing the sentimental tone this week with a look back at Trains 50 years ago, in 1967: Jan. 3 Chicago South Shore & South Bend control acquired by Chesapeake & Ohio. February IC replaces diamond with split-rail logo. March 22 Jersey Central files for bankruptcy. March 24 Last run of last “true” Soo Line passenger train, the Winnipeger to St Paul. April Great Northern introduces Big Sky Blue livery. Apri...

Looking back at Trains – 1992

Posted 27 days ago by Brian Schmidt
As we 're about to flip our calendars over to 2017, I'm continuing the sentimental tone this week with a look back at Trains 25 years ago, in 1992: Jan. 3 Fred A. Stindt, a railroad and maritime historian who helped establish the California State Railroad Museum and was past president of the Railway & Locomotive Historical Society, dies at the age of 80. February Don Phillips, veteran Washington Post transportation reporter and author of Trains’ monthly “Potomac Pundit&rd...

40 years hence

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Conrail light power rolls through Michigan Central Station in Detroit in the late 1970s. John Uckley photo, collection of Brian Schmidt The “old farts” from a previous blog post have me thinking again – about how remarkable modern railroading is. In spite of what some curmudgeons would lead us to believe, railroading in the past 40 years, since the creation of the late, lamented Conrail, has been remarkably stable. That is my estimation from the trackside perspective, at lea...

Merry Christmas from Trains magazine!

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
From everyone who puts together Trains, we’d like to wish you a wonderful Christmas 2016. It is our pleasure and an honor to bring you the world’s largest popular railroad publication and its most visited website. I hope you’ll allow me to brag on the folks who make it happen, as they richly deserve it. As I often remind people, there is no “I” in Trains – OK, well, there is grammatically but as far as writing and producing this publication and website, it ...

Here's why you need to ride or chase Norfolk & Western 611 in 2017

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
I am here to urge you, my friends, no to politely shove you, toward tracks down south come April and May. Why am I doing this? Because you need this. You really do. Norfolk & Western No. 611’s spring 2017 schedule came out today, and while any main line steam schedule the U.S. in the 21st century is cause for celebration, I fear that some of you may treat this with utter complacency: “These trips have all been done before. I’ve seen the engine on this line. I’ve ri...

Site of the Berlin terror attack is a familiar place

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Monday’s terror attack in Berlin, in which some awful monster drove a truck into a crowded Christmas market, killing at least 12 and injuring more than 50, hits close to home, even though I live in the U.S. The site is the Kaiser Willhelm Memorial Church, and it’s an area well known to me as I have lived nearby in an apartment for a week while covering InnoTrans, the world’s largest railroad trade show in September 2010, 2012, and 2014. Associate Editor David Lassen covered thi...

Twilight for 'Twilight of Steam' author Ron Ziel

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
I never met noted steam photographer Ron Ziel, who passed away Dec. 15 at age 77, but I know him well. That’s because some 50 years ago, he spoke to me from the bookshelf of Brody’s Hobby Shop in downtown Asheville, N.C. I was but a lad, a child in love with steam locomotives, and here was a man who had gone out and photographed the last steam power and put it into a book called “Twilight of Steam Locomotives.” It is still one of my favorites, and I still have the tattere...

Brushing up on the basics

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Although I don't really have the title, if you send an email to "photoeditor" I will invariable see the message. It's just one of the quirk of the job. Some people use it to ask questions, about submitting photos or upcoming needs. Others just attach images of all manner, so I see a lot of the first time photo submissions. While we do get some gems in door that way, a majority of it is just unusable. But it doesn't have to be that way. Photography is a creative pursuit, but there are still s...

From the Steam Passenger Service Directory to the Tourist Trains Guidebook

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
I’ve been moonlighting lately on behalf of the good folks down the hall in our books department who are updating the Tourist Trains Guidebook. The sixth edition will be published in 2017. I’ve got a few entries to update, and the work is giving me the chance to touch base with some folks I haven’t talked to recently. It’s also giving me the opportunity to find out the latest advances and challenges at museums and tourist lines that I haven’t visited lately. And it a...

A lost print shows up from 1979: Amtrak's Crescent at Atlanta

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
It is amazing what might show up in your garage. Case in point: This black and white image of Amtrak’s Crescent in April 1979. I found the print last week in the garage of the house my wife, Cate, and I moved into last year. I have no idea how it got there. In the blender-mixer that is moving – nine times for me since college – the print and I have traveled many miles, first across North Carolina and 12 years ago to Wisconsin. I am as curious as anyone as to why the print, neve...

Join Trains magazine in an epic adventure on Peru railroads

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
We’ve got a new travel opportunity for you at Trains. In the last two years, we’ve taken you to Colorado, Austria, Germany, Ireland, and U.K., and we’ve had a great time sharing the railroad experience with you. Now we’re upping the game. Working with our partners at Special Interest Tours, and thanks to efforts of our friend Henry Posner, chairman of Railroad Development Corp., we’re announcing a new tour for fall 2017 called the Ultimate Peruvian Railway Experienc...

It's hard to think of only ONE top story ...

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
Time Magazine named its person of the year this week. This annual occurrence, among other signs of the season, signaled me to pause and reflect on what this year has been in the world of railroads. At the top of my mind right now, there has been what seems like a slew of crashes and accidents around the world this year, with back-to-back passenger train accidents throughout November, killing hundreds of unfortunate passengers. The passenger news here in the U.S. is that Amtrak agreed to purcha...

The art of the 'heads up'

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Sometimes the train-watching hobby is a solitary pursuit, while other times it's a group activity. Oddly, it can be both at the same time. Sitting in the car trackside you see a special move go by your location. What do you do? Tell your friends down the line, of course! But there's a science to doing it properly. 1. What did you see? This seems so simple, yet many messages that are intended to aid people down the line don't always make this clear. "NS 1070" – while cryptic to those ou...

Pearl Harbor anniversary makes me think of dad and the Daylight

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Wednesday is the 75th anniversary of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, plunging the United States into World War II, ending the country’s isolationist era, and sending the railroad business into an overdrive frenzy. When I think of that conflict, I think of my father, John, an agricultural agent who had graduated from Clemson with an Army ROTC scholarship. At the start of the war, he was called to active duty with the U.S. Army, and assigned to the infantry school at Fort Benning, Ga. I...

The railfan gifting dilemma

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
The holidays are upon us now, and that brings a sense of dread for many railfans – well-meaning relatives who think anything railroad related is "good enough." Who among us hasn't received a train-shaped empty Avon bottle or generic bargain-table railroad book as a gift? I'd wager more than a few. Most railfans are passionate – borderline obsessive – about the hobby. That's especially true for modelers. (Nevermind just getting the right scale, a gift giver should also know h...

I thought I'd caught an SD45

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
It had been a long drive. I’d been watching the tracks along U.S. 53, searching in futility, but the flash of blue and the hint of motion caught my eye at 72 mph: Train! I pulled off the four lane highway at Chetek, Wis., and started backtracking on a side road paralleling the tracks. Still, nothing, for miles. I know I didn’t imagine the units or the movement. More empty tracks. And then, suddenly, near a frac sand plant, I saw two units in the woods shoving back to a coupling. And ...

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