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Railway Interchange's outdoor display is filled with goodness

Posted yesterday 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...

10 things we’re looking forward at Railway Interchange

Posted 4 days 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 Meanwhile, here are 10 things we look forward to at the event. &nbs...

Thank you, Wick!

Posted 5 days 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...

Standing tall at Union Pacific’s Bailey Yard

Posted 7 days ago by Jim Wrinn
NORTH PLATTE, Neb. – My wife is from Nebraska, the daughter of a railroad family, the Union Pacific in particular. When we began dating, she was aghast that I’d never been on the U.S. 30 pilgrimage to the world’s largest yard at North Platte. Bailey Yard, she assured me, is a must see. And, of course, she was right. We made a whirlwind trip to western Nebraska earlier this month, and our base of operation for a couple of days was North Platte. We took in a Husker football game...

Wondering about 'Blunders'

Posted 11 days ago by David Lassen
Our article, "Railroading's Biggest Blunders," in the September 2015 produced a significant response from readers — more than all other articles combined that I've worked on since joining the magazine in July 2014. Many nominated additional blunders worthy of consideration, which have been filed away in case we decide to do a sequel. (And based on the strength of many of those suggestions, I think there's definitely a place for "Son of Blunders." And many clearly felt at least some of our...

Two park engines that won’t make you cringe

Posted 11 days ago by Jim Wrinn
UP 2-8-0 No. 480 in Memorial Park in North Platte, Neb., has a sign out front, left, to tell its story to visitors. Jim Wrinn photo. I usually steel myself before visiting any park engine display. Over the years I have come to expect the worst from steam locomotives that were retired from active service, put in city parks more than a half century ago, then left to rot and ruin over the course of the years. That, happily, is not the case in North Platte, Neb. This city has not one but two displ...

The magic of the night

Posted 15 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Burlington E5 No. 9911 idles in darkness at the Illinois Railway Museum. Jim Wrinn photo. On Saturday, the final night of the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railway Museums conference, I spent a few minutes at a special event of the host Illinois Railway Museum. It was the organization’s big, grand finale for the year, an evening of night operations on the property at Union, Ill. Three signature trains were in operation, and there also was a nice covey of diesels parked outside the ...

Britain's RSA moves to address membership issues

Posted 15 days ago by David Lassen
All rail organizations, it seems, struggle with issues of aging and declining memberships. It’s a problem our correspondent Chase Gunnoe wrote about in this recent Trains News Wire article, one that led the National Railway Historical Society board of directors to consider, and ultimately reject, a significant organizational restructuring. It’s also one Britain’s Railway Study Association is attacking in fairly aggressive fashion. The 105-year-old RSA is, to be sure, a diffe...

A steam locomotive hidden among carousels and pipe organs

Posted 19 days ago by Jim Wrinn
On the first evening of the Association of Tourist Railroad and Railway Museums conference in northern Illinois, I joined other participants at the magnificent and awe inspiring Sanfilippo Estate. This collection, housed in multiple buildings in a park-like setting in the northwest suburbs of Chicago contains an incredible collection of, in its own words, “beautifully restored antique music machines, phonographs, arcade and gambling machines, chandeliers, art glass, the world's largest re...

Carload problems, on both sides of the Atlantic

Posted 20 days ago by David Lassen
The old joke is that the United States and England are two countries separated by a single language. In railroading, it seems, the countries have two systems sharing different versions of the same problem: Carload freight. Of course, the common-language gulf being what it is, one thing that doesn’t translate across the Atlantic is the name for that problem. When rail entrepreneurs Ed Burkhardt, Ed Ellis and Henry Posner joined visiting members of Britain’s Railway Study Association...

'Wouldn’t it be great if ….'

Posted 20 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Illinois Railway Museum's Frisco 2-10-0 No. 1630 rolls on the museum's trackage. Jim Wrinn photo. UNION, Ill. — The annual meeting of the Association of Tourist Railroads and Railroad Museums begins in Northern Illinois today. Trains will be on hand to visit with friends in the business of preservation, and we’ll enjoy the hosting of the Illinois Railway Museum. The conference usually attracts 200-300 volunteers, professionals, and support industry folks from across North America a...

2015 Trains Photo Contest Winners: It's all in the details

Posted 22 days ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
The Trains judges enjoyed sifting through the detail photographs you submitted for the 2015 Trains Photo Contest. We received more than 700 images. Here are our top choices. Check out the winners below, and please let us know what you think in the comments section below. Runners-up ANDY INSERRA On Oct. 6, 2014, the morning sun glistens on the lap switches at Canadian Pacific’s Rice’s Point Yard in Duluth, Minn.  BARRY GASTON The flashing crossing-gate signal light at Do...

A visit to a railroad museum you may have never heard of

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
A Burlington Ten-Wheeler built in Lincoln, Neb., is one of two steam locomotives on display at the RailsWest Railroad Museum in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Jim Wrinn photo. COUNCIL BLUFFS, Iowa – It is hard to be a railroad attraction in the Omaha area. There is a lot of competition. Union Pacific Big Boy No. 4024 and DD40X No. 6900 sit on a hillside overlooking the Missouri River. The Durham Museum in Omaha’s Union Station has a complete basement full of displays. Union Pacific’s o...

Fresh tiers for Canadian National

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
It's been about 10 years since I last experienced a new locomotive model for the first time, back when EMD introduced the SD70ACe and SD70M-2 models. Those units, long since ubiquitous on some roads, are now out of production due to federal emissions regulations.So Thursday afternoon, I left the office with more than a little anticipation to see my first new locomotive model in about a decade. That model, GE's ET44AC, was ushered in by the same environmental law that has put the EMD 70-series ou...

I am no Rosemary Entringer

Posted one month ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
There is only one Madonna, one Oprah Winfrey, one Angelina Jolie. Love them or hate them, they're each a part of American history. And, there was only one Rosemary Entringer.  Rosemary, the "First Lady of Trains," as former editor David P. Morgan called her in her obituary published in the October 1977 issue, worked as its managing editor from August 1948 to her death on July 29, 1977. "It was Rosy who dotted the i's and crossed the t's, straightened out the syntax, corrected the spellin...

Hey mister, was that a heritage unit I just saw go by?

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Not long ago Milwaukee railfans got a treat when Norfolk Southern’s Pennsylvania Railroad heritage unit came cruising through on an eastbound Canadian Pacific crude oil train. I set out for my favorite spot for an afternoon photo of an eastbound at Grand Avenue (the same location that I shot Amtrak P32 No. 503 on page 4 of the October 2015 issue). It’s a nice spot where the main line follows the Menomonee River in a southward twist and turn between the Miller brewery and Miller Par...

A trip out West, Part 3: Union Pacific’s Yellowstone connection

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
WEST YELLOWSTONE, Mont. – The last place you’d ever think to find the big tonnage Union Pacific is in the tourist mecca at the west entrance to Yellowstone National Park. We’re miles away from the heavy steel and big trains railroad that we all know. But UP has a big presence here in a historic depot, water tank, other buildings, and even an office car. For years, seasonal passenger traffic to the national park must have been good business for the UP, toting vacationers of...

A trip out west, Part 2: Feeding the stomach and head at Livingston, Mont.

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
LIVINGSTON, Mont. – If you drive into Livingston, Mont., from Bozeman, down the road that follows the tracks, you’ll cross the old wye that took passenger trains to the gates of Yellowstone National Park and end up at the brick 1902 station that’s downtown. The old baggage area is now a wine and cheese shop, and the main portion of the depot is a museum in the summer and a special events center in the winter. But the eastern most part of the station is, I am happy to say, sti...

The pendulum returns, too

Posted 2 months ago by Brian Schmidt
 Many people are familiar with the so-called “Doomsday Clock,” a symbolic countdown to some man-made catastrophe. Respected scientists use the clock as a reminder that humanity is no infallible. Lately I’ve wondered if it’s not time to setup a similar device to remind railroads of the likelihood of pending reregulation. Before the Staggers Act of 1980, U.S. railroads were strangled by regulations that limited their ability to compete both with each other and oth...

Silverton's living history offers 'rocky' memories

Posted 2 months ago by Steve Sweeney
You expect two things on a visit to the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad: trains and mountains. And if you happen to dig deeper and find that this railroad is living history, so much the better. But during an early June trip with a Trains tour group to Durango, Colo., I found a new living history unfolding because of train tourism that most visitors are likely to miss. Our group had taken the 8:45 a.m. train from Durango to Silverton. We saw plenty of trains at the roundhouse, in ...

A trip out West, part 1: Montana Rail Link, at last

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Westbound MRL train with BNSF power exits Bozeman Pass tunnel on June 20, 2015 and passes the old bore that was bypassed in 1945. Jim Wrinn photo. LIVINGSTON, Mont. – I have managed to wander across most of North America and to see a lot of great railroading in this land. But one railroad that escaped me, until now, has been Montana Rail Link. Everyone that I know who has been there comes back captivated by this 900-mile regional railroad that operates the former Northern Pacific main lin...

All in the family; a visit to a joint meeting of two railroad historical societies: UP and C&NW

Posted 3 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Look at all that power on display for the Union Pacific and Chicago & North Western historical societies in downtown Omaha earlier this month. Jim Wrinn photo. OMAHA – I stood on a bridge at Crescent, Iowa, Sunday before last to watch spanking clean Union Pacific SD70AH No. 8897, the last two unpatched Chicago & North Western units, Nos. 8646 and 8701, and a UP geep head east on the point of a long manifest. Buried deep in the train was a single distributed power unit, UP’s ...

This is how the 611 chase went for me

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
We’ve written plenty about the glory of the return to the main line for Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611, and I thought that before the memory of last Saturday’s chase from Spencer, N.C., to Roanoke, Va., fades, it might be a good idea to relate a personal tale of how it went from the perspective of one of the motorcade. Those in hot pursuit of a hot steam locomotive are often ignored, but we are part of the show too. We watch the train and those on the train watch and often lau...

Of steam, power, emotion, and reality: Norfolk & Western No. 611 is back

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
No. 611 thrills the crowd at Villamont, Va., on May 30, 2015 on its homecoming journey to Roanoke, Va. Jim Wrinn photo. On Saturday, I stood trackside at Villamont, Va., on the eastern slope of the Norfolk & Western’s fabled Blue Ridge Grade to watch Class J No. 611 effortlessly move its 18-car passenger consist across the ridge that’s just outside its hometown of Roanoke. As the engine paddled by, whistle tied down for the grade crossing at Tower Road and not even working hard,...

Norfolk & Western No. 611 -- 16 hours with Elvis

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
SPENCER, N.C. – Imagine that Elvis came to live with you. He is putting his career back on track and needs to get up to speed, and it takes him a year. He’s his old self again, ready for the main stage, but before he goes, A. You pack a lunch and wish him well. B. Take him to the bus station. Or C. ask him to sing a concert in your living room for a few friends, and then you’ll pack a lunch and take him to his bus. The answer, of course, is C. You’re no idiot. You want to...

Thoughts and notes on Norfolk & Western No. 611’s first mainline run in almost 21 years

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
SPENCER, N.C. – The steam event of 2015 – Norfolk & Western No. 611 in steam on the main line – is underway, finally. I was fortunate to be among the small group of fans who gathered trackside Thursday to see it in person, and none of us were disappointed. No. 611 lived up to her legendary ability to accelerate and sprint while looking graceful at the point of a passenger train. The good thing about this all: It was only the first day of more than two dozen in the next six ...

Talk about timing: a derailment during a presentation about derailments.

Posted 4 months ago by Steve Sweeney
Talk about timing. A Metra train derails at low speed going through a switch in downtown Chicago, while a thousand miles away, wheel-rail experts talk about switches being a top cause of derailments in the United States. Here’s what we know about Metra first: about 1 a.m. on Wednesday, a Metra Electric train headed to Millennium Park Station from University Park (inbound to downtown) was moving through a switch at 10 mph when it derailed and damaged two tracks. Five passengers and three c...

You never give up on a good locomotive

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
SPENCER, N.C. – I was late to the party Tuesday. An old friend, Buffalo Creek & Gauley 2-8-0 No. 4, was leaving town, and even though my flight from Milwaukee to Charlotte was on time, by the time I got to the North Carolina Transportation Museum, the boiler had already been loaded onto a truck. I did get to see the cab, flues, and running gear loaded up, but to me the heart of a locomotive is the boiler – it’s the vessel where the locomotive’s soul lives. I came to...

Chasing No. 611 from Spencer to Lynchburg, Va. on May 30

Posted 4 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Amtrak's northbound Carolinian crosses the Yadkin River bridge as seen from an overlook just north of the bridge. Photographer Samuel Phillips talked about places to photograph Norfolk & Western No. 611 on its home rails in his blog post a few days ago. Since then, we’ve had questions about the route of the May 30 homecoming trip from Spencer, N.C. to Roanoke, Va. While I was in North Carolina last week to see 611 take its first baby steps, I drove the route and checked out locations...

Chasing Norfolk & Western No. 611 out of Roanoke

Posted 5 months ago by Samuel Phillips
Most of you who arereading this are probably just as excited about the restored Norfolk & Western Class J No. 611 as I am. We are roughly just a month a way from witnessing the return of this beautiful and classic N&W steam locomotive that will parade across home rails just as it did back in the 1950s. That’s just awesome! In addition, we’ve got more excursions with No. 611, Nickel Plate Road No. 765 and Southern Railway No. 4501. We have an exciting summer coming up, and we ...

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