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Trains live streaming: 844, IC-painted passenger trains, Santa, and more

Posted 20 hours ago by Jim Wrinn
One of the most frequent comments we hear from you, our readers, is how much you’d like to go with the staff or correspondents in the field. You’d like to be with us to see the things we get to see on your behalf. That’s understandable. Thanks to the miracle of live streaming webcams, we’ve got some exciting opportunities for you this fall.  If you’re online Saturday morning, next Wednesday, or Oct. 29-31, be sure to check out our live streaming Webcam (www....

Thoughts on Jim McClellan's life on the rails

Posted 4 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Much has been written about Jim McClellan, who passed away Friday at age 77. I cannot add to the accolades given Jim for his accomplishments with regards to the railroad industry – the creation of Amtrak, setting up Conrail, the combination of Norfolk & Western and Southern Railway to make Norfolk Southern, the subsequent split of Conrail between CSX and NS, and so much more. I will let others who knew him better dwell on this aspect of his life. What I do want to make sure doesn&rsquo...

The photographer's best friend

Posted 9 days ago by Brian Schmidt
It was a dark Saturday in Duluth. The sun was out earlier in the day up on the Iron Range, but downtown on the lakefront, the clouds had won for the day. I was chasing the Lexington Group inspection trip from Two Harbors back to Duluth, and fighting the diminishing light along the way. Luckily, I had an ace up my sleeve for the final shot of the day: a 1.8 lens. I was able to keep shooting until the end of the chase, at a reasonable ISO setting, too. Yes, the classic 50mm f/1.8 SLR lens is a ...

Two Superstar Steam Locomotives and their new Documentaries

Posted 10 days ago by Jim Wrinn
A recent Saturday morning was cloudy and rainy here in southeastern Wisconsin. It was the perfect morning to watch new documentary videos about two of the superstar mainline excursion steam locomotives of our time: Norfolk & Western 611 and Southern Railway 4501. Both locomotives are significant, and both deserve the kind of treatments that videographers Rex Teese (611) and Evan Lofback (4501) have devoted to them. I was glad I took the time to watch. If you’ve ever wanted to follow a...

A-No.1 to Sugar Creek on No. 19 ... thoughts on a Pacific Northwest logger heading to the Heartland

Posted 12 days ago by Jim Wrinn
Yreka Western No. 19’s sale to Jerry Joe Jacobsen for the Age of Steam Roundhouse last week marks the end of an era for this short line Mikado as a resident of the Pacific Northwest and the start of a new chapter for this western logging locomotive as part of a private collection in the Heartland. It is difficult to see locomotives leave their historic regions; I am a big believer in displaying and running them in their native environments; but I am also relieved to see it going to a new h...

Of misleading headlines and keeping things in perspective

Posted 15 days ago by Jim Wrinn
When I was reading about and listening to the initial coverage of last week’s NJ Transit accident in Hoboken, I was on the road and truly worried about the people on board and in the station. I feared that the first reports of mass casualties meant that scores of people were dead. Thankfully, that was not the case. My sympathies to the family of the one passenger on the platform who died; we all want railroading to be safe for every worker and every rider.  The crash generated tremen...

Railroad preservation: Group study recommended

Posted 16 days ago by Brian Schmidt
0-4-0 Minnetonka, the Northern Pacific's first locomotive, and SD45 No. 3617, both significant pieces of railroad history, share a prominent spot at the museum. Photo by Brian Schmidt I had a great time visiting the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth last week – twice. The first visit, on Monday, I toured the museum just after opening and was able to enjoy a relatively quiet facility in a contemplative manner. There were no loud conversations, no rowdy children, just track after tr...

An afternoon session with Union Pacific's Lance Fritz: Optimism in the face of adversity

Posted 18 days ago by Jim Wrinn
If you are in Omaha, Neb., and you have a convention of 1,250 of the railway industry’s leading suppliers and mechanical associations, then you invite Lance Fritz, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Union Pacific to be your keynote speaker.  That was that the Railway Supply Institute did Monday, and Fritz, who took his post in 2015, produced a most interesting and enlightening talk in one of the most perilous circumstances for any lecturer: He followed lunch, that period when ev...

Be very, very quiet ... we are going Alco hunting ... in Iowa

Posted 21 days ago by Jim Wrinn
My pecking order when it comes to interest in locomotives goes like this: Steam, cab units, Alcos, and everything else. I imagine you’ve got your priorities, too. Everyone does. This is a tale of good hunting for one of my priorities. On Thursday, on the way to meetings and a trade show in Omaha, Neb., I deviated from my usual journey along Interstate 80 (typically made with hopes of catching an Iowa Interstate train somewhere on the old Rock Island, or zipping up to drive portions of U.S...

Trapped in the dentist's chair ... here's where I went while he was drilling

Posted 23 days ago by Jim Wrinn
I was in the dentist’s chair for a little more than 2 hours this morning. I hate getting numbing shots, cotton in my cheeks, and anyone fiddling around in my mouth. They always say to go to your happy place when you’re in a situation like this. So I gave that a try. It’s hard to mentally transport yourself elsewhere when something like this is happening (echoes of Woody Allen’s famous line about dying: “I don’t mind doing it if I have to, but I’d rather ...

Swiss (and German) adventure: the postscript

Posted 25 days ago by David Lassen
I touched down at O’Hare Airport on Friday afternoon, closing the book on my second European trip for Trains, my fifth journey across the Atlantic overall. As always, I found time overseas to be memorable and enriching, and as always, I was ready to get home. A few final thoughts before getting back to the day-to-day routine, before going to work on the first of a few stories from the trip that will eventually appear in the magazine: • It would be difficult to understate how dis...

What excites me about steam in 2017: This (among other things)

Posted 28 days ago by Jim Wrinn
My good friend and videographer Kevin Gilliam visited the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad shops at Ridgeley, W.Va., on Friday. He’s working on a documentary video for Trains about the restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 for release next year after the locomotive runs in early 2017. He got good shots of the crew working with the steam pipes that lead to the smokebox, the restored tender, and the lead engine being prepped for the day coming soon when the engine will be r...

A lend-lease program for rail preservation

Posted 29 days ago by Brian Schmidt
I was down at the Illinois Railway Museum earlier this month for the annual Museum Showcase Weekend, which sees some of the museum's "best" equipment in operation. For me, that meant a chance to ride the Nebraska Zephyr train set and photograph 2-10-0 No. 1630 under steam. But one of my most-anticipated displays wasn't even part of the special event hype. That was the display of two Chicago & North Western diesels, C44-9Ws Nos. 8646 and 8701, on loan from Union Pacific. I had photographed...

Steam, the Internet, and strong emotions

Posted 29 days ago by Jim Wrinn
A friend of mine restores steam locomotives for a living. He does good work, is a self-confident individual, and enjoys a good reputation. He’s a pretty cool guy, except when it comes to the Internet. He has nothing but disdain for the medium and, as he sees it, people who sit behind computer screens, hide behind made-up names, and critique the hard work that he and others do in the name of fixing and running steam locomotives.  If it were up to this locomotive mechanic, the Internet...

Swiss adventure, Part 5: The original Gotthard tunnel

Posted one month ago by David Lassen
The last chapter in this Swiss adventure, which has focused on the new Gotthard Base Tunnel, was a visit to the bore it will replace. On Friday, about half of our tour group visited Goschenen, at the north portal of the 9.3-mile tunnel that opened in 1882, and learned a bit about the high price the engineering marvel of its day exacted on those who made it possible. Historian Kilian Elsasser led us on a walking tour of Goschenen, a village that swelled almost overnight from a few h...

Serendipity by Pewaukee Lake

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
As my mind wandered Thursday afternoon I decided to check the status of the westbound Amtrak Empire Builder, just for grins and giggles, and found that it was already more than 40 minutes down at its suburban Chicago stop in Glenview. Seeing this as an opportunity to photograph Amtrak without cutting out of work a little early, I finished up my projects and headed off to Pewaukee, a few miles west of the office and the west end of Canadian Pacific's double track territory. I parked in the munici...

On Amtrak, no changes can be nice

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
SOMEWHERE, On the Northeast Corridor — It’s 5:24 a.m. and southbound Northeast Regional No. 67 is loping through early morning dark to get down to Newport News, Va. Me? I’m headed to Washington today for meetings with old-time friends of Trains, and a few people we ought to know a little better. But the train, it’s pretty full so far. The Amfleet coaches are identical to what I’ve ridden on the Lakeshore Limited. About half of the passengers in my car are s...

Light (rail) thoughts in Philadelphia

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
Would you believe it? In Philadelphia, streetcars run ... like streetcars: often and quickly. I treated a few of you to my quick pics from the Nos. 11 and 13 lines from Monday on Facebook. And as good as the action above ground is, 30th Street Station underground is where you can see dozens of trolley and elevated vehicles an hour on four side-by-side tracks separated only by an open platform and what appear to be two wrought iron fences — sorry, I didn't cross the tracks to find ...

Swiss adventure, Part 4: The tunnel

Posted one month ago by David Lassen
Today I walked around in the Gotthard Base Tunnel. In the very near future, Swiss Railways will hope no one has that opportunity. Because, after November 27 of this year, the only time any passenger should alight in the world’s longest tunnel — a 57-kilometer (35.4-mile) bore under the Alps — is in an emergency. For now, though, this very long hole through the mountains is a tourist attraction. Beginning in August, and concluding in November, it is possible, once a ...

Crossing fingers for a good ending to this Philadelphia story

Posted one month ago by Steve Sweeney
PHILADELPHIA — The message came on Monday shortly after I mailed a post card at Benjamin Franklin's original post office, but before I ate an obligatory cheesesteak.  The email was brief, but polite: There was more trouble with the Silverliner V cars over the weekend and I needed to speak with SEPTA's public relations' person. The immediate reason is that I have an interview scheduled this week with a SEPTA manager and the PR people needed me to know that some of the answers to my ...

Swiss adventure, Part 3: Golden goodness, and beautiful Bern

Posted one month ago by David Lassen
Falling behind a bit here, so before I get into today’s activities, a few words about Montreux, where I stayed on Sunday night. I can’t really tell you much about the city, since I arrived at 6 p.m. on a Sunday and left at 8:30 this morning. The promenade along the lake (7 kilometers long, according to the tourist literature) is quite beautiful, with extensive gardens along the path. It was alive with people on Sunday evening — families, couples, friends. With c...

Peer review may be the next step for preservationists

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
In November, people who care deeply about the future of railway preservation will gather in Savannah, Ga., for the annual meeting of the Association of Tourist Railroads & Railway Museums. For those who are still getting used to that name, it’s the merged organization of the former Tourist Railroad Association Inc., and Association of Railway Museums. ATRRM is a bit more of a mouthful than ARM and TRAIN, acronyms that slide right off the tongue, but the job is still the same: Advocacy ...

Swiss adventure, Part 2: The slow express

Posted one month ago by David Lassen
It’s called the slowest express train in the world for a reason. Switzerland's Glacier Express takes an extremely modest 8 hours, 13 minutes to cover the 180 miles from St. Moritz to Zermatt, meaning it races along at an average speed of a little over 20 mph. But then, no one’s taking this train as basic transportation. This is truly a case where the trip is more about the journey than the destination, and it’s a journey 200,000 people take each year. In addition to th...

Swiss adventure, Part 1: Do you know the way to St. Moritz?

Posted one month ago by David Lassen
On a normal Friday, I would have turned left out of my apartment parking garage and headed to the Trains magazine. This day was anything but normal: I turned right and headed to Switzerland. OK, so the right turn actually sent my on my way to Chicago and O’Hare airport, where I would catch my flight to Zurich. But there was no mistaking it for a normal day.  Having handed off our upcoming special issue “Chicago: America’s Railroad Capital” to the art departme...

You gotta know the (home) territory

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
Rapid City, Pierre & Eastern SD40-2 No. 6454 leads an eastbound Canadian Pacific freight through Pewaukee, Wis., on June 12. Early in the summer, I made an effort to spend more time around Pewaukee than previous years. Photo by Brian Schmidt I was a bad railfan this summer. We all have our home territory. For me that was once northern Ohio and Indiana. I knew when all the locals went on duty, I knew all the shortline radio frequencies, and I knew when all the special moves were coming. W...

Why there's no picture with this post

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Usually, I start out a blog post with a photo that I took in the field. Sadly, this is a post without a picture. Here’s why.  I figured the Labor Day holiday plus the diminished traffic levels of recent months would turn a Tuesday drive along U.S. 30 in eastern Iowa into a boring trip. Ever the optimist, I got off I-80 at Iowa City, ducked into my favorite Subway for a six-inch BMT on wheat only to find a busload of college kids so that was a no-go, and picked up 30 along the UP (Chi...

Paying it forward: A short story about the next generation of railroaders

Posted one month ago by Jim Wrinn
Sometimes the good you do is repaid many times over, but it takes a while to find out. Some times you know about it. Sometimes you don't. This tale comes to me from my good friend and our ad sales guy, Mike Yuhas. I'll let Mike take it from here. "On the trade show floor at the American Railway Engineering Maintenance of Way Association in Orlando earlier this week, I heard a voice call 'Hello Mr. Yuhas.' I turned and smiled at the gentleman who said it, trying to put a name to the familiar fac...

Summer 2016 reading challenge recap

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
I must confess, I didn't take a terribly difficult route with this project. Chalk it up to the travel – on the road three of four weekends in the month. But, I believe, that I still made progress, and pushed myself to do a little more reading. While I was sifting through my home library for something to read, I stumbled on the books I purchased last summer in Colorado, had shipped home, and never really looked at again. Shame on me. So, this month, I made a effort to go through each bo...

When transportation works, it's a wonderful thing

Posted one month ago by Brian Schmidt
The eastbound Lake Shore Limited rolls through Rochester, N.Y., in December 2011. Photo by Brian Schmidt I walked in to the Trains Magazine offices in suburban Milwaukee about 1 p.m. today. Many people would think that's grounds for dismissal, until they learned that I woke up the same morning somewhere between Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio. I was returning from a long weekend in Rochester, N.Y., on the Lake Shore Limited. Upon my arrival at Chicago Union Station, I was able to make a hasty t...

Good advice across 126 years went into picking Wick Moorman as Amtrak's new president

Posted 2 months ago by Jim Wrinn
Amtrak, for once, was right on time. The passenger carrier today named its replacement for President Joe Boardman, selecting former Norfolk Southern Chairman Wick Moorman to start Sept. 1. Boardman plans to retire at the end of September after serving since November 2008. A lot of observers had bet on others to lead the company. Moorman is a surprising choice, given that he’d said that he’d promised his family that he wouldn’t take another full-time job after leaving NS earlie...

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