It's Railway Interchange time

Posted by David Lassen
on Sunday, September 22, 2019

Can you tell where this side-dump gondola was made? If you were at Railway Interchange, you could also have operated one of these cars. (Trains photo by David Lassen)
MINNEAPOLIS — The big show has begun.

Railway Interchange 2019, the rail equipment trade show held in conjunction with conventions of an alphabet soup of railway organizations (most prominently AREMA, the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance-of-Way Association, and RSI, the Railway Supply Institute) opened Sunday at the Minneapolis Convention Center, featuring exhibits from hundreds of rail-related manufacturers. You can talk to representatives of companies making everything from bolts to locomotives as you wander the convention center, or an outdoor exhibit area at BNSF’s Northtown Yard. 

The scope of the related conventions is just as broad. Over the next few days, Associate Editor Brian Schmidt and I plan to sit in on presentations from AREMA and other organizations on everything from emergency bridge replacement to positive train control to a major rail infrastructure project in Australia.

Beyond talking and listening, there are chances to do things that are a bit more active.

In the course of my Sunday wanderings, I yanked a handle to dump the load in a side-dump gondola at one of the outdoor exhibits, being hosted by BNSF Railway at its Northtown Yard. (JK-Co offered that opportunity; I can honestly report it took more effort to open the closet door in my hotel room than it did to pull a handle that could dump 100 tons of rock. In this case, the car was empty, of course, but the JK-Co folks tell me the effort is the same, full or empty.)

Plasser American's tamper simulator, built into a shipping container. (Trains photo by David Lassen)
I could also have tried the ballast-tamper simulator of our friends at Plasser American Corp., which I hope to do later, if I have a chance to get back out to the yard. Plasser has a version of the tamping simulator available as a game ( but this is a more complex and more realistic version, built into a shipping container that has traveled to three countries as well as around the U.S.

There’s also a supplier offering a chance to operate some sandblasting equipment to strip cars for repainting. And I’m sure we’ll find some other hands-on-opportunities, be they real or virtual.

BNSF Logistics' Schnabel car, on display at Northtown Yard.
Other displays out at Northtown include a BNSF Logistics Schnabel car, always an impressive site and all manners of maintenance-of-way equipment and hi-rail vehicles.

We’ll have more from Railway Interchange and the AREMA conference over the next few days, so stay tuned.

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