5

Contrasting old and new: The iconic Norfolk & Western coaling dock at Vicker, Va.

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Standing tall and proud after years of serving the former Norfolk & Western, a concrete coaling dock spans Norfolk Southern’s busy double-track main line at Vicker, Va., as an eastbound manifest silhouettes the structure in heavy fog. The train is grinding uphill, piercing the night air with locomotives in notch 8 as they move across NS's Christiansburg District. Old icons like coaling docks remind us of railroading’s past, and it’s neat to include them in modern photog...
19

Erie to GE: "I love you more"

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Erie, Pa., locals thought GE loved them as much as they love it. Or did, until last week.To me, Erie is the closest “big” city to where I was raised, about an hour east in foothills of the Allegheny Mountains in New York State. For the five years I spent living and working as an adult in Erie, it had quality colleges, inspired physicians, and an amusement park that still entertains. And, for course, there was GE. GE Transportation’s June 28 announcement that ful...
4

Luck

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
“Eighty percent of success is just showing up.” That is one of my favorite quotes, and many of you will recognize it as being attributed to comedian, actor, and director Woody Allen. Friends and co-workers tire of hearing me repeat it. But it is true. Case in point: A chance encounter far from home with two special locomotives Monday morning. I had been in Colorado last weekend for a good friend’s wedding. The visit also gave me the chance to visit one of my favorite preservat...
3

Evolution in Erie

Posted 6 years ago by Greg McDonnell
If there’s a bright spot in the gloom currently cast over the historic GE Transportation factory in Erie, Pa., it’s the brightly painted blue-white-and-green ES44AC Tier 4 engineering prototypes currently undergoing testing in the back yard of the sprawling facility on the east side of town. Word that negotiations between GE and United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers Union Local 506 had failed to secure concessions to avert the transfer of work and resultant elimination of ...
2

Locomotive 2013

Posted 6 years ago by Greg McDonnell
It’s been seven years since the first edition of Locomotive, the Trains magazine special issue dedicated to motive power, rolled off the press. The brainchild of Kalmbach Publishing Co. Vice President-Editorial (and former Trains Editor) Kevin Keefe, Locomotive has covered the contemporary motive power scene, from building Evolution and export-model GEs on the assembly lines in Erie, Pa., to the construction of dual-power NJ Transit ALP45DPs in Bombardier’s historic former-Henschel w...
3

Low light photography

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Low-light Photography: One of my favorite situations while trackside is a high-contrast, low-light scene, which can produce incredibly striking results. Low light is defined by the time around sunrise or sunset. However, some weather condition, like heavy rain, fog, or just a flat-out 'dark' scene, could also be defined as low light and likewise produce a striking result.When I’m trackside, I seek out low light. It challenges me as a photographer, enabling me to capture something out of t...
3

A great ride for a great cause

Posted 6 years ago by Brian Schmidt
This past Friday, June 7, Union Pacific hosted two Operation Lifesaver specials in conjunction with its UP CARES railroad safety awareness program. I got to ride both trips, and the deadhead moves, along with some friends. The first trip we rode from Ogilvie Transportation Center in Chicago out the Metra UP-NW commuter line to Barrington and return in the dome. Ogilvie is the new name for the old North Western station, or at least the office tower that replaced it. The morning commuter rush is ...
3

Rochelle Railroad Days 2013

Posted 6 years ago by Brian Schmidt
Although I'm a frequent visitor to Rochelle, I had never attended the city's annual Rochelle Railroad Days, now in its eighth year. That record speaks volumes for the city of Rochelle and Union Pacific who support the event. The Rochelle Tourism & Visitor's Association organizes the event, which draws people from throughout the U.S. and Canada, with the help of the city and UP. The railroad provides display equipment, this year Southern Pacific-painted heritage unit No. 1996 and a new EMD ...
20

2012 Trains photo contest

Posted 6 years ago by Angela Pusztai-Pasternak
Thanks again for sending us more than 400 photos for our 2012 contest. The theme was the blue hour, or the one hour before sunrise and one hour after sunset. Check out the winners below, and please let us know what you think by commenting. Grand prize: Robert Jordan's aerial image of a Canadian Pacific freight at Bellevue, Iowa. First prize: Eric Williams shot of a Metro-North train crossing Moodna Viaduct at Salisbury Mills, N.Y. Second prize: Stewart Buck's stark photo of a switchma...
8

Watching Norfolk Southern trains at Shawsville, Va.

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
I want to take you to a place that has become a favorite of mine to visit again and again. Shawsville, Va., situated along the westbound assault of Christiansburg Mountain on Norfolk Southern’s Christiansburg District, is a spot on the former Norfolk & Western main line between Norfolk, Va., and Cincinnati. For those that regularly see my photography, you know that I love shooting at one particular location in Shawsville, just east of the downtown area. I stumbled upon the location se...
25

Their era ended long ago, but the last 40-foot boxcars endure

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
A BN 40-foot boxcar in work train service in Missoula, Mont., in September 2006. Tom Danneman photo. Just for the record, I like watching an entire train go by, from the power to the EOT. We all enjoy seeing locomotives pass, but I also like to see the rest of the train. The consist is 95 percent of a train, after all. Not watching the whole train, to me, is like buying tickets for a major movie and failing to stick around for the credits. You’re bound to miss something noteworthy if you ...
1

How WRI friendships grease squeaky wheels

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
CHICAGO - You could describe the 2013 Wheel/Rail Interaction conference here in Chicago by highlighting the bright minds gathered in one room at one time or by the scope of knowledge each presenter offers to the audience. Yet the connections forged during the four-day conference might be the most important of all. Gordon Bachinsky, the electrical engineer at the heart of WRI seminars says as much almost as a mantra throughout the daily sessions. "We want to develop those relationships and tea...
0

Tom Hoback on Wheel/Rail Interaction 2013: "brilliant"

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
When something is important to Tom Hoback, he lets you know. The Indiana Rail Road, of which he is founder, president, and CEO, is one. Railroading, in general, is another and lately, so is the Wheel/Rail Interaction Conference. So important is the conference coming next week, that Hoback paused during a recent overseas trip to talk about it, fighting through spotty cell phone reception to get his message across. “Here you have less than an inch square with all these contact forces th...
1

A new face with a new assignment: Wheel/Rail Interaction Conference 2013

Posted 6 years ago by Steve Sweeney
Hi Everyone! Most readers are aware that TRAINS magazine just hired a new associate editor. That's me, Steve Sweeney. But since most of you still don't know much about me yet, fellow editors here thought it would be a good idea to blog an introduction. But first, a little plug. For the two weeks that I’ve been learning the ropes at TRAINS, memorizing names and editing copy, I’ve also been planning for my first big event: WRI 2013. For those of you who don’t know, the Wheel...
6

Southern Railway 2-8-0 No. 630 visits Asheville

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Few mountain crossings in the eastern United States are as fascinating as Norfolk Southern’s twisting, climbing route between Old Fort and Ridgecrest in the western North Carolina mountains. Its amazing engineering to gain 1,000 feet of elevation via 13 miles of track using loops, seven tunnels, and numerous bridges; the incredible operations that get trains safely up and down the mountain’s 2.2 percent grade; and its magnificent southern Appalachian forest backdrop make it irresisti...
7

The climb to Clark's Gap via the former Virginian Railroad

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Some of you may already know that I have an affinity for the Virginian Railway. Something about the railroad has always intrigued me since my love for railroads materialized young in life. The former Virginian was one of the places I first visited as a railfan. When I first began taking pictures, my dad took me to the community of Whitethorne, Va., at the base of the climb to Merrimac. I remember watching loaded coal trains stopping for helpers, then taking off a few minutes later shaking the gr...
9

Inside the Barriger Library: When the government took over the TP&W

Posted 6 years ago by Nicholas Fry
For the past few years I’ve been researching railroads of Pittsburgh, Pa. When I moved to my new job at the John W. Barriger III National Railroad Library in St. Louis, I found myself with direct access to a collection of materials directly related to my research. John W. Barriger III was the former President of the Pittsburgh & Lake Erie Railroad and his papers contain a wealth of information about that company and its operations. However, I wanted to know more about certain decisio...
9

Planes, Trains and Automobiles: One reporter’s journey to Milwaukee and back

Posted 6 years ago by Member Anon
Chicago Union Station. Steve Sweeney For a recent business trip to Milwaukee I had to fly to make connections, meet the bosses and get a good night’s sleep before the scheduled all-day meetings. On the way home, however, I consciously chose Amtrak as a return route. It’s the first time in years that America’s passenger railroad and its once-daily eastbound Lakeshore Limited fit into my scheduled return trip to Erie, Pa. Erie, Pa., 5:30 p.m. February 27:At the airport. My wi...
14

Chasing NS' Norfolk & Western heritage unit across home rails

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
Overview: With Norfolk Southern’s announcement of Norfolk its 20 “heritage fleet” of new diesels in March 2012, I immediately thought, "I have to catch the N&W engine (NS 8103) on former N&W rails and the VGN unit (NS 1069) on former Virginian rails."  Since I reside near some of the most well-known and famous sections of the former Norfolk & Western, I have an affinity for that railroad and anything related to it. Thus, catching the N&W heritage unit ...
10

In search of steam (and vintage diesels) on a western road trip

Posted 6 years ago by Tom Murray
My father, to whom I owe my interest in railroads, was a long-time subscriber to both Trains and Model Railroader. He and I made many trips during my childhood to watch trains at various places in central Massachusetts, where I grew up. But he didn't take many photos of trains, so the two below, which I believe he took during the winter before I was born, are very special to me. This Boston & Maine passenger train is passing the Norton Company, in Worcester, Massachusetts, en route to G...
16

How the rain and fog can infuse your photos with mood

Posted 6 years ago by Samuel Phillips
I am 17 years old, and I live in the remote and beautiful countryside of Southwest Virginia, in the small community of Indian Valley. My main interests are photography and railroads; both have intrigued me since I was 5, when I acquired my first camera. Honestly, I don’t know where these interests came from, because I am the only one in my family who enjoys photography or railroads. I remember taking my first train photo in early 2002, at Montgomery, Va., at the twin tunnels made famous b...
5

Illuminating the dark side of steam

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Editor Jim Wrinn interviews photographer Olaf Haensch in Wernigerode, Germany in September 2012. Olaf Haensch photo. Harz train steams by the Quedlinburg, Germany, railway station. Olaf Haensch photo. A Harz 2-10-2T steams at the summit of Brocken, with the lights of Wernigerode, Germany, visible in the valley below. Olaf Haensch photo. Olaf Haensch is a lucky man. He was born near Wernigerode, Germany, 36 years ago. His family did not own a car, so they traveled by bus to visit nearby relati...
6

Just like old times

Posted 6 years ago by John Hankey
Cars from the Union Pacific business train fleet were on display in Sacramento for the 150th anniversary event. John P. Hankey photo.  It was how things used to be, and may never be again. Over the last weekend in September, the Union Pacific Railroad and the California State Railroad Museum celebrated UP’s 150th anniversary in Sacramento with equipment exhibits, performances, free museum admission, and old-fashioned railroad spectacle. We rarely see traditional railroad celebrations...
6

Train-watching at Missouri Valley

Posted 6 years ago by Roy Blanchard
The town of Missouri Valley, Iowa, is 40 miles north of Omaha, Neb., on I-29. It's the site of some of the most concentrated and intense mainline freight action you'll ever see. And I make it a point to get out there whenever business takes me to Omaha. Such was the case the week of Halloween for the annual Union Pacific shortline meeting. An ill wind blows no good, and I have an extra day in Omaha thanks to Hurricane Sandy. My home airport, Philadelphia, is closed, and I already changed m...
1

Looking for railroad history in Canada’s capital

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
OTTAWA – Participants at this year’s Association of Railway Museums/Tourist Railway Association meeting were up early in Montreal Tuesday for a trip to the nation’s capital and a railroad history tour.  There was only one way to get there, of course: VIA Rail Canada train No. 51. We boarded the five-car train behind F40PH No. 6438 and enjoyed the ride. The large windows of our LRC coaches provided wonderful views of the countryside. At Ottawa, we took a bus to ...
1

Looking for a future for the past with tourist railways and museums

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
MONTREAL — I’m in Montreal this week for the annual joint conference of the Association of Railway Museums and Tourist Railway Association. It is a meeting that I always enjoy because of its seminars and field trips. I grew up in the 1960s and 1970s, when railway preservation was in its infancy, and I’ve been involved in it directly through volunteer work at the North Carolina Transportation Museum since 1986. So this is a homecoming of sorts for me — the chance...
13

Pullman: Though the factory is gone, the community remains

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
A Southwest Airlines 737 takes off from Chicago's Midway Airport, flying over the remains of the Pullman plant. Jim Wrinn photo CHICAGO – I visited the fabled Pullman Palace Car plant on the south side of Chicago on a recent weekend. It was the Historic Pullman Foundation’s 39th annual tour of homes, a chance to step inside some of the row houses where 12,000 railroad passenger car workers lived in a factory community that was so nice to live in that it was once labeled Ameri...
14

South of the border, the railroading isn’t much different

Posted 6 years ago by John Hankey
I’m sitting in the courtyard of a hotel built from the ruins of a 16th-century convent in the Mexican city of Puebla. The evening’s rainstorm is washing through, and I’m wondering why we gringos have so often ignored Mexican railroading. I’m not here as a tourist, although now I wish I were. I’m part of a delegation to Mexico’s first “International Colloquium on Railway Cultural Heritage Conservation” (my translation). Nathaniel Guest, from the NR...
5

As InnoTrans 2012 winds down, a look at the odd, the quirky and how North American railroading shows up in some of the strangest ways

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
BERLIN – I despise QR codes, those square boxes with ink arranged like it came out of an old-fashioned dot matrix printer. It’s supposed to lead your smart phone to further information with the press of a button. I’ve never used one, and I only know one person who does, but on the first day of the world’s largest railway trade and technology show, there was one, as big as a living room rug, plastered on the side of Vossloh’s big, new high speed rail grinder. Is it t...
1

Part volksmarch, part theme park, part party city, all business: It’s InnoTrans

Posted 6 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Like ants flocking to their hill, visitors to InnoTrans flood into the fairgrounds at Berlin for the world's largest railway trade and technology show. Photo by Jim Wrinn Here's a typical exhibit booth with plenty of people, big-time graphics, and video displays. The trains are outside! Photo by Jim Wrinn We're at Lucchini RS' exhibit for a briefing about research into steel for high speed wheels ... and then, as they describe it, 'a typical Italian reception.' Photo by Ji...