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Taking the Talgo to Vancouver for the first time

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Is this a glimpse of what’s ahead for Wisconsin and other states?Precisely at 7:40 a.m., on Monday, Amtrak Cascades train No. 510 gently eased out of Seattle’s King Street Station, heading north to Vancouver, B.C. This was my first experience with these articulated, lightweight trains that run between Vancouver, Seattle, Portland and Eugene, Ore.  These Spanish-built trains have been in service in the Pacific Northwest for 10 years now, and they’re nothing short of amazing. That they’re in ...
1

Canadian Pacific at the Pacific

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
How the Vancouver Service Area packs a lot of railroading into a small area I spent much of Monday visiting the Canadian Pacific in Vancouver, B.C., my first trip to this Pacific Northwest metropolis made famous by the 2010 Winter Olympic games. What CP does in and around Vancouver is worthy of a gold metal itself. I saw incredible amounts of freight moving in a highly congested area, and I heard from railroaders who’d developed some ingenious ways to move tonnage. Jennifer Hunt in the...
0

Much-anticipated ride on a Willamette geared locomotive

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
I fulfilled a long dream of mine Saturday, which was to see and ride a Willamette geared locomotive. The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad restored Rayonier Inc. No. 2, a three-truck “Willie” last year, and Pacific Northwest railroad historian Martin Hansen (pictured at right) organized a photo outing with the superheated locomotive for 18 of us. Having grown up riding and appreciating the Shay locomotives of North Carolina’s Graham County Railroad, I always wanted to know what the Pacific Nort...
3

A ride on the Northeast Corridor: Always something new

Posted 7 years ago by Roy Blanchard
Posted by Roy BlanchardNew Jersey Transit Train 3930 runs express from Trenton, N.J., to New York Penn Station, covering the 50 miles in 70 minutes. It departs Trenton at 8:09 a.m., arriving at Penn at 9:19 a.m. with three station stops: Hamilton, Princeton Junction, and Newark. For those of us in Philadelphia, it's an easy connection with the 7:04 SEPTA local out of the former Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station, making the total transit time exactly 2 hours and 15 minutes. Amtrak servic...
1

Union Pacific operating income jumps 47 percent in a year

Posted 7 years ago by Roy Blanchard
Posted by Roy BlanchardUnion Pacific stepped up to the quarterly earnings plate Thursday and, like CSX, knocked the first pitch out of the park. It’s a case of doing many things right. Operating income was up 47 percent to $988 million on a 16 percent revenue increase to $4 billion. Operating expense was held to a 9 percent gain, just 1.5 percent if you exclude fuel. The operating ratio dropped five points to a first-quarter record of 75.1.  Average revenue per unit was up 3 percent with no...
1

Here’s how short lines are doing

Posted 7 years ago by Roy Blanchard
By Roy BlanchardIn an earlier post Fred Frailey comments on the traffic gains the Class I railroads are seeing as we begin to come out of the economic downturn that started more than two years ago. Shortline and regional railroads are seeing better days too -- not surprising since roughly 20 percent of all Class I carloads touch a short line someplace between origin and destination. Week 13 shortline carloads as reported in the RMI RailConnect Index were up nine percent compared with a year ago ...
2

CSX earnings show an uptick from last year

Posted 7 years ago by Roy Blanchard
By Roy BlanchardCSX leads off the railroads’ earnings season with record first-quarter revenue, operating income and operating ratio. Total freight revenue increased 11 percent to $2.5 billion as merchandise carloads (all but coal and intermodal increased to 55 percent of the total and coal dipped to 30 percent with intermodal treading water at 13 percent from 12 percent year-over-year. Merchandise carload revenue shot up 17 percent thanks in part to jumps of 41 percent and 32 percent in fertili...
1

The ghosts of B&O past live on in this Baltimore hotel

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
A bit of East Coast railroad history that was reborn last year in Baltimore has gone largely unnoticed, but it merits attention of the railroad community. On Sunday night, thanks to my good friend and historian John P. Hankey, I spent the night in downtown Baltimore at the Hotel Monaco. If that doesn’t sound railroad-like, it isn’t, but the 13-story building at the intersection of South Charles and East Baltimore streets cannot escape its past as the former Baltimore & Ohio Railroad headquar...
0

A day of surprises on a California short line

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
One thing is for sure about a day on a short line: You never know what you’ll encounter. Case in point: my Thursday at the Sierra Northern’s Santa Cruz Division, which it acquired from Union Pacific on Dec. 31, 2009. The line runs 31 miles from Watsonville to Santa Cruz, Calif., then 10 miles north to Davenport. Our day began around 9 a.m. when engineer Cliff Walters and brakeman Wes Swift arrived to prepare ex-Santa Fe GP20 for the day’s work at a lumberyard in Santa Cruz. The two coupled the l...
0

Finding shades of the past on the rails of the West

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
On Tuesday morning, the shop door at the Nevada State Railroad Museum lifted and a century-old ghost rolled out. Virginia & Truckee McKeen car No. 22, under restoration for years, puttered out under its own power.  This is a rare car, possibly the only one that’s complete today. McKeen’s nautical interests are apparent everywhere – from the bow-like knife front to the porthole windows in the passenger compartment and the boat tail. The car is set for its public debut on May 9, 100 years...
1

Virginia & Truckee is back from the dead, and it’s awesome

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
The odds of reconstructing a long-abandoned but legendary railroad from scratch are long, even in a gambling state like Nevada. But odds makers could have never foreseen the myriad funding that came together to rebuild a good chunk of the Virginia & Truckee branch between the state capital of Carson City and the mining town of Virginia City, where Mark Twain once ran the Territorial Enterprise newspaper. On Monday, I was among 20 photographers who boarded a Trains & Travel charter with V...
0

Why CSX’s shortline meeting sets the standard

Posted 7 years ago by Andy Cummings
A special guest post from Roy Blanchard, Trains magazine short line correspondentCSX wrapped up its 21st Annual Shortline Meeting in Jacksonville on Tuesday. I’ve been to most of them, and every year they get better. It is, after all, the longest running show if its kind, and features a number of industry firsts. To begin, CSX was the first Class I road to establish a short line caucus group, a rotating panel of shortline leaders to gather up membership concerns and take them up with CSX manager...
5

Don Phillips reflects on Trains-Amtrak town hall meeting

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Special guest post from Don Phillips, Trains columnistI am tempted to say that there was good news and bad news out of the Trains Magazine-Amtrak meeting in Chicago Saturday. There was indeed one item of terrible news and a few items that could be bad if we learn the details. More about that shortly, but first I want to concentrate on some of the good things that came out of this meeting.The best "good thing" was that Amtrak management was there at all and actually provided some straig...
1

That cloudy day in Utah feeling

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Posted by Jim Wrinn, EditorOK, so let’s just say that you are traveling in one of the greatest railroad states in the nation (Utah), and on the February morning you had free, you could choose anything you wanted to do — as long as you didn’t mind the cloud cover that was hovering overhead. That happened to me Wednesday, and the answer to my dilemma was to enjoy a short train ride, as well as a bit of freight action and a glimpse of some preservation. A three-in-one kind of day.  The day sta...
1

Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618 makes a rare appearance

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Posted by Jim Wrinn, EditorHeber Valley Railroad Executive Director Craig Lacey was astounded at the phone call he got Tuesday. It was from a resident of the region just east of Salt Lake City wondering what that sound was. “She wondered if it was a cow in distress, or maybe giving birth,” Lacey said over dinner. “She hadn’t heard it much and was debating it with another woman.” What the two women heard was a Southern Railway “hooter” whistle affixed to Union Pacific 2-8-0 No. 618, a 1907 Baldwi...
1

Trains Map of the Month section debuts online

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
By Matt Van Hattem, Senior EditorOne of the most popular features in Trains magazine is now a benefit for subscribers who visit our Web site: the Map of the Month, available as PDF files you can save or print out.  Use our drop-down menus to find maps by subject matter, or type your favorite railroad name into the search engine. We’ll be adding new maps on a regular basis, so be sure to check back, and see if your favorite railroad appears. And check out our free preview map that is availab...
3

The legend of ‘Chief Wawatam’

Posted 7 years ago by Andy Cummings
By Andy Cummings, Associate EditorI touched base yesterday with my friend Alex Huff, who recently retired from the railroad industry after a career with Missouri Pacific, Michigan Northern, and Dakota Southern. I wanted to see how he was doing in retirement (fine, thanks), and in the course of conversation, he told me a story that I found fascinating. With his permission, I tell the story in hopes you’ll enjoy it, and perhaps learn something about pre-Staggers railroading.  The Chief Wawata...
17

Spotting roundhouses from satellite images

Posted 7 years ago by Kevin P. Keefe
Of all the brilliant time wasters on the Internet, my guiltiest pleasure is Google Earth. That little blue marble just stares at me from my desktop, daring me to dive into another ridiculous journey across time and topography, leading me at helicopter level across old neighborhoods, familiar landscapes, and most often, railroad landmarks. My latest Google Earth habit: roundhouses. When I first started playing with Google Earth a couple of years ago, I zoomed in on my hometown of Niles, M...
1

Live video of President Obama's high speed rail announcement

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Quandt
Tampa TV station, WTSP is offering live video of President Obama's high speed rail announcement. The site also features live updates from the President's visit. According to these updates, the speech is expected to begin at 1:05p Eastern.Also, be sure to visit TrainsMag.com's "High Speed Rail 2010" section for the latest, most comprehensive news and analysis available from the world's leading publication on the rail industry....
2

Strasburg caught hauling freight! Oh my!

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
In choosing pictures for Trains magazine’s April 2010 preservation section, I couldn’t help to select one of Pennsylvania’s Strasburg Rail Road doing something so un-Strasburg like as to shock readers who land on page 87: hauling freight. The Strasburg, of course, is the east’s ever-popular tourist railroad in Lancaster County’s Amish country. Close to 400,000 take the short (4.1 miles between East Strasburg and the run around track at Lehman Place, also known as Paradise) ride, much of it throu...
1

Norfolk Southern in the Carolina Piedmont: A message from the boss and a look inside a yard

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Sunday was the last day of the annual Railway Passenger Car Alliance meeting in Salisbury, N.C., and Norfolk Southern was in the spotlight. On Saturday night Wick Moorman, NS’s president, chairman, and CEO, became the first sitting railroad chief executive to address the organization. Moorman gave a presentation on his youthful railroad interest in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss., then discussed his company's view on high speed rail (bottom line: it's coming, possibly to some NS route...
1

A chance sighting of Clinchfield Railroad office car No. 100

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
When I arrived at the Lancaster & Chester Railway in South Carolina today for a field trip that's part of the Railway Passenger Car Alliance meeting, I saw a car whose lines looked oddly familiar to me. Later, at a photo stop at Fort Lawn, S.C., I recognized the tail car after rare mileage trip organizer Bart Jennings prompted me: Clinchfield Railroad office car No. 100.  The car was painted all Pullman green and its CRR markings were faded, but visible in the right sunlight. The L&...
2

A mid-winter thaw

Posted 7 years ago by Andy Cummings
Last week, I was reading Slate Magazine’s Moneybox column by Daniel Gross, in which he makes the case that recovery will come sooner and stronger than we expect. Much as I’d like to believe him, I think we all have doubts right now about how long it’ll be before the economy we live on returns to normal. This is certainly true at the railroads, where overall traffic is down more than 20 percent from pre-recession levels.  For the first weekend of the new year, I got my first feel for a thaw ...
1

Witness to a great train movie production

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
When our new 100 Greatest Train Movies special came out last week, I had to smile when I got to page 39 and reflected on the movie that ranks No. 47 out of 100. That’s Disney’s “Great Locomotive Chase,” and I have first-hand knowledge of it because I grew up listening to my mother tell stories about its filming in my hometown of Franklin, N.C., a few years before I was born. The subject of the 1956 movie is the capture of the Confederate locomotive “The General&rdqu...
0

Trains Magazine and Amtrak to hold town hall meeting in March

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Response to the town hall meeting that Amtrak and Trains are co-sponsoring March 6 in Chicago has been nothing short of excellent. With only a few days since the February 2010 issue to hit mailboxes and the announcement was posted to Trains’ News Wire Monday afternoon, we’ve already pre-registered 102 participants as of today. That’s great news, and it shows that people are definitely interested in this dialogue with CEO Joe Boardman and Amtrak board Chairman Tom Carper.If you’re not familiar wi...
0

Rush Loving: What Kind of Owner Will Warren Buffett Be?

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
By Rush Loving--UPDATED-- A lot of people at Burlington Northern Santa Fe are probably wondering what Warren Buffett will do to their company once Berkshire Hathaway completes its purchase in the next few months..Everyone in the railroad industry knows all about predators who come seeking quick profits. They date back to the days of Jim Fisk and Jay Gould. Many people remember those leveraged buy-out artists from Wall Street who were knocking on corporate doors in the 1980s, and more lately some...
2

Trains on film: The best of 2009

Posted 7 years ago by Matt Van Hattem
Railroads have a surprising way of sneaking into the popular culture — sometimes in places where we least expect them. What follows is a short list of my favorite railroad “cameo appearances” in movies and TV for 2009. This list is by no means comprehensive, so why not share your favorite “trains on film” moments from 2009 with us? Here are seven to get you started. President Obama’s inauguration train: Millions of Americans watched on Jan. 17, 2009, as a president-elect rode a 10...
1

Happy Holidays from all of us at Trains magazine

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Dear readers, On behalf of the Trains editorial staff, I’d like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Reflecting on 2009, we’ve enjoyed bringing you the world’s top railroad magazine and web site. This has been a memorable year for us with our two special jumbo issues, the April issue devoted to grain traffic and our October issue about narrow gauge; the addition of Fred Frailey as a monthly columnist; and features, news sections, and departments throughout the year that we hope ed...
8

Jim Wrinn's list of “must see” places and “must do” experiences; what’s on yours?

Posted 7 years ago by Jim Wrinn
Everybody has a life’s “to do” list. Some people have heightened this sense of urgency by calling it their “bucket list” of must-do activities they consider essential before they pass from this earth or “kick the bucket.” I was reminded of this earlier this week when I saw pictures of the tiny two-truck Shay that’s on display at the Allen County (Ohio) Historical Society being lifted by crane from one display site and placed in another. For all of the many years that I’ve been riding behind or a...
3

Of politics, education and main line steam

Posted 7 years ago by Steve Glischinski
The recent announcement that Milwaukee Road 4-8-4 No. 261 would return to the National Railroad Museum in Green Bay, Wis., after 15 years of pulling excursions got me thinking about the politics behind mainline steam. Politics, you say? You bet. To successfully navigate the treacherous waters of organizing a main line steam excursion in the 21st century, you’d better be a darn good politician. Consider what you're up against: First, unless you have a good relationship with a Class I rai...

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