Trains Mar 2020


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12 Numeri

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1 min
gallery: fred springer

‘Little Joe’ for Brazil Ferrovia Paulista S.A. electric No. 6452 powers a train in Valinhos, São Paulo, Brazil, on Oct. 30, 1990. It was built for service in the Soviet Union, and is preserved in Jundiaí, São Paulo. The railroad was formed in 1971 to consolidate five state-owned railroads. Seaside in South Africa South African Railways 4-8-2 No. 2683 leads articulated 4-8-2+2-8-4 No. 4122 in Western Cape, South Africa, on March 22, 1995. At the time, the railroad operated more than 12,000 route-miles. High-flying Hedjaz Hedjaz Jordan Railway 2-8-2 No. 71 steams across an aqueduct bridge in Amman, Jordan, on July 15, 1991. The Ottomans built the railroad between 1900 and 1908, replacing an ancient caravan route. Smoke over Amman Hedjaz Jordan Railway 2-8-2 No. 23 smokes through the Amman, Jordan, station on July 15, 1991. The…

9 min
burlington northern power

Fifty years. Hard to believe it’s been 50 years since four beloved railroads merged to form Burlington Northern. What is perhaps even harder to comprehend is the fact that soon, BN’s successor BNSF Railway will be around even longer than BN was. The story of Burlington Northern has been told many times, and in many ways, but it still feels like BN never got the recognition it deserved. The story always seemed like it was about the railroads BN swallowed. Admittedly, popular rail-roads such as Great Northern; Northern Pacific; Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Spokane, Portland & Seattle; and later Frisco were relegated to history. Because of that, however, BN inherited a variety of locomotives. On March 2, 1970, the new railroad amalgamated nearly 2,000 locomotives from all four of the major…

2 min
amtrak and kansas city

TODAY, KANSAS CITY HOSTS three Amtrak arrivals and three departures. But less than two decades ago, its passengers could not be found at Union Station. By 1985, the station had fallen into massive disrepair. After several downsizing moves, including the construction of an inflatable bubble inside the station as a waiting room, Amtrak finally abandoned the location. Amtrak then moved to a small box-like building on Main Street a few hundred feet east of Union Station. That new terminal was not so affectionately termed the “Amshack.” The “depot” was not the cleanest, and one might spot a cockroach occasionally scurrying under a counter. Amtrak staff was doing the best they could, but it certainly was no Union Station. A historic Bi-State Sales Tax initiative that raised $118 million in 1996, along with…

3 min
hot spot: durand, mich.

LOCATION: Durand has always been known as a railroad town, and it remains so as the years pass. The Canadian National, Great Lakes Central, Huron & Eastern, and Amtrak serve the community. Durand is located 17 miles west of Flint, 30 miles east of Lansing, and 63 miles northwest of Detroit. Interstate 69 runs along the north side of down-town and is the easiest way to access the city. TRAIN-WATCHING: Canadian National has two lines that serve Durand. The Flint Subdivision runs from Battle Creek to Port Huron, Mich., and the Holly Subdivision runs from Milwaukee Junction in Detroit to Durand, crossing the Flint Sub at Durand Union Station. It is located at milepost 253.3 on the Flint Sub and milepost 67 on the Holly Sub. CN runs an average of…

4 min
the tortoise and the hare @bybillstephens Blog: You’re standing alongside BNSF Railway’s double-track Southern Transcon in the Texas Panhandle. Bearing down on you at 70 mph: A 12,000-foot stack train with five units, their combined 22,000 hp urging the train on to Chicago. This, you conclude as the dust settles, is an amazing railroad that hasn’t lost its sense of urgency. Now transport yourself 1,400 miles north. You’re on the outskirts of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, along Canadian National’s main line across Western Canada, the busiest single-track route in North America. Along comes a Chicago-bound 12,000-foot stack train behind just two locomotives, puttering along at 45 mph and likely to take a siding or two to meet opposing traffic. Now here’s a question: Which railroad is faster overall? Why it’s CN! BNSF certainly seems faster, and its high-priority Z trains,…

15 min
amtrak’s capacity crisis

THAT SUPERLINER I COACH coupled behind Pacific Surfliner No. 777’s Business Class car says a lot about the current state of Amtrak’s passenger-car fleet, and the passenger railroad’s management choices. The car arrived 40 years ago as a replacement for the starter set of comparatively young — but decades-old — equipment Amtrak acquired from its passenger-carrying predecessors. Today it provides more seats with spacious legroom for folks booking Pacific Business Class. The extra-fare option is popular, because it is the only version of business class on Amtrak’s system to offer complimentary snacks and beverages that include beer and wine, along with reserved seats on usually unreserved trains. Although older than the hand-me-down equipment Amtrak received at its inception, there are no concrete plans to replace the coach, and no current manufacturer with…