Posts Tagged ‘Trains magazine’

Bellevue Museum Gets Grant for Dome Car

December 21, 2017

The Mad River & NKP Railroad Museum in Bellevue has received a $10,000 grant from Trains magazine that will be used to restore the nation’s first dome car.

The money will be used to restore the dome section of the Silver Dome, a Chicago, Burlington & Quincy car that was modified from coach Silver Alchemy at the railroad’s shops in Aurora, Illinois, in 1945.

General Motors Vice President Cyrus Osborn is credited with coming up with the concept of a dome car while riding the head-end of a train through Colorado’s Glenwood Canyon in 1944.

The museum acquired Silver Dome from Amtrak in 1978. The Trains grant will be used to replace trim and Plexiglas that has become discolored. The museum also plans to restore the upholstery and carpets as well as do window sill work.

Trains received 40 applications for its 2017 Preservation Award. The grant program is now in its 18th year.

In another development, the Mad River museum said on its website recently that it has raised more than $70,000 toward its goal of $100,000 this year to use to acquire Nickel Plate Road steam locomotive 757.

The locomotive is currently at the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

The Mad River museum plans to place No. 757 on static display once it arrives in Bellevue.

No. 757 had been set aside by the Nickel Plate Road to donate to Bellevue, but the city lacked a museum at the time. It therefore wound up being sent to Pennsylvania.

Mad River has said its overall fundraising goal is $250,000 of which $150,000 will be used to move the 757 to Bellevue.

On its website, the museum said if it raises $150,000 by next spring it will be able to move the 757 to Bellevue as early as next summer.

In recent months, Mad River volunteers and contractors have traveled to Strasburg to prepare the locomotive for shipment.

More information, including how to donate to the cause, visit  https://www.madrivermuseum.org/news.html

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C&O Operation Delayed Until Winter

August 2, 2017

It now appears that Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 will not operate this year.

The Western Maryland Scenic Railroad and Trains magazine said they are delaying a photo charter the two had scheduled for September until early 2018.

The 2-6-6-2 is being restored by the WMSR and officials said that they expect the locomotive to be operational by early winter.

Assisting the tourist line with the restoration work in Ridgeley, West Virginia, is Diversified Rail Services.

“We will be seeing smoke and paint by the end of fall,” said steam locomotive restoration contractor Gary Bensman. “We want to make sure the engine is in good shape for its long-term sustainability.”

The additional work needed involves the wheels, running gear and ensuring that the 1949 Baldwin-built locomotive is compliant with applicable Federal Railroad Administration rules.

“Additional wheel work will take place to ensure the engine’s long term operability,” said WMSR CEO John Garner. “It makes much more sense from both a financial and a mechanical perspective to perform this work now than it does to reassemble the engine, run it, and then take it out of service again for repairs. We want to get it done right the first time. We are committed to returning the engine to service. We are optimistic for operations starting this winter.”

Sanders Article Appears in September Issue of Trains

July 25, 2017

An article written by Akron Railroad Club President Craig Sanders will appear in the September 2017 issue of Trains magazine.

The article tells the story of how the late Steve Goodman came to write the song City of New Orleans.

Although Goodman recorded the song in 1971, it didn’t become popular until it was recorded by Arlo Guthrie and released in spring 1972. The song reached the top 20 on the music charts in summer 1972 by which time it had begun receiving widespread play on AM and FM stations nationwide.

Goodman, who died of leukemia in September 1984, often said in interviews that the song describes a trip that he and his wife, Nancy, took aboard Illinois Central’s City of New Orleans in April 1970 from Chicago to Mattoon, Illinois.

However, Goodman began working on the song in 1967 following a trip from Chicago to New Orleans aboard No. 1. It was an experience that he had on the return trip aboard No. 2 that got him interested in writing a song about the train.

At the time, Goodman was a college student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He often rode the train between his home in Chicago and the UI campus.

That 1967 experience led to Goodman crafting with the help of a friend some initial lyrics, including the chorus.

The April 1970 trip, though, provided many of the observations that appears in the first two verses of the song.

Sanders told the story about how Goodman came to write the song and how Guthrie came to record it during a program that he presented at the September 2012 ARRC meeting.

He later took his research and created an article that he sent to Trains with the idea that it would be published in April 2015, the 45th anniversary of Goodman’s trip that inspired him to finish the song.

The magazine, though held the article for nearly two years. In the September 2017 issue it is paired with a piece written by Kevin P. Keefe that examines how America’s roots music grew up along railroads lines, particularly in Mississippi, and an article by Ed Ellis about how former City of New Orleans observation car Mardi Gras has been restored and is now operated by Iowa Pacific Holdings.

Those articles along with Sanders’ story about the writing of City of New Orleans appear under the theme “railroads and music.”

Preserving Heritage Rail Lines May Involve Overcoming ‘More Beneficial Use’ Arguments

April 11, 2017

Scott Fadness is not a popular person these days among railroad advocates in Indiana.

The mayor of Fishers, Indiana, favors ripping out a former Nickel Plate Road branch line that runs through his city to Indianapolis that until 2015 hosted excursions operated by the Indiana Transportation Museum, including its popular Fairtrain to the Indiana State Fair.

In place of the now dormant rail line, which is owned by a public entity, would be a hiking and biking trail.

ITM and other rail supporters have proposed building the trail alongside the rail line.

But Fadness has rejected that due to safety concerns, saying he didn’t think it would be wise for trail users to be within several feet of a locomotive.

It is easy for railroad advocates to dismiss Fadness as ignorant or to proclaim his position as ludicrous as an ITM spokesman did.

Indeed, those accusations probably are true. But overcoming the beliefs of officials such as Mayor Fadness will not be easy.

He may not be a friend of rail preservation, but it could be a mistake to consider him an adversary. He is someone who needs to be won over.

If anything, railroad advocates need to listen carefully to public officials such as Mayor Fadness. You can’t overcome opposition if you don’t understand it.

Rails and trails can and do co-exist. The Rails to Trails Conservancy says there are 1,600 trails in 41 states that are located next to a railroad line.

Yet the Conservancy said there are 10 times more trails that have been built on a former railroad right of way.

As a result more people think trail without rails than they do trail with rails because the former is most likely to be what they have seen and experienced.

One of those trails without rails is a couple miles west of the ex-NKP line on the right of way of the former Monon Railroad line to Indianapolis.

Fadness wants to emulate that trail and has adopted the type of “more beneficial uses of the property” worldview that worries Jim Porterfield, the director of the Center for Railway Tourism at Davis & Elkins College in West Virginia.

Porterfield was quoted in the May 2017 issue of Trains magazine as warning that heritage railroads are at risk when a community views them as entertainment rather than historical venues.

Porterfield told Trains that the typical arguments for displacing heritage rail lines include, “year round versus seasonal use, a greater distribution of income to local businesses, more people present, and higher property values along a trail versus a rail line.”

By one estimate, the ex-NKP line in Indianapolis needs $9 million in repairs to bring rail service back. A trail can be built for much less than that.

Mayor Fadness sees the situation as a simple cost-benefit analysis that weights heavily in favor of a trail.

Every rails to trail dispute has its own circumstances. In the case of the ex-NKP rail line, there has been internal turmoil within the past year at ITM that has harmed its credibility.

The location of the line in an affluent area of suburban Indianapolis also works against it. Such areas are a fertile ground for NIMBY opponents who know how to work the political system.

Some at ITM have also spoken about extending the ex-NKP to downtown Indianapolis and offering passenger trains there.

There may be some merit to that vision, but it would cost millions if not billions, to replace track that was removed years ago.

People who do not “love” railroads will laugh off such proposals as unrealistic given the existing available resources.

Mayor Fadness may have his mind made up and time is not working in favor of those who want to keep the ex-NKP branch intact.

If you are going to persuade public officials such as Mayor Fadness, you need to show him that rails and trails can co-exist. And you need to convince him on his terms, not those of a railfan who tends to believe that every foot of rail should be preserved.

The question is whether the railroad advocates have the skills and willingness needed to make the case for rail and trail.

Forcing Film Shooters into the Digital World

March 27, 2017

Organizations have ways of forcing people to do something they might not wish to do otherwise.

It used to be that airlines issued paper tickets to passengers. They still do, but for a fee.

The reason why this changed is obvious. The airlines save money by shifting the cost of paper and printing onto their customers.

In theory customers get the “convenience” of being able to print their tickets at home. That saves them a trip to the airport or a travel agent.

To many people, printing your own tickets is no big deal. The cost of the paper and ink for printing airline tickets – technically called boarding passes – is minuscule.

Most people who travel by air already have computers and printers at home.

Some don’t even print their boarding passes. They show a code on their smart phone sent to them electronically. No paper is involved at any step of the process.

But not everyone who still makes photographic images on film has the equipment needed to digitize their work.

Those photographers might be out of luck if they wish to enter the 2017 Trains magazine photo contest.

Tucked into the rules is this change: “We will no longer be accepting submissions by mail.”

No explanation for that rule change was provided, but it likely wasn’t a financial move.

The photographer paid all costs associated with sending slides or printed images by mail.

More than likely this rule change was for the convenience of the staff. All entries can now be kept in one location and viewed in the same manner.

There is no more having to toggle between digital entries and slides and prints.

It also might save some staff time. Winning entries submitted as slides or prints no longer need to be digitized.

But what is convenient for the magazine staff is not so convenient for certain photographs. If they lack the equipment to digitize the images they wish to submit to the contest, they will have to buy the equipment or pay to have their images digitized.

Perhaps some have a friend who has a scanner who might be willing to do it for a beer.

The rule change also is likely a reflection of the reality that few entries are still being submitted the old fashioned way.

There remains a hard core of photographers who use film to make railroad images.

Some of them have scanning equipment to digitize their images, but most of the film guys I know do not have equipment to scan slides and negatives.

Most of them strike me as unwilling to learn how to do it. I can understand why.

Like cameras, film scanners come in all shapes, sizes and price points.

Some equipment is inexpensive, but the quality of the finished product might not be satisfactory.

B&H Photo offers a guide to scanning equipment at https://www.bhphotovideo.com/explora/photography/buying-guide/film-scanners

If you know little to nothing about digital images, reading that guide might be bewildering. You soon learn you need to know about things that film photographers do not need to know unless they are in the publication business.

I can’t say what percentage of photographers has equipment capable of scanning film images into a digital format.

Most of the railroad images I’ve see posted online were made with a digital camera.

There are not as many pre-digital images in cyberspace as there could be. Aside from its cost, digitizing equipment takes time to learn to use.

Yet the day is coming when having scanning equipment will be a “must have” if you wish to share your pre-digital photographs with others.

Slide shows remain a staple of local railroad clubs, but some events, e.g., Summerail, no longer allow programs in which images are projected directly from film.

I have a sizable collection of slides and I do not foresee projecting them again with a slide projector.

Local railroad clubs are losing members and the number of opportunities to project slides the old fashioned way is dwindling even as slide film is making a modest comeback.

As I noted in a previous column, slide film has a future, but it is tied into the digital world, particularly if you want to share your images with a circle that extends beyond your closest friends who are willing to get together in a room for a slide showing.

Trains to Sponsor C&O 1309 Charter

March 17, 2017

Trains magazine and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad will offer a photo charter for Chesapeake & Ohio No. 1309 in late September.

The restored locomotive will pull a freight train with 14 to 18 cars on Sept. 26 to 28, stopping at several locations on the 17-mile railroad.

Among the photo locations will be Helmstetter’s Curve. No. 1309, which was built in 1949, will wear its C&O markings and at times have Western Maryland lettering.

The event will also include a night photo shoot, cab access, and an audio-visual program detailing the restoration of the locomotive.

Tickets are $495 apiece and only 80 will be sold.  Tickets may be purchased at 800-TRAIN-50 or at wmsr.com.

CSX Changing Operating Rules

March 15, 2017

Trains magazine reported this week that the first change at CSX since E. Hunter Harrison took over as CEO has been implemented.

Operating employees will now be able to step on and off moving equipment provided that it is moving 4 p.m., or slower.

A CSX bulletin obtained by the magazine said the change took effect on Tuesday and applies to trained employees who have been qualified by a supervisor regarding the rule change and have demonstrated proficiency in the task.

Employees must run down a list of requirements before getting on or off moving equipment, including scanning the area for obstructing objects, maintaining three points of contact, staying clear of adjacent tracks, and first applying a boot to the bottom step or ladder rung to verify proper footing before continuing.

Additional operating rules changes are expected to be implemented on April 1.

Amtrak CEO Moorman Talks About His Vision For the Future of the U.S. Rail Passenger Carrier

January 30, 2017

Since taking over last fall as the CEO of Amtrak, Charles “Wick” Moorman has given hints here and there about his vision of America’s national intercity rail passenger carrier.

Wick Moorman

Wick Moorman

Columnists and editors of Trains magazine sat down with Moorman in December to discuss that vision.

Columnist Don Phillips was there and wrote about it for the March issue of the magazine that will be in subscriber mailboxes soon.

Phillips recently sent advance copies of his columns to those on an email list that he maintains. Presumably, there will be another report in the March issue written by the magazine’s passenger rail correspondent.

Moorman told the Trains representatives that he sees a future for long-distance passenger trains, but it is less clear if he sees any expansion of them.

He does see potential growth in medium-distance service, which is paid for by the states.

The proposed restoration of service along the Gulf Coast east of New Orleans has been gaining political support and may end up becoming an extension of the Chicago-New Orleans City of New Orleans.

But that hinges upon the federal government making a financial commitment to the service.

Moorman said during the interview that the new Viewliner equipment for eastern long-distance trains that is being built by CAF USA will be finished according to a new production schedule that the company and Amtrak have agreed upon.

Other items of interest include Moorman’s view that something needs to be done about the quality of food service aboard Amtrak trains, and the aging diesel locomotives and passenger cars used by trains outside the Northeast Corridor.

In regards to food service, Moorman said the pressure that has come from Congress in recent years to cut the cost of food service is lessening and what Amtrak needs to do is sell more food.

Another high priority on Moorman’s list is the institution of a training program for on-board employees, including conductors.

But the top priority on Moorman’s list is rebuilding infrastructure in the Northeast Corridor. That includes replacing bridges, tunnels and catenary, as well as building a replacement for New York Penn Station.

The takeaway from the Phillips column: Look for a better on-board experience but with little to no expansion of the existing routes and levels of train frequency.

Ousted Volunteers Behind ITM Recall Drive

August 30, 2016

Trains magazine reported Monday that a group of former volunteers at the Indiana Transportation Museum is behind a online petition drive seeking to remove the current directors of the museum.

The seven former volunteers have said they were dismissed last March after they complained to the Federal Railroad Administration and the Indiana attorney general’s office about alleged operating and financial improprieties at ITM.

Indiana Transportation MuseumJason Hardister, a spokesman for the volunteers, told Trains that he group began the recall drive.

He noted the ITM bylaws provide for the ouster of members of the board by a vote by members in good standing.

“We’re trying to save the place,” Hardister told Trains. “That’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, and we’ve been open and transparent about it. We don’t want to run the museum into the ground.”

The ITM has been unable to operate any excursions this year because the owner of the track that it uses, the Hoosier Heritage Port Authority, has not allowed it.

The Port Authority said an inspection found the track was not in good operating condition. The authority has also sought records pertaining to the ITM’s operating crews.

Trains said it was unable to reach ITM Chairman Jeffrey Kehler for comment about the recall effort.

C&O 1309 Restoration Reported as Going Well

June 14, 2016

Although they haven’t said when it will operate, Western Maryland Scenic Railroad officials said that restoration of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 No. 1309 is progressing well.

Western Maryland ScenicWestern Maryland Scenic Railroad Superintendent John Garner told Trains magazine that significant progress occurred with the purchase of stay bolts – which hold a boiler in place – and other needed supplies.

The WMS has received a $400,000 grant from the state of Maryland to be used in the restoration work and has launched a GoFundMe page seeking approximately $260,000 in additional money to restore the 1309 to operating condition.

This includes paying employees and experts to finish the restoration work.