Thursday, January 14, 2010

Advantages of a Train:

Cribbed from RailsNW: Train Blog:


1. No wait, no security. Amtrak asks passengers to be at the train 30 minutes before departure. If you show up a little late, you simply walk straight on the train and find a seat that looks good to you.

2. If you want to pee, go pee. There’s never a time on a train when you can’t stand up and do whatever you want. And that includes having a nice lunch in the dining car, which is what I’m going to go do now.

3. The seats ACTUALLY RECLINE! Instead of the 1.5 inches of lean that the little silver button will give you on a plane, Amtrak’s big black button gives a recline of about eight inches. I could actually sleep in this chair! If I wasn’t so excited about how much it reclines.

4. PLUGS! Some planes are starting to finally provide power jacks so we can keep charged through long flights. But all Amtrak trains have three-pronged jacks to keep you electrified throughout your journey.

5. No NAGGING: It’s a frakkin' pleasure not having someone bug me about my seatback and tray tables and whether my electronic device is approved for that particular segment of the trip. And no seatbelts at all! Whether or not that’s technically safe, it’s certainly more comfortable.

6. Legroom: As a six foot + guy, I notice a couple extra inches here. And it’s nice.

7. No beverage cart slamming into your knees and elbows. The beverage cart on a plane absolutely ensures that you never ever ever put any piece of your body into the aisle. Well, the train aisle is considerably wider, for one, and the cart is nonexistent.

8. Treats: If you happen to want a cheese danish on an airplane, you’re out of luck. Not here, my friends. And the cost of said treats is much more modest than the $5 you’ll pay for a snack pack on American Airlines, filled with crap you probably don’t even want.

9. You handle your baggage. If you lose your bags on a train, it’s your fault. There’s no waiting at the baggage claim and no worrying about how the baggage handlers (or TSA) will treat your bags.



Photo not by MP154. I take all my own photographs unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Roseville Yard: When Nose Units Were Plentiful

Above, an EMD SD-40 in final Southern Pacific speed lettering, littered with itinerant Mexi-graffiti and affixed with an afterthought UP number in yellow, awaits fueling. To the left, a UP flanger car. CLICK ON ALL PHOTOS TO ENLARGE.

Above: schematic, J.R. Davis Roseville Yard.

UP 1425, a hastily re-numbered SP unit, approaches the engine house.

UP employee rides the front of an SD-40 in UP armour yellow paint in the yard.

On a siding south of the engine house, a series of UP locos await orders next to one of SP's original steam rotary units. Yes, that's a GE in front, but I couldn't resist the rotary in the yard. So sue me.

An amazing and elderly fellow. Here sits an original DRGW SD-40 unit, original number unknown, dating back to when Philip Anschutz's DRGW bought SP outright in 1988 (and then did his level best to drive SP into the ground, making it vulnerable to UP's purchase in 1996). Being part of SP, this ancient unit served for a time in the yard shuttling cars to and fro prior to its ultimate retirement.

EMD left, GE right, in the Roseville loco house drop pits at night.

Running up an older EMD SD-40 outside the loco house. You know what? I love the smell of diesel and the sound of 16-cylinder American locomotive engines. How about you?

This shot was taken when Chuck "CW" Smith flew me over the Roseville Yard in the Sacramento Sheriff's Department Hughes 500 -- because he was a railroad buff. As a Sergeant, I tapped CW for a few aerial runs over the Roseville Yard. CW was a former Vietnam Huey pilot who admitted he used to make his own LZs by chopping down through the jungle with the Huey's blades tips. That's some scary stuff. And there are more aerial photos where this came from. This is a view, looking west, of the J.R. Davis classification yard.