‘Although it was financed by British capital, the street railway system at Manila, Philippines, was built by a US engineering firm in conformance with American practice. Even though much of the Manila rolling stock was constructed in company shops, trucks [wheelsets] and other equipment were obtained from US suppliers and the cars were in the American style. Two Manila Electric Railway and Lighting Company open cars negotiated a narrow Escolta Street around 1918.’
from: The Time of the Trolley; William D Middleton; 1967; Kalmbach Publishing Co.
‘Aerial view shows Calgary centre’s present appearance. A is Hotel Palliser, B the present railway depot, C the present Canadian Pacific Oil and Gas building, and D the new CPOG offices under construction that will eventually rise to ten storeys.’
from: Canadian Pacific Spanner; Jan-Feb 1966; Public Relations and Advertising, CPR.
The CPR was partly financed through generous government land grants during the 1880-1900 European movement into the Canadian west. By the 1960s these assets had matured and the former Canadian Pacific Railway had become a major player in oil and gas and downtown real estate.
Today: Calgary is the centre of the petroleum (esp bitumen sands) business; CPR has completely sold off its petroleum assets; the railway is relocating its downtown headquarters to cheap trainyard real estate at the east end of town … and today … in Calgary … a short ten storey oil company building would be seen by some as laughably symptomatic of a lack of ‘potency’.
Washington DC, Ivy City Engine Terminal, circa 1950
‘showing servicing facilities in the background, and roundhouse, with centrally placed turntable in the foreground. Ivy City is operated by the Washington Terminal Company and deals with locomotives of several railroads including electric locomotives of the Pennsylvania Railroad.’
from: The Concise Encyclopaedia of World Railway Locomotives; P Ransome-Wallis; 1959; Hutchinson and Co., London.
A turntable still exists on the site … so this view may be to the west, with New York Avenue NE somewhere along the left edge of the photo. You might notice the Baltimore and Ohio’s stylized Capitol Dome on the nose of the locomotive. The PRR electrics are at the sanding towers. With no steam locomotives in sight, the new diesels are swarming the coaling tower.
Link opens my YouTube playlist in a new window - 9 videos, 28 minutes.
This week’s selection:
1. The Government of Ontario, Canada is about to cancel passenger service between Toronto and the relatively remote railway junction settlement at Cochrane - so this train will be replaced with an “enhanced bus” in less than a month. On the tailend of this southbound at Huntsville is a private car.
2. Heading in from, and then north along, the south-west Indian coast … the railway encounters ghats (mountains) with tight curvatures and steep grades. For part of this grade, bankers (pushers) are added to passenger trains. In this video, a pusher engineer spotted a mis-alignment of buffers and this could have caused a disaster if tailend force had caused the affected coaches to jackknife. Hours later officials arrived and the defects were cut off by OA torch and the train proceeded.
3. About 50 miles west of Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a passenger train rolls by to a station stop at El Cristo.
4. Again at El Cristo, an eastbound freight swings south around the topography to approach the southern port of Santiago.
5. The Last Mikados. Generally, particular steam locomotive wheel arrangements got “contemporary nicknames” which end up sticking - or not. In 1897, US locomotive builder Baldwin built some steam locomotives of this 2-8-2 wheel arrangement for Japan … and … the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “The Mikado” had been recently produced in the US. Had this order been filled circa 1904, perhaps this wheel arrangement might have been known as Madame Butterflies instead? These broad gauge Spanish-built locomotives operated until Spain’s end of steam in the 1970s.
6. At Minakami, Japan - about 150 km NW of Tokyo - a couple of restored steam locomotives perform a doublehead deadhead test run in the snow. The handsome leading locomotive is a Japanese-built Mikado of a class built from the 1930s through to the 1950s. (Handsome: Large round smokebox ‘face’; proportional smoke deflecting ‘elephant ears’; crowned with a feedwater heater.)
7. Almost in the dead-centre of India, at the south border of the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, our videographer travels through a tunnel on a maintenance of way vehicle.
8. A nice study of steam whistles! These are assembled by this long-time chronicler of the current and preserved railway scene in Australia. Canadian and US locomotives employ more discreet bell appliances to warn those near the track of pending or nearby movement. Generally, whistles are used to signal to railway employees, to warn, and to provide distant location information as trains approach or leave stations.
9. In Canada, railways now manage most of their own safety because - all together: ”self-regulation is best” … as I “learned” in my securities-industry-run courses. Besides, self-regulation enables “lower taxes”! … In contrast, the Transportation Safety Board suggests that 15,000 ton objects, which hurtle through cities at 60mph, should have cab voice and video recorders. In addition, they suggest that some kind of advanced train control system should be implemented - to prevent cornfield meets and passenger train derailments if signals are misread. Some US railroads had this standard of functionality through electro-mechanical devices way back in the 1930s. When will we?
Sorry for repeat post - fixing processes for next week:
1. Link opens new window.
2. Representative image from series.
Thanks for your patience.
This week’s selection:
1. This scene with many interesting details shows the station platform at Vadodara Junction - in the west coast Indian state of Gujarat. After surveying the entire platform and all those who are travelling, there is some nice foreshortening work as we leave the city behind.
2. At the south-west tip of England, seasonal steam tours are shown in these beautiful ocean-side views. Of course, if you ride on a railway excursion or watch one go by … proper etiquette calls for waving.
3. At Rostov-on-Don - just north of the Black Sea - this heavy electric-drawn freight was recorded earlier this year. The units have an interesting two-tone whistle - one tone is worthy of a ship.
4. I love RailKingJP! When heavy rail equipment drops those few inches from the rail to the ties … there is plenty of work for all. As the diesel couples to the locomotive fuel tender it seems most of the carmen are busy photographing. This beautiful piece of preserved steam equipment also “works” quite well as a 100 ton pendulum. I didn’t know you could buy “Hello Kitty” heavy cranes!
5. I couldn’t find this movie on YouTube or iTunes but it certainly captures the rough human experience of engine crews on pre-1940s steam locomotives. Included is a neat sequence of scooping up water on the fly - this process saved the usual stops at water tanks every 30-40 miles. Only particular locomotives for fast passenger trains had the scoops. They gave all this up for the TGV?
6. Germans demonstrate why tank cars should be vented as they are unloaded.
7. In south-west Germany, near Stuttgart, old electric trams are shown working on two separate lines (Lines established: 1920s … and 1912 for the second urban line - Both were torn up in the 1970s). Unpowered trailers were towed to increase efficiency. Bonus: At 0:53 you can see a VW Beetle with a fake Rolls Royce “radiator upgrade” I think.
8. High quality narration is a feature of this short piece on African-American deep south Gandy Dancers. The callers and their “heavy work pacing and gang co-ordinating” work songs always interest me. Notice the heave is often on the FOURTH beat of the bar. The songs and Gandy Dancers only survive at railway museums as shown in the clip.
The link above will take you AWAY to my YouTube playlist of videos made by others. (11 videos, 40 minutes)
So … please “right click, open in new tab” to preserve your current Tumblr dashboard location - if you wish to do so.
1. During the “Golden Hours” a short freight leaves Melbourne, Australia, composed mainly of empty covered hopper cars - these are used for grain.
2. Next we’re off to India at Mughal Sarai in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh … We ride a passenger train of the broad gauge system through the yard as a freight leaves in the opposite direction. Track work is very demanding physically as all the track elements and tools are necessarily heavy - then factor in the heat.
3. This longer clip nicely covers the Isle of Man Railway - a 3 foot gauge railway on the Isle of Man - located in the Irish Sea. Wikipedia article here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Isle_Of_Man_Railway Everything is smaller and lighter with narrow gauge railways, so track systems, roadbed, bridges, etc are cheaper to construct. The acceleration of these little engines is quite impressive. The other clips in this series are well worth watching as well.
4. One of my favourite videographers works around Jenkinsburg, Georgia in the south-east US. He is a retired carman (railway car mechanic) with extensive knowledge of local operations. He produces many videos about interesting aspects of railway technology as well as geographical essays on local colour. Really nice videos.
5 This is just one of a series of clips with valuable oral histories of the human experience of working on a railroad post office car - the US service ended in 1967. To make the system more efficient, mail was sorted AS it travelled between cities. Added to this, was the complexity of catching and throwing off mail at stations along the route - often from the moving train. A very interesting series about a vanished, demanding occupation.
6. A little novelty piece for you. I don’t know if there was a particular “side” the film-makers were on. During this era, this type of spectacle was presented at US fairgrounds. Historically, it illustrates the dangers of punctured steam pressure vessels and the wooden rolling stock of that era.
7. The actual location of this Chinese narrow gauge railway is not specified, but you can see that even with very little maintenance of way, relatively heavy loads can still be carried. As well, steam engines can last for a very long time. In a coal-producing region, the fuel is almost cost-free for steam locomotives. A couple of chickens get to the other side at 3:36.
8. So that westerners don’t become too critical of the modest, hard-working Chinese line, here is something to behold in the richest country in the world. Quoting the description: “Maumee & Western Railroad Company (reporting mark MAW) is a Class III shortline railroad, located between Napoleon, and Defiance, Ohio.” You should read the full YouTube clip description.
9. Not far from Pretoria, South Africa an engineer’s careful hand on the throttle ensures a smooth start with minimal slipping. Notice the sand pouring through a pipe onto the rail ahead of the driving wheels. South African steam survived well into the modern diesel era due to technology embargoes … and plenty of local coal and cheap labour.
10. In Eritrea on the Red Sea - yet another colonial railway has outlived its builders. This is classic narrow gauge railroading in a beautiful piece of countryside. Mallets were named after Anatole Mallet (Mal-LAY), secretary and publications editor of the French Academy of Science. With Mallets: all of the locomotive’s weight is on the driving wheels and the subsets of drivers have their own suspension and piston systems. Mallet created the design in 1874 for use on rough narrow gauge track systems - but massive powerful Mallets were later built for railways in the US and elsewhere.
11. The enduring state of affairs between Canada’s two largest cities is presented by Canadian satirist Rick Mercer.
The link above will take you AWAY to my YouTube playlist of videos made by others.
So … please “right click, open in new tab” to preserve your current Tumblr dashboard location - if you wish to do so.
None of the advertisements are mine.
My use of “001” displays extraordinary foresight … or more probably excessive optimism about my abilities … we’ll see.
Railway transportation systems are intimately intertwined with the geography of the country through which they are built. Often they are “laid upon the drainage pattern of the land”.
Their facilities and practices provide clues about the local culture and what it values.
They are often only as technically sophisticated as they need to be - to meet local needs.
1. Viewed from an angle historically reserved for professional film photographers “with permission”, a restored US steam locomotive runs over the camera - twice.
2. India understands the benefits of passenger rail transport and can never embrace autos as “we” have. Two “open air” passenger trains gracefully sweep by each other.
3. A manager at a Indian railway shop - which dates back to early British railway companies - proudly documents his facilities and his team. Notice the importance of “re-creation” at work.
4. Except for a boiler explosion, probably nothing could ever stop this ancient, battered North Korean steam locomotive with its annoying squeak.
5. A Moscow news report documents old neglected Soviet-era steam locomotives stored at shops just south of the city. Will they be properly preserved in a museum?
6. Preserved Russian steam is double-headed.
7. A General Motors powered “bus on rails” used quick swap-out military tank diesel engines. Beginning in 1950s the “Budd car”, “rail diesel car”, CPR: “Dayliner” … kept many light-rail, low density branchlines open. Today the technology still supports remote roadless, trackside settlements in Northern Ontario, Canada.
8. An electric-powered freight train crosses the River Don in eastern Russia.
9. West of Lake Superior, a lonely memorial cross is interpreted by an avid railway archaeologist. He specializes in this particular line of the Canadian Northern Railway. An Italian labourer died here 120 years ago.
10. Near Olongdo, Sakha, in Eastern Russia, a freight engineer (and locomotive instructor) hauling a train of empty coal cars uphill … takes the opportunity to walk back through his 3-locomotive diesel power consist to inspect its operation.
11. On the North Caucasus Railways, a Russian passenger train gets out of town.
12. In Java, steam tourists lovingly document wood-burning locomotives which originated in the early 1900s. They were originally introduced by foreign imperialists - the locals still make use of this hardy transportation equipment.
13. In contrast to the last clip’s technology, a German artist documents the most modern electric railway technology, usually working along the Rhine. The intimate link between technology and local geography are beautifully presented.