12 March 2018
Beijing China - Commuting to and from work is a major source of stress in Canada and throughout the world, and your commute can even make you sick.
Yet one city has found a way to make its train journeys more bearable, while promoting literature at the same time.
On two train lines in Beijing the subway cars have been turned into libraries.
But they're not your traditional libraries.
Instead of hard copies of the books, the subway cars contain audio books, as part of a promotion for a Chinese audio book app.
The app has teamed up with the city of Beijing to promote literacy.
However, the cars are still beautifully decorated to look like real bookshelves.
The walls, and even doors, of the cars feature artistic renderings of the available books covers.
Passengers can still browse the books just like in any other library, and once they've made their selection, they can scan the QR code on the "cover" of their chosen book.
The QR code leads to the audio book app, where the passengers can listen to the audio books for free.
And they still have access to the books even after leaving the train.
The app name translates to "Get".
Thanks to the subway cars' makeover, the app gets attention, and the commuters discover new stories every time they take a ride.
And we think they're all the better for it.
Listening to audio books really can make your commute more enjoyable.
But if libraries with physical copies of books are more your thing, you can find plenty of those in China, too.
13 March 2018
Kigali Rwanda - I highly doubt whether it would be safe for cargo trains to move at 120 kph.
Cargo trains I have seen in the USA and Canada can be as long as two kilometers.
If, for instance, our trains are going to be about 500 meters long due to lower cargo compared to North America, I would still think that the speed of 120 kph would be too high and likely to cause numerous accidents.
Even though cargo trains in the USA and Canada are powered by diesel and move at a speed lower than 120 km/hour, they are able to carry huge amounts of cargo safely.
I agree, we should electrify the Tanzania-Rwanda line, but be cautious when it comes to the speed at which we will move our cargo from the coast to Kigali.
I also wish I could know if any research was ever done with respect to how fast a cargo train can move.
4 March 2018
Minneapolis Minnesota USA - The Friends of the 261 will operate a steam excursion from Minneapolis to Duluth over BNSF Railway 9-10 Jun 2018, to raise funds for the installation of the Positive Train Control (PTC) system on Milwaukee Road steam locomotive 261.
The 4-8-4 Northern was built by Alco in 1944, and if funds can be raised, would be the first mainline steam locomotive to be PTC equipped.
PTC is a computerized system utilizing a GPS tracking system that can automatically stop a train in certain safety situations.
Without funding to purchase, install, and train crews for PTC use on 261, the group is concerned it may not be able to continue operating mainline excursions over Class I railroads.
The Friends estimates it will cost between US$100,000 and US$150,000 to equip the historic locomotive for PTC.
Amtrak has also increased the amount it charges the Friends to operate excursions.
This decreases the amount of revenue the group can earn from trips, which causes PTC installation to be an even larger financial burden.
A portion of the cost of each ticket along with additional donations can make the installation and operation of PTC with 261 possible, the organization tells Trains News Wire.
The steam excursion will depart Minneapolis at 09:00 on 9 Jun 2018 traveling via BNSF's Railway's Hinckley Subdivision at speeds up to 60 mph.
The train will arrive that afternoon at the Lake Superior Railroad Museum in Duluth.
After an overnight stop the excursion train will return, departing Duluth at noon, for the trip back to Minneapolis on 10 Jun 2018.
"By contributing to the installation and operation of PTC on 261, you will also give the Friends the ability to develop the necessary systems to help other mainline steam operators such as Nickel Plate Road 765, Norfolk & Western 611, and Southern Pacific 4449 continue to operate," Erik Hoofnagle of the Friends of the 261 says.
Premium, First Class, and Coach tickets will be offered on the fundraising excursion.
To purchase tickets and contribute to the 261 PTC Installation Fund, go to 261.com.
28 February 2018
Kidderminster Shropshire England United Kingdom - The Severn Valley Railway is gearing up to stage the event from 16 Mar 2018 to 18 Mar 2018 with one of the largest and most varied line-ups of visiting engines in its history.
Staff have announced that the event's already jam-packed visiting line-up of five locomotives will now also include a crowd-pleaser in the form of GWR King 6023 King Edward II.
This royal visitor, resplendent in its striking blue livery, makes this year's starring Gala line-up one of the railway's biggest yet.
The six visiting steam locomotives of all shapes and sizes will be transported from across the country to join the railway's own fleet of engines for a busy and colourful three days of intensive passenger services along the line.
Thousands of visitors are expected to experience a taste of what life was like in the hey-day of steam travel, with one of the oldest steam locomotives still in operation in the world, Haydock Foundry Bellerophon, built in 1874, running alongside one of the newest, number 60163 Tornado, which recently starred in hit film Paddington 2.
Now King Edward, built back in 1930, which performed more than 1.5 million miles of service between London Paddington and the West of England also covering South Wales and Wolverhampton before being sent off for scrap in 1962, will delight the crowds.
Having rusted in the sea air at Barry scrapyard and raided for parts for other projects, it was eventually saved for preservation in 1984 and then bought by the Great Western Society at Didcot.
There it has undergone extensive restoration work including re-instatement of the bright blue paintwork it had formerly sported.
LNER B1 number 1264, LNER B12 number 8572, and BR Standard 4MT number 80072 complete the visiting line-up.
A busy timetable of local trains and auto-trains running between stations into the evenings will be on offer to visitors as well as goods trains.
The Coalyard Miniature Railway and Paddock Garden Railway will be in operation and The Engine House Visitor Centre and Kidderminster Railway Museum will also be open to explore.
Events co-ordinator Lewis Maddox said, "We're delighted to announce the addition of King Edward II to our visiting line-up, making this year's Spring Steam Gala one of our biggest yet. With such a diverse and exciting range of engines on offer, we are sure that this will be an event that steam enthusiasts and visitors of all ages will not want to miss."
See more of the Severn Valley Railway in this article.
13 March 2018
Gromont Yorkshire England United Kingdom - Tornado was unable to leave the North Yorkshire Moors Railway after a bin lorry hit a bridge at Castleton Moor on Monday.
The locomotive will now be moved by low-loader on Wednesday.
It is due to attend an event at the Severn Valley Railway in Shropshire on Friday.
Network Rail said all services on the line had been suspended, with a replacement bus service operating between Middlesbrough and Battersby.
A spokesman added, "It is not known how long repairs will take."
British Transport Police said nobody was hurt in the incident.
The £3 million locomotive is owned by a trust and was built by a group of rail enthusiasts in Darlington and Doncaster over a 18 year period.
When it entered service in 2008 it was the first steam engine to be built in Britain since the 1960s.
See more of the North Yorkshire Moors Railway in this article.
Manitou Springs Colorado USA - Pikes Peak Cog Railway's operator says there is a chance that the famed rack railroad of the Rockies will close for good.
Jack Damioli, president and CEO of The Broadmoor hotel, which owns the 8.9 mile rail line, tells the Colorado Springs Gazette that after months of winter maintenance the railroad could remain closed for up to another three years while the hotel studies it's future.
At that point, Broadmoor leadership would either close the railroad permanently or rebuild it, which could take "tens of millions of dollars" the newspaper quotes Damioli as saying.
During the winter maintenance, railroaders review the condition of the equipment and track and determined that it had reached the end of its useful life, the newspaper reports.
The Pikes Peak opened as the Manitou & Pikes Peak Railroad in 1891 with Baldwin-built steam locomotives.
It is the highest rail line in North America, and for most of its history, has ferried passengers to the top of Pike's Peak, the mountain, from Manitou Springs at the base.
See more of the Manitou & Pike's Peak Railway in this article.
15 March 2018
Whangarei New Zealand - Train enthusiasts and locals prepared to take a ride back in history will feel a touch of nostalgia when Ja 1275 steams into town this Easter for the Big Steam Weekend.
Built in Glasgow, it's been years since the 65-year-old, oil burning, iron horse was in Whangarei.
She once serviced the Auckland to Whangarei to Otiria line.
It will be her last journey for sometime, as in April she goes out of service for a 10 year overhaul.
The weekend organized by the Great Northern Railway Charitable Trust in association with the Glenbrook Vintage Railway and Mainline Steam NZ is being held to celebrate the centennial of the Kawakawa Returned and Service Association and also as fundraiser for GNR to buy six (pre-electric) carriages, which will be kitted out to make up a train set for a community owned train operation.
Negotiations are already underway to lease a train with the intention of operating out of Whangarei.
Over the weekend a number of excursions will provide passengers with the unique opportunity to relive the days of steam while experiencing the Whangarei countryside.
An intercom system in the carriages linked to GPS tracking will play commentary by Northland historian Bill Edwards at pre-programmed points of interest.
On Good Friday RSA members from around Northland and the public can attend a commemoration service at the restored Whangarei Rail Station at 09:00.
During Friday and Saturday trains will offer four return journeys, two to Kauri at 10:00 and 14:00 and two to Portland at 11:50 and 15:50.
Monday's schedule is similar but with only one trip to Portland instead of two.
Sunday has been set aside as a free day for the kids.
Working with Kids Can Canteen and selected schools this invitation only event will not only give kids the trip of a life time, but also provide entertainment, free giveaways, and other fun events in the rear car park.
A special VIP train to Kauri via Portland leaves at 14:00 the same day.
This is also by invitation only and is aimed at thanking volunteers and sponsors for the hours of hard work and dedication put in to to bring off the event.
A TrackSAFE safety campaign will run in and on-site marquee throughout the weekend.
To allow locals first option on tickets there are no online sales.
Tickets can only be purchased from Cowboy Junkies Antiques & Collectables, "come on down" at 2 Okara Road.
A flat rate of NZ$24 applies with children under two years free.