15 September 2017
Crush Texas USA - The train doesn't stop here anymore, in fact, the train only stopped here once, but it was an explosive event.
Known as the Crash at Crush, a pre-planned head-on locomotive collision that was one of the most outrageous publicity stunts ever devised took place 121-years-ago today in a pasture 3 miles south of West.
They called the place Crush after the railroad executive who dreamed up the spectacle, William George Crush.
It was a massive crash that sent train cars sprawling alongside the track, but when the boilers in the locomotives exploded, the stunt turned deadly.
Two people died and several suffered serious injuries, accounts of the event say.
In 1896 Crush, the general passenger agent for the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad, also known as MKT or just Katy, took on the challenge of attracting attention to the railroad company hoping to increase passenger ticket sales and freight shipments.
No one's sure just what prompted Crush to propose the idea of a train wreck to attract attention, but some say it was a result of the company's having a large surplus of 30 ton steam locomotives when it upgraded to 60 ton models and not knowing what to do with them.
Whatever the case, Crush proposed the idea and his company bosses bought it.
Locomotives number 999 and number 1001 were selected as the combatants, the first painted bright green with red trim, the second blood red trimmed in green.
Katy arranged 33 excursion trains all around the state and charged riders US$2 round trip to witness the crash, but no admission was charged.
Organizers made every effort to draw a crowd.
"We had a good time before the wreck, though," remembered Frank Barnes, a member of one of the Crush train crews.
"You see, in order to advertise the event we toured all of North Texas with one of the trains.
"We went to Waco, Denison, and all those towns along the Katy. Thousands of people came to see the engines at each stop," Barnes would later recount.
That's likely why some 40,000 to 50,000 spectators showed up.
The site was ready, two water wells having been drilled and tents rented from Ringling Brothers Circus had been set up next to a grandstand.
Area residents flocked to the site, some on horseback, or in wagons to watch the free show.
Track crews built a track parallel to the Katy mainline to ensure a runaway locomotive couldn't get onto the main tracks.
The site selected was a shallow valley with rising hills on three sides that formed a natural amphitheater.
A carnival midway sprang up, with medicine shows, game booths, and cigar stands to entertain the spectators as they waited for the main event.
Some 300 special lawmen were brought in to keep order.
The event started an hour late that day because security couldn't get the crowd to move back to what was considered to be a safe distance.
At about 17:00, on 15 Sep 1896, train crews backed the engines up to opposite ends of the 4 mile-long track, set their steam valves to a pre-arranged setting, counted four turns of the engines' drive wheels and jumped from the cabs.
Each engine had been carefully inspected to ensure there would be no mechanical failures on crash day.
"I'll tell you we really worked on those engines. Firemen in those days had to keep their engines in condition," Frank Barnes who was a member of one of the locomotive crews, would later recall.
Engineers said they figured the locomotives would reach a speed of about 45 miles per hour by the time they collided.
On impact metal smashed, timber splintered, and dust and smoke from the heap of steel filled the air.
Then just as the dust started to settle, boilers in both engines exploded sending massive chunks of hot metal and shrapnel of all sizes into the air and into the crowd.
Jarvis Dane, a photojournalist from Waco who was the event's official photographer, was injured when a large chunk struck him in the head as he stood atop a platform that had been built for him.
Dane, who worked for a Waco newspaper, lost his left eye.
The wounded were collected, some from as far as half a mile away, and treated by doctors who had closed their offices so they could be on hand for the event.
Katy worked fast to remove the debris, but souvenir hunters massed at the site for days, even weeks after the crash to see what they could find.
Several people filed complaints against Katy which the railroad settled with cash and lifetime passes.
The railroad fired Crush on the spot, but rehired him the next day and gave him a bonus because of all the attention he brought to the railroad with his outrageous stunt.
Katy top brass ultimately concluded the stunt produced a great deal of interest in the railroad company and called it a success, but they never repeated it.
Crush retired from Katy with 57 years' service.
The only thing that remains at the site today is a State of Texas historical marker.
Paul J. Gately .
15 September 2017
Lagos Nigeria - The contractor handling the new Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, is expected to commence the laying of the track in December, the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
He also said the Federal Government team led by himself had decided to undertake a monthly inspection of the project to ensure its smooth execution and delivery on schedule.
He spoke in Lagos after a meeting with the contractors on the progress of the job thus far.
The minister, who had earlier warned the contractor against failing to deliver the project, said that there was no going back on the December 2018 delivery deadline.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had inaugurated the rail construction project earlier in the year, with a projection that about half a million jobs would be created through it.
The new Lagos-Ibadan rail, spanning 156.65 kilometres, is a double line, which is the first phase of a 2,733 kilometre new Lagos-Kano rail line, expected to be linked with the Kaduna-Abuja standard gauge railway recently completed and now running.
Amaechi said, "On a monthly basis, we'll try to review the performance of contractors so as to ensure that we meet our target of laying this track by December 2018. We are satisfied with the work done. Sand clearing has been done, we have started taking away the debris. Hopefully by 2017 December, they will start laying tracks, we believe that if they maintain the current speed, we should be able to deliver by 2018."
The new Lagos-Ibadan rail line is expected to cost N458 billion and is being jointly funded by the Nigerian and Chinese governments.
While the Federal Government has paid N72 billion as its counterpart funding for the project, the Export-Import Bank of China will commit N408 billion on behalf of China.
The minister also spoke on the Kaduna-Abuja rail line, saying President Muhammadu Buhari had given the go-ahead for the purchase of 17 locomotives for the rail line.
He said, "You know there is pressure on the Kaduna to Abuja rail line because there are more passengers than locomotives. There are two reasons for this, one is due to the state of the road from Kaduna to Abuja, secondly, the Abuja to Kaduna rail services is subsidised, so, more people are trooping in to enjoy the services at low cost. To address the pressure on the Abuja-Kaduna rail services, Mr. President has approved that we buy more locomotives and coaches. We have placed an order for 17 coaches. Two (locomotives) have already been received. By December, 10 more will be received, and they will all be deployed in Kaduna-Abuja rail services."
15 September 2017
Thief River Falls North Dakota USA - Locomotive enthusiasts are have banded together to save the 1024 locomotive in Thief River Falls, and they're giving you an opportunity to win US$4 grand and help preserve a piece of local history.
This steam locomotive ran from Thief River Falls to Duluth decades ago, but today, it sits in front of city hall.
The weather is taking a toll on the 1024, and rust has started to corrode part of the it.
A group of train enthusiasts, including a former conductor, got together and started selling raffle tickets to build a canopy to cover the train they love.
"It just brings back memories. And I had good memories of steam. I enjoyed steam. Time went by fast, and it was interesting," said conductor Hillary Stolkman.
Those attempting to save the train have already raised around US$20,000.
If you're interested in buying a raffle ticket to contribute to the engine's canopy, contact Hillary Stolkman at 218-681-2860 for further information.
The raffle will take place at the Eagles Club in Thief River Falls in December.
Tickets are US$20.
13 September 2017
Hinckley Leicestershire England United Kingdom - A famous steam locomotive came through Hinckley as part of the town's heritage weekend.
Rail enthusiasts and other spectators gathered at Hinckley train station to watch the "Union of South Africa" Class A4 LNER (London & North Eastern Railway) pass through.
It was built in Doncaster in 1937, named after the then newly formed Union of South Africa and is one of six surviving Gresley Class A4s, currently operational and mainline certified.
Scottish engineer Nigel Gresley designed the vehicle for high-speed passenger services and it has a distinctive streamlined design.
It is one of 35 Class A4 steam engines that were built, although most of them were replaced in the early 1960s by the British Rail Class 55 diesel locomotives.
Six of the engine's sister Class A4 locomotives reunited in 2013, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the 4468 Mallard setting the speed record for steam locomotives, at 126 mph.
The train was renamed Osprey during part of the 1980s and 1990s, owing to political opposition against apartheid in South Africa at the time.
A springbok plaque features on the side of the locomotive, donated in 1954 by a newspaper proprietor in Bloemfontein, the capital of Free State province in South Africa.
The locomotive originally had a garter blue livery, changing to wartime black in March 1942, with the "L" and "R" removed in August 1943, leaving just "NE" on the tender, to confuse potential spies.
In 1947, it reverted to garter blue with red and white lining and was updated a final time in October 1952, to the British Railways brunswick green livery.
The "Union of South Africa" has gone through 14 boilers in its career.
It hauled its last booked train from Kings Cross in 1964 and was 20 minutes late going through Grantham, owing to a broken rail at High Dyke.
The vehicle was the last locomotive to be overhauled at Doncaster while in service, and was withdrawn from British Railways service on 1 Jun 1966, the same day NASA launched Explorer 33.
14 September 2017
Chicago Illinois USA - One of Metra's oldest passenger locomotives is sporting a color scheme to match the one it came with in 1977.
About 100 Metra officials, passengers, and railfans gathered at Chicago's LaSalle Street Station on Thursday to celebrate 40 years of continuous service for the EMD F40PH unit by wrapping it in the sea foam blue-orange-black colors of predecessor agency, the Regional Transportation Authority.
"I'm not sure anyone could have predicted in 1977 that the locomotives then being delivered would still be in everyday use after four decades," says Bruce Nelson of the Shore Line Interurban Historical Society.
"How many people drive a 40-year-old car several hundred miles every day at speeds up to 79 miles per hour?"
Metra officials say members of the Shore Line society raised all the money necessary to buy materials and pay for labour to wrap the locomotive.
Metra crews completed the job during a few days in early September.
EMD built number 100 for RTA along with 27 other locomotives in the late 1970s to replace older E and F units in commuter service in the Chicago area.
The first group of F40s would go on to serve the entire system of commuter lines that would be joined under the Metra banner in the 1980s.
They would also be joined by 90-more F40s of various designations, currently more than any other railroad, Metra officials say.
And in keeping with Metra's custom of naming locomotives after significant individuals or nearby villages and cities, railroad officials re-named number 100 "Village of LaGrange", after LaGrange, Illinois, historic home to EMD where this locomotive and thousands of others were built in the 20th century.
Metra CEO Don Orseno told the crowd about his days as an engineer for Metra and how the locomotive quickly became the backbone for the railroad.
"These F40PHs have been in commuter service longer than any other locomotive type in North America," Orseno says.
"Their longevity is both a tribute to the excellence of our maintenance program and a commentary on the need to provide public transportation systems with a level of capital funding that allows us to continually renew our assets."
Officials say Metra has rebuilt number 100 three times in 40 years, 1987, 1996, and 2009.
"The stop-start nature of commuter service wears very hard on a locomotive," says Metra Chairman Norm Carlson.
"The fact that Metra's Mechanical Department has maintained these locomotives to a standard that enables Metra to maintain a 95 percent on-time performance record month after month is impressive to say the least."
F40s, with their lighter axle loads, are exclusively used on former Chicago & North Western lines to accommodate older infrastructure.
Officials say that the locomotive will tour the entire Metra system in the coming months.
12 September 2017
Vietnam - Vietnam Railways (VNR) has proposed an investment of over VND4.6 trillion in order to buy new locomotives and carriages by 2020, with 70 percent of the total amount to be borrowed from the State-owned Vietnam Development Bank.
According to the document sent to the Ministry of Transport, VNR intends to gradually replace technologically backward locomotives, coaches, and wagons with modern ones by 2020 in a bid to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and increase the competitiveness of rail transportation.
Specifically, VNR will buy 100 new locomotives worth over VND2.1 trillion, 150 passenger coaches worth over VND1.6 trillion, 300 container wagons worth VND270 billion, and 500 wagons, with speeds below 60 kilometres per hour, worth VND550 billion.
Approximately 70 percent of the total investment (VND3.2 trillion) is proposed to be borrowed from Vietnam Development Bank, while 30 percent of the investment will be counterpart funded from the VNR, Hanoi Railway, and Saigon Railway.
VNR said that it wants to receive the loan from the State-owned Vietnam Development Bank, as the interest rate for investment projects is stable and the borrowing period is lengthy, while enterprises can use assets formed from loans as collateral assets.
Meanwhile, loans from commercial banks will bear higher rates in addition to a shorter borrowing period, resulting in low business efficiency, VNR noted.
However, it is difficult for VNR to gain access to loans from the Vietnam Development Bank as VNR's projects are not subject to loans from the bank.
Based on the provisions of Articles 5 and 6 of the amended Railways Law 2017, the VNR will be provided with preferential credit from the State's investment credit or provided with loans guaranteed by the Government.
But, the Railways Law 2017 will not begin to come into force until 1 Jul 2018.
Therefore, VNR has asked the Ministry of Transport to report to the Government for approval of the loans from the Vietnam Development Bank in order to timely meet the investment requirements in infrastructure development.
VNR pledged to fully comply with the loan procedures and to perform the obligation to pay principal and interest in accordance with the terms of the loan agreement.
28 August 2017
Belleville Ontario - Stepping into the backyard of a Belleville home, the sounds of a model train makes its way along railway tracks, winding through and around the deck and shed greet visitors.
David Pershick, 75, of Belleville, has had an ever-growing passion for trains since he was just a young boy which has now turned into a collection of all things locomotive.
"I began collecting train cars in 1999, starting with a small oval track. But that wasn't very good, I wanted something bigger and I've been expanding and adjusting the tracks every since," said Pershick.
Train cars that are a scaled down version, half an inch to a foot, follow approximately 600 feet of tracks that snake through the back shed and into a train station encompassing his backyard that make authentic whistle and chugging sounds of a real locomotive.
"The biggest thing about this hobby is actually working on the tracks, it's surprisingly more fun than running it. I like doing creative things to make it look better like putting coal on the top of the rail cars to make it more realistic and building a station and water tower," he said.
Pershick has spent approximately five years constructing the track, hand-laying all the tracks with aluminum rail and cutting thousands and thousands of ties, spiking them all down.
He grew up on Pinnacle Street across from National Grocers where he used to watch the daily parade of trains going up and down the street.
This, as well as the influence of Pershick's grandfather, a worker on the Grand Trunk, sparked his interest in trains many years ago.
"I remember my grandfather taking me up to the roundhouse when I was seven and we would walk onto a turn table beside a huge engine. We would ride it into the engine house, I loved it," he said, smiling thinking about the memory.
He recalled his love for the smells, the sounds of hammering, the engines puffing and panting, and the air pumps going thump, thump, thump.
After serving in the military Pershick joined the oil burning business and also became involved in steam locomotive restoration.
"I belonged to Ontario Rail and we restored the locomotive that was in the National Dream which was a 10 part mini-series on CBC. It was all about building the railway, the political battles," he said adding, "until you ride a steam locomotive, you don't know what it's like."
Pershick has had the opportunity to board several steam trains in his life, all experiences he will cherish.
His love for the steam engine particularly, is because of the locomotive's uniqueness.
"You could have 100 engines but not two of them would perform alike, they had their individual characteristics and the railway men would get to know them," explained Pershick.
Over the years he has collected literature, maps, photographs, and collectables that are showcased in his basement, a space entirely dedicated to the history of the railways.
"The whole thing about the trains and the experience with them is you can share it with people. If we don't share the past it just gets forgotten. Many people in Belleville are completely unaware that there was even a train that used to travel down Pinnacle Street," he said with shock.
Children in the neighbourhood come to see the trains in action, learn about the locomotives, and help Pershick work on the tracks.
"It makes me think about when I was a kid. Of course it's not the same thing but it keeps the memory alive and it gives me something to do in retirement," he said.