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16 November 2017

Gazprom Supplies LNG
to Russian Railways
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A Russian Railways LNG locomotive - Date unknown Photographer unknown - Gazprom.

 External link Egorshino Sverdlovsk Russia - A unit of Russian gas giant Gazprom began supplying liquefied natural gas (LNG) to locomotives owned by Russian Railways.
 
For the purpose, Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo built a filling station for LNG trucks at the Egorshino railroad station in the Sverdlovsk Region.
 
The company won an open tender to supply LNG for Russian Railways.
 
The fuel will be regularly delivered from the LNG production facilities of the Gazprom Group.
 
The company said that in total 600 tons of liquefied natural gas are planned to be delivered under the contract.
 
Currently, three natural gas units are in operation at the Egorshino-Serov-Sortirovochnoe section of the Sverdlovsk Railway.
 
Mikhail Likhachev, Gazprom Gazomotornoye Toplivo's general director, said that the natural gas fueling infrastructure for the Sverdlovsk Railway system is being developed under a cooperation agreement with Russian Railways with an aim to increase the use of LNG as fuel for rail transport.
 
He added that LNG fueling stations should be set up on the non-electrified sections of the railway.
 
Author unknown.


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9 November 2017

8 Unforgettable Train Journeys
Across South America
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The Tren Crucero climbs the Nariz del Diablo, or Devil's Nose, in the Andes -
Date unknown Photographer unknown.

South America - The train was a boxy grey express that had seen better days, but it pulled out of Oruro on time.
 
I boarded late and breathless, having lost track of the hour in town.
 
Breathlessness was nothing new to me in Bolivia, it being a country where altitudes of 3,500 metres are routine, but this time it was self-induced.
 
I un-shouldered my backpack and collapsed into my seat, clutching paper bags full of half-squashed saltenas (pastries), and looked out of the window.
 
Within minutes the show began.
 
The train was making its way by bridge across Lake Uru-Uru, a broad expanse of water just outside town.
 
A belt of low grey hills rumpled the horizon.
 
On the water, meanwhile, an unexpected sight, hundreds of flamingos feeding in the shallows.
 
And as we moved, so too, did the birds.
 
It was gradual at first, with one or two stick-thin flyers flapping above the lake, then great flocks emerged, as a pale blizzard of pink peeled off from the water and followed the train south.
 
I watched the silhouettes of the birds disappear into the distance as the train nosed its way onto the vast emptiness of the altiplano.
 
Our journey was just starting but had already been worth the ticket price.
 
South America isn't veined with extensive train routes in the same way as Europe or India, but the continent still offers some hugely memorable rail experiences.
 
They range from the no-frills to the luxurious, and from the staggeringly scenic, to the boldly ambitious.
 
Here are eight of the best.
 
 Image    Expreso del Sur - Bolivia
 
The southwest of Bolivia is a land of extremes, high altitudes, colossal views, and mind-bending landscapes.
 
Little wonder, then, that this rail journey finds its way onto so many travel itineraries.
 
Yet the Expreso del Sur is rather misleadingly named, it takes some seven hours to cover the 300 kilometres between mining town Oruro and the salt flats hub of Uyuni.
 
Luckily, its twice weekly afternoon departure (14:30 Tuesday and Friday) means you can enjoy the trip during daylight hours, as the views are spellbinding.
 
Oruro (a three-hour bus ride from La Paz) is best visited at carnival time, when La Diablada sees locals dressed as demons hit the streets in early November for a riotous week-long festival.
 
At other times, a side-trip to the flamingo-frequented waters of Lake Uru-Uru, which you'll later pass, is well worth it as a precursor to the altiplano vistas through which the train trundles.
 
But the big draw here is the vast salt flats of Uyuni, the largest in the world.
 
It is one of Latin America's most incredible natural spectacles, and often takes on a very different feel between December and April, when seasonal rains can turn its cracked, crusty, surface into a giant liquid mirror of the sky.
 
From here on, it's an overnight trip through the cowboy country of Tupiza (good for treks and horseriding) to Villazon on the Argentine border.
 
But there are no sleeper carriages and it can get cold on board, so pack accordingly.
 
Duration:  15.5 hours (one-way).
 
Best for:  Altiplano scenery and visiting the salt flats.
 
Route:  Oruro - Uyuni - Atocha - Tupiza - Villazon.
 
 Image    Bogota to Zipaquira - Colombia
 
A fleet of five restored steam trains and two diesel locomotives, all of them salvaged from old railroad workshops in the 1990s, plough a route that was once part of the Bogota Savannah Railway.
 
This line was completed in 1896 but was latterly abandoned as Colombia's state-owned rail company collapsed less than a century later.
 
Thankfully, in 1993 it was resurrected and reborn, like much of the nation's railways, as a tourist train route.
 
Today, the Tren Turistico de la Sabana (or Turistren) makes the three-hour trip north from Bogota's historic Sabana Station to Zipaquira once a day (from 08:15 Saturday, Sunday and public holidays).
 
Here, passengers hop off to explore the town's famed salt cathedral.
 
The site is an extension of the old shrines that the salt miners would carve, long before the first cathedral was built here in 1954.
 
This was closed in the early 1990s for safety reasons, but a second one replaced it in 1995.
 
Naves and chapels have been carved into vast tunnels that extend up to 75 metres (and 180 metres below the surface at its lowest point).
 
It can reputedly hold up 8,400 people, with crowds packed in like sardines for its Sunday service.
 
Before making the return trip to Bogota, the train stops at the town of Cajica for a meal.
 
It's by no means a luxurious ride but expect lively traditional music performances once the journey's underway.
 
And last but by no means least, the countryside scenery, all sweeping savannah, is astonishing.
 
Duration:  9 hours (return).
 
Best for:  Underground chapels and travel by steam train.
 
Route:  Bogota - La Caro - Zipaquira - Cajica - Bogota.
 
 Image    Tren Crucero - Ecuador
 
Billed as journeying from "The Andes to the Pacific", the Tren Crucero goes from the 2,850 metres height of Quito to the lowland coastline of Guayaquil.
 
En route, it covers the continent's most dramatic stretch of track, the Nariz del Diablo, or Devil's Nose.
 
Its fame stems from the complexities of building a railway across the Andes, requiring many dramatic switchbacks.
 
Completed in 1908, the result is an engineering masterpiece, and the views are just as magnificent.
 
Since 2013, the route has been operated by the high-end Tren Crucero, which runs four-night itineraries in either direction.
 
Between the 17th century colonial facades of Quito's Old Town and the vibrant metropolis of Guayaquil, you'll pass over a dozen volcanoes, as well as river gorges, cloud forest, fruit plantations, and a national park.
 
It's also possible to catch a shorter tourist service that takes in the Devil's Nose section from sleepy Alausi, a town midway along the line.
 
This is also a good jumping-off point for treks along the old Inca Trail (from Achupallas) or trips out to its many thundering waterfalls.
 
Duration:  4 nights (one-way).
 
Best for:  Volcanic views and dramatic rail engineering.
 
Route:  Quito (bus to Otavalo Station) - Valley of the Volcanoes - Riobamba - Devil's Nose - Bucay - Duran (Eloy Alfaro Station, Guayaquil).
 
 Image    Belmond Andean Explorer - Peru
 
When the Belmond Andean Explorer service through the Peruvian mountains launched earlier this year, headlines proclaimed it "the most luxurious train in South America".
 
And for those keen on seeing the Andes' high altitudes in serious comfort, the hype is justified.
 
Passengers, up to 48 at any one time, can expect mahogany panelling, chandeliers, and plush compartments.
 
There's even an on-board library, for those times when staring out of the window at the cascading highland scenery doesn't cut it.
 
But such moments should prove few and far between.
 
Starting in the one-time Inca stronghold of Cusco (gateway to the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu), the route takes in natural marvels such as Lake Titicaca, the planet's highest navigable body of water, and Colca Canyon, a ravine twice as deep as the Grand Canyon and well primed for spotting Andean condors.
 
It almost goes without saying that the route forges one of the highest railway lines in the world (over 4,250 metres in places).
 
The terminus, or start-point, depending on which direction you travel, is Arequipa, a city arguably less well known than Cuzco but just as spectacular on the eye.
 
Ringed by volcanoes, its UNESCO-listed historic core is a vision of baroque buildings created from local white igneous rock.
 
Pay a visit to its vast cathedral, which was first founded in the mid-1600s, even earthquakes and rebuilding work haven't dimmed its glory.
 
Duration:  2 days (one-way).
 
Best for:  Luxury travel and ancient Inca heritage.
 
Route:  Cusco (Wanchaq Station) - Lake Titicaca - Arequipa (Arequipa Station).
 
 Image    La Trochita - Argentina
 
As Paul Theroux wrote in his 1979 travelogue "The Old Patagonian Express", "I wanted something altogether wilder, the clumsier romance of strangeness."

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The Old Patagonian Express - Date unknown Photographer unknown.

Few quotes sum up this part of Patagonia better.
 
The final leg of Theroux's trip was made on the steam train still known locally as La Trochita, or "The Little Gauge", though the name that he christened it has since entered into common usage, even if the service is a much reduced one these days.
 
However, for rail and travel enthusiasts it remains a thrilling prospect.
 
Today, only the odd charter runs the full 402 kilometres route between Esquel and Ingeniero Jacobacci.
 
The most viable option now for travellers is the weekly 20 kilometre run between Esquel and the native Mapuche settlement of Nahuel Pan (45 mins), as you ride along in old vintage carriages.
 
Less frequent services cover the 165 kilometre journey between Esquel and El Maiten (9 hours), usually coinciding with maintenance work on the engines.
 
But whichever route you take, it's worth exploring the area.
 
Just south of Esquel is Trevellin, the archetypal green valley sought by Welsh settlers in the late 19th century, Welsh is still heard in its tea rooms and chapels today.
 
To the east lie the steppe-like plains of the Chubut, or head north of El Maiten for the Argentine Lake District, a genteel mix of snow-capped peaks and beech forests flanking crystalline waters.
 
Still, little can compete with the romance of chugging the wild foothills of the Andes.
 
Duration:  45 minutes or 9 hours (one-way).
 
Best for:  Far-flung wilderness and the romance of the past.
 
Route:  Esquel (Esquel Station) - Nahuel Pan - El Maiten (El Maiten Station).
 
 Image    Serra Verde Express - Brazil
 
Without doubt, it takes a certain bloody-mindedness to construct a railway through the middle of a rain forest.
 
Indeed, when plans for a route across southern Brazil's Atlantic Forest were first raised more than 150-years-ago, several engineers deemed it impossible.
 
Yet by 1885, thanks to the toil of some 9,000 workers, it was complete, and what started as a way of transporting grain to the coast is now one of Latin America's most thrilling journeys.
 
The so-called Serra Verde (or Green Saw) Express operates a daily there-and-back route between Curitiba and Morretes.
 
Take time to stroll both, with the former famed for its eco-minded layout, its pedestrianized downtown was one of the first big streets in Brazil to ban cars.
 
Visit the eye-shaped Oscar Niemeyer museum, a fascinating insight into the architect who designed much of the country, or stretch your legs on the 15 kilometre trail to Paranagua through Marumbi NP.
 
Meanwhile, the whitewashed Portuguese houses of Morretes are surrounded by forested hills and plenty of trails leading to a series of waterfalls amid the Serra da Graciosa range.
 
The train departs Curitiba at 08:15 and returns by 18:30 each evening, with around 3.5 hours of journey time in each direction.
 
Along the way, you'll skirt bridges, mountain canyons, and plenty of lush rain forest.
 
But it's definitely worth booking ahead, particularly between the summer months of December and February, with the best views on the outbound trip found on the left-hand side.
 
Duration:  10 hours (return).
 
Best for:  Riding through Brazil's wild rain forest.
 
Route:  Curitiba (Curitiba Station) - Morretes.
 
 Image    Sabores del Valle - Chile
 
Aimed squarely at the thirsty end of the leisure market, this day-long rail-and-bus trip starts and ends in the Chilean capital of Santiago, making it an easy addition to any travel plans.
 
The Tren del Vino departs shortly after 09:00 and heads south for two hours, as far as San Fernando, crossing the region's main wine-producing valleys.
 
Live music and, even at this early hour, wine tastings provide plenty of on-board entertainment.
 
When the engine stops, passengers head by bus into the nearby Colchagua Valley for a winery tour, lunch, and a 90 minute visit to the renowned Colchagua Museum, a truly fascinating collection of pre-Columbian artefacts, Mapuche silver, and cowboy gear.
 
From then on, it's back to San Fernando for the return rail journey to the capital, during which (surprise) there's the chance to sample more of the local wine.
 
Happily, it's a mighty pleasant drop, the reds from the region are especially well thought of.
 
Departures on the service are sporadic, running two or three times a month, usually on Saturdays.
 
It's a tourist train plain and simple, but the fact that it attracts so many locals tells its own story.
 
Plus, it'll leave time to test out your new tasting skills in the wine bars of the capital's Lastarria and Bellavista areas, or at least walk off your hangover the next morning in Cerro Santa Lucia, the city's green lung and a good spot for a wander.
 
Duration:  12 hours (return).
 
Best for:  Wine tasting and captivating valley views.
 
Route:  Santiago (Alameda Station) - San Fernando - Santiago.
 
 Image    Tren a las Nubes - Argentina
 
Since being inaugurated in the late 1940s, Argentina's famous Tren a las Nubes, or Train to the Clouds, has been regularly ranked among the world's top rail adventures.
 
It's also been frequently out of action, hampered by everything from financial problems to a derailment, and it's impacted on the route.
 
The service is currently running as a bus-and-train combination journey (Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday), with only the most westerly section between San Antonio de los Cobres and the Polvorilla Viaduct covered by rail.
 
This is likely to remain the case until around 2022, when the full line is due to reopen.
 
It remains, however, one of the simplest ways of witnessing the country's towering north-west.
 
Buses connecting with the train depart the attractive colonial city of Salta at 07:00, though it's worth arriving here a day early to explore.
 
Wander the crumbling 17th century buildings or visit the curious Museum of High Altitude Archeology, where you can see mummified remains found in an Inca burial site on nearby Mount Llullaillaco.
 
The bus makes multiple photo stops en route as it snakes west through the tobacco fields of the Lerma Valley, passing forests of red-blossoming ceibo (the national flower of Argentina).
 
From there, it rises into the brightly coloured rocky ravines of the Quebrada del Toro, slowly twirling up into the high-altitude desert plains of La Puna, and five hours after leaving Salta, the old mining town of San Antonio de los Cobres.
 
This is where you'll board the train and set out across the high plateau to reach the Polvorilla Viaduct, a structure that sits at an atmospherically thin 4,200 metres above sea level, seemingly on top of the world.
 
Duration:  13 hours (return).
 
Best for:  High-altitude scenery and dramatic ravines.
 
Route:  Salta (Salta Station) - San Antonio de los Cobres - Polvorilla Viaduct.
 
Ben Lerwill.


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16 November 2017

Rail Company Management Deeply
Apologizes After Japanese Train
Leaves 20 Seconds Early
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The Tsukuba Express train in Tokyo - Date unknown Photographer unknown.

 External link Japan - They put a high premium on punctuality in Japan.
 
A politician once had to drop out of an election after he delayed a bullet train by pushing staff to halt it for a campaign stop.
 
This time, though, it's a rail company that's apologizing after the 09:44 train on Tokyo's Tsukuba Express line left earlier than scheduled on Tuesday, 20 seconds too early.
 
In a statement in Japanese on its web site, management "deeply" apologized for the "severe inconvenience" caused to customers who missed the too early train and couldn't afford to wait for the next one, scheduled for four minutes later.
 
The conductor on board didn't correctly check the train's timetable, resulting in the early departure, the statement said.
 
Train officers have been told to fully follow basic instructions in future.
 
While issuing the mea culpa, the company noted that it actually hadn't received any customer complaints.
 
The Tsukuba Express railway connects Akihabara and Tsukuba, two towns that are about 60 kilometers apart in a 45 minute ride, give or take 20 seconds, according to the company's web site.
 
Author unknown.


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16 November 2017

Florida East Coast Railway Completes
Mainline Fleet Conversion to LNG
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A Florida East Coast (FEC) freight train - Date unknown Photographer unknown - FEC.

 External link Jacksonville Florida USA - The Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway completed the conversion of its entire mainline thru-haul fleet to run on Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
 
The company operating in Florida has been operating on LNG since late 2015 and has so far completed over 2,300 trips on LNG.
 
According to the company's CEO Fran Chinnici, FEC is the first North American Railroad to operate its entire mainline fleet on LNG.
 
Working under the authority provided by Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) the railway is currently moving LNG containers between New Fortress Energy's liquefaction plant in Hialeah and Port Miami and Port Everglades.
 
With the completion of the fleet conversion, FEC held a demonstration of its facilities, presenting two LNG fueled locomotives with tender car between, fueling station, ISO container, LNG tanker delivery trailer, as well as an LNG fueled truck.
 
FEC's regional trucking business, Raven Transport utilizes LNG as fuel and has already converted 44 percent of its fleet to run on LNG as fuel.
 
Author unknown.


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12 November 2017

Locomotive Runs 2 Kilometres
Without Driver Who Jumped Off
 Photo
Derailed Indian heritage steam locomotive "Akbar" - Date unknown Photographer unknown.

 External link Rewari India - A heritage steam engine named "Akbar", which has featured in over two dozen Bollywood and other movies, was damaged in a derailment after it ran without a pilot in Haryana's Rewari, a railway official said on Sunday.
 
The incident occurred at the heritage locomotive shed in Rewari on Saturday.
 
No one was injured in the episode, said railway officials.
 
As the 52-year-old "Akbar" started moving on its own, the scared locomotive pilot Bharatbhushan, jumped off as he believed there was a malfunction.
 
The engine broke the main gate wall of the shed and rolled on for about 2 kilometres towards the main track of the Rewari-Rohtak-Hisar route, before getting derailed just four metres away from it.
 
"Akbar was brought out of the shed for a trial on Saturday afternoon, two hours before a scheduled inspection by the Executive Director and his team of the day," said an official.
 
But as Bharatbhushan switched on the ignition, the engine started moving on the tracks on its own.
 
Bharatbhushan said he had only switched on the ignition and had not pressed the accelerator.
 
OKthePK Joint Bar Editor:  Uh huh.
 
But "it suddenly became uncontrollable and started running on the tracks at a notable speed. I got scared and jumped off the engine. It continued the run for about nearly five minutes, covering around 2 kilometers without me. Akbar (WP 7161) has suffered a lot of damage. A crane was called from Delhi to put it back on the tracks," he added.
 
The engine was inducted in 1965 after being manufactured at the Chittaranjan locomotive factory in Bengal.
 
It has featured in many movies and some documentaries, an official told IANS, adding it earned the railways lakhs of rupees per hour during film shootings.
 
"A large sum of money is spent on its maintenance every year. Now repairs may require a lot more money," he added.
 
Author unknown.

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"Akbar" during better times - Date unknown Photographer unknown.


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16 November 2017

Not Long Ago Leicester Had
Seven Railway Stations
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Buses, trams, and taxis outside Leicester's London Road station - Circa 1930 Photographer unknown.

 External link Leicester England United Kingdom - It may seem amazing today, but for a century, roughly from the 1850s to the 1950s, Leicester had seven railway stations within the city boundary.
 
Today, there's just one, London Road.
 
My childhood memories just about stretch back to the Great Central and the Great Northern stations, but I never travelled from them.
 
I don't remember the other stations, and, as my parents had a car, a trip on a train was a special treat, it pretty much still is, due to the cost of rail tickets.
 
At one stage, as a nipper, I remember being terrified of the huge locomotives, with their deafening noise and belching smoke and steam.
 
But these were soon replaced by the very much less nostalgic diesel locomotives, which as we now know, belch toxic fumes.
 
So, I was very interested to receive a copy of an interesting booklet published by Paul Media in association with the Leicestershire Industrial History Society, called "Leicester's Stations:  A Short History", which tells the story of all the city's railway stations.
 
Packed full of maps, illustrations, and aerial photos, it begins with the Midland Railway's first station, which was on Campbell Street, and a very impressive building it was too.
 
Designed by William Parsons, it opened in 1840 and looked rather like a grand country house, with its huge central pediment supported by giant columns.
 
However, despite its smart appearance, this station soon proved inadequate and after just over 50 years of service it was demolished.
 
Its place was taken by the attractive red-brick and terracotta station on London Road that we know and admire today.
 
It's the great survivor among Leicester's stations, but the city centre's other main station is still there, albeit without its elegant parapet and clock tower.
 
This is the Great Central Station, in Great Central Street, silent now for almost half-a-century, but when first built, this line was part of a grand plan to link Britain with continental Europe.
 
Unlike London Road, where passengers descend to board the trains, you went up to the platforms, as the line was carried on viaducts and bridges through the city centre.
 
The Great Central also had a large wharf which many readers will remember and which is described in detail in the book.
 
Leicester's third station was the vast Great Northern, on Belgrave Road.
 
Although the exterior was relatively modest, there were six platforms covered by great arched and glazed roofs, along with extensive goods sidings and enormous warehouses.
 
It was a very ambitious project.
 
Belgrave Road is the fondly-remembered station that linked Leicester with the east coast resorts of Skegness, Mablethorpe, and Cleethorpes.
 
The Leicester Mercury photographers featured the enormous queues of holiday-makers that formed on Saturday mornings in the summer, waiting for the trains from Belgrave Road to the coast.
 
Both the Midland and Great Northern lines had subsidiary stations in the city, and they were both on the same road!
 
But to find out more about them and the other stations featured in this well-illustrated booklet, I suggest you buy a copy.
 
It's a good little read.
 
"Leicester's Stations:  A Short History" by PaulMedia, costs £2.50 (plus £1.50 postage) with a cheque payable to Leicestershire Industrial History Society, David Lyne, 10 Somerville Road, Leicester LE3 2ET.
 
Austin J. Ruddy.


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17 November 2017

Railroad Out of Money for 2-6-6-2 Restoration Stops Work
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The cab of Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 awaiting restoration - Jul 2015 Jim Wrinn.

 External link Cumberland Maryland USA - A lack of money is forcing the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad to stop all work on restoring Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 number 1309.
 
"A lot of our visitors have the idea that we should throw all of our money into the 1309's restoration, but that would bankrupt us," Executive Director John Garner tells Trains News Wire.
 
 External link In explaining why the project is short of funds, Garner says that grant requirements and personnel issues are partly to blame.
 
News Wire could not independently verify Garner's specific claims Friday afternoon.
 
Garner does say the railroad has "done a poor job of communicating" how operations keep the railroad in business and that the railroad considers number 1309 to be a special project, akin to other projects, such as landscaping.
 
"Those special projects come to a stop when money runs out," he says.

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Chesapeake & Ohio 2-6-6-2 number 1309 - Date unknown Photographer unknown.

1309's restoration has received at least US$400,000 from the State of Maryland to help fund the restoration.
 
News Wire confirms with Maryland officials that that money is nearly gone.
 
Garner says that it will take at least an additional US$530,000 to complete 1309's restoration, an estimate Garner says he received from the railroad's contractor on the steam locomotive project, Diversified Rail Services.
 
Documents Garner provided to News Wire show that the running gear and the boiler would require US$120,000 and US$115,000 to complete, respectively.
 
In April, Garner said the railroad had spent US$800,000 of its own cash on the project and had expected to spend the US$400,000 state grant.
 
In August, Garner told News Wire that the project's total cost sat at US$1.8 million.
 
Follow-up calls to confirm the latest totals were not answered Friday afternoon.
 
Garner also says that funding issues alone, not any ongoing mechanical problems, were behind the railroad canceling an early November hydrostatic test on the articulated locomotive's boiler.
 
"We filled the boiler with water up to the crown sheet, and repaired a few leaks around the stay bolts," Garner says.
 
"Then we ran out of money."
 
Garner says Western Maryland Scenic is actively pursuing alternative sources of funding, but railroad officials' attempts so far have been insufficient to keep the project moving forward.
 
Garner says that the staff are pursuing additional grants from various donors, but those funds are unlikely to arrive until late 2018, if they are approved at all.
 
Special photo freight charters held in October did not bring in as much money as anticipated.
 
"Those trains brought in a modest amount of money for the 1309, but there weren't as many people as we hoped," Garner says.
 
"I don't think that we fully understood what was going on in the region on that weekend, there were several other railroad-themed events going on around the same time."
 
Garner says that the railroad will hold another round of freight photo charters in February 2018.
 
In the meantime, he says that railroad officials hope to bring in funds through a letter writing campaign.
 
He says that this week, staff members are preparing to send out about 1,600 letters to potential donors in Virginia.
 
Hayley Enoch.


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18 November 2017

Swindon Shunned for GWR Blueprints Destined for Disposal
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One of the drawings in the Swindon Works collection that is being
transferred to Derbyshire - Date unknown Photographer unknown.

 External link Swindon Wiltshire England United KingdomMystery surrounds how drawings from the Swindon Works will soon end up in Derbyshire after historians in the town were left in the dark about their whereabouts.
 
The Science Museum Group published its object disposal list back in July, detailing objects that are no longer appropriate for the National Collection.
 
Interested groups and organizations had until September to express an interest in taking ownership of the items but this week it has come to light that no one in Swindon knew about plans to dispose of potentially thousands of dyeline/blueprint carriage and wagon drawings from the historic railway era.
 
According to the Science Museum Group, which has a museum at Wroughton, the drawings show standard locomotives, standard carriages, and standard wagon components.
 
 External link For the past few years, the historic illustrations have been held at the National Railway Museum in York.
 
But now, it has been confirmed that the Historic Model Railway Society in Derbyshire will soon take ownership of the drawings, to the dismay of locals in the town.
 
A spokesman for Swindon Borough Council said no one at STEAM was aware of the disposal list, and neither was Richard Jefferies Museum director Mike Pringle.
 
He said, "It is just a shame. The thing that strikes me, is the sadness of "here we go again". Our museum struggles and we have this big bid going on with the new museum and art centre. Meanwhile our history is being lost. Something doesn't seem to be joining up somewhere. I don't know if that is decades and decades of heritage not being on top of the agenda or what."
 
It was back on 25 Feb 1841 that GWR directors authorized the establishment of the railway works in Swindon, after the town was identified by Daniel Gooch as being the ideal place for GWR's central repair works.
 
Over the years, the Swindon Works became a well-established and crucial part of the railway network, expanding in 1867 when the company decided to build its new carriage and wagon works at Swindon.
 
After Britain's railways were nationalized in 1948 the GWR soon saw its demise and the works closed their doors for good on 27 Mar 1986.
 
The drawings will be shipped 143 miles away from their origin town in the next few weeks.
 
Local historian Graham Carter, who co-founded the Swindon Heritage magazine, believes more should be done to ensure the town's history stays in Swindon.
 
"The drawings should really stay local in going to Chippenham, although STEAM have got their own collection," he said.
 
"It is a bit of a shame that no one heard about it. There doesn't seem to be any plan about what happens with Swindon's heritage and it happens on an ad hoc basis."
 
The team at the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre in Chippenham were also unaware of the disposal plans.
 
A spokesman from the Science Museum Group said, "The items being transferred are blueprint or dyeline copies of original carriage and wagon drawings that are duplicated or represented elsewhere in the national collection. The documents are currently held at the National Railway Museum in York and not in Swindon. They have gone through the Science Museum Group's Board of Survey, and Board of Trustees, and are scheduled to be transferred to the Historic Model Railway Society based at the HMRS Museum & Study Centre in Derbyshire where the drawings will be cared for and made available to the public."
 
Tanya Yilmaz.

Learn more about STEAM, the Museum of the Great Western Railway (GWR) in this article.


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