Posts by Bill Walker


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21) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1701327)
Posted 18 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Bernie, this talk of turntables has got me thinking about your mysterious turning train. Maybe they are not concerned about which engine is where, but are actually turning the entire train. This means the cars arrive at a station on the return trip in the same order as on the inbound trip. Baggage car always first, first class car always last, etc.
22) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1701251)
Posted 18 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Canada had lots and lots back in the day as well. A few remain in museums, like this one just north of Edmonton. We stopped using them for the same reason everybody else did: expensive to maintain, and can't turn a whole cut of cars.


23) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The celttooth thread...He is here.... (Message 1701129)
Posted 19 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Help is on the way Canada, more Ausssie fire fighters are on their way. :-)


Thank you Good Sir, we need the help!



Thanks from me too.
24) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Don't know where it should go? Stick it here! (Message 1701034)
Posted 19 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
In North America we get clock updates via radio from the US NIST reference clock in Colorado. Like Chris, I have one radio set clock in the house, and set all the others off of it.
25) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1700146)
Posted 22 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Clearly a junk yard, not a wreck site.
26) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The celttooth thread...He is here.... (Message 1699815)
Posted 23 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I have a friend who used to live in Canada, and she told me at the end of movies in theatres everyone stood up and sang, God Save the Queen. Is she pulling my leg, or is that the truth?


We sang that before the first movie of the day, 50 years ago. They used to play cool short films with scenic shots and the words across the bottom of the screen, ending with a picture of a very young Queen Lizzie. How long ago did your friend visit?
27) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #61 (Message 1699812)
Posted 23 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
OK lots of interesting entries, time to adjudicate:

Special mention and thanks to Chris for "life beyond the pooliverse". It's all relative, isn't it?

Third to Monday: "Poots make me go 10 times faster."

Second to Rob Smith: "Next time he throws the ball in the deep end I'm going to push HIM in to get it back"

First has to be dg6580004 who truly captured the expression on the dog's face:
"C'mon, SERIOUSLY, have you seen my ball?"

PM outgoing by the next post.
28) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699558)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Not forgetting that passing loops are also installed on sections of double track to allow faster trains to overtake slower trains, or to provide stations....


In Canada that would be a station siding, or a yard siding. Passing trains (overtaking or in opposite directions) is called "a meet", so you can have station meets, yard meets, siding meets, etc. What yo don't want is a wheatfield meet.

29) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699525)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Sidings in the UK tend to be off the mainline but come to a dead end.


In Canada we would call that a spur line, or just a spur. They dead end at a mill or mine or factory, the other end connects to a mainline.


Passing loops are where they want to run regular trains in both directions along a single track.


That would be a siding. Most Canadian main lines are double tracked these days, so passing sidings are rarely needed, unless track work is underway. In addition, we built so much track in the first half of the 20th century that even where main lines are single, there is probably an alternate route between any two major points. The alternate may be a bit longer, but that is better than letting a train sit. Rail freight in Canada is usually not time sensitive. That stuff goes by truck or by air.
30) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699521)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
The Canadian economy has evolved in a similar way to what Gary described. Today the mega-broom-factory might be in Taiwan. The glory trains today in Canada are the "inter-modals". Everybody sits on a siding when they go by.

31) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699505)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

I would ask the question to Canada & the USA, just WHY do you need to move so many goods from one place to another? Why can't you simply manufacture them where the demand is? OK, one needs raw materials and nature decides where the mines of minerals etc are, but even so. None of it makes much sense to me, particularly when they can't even run oil tanker trains safely, as we have horrendously seen.


A lot of this is wise use of capitol. Yes, we could have a broom factory (or whatever) every few hundred miles, but it takes less capitol to build one mega-factory and the connecting railways and roads. The decrease in manufacturing cost per broom more that outweighs the added shipping costs. Remember, Canada is nearly 5,000 miles east coast to west coast. When the first trans-continental railway was built, the total population was about 4 million. The political need for a coast to coast link was there, and the government fronted a lot of the money to build it. Once this link was in place, it was a better return on your investment to make the Ontario broom factory bigger, than to build new small factories spread all over. Government policy, and government set freight rates, promoted this at the time.

But turning to passenger traffic, a quick look at the Western seaboard map shows that Vancouver, Seattle, San Francisco Los Angeles etc are some of the biggest cities there. It would have made sense 50 years ago to have had a high speed rail line down the Western coast of North America, so why all the hand wringing now?



"High speed" is a relative term. We did build a high speed rail link between Vancouver and eastern Canada in 1886. The first scheduled Toronto to Vancouver train took 8 days. Before that, the trip involved steamboats, horse drawn wagons and walking, and travel time was measured in months. The fastest way from eastern Canada to Vancouver before the railway was by ship, around South America.

Canadian passenger rail service was relatively fast, efficient and cheap up to the 1950s and 1960s. By then, the government was spending capitol on a national highway system, rising personal income meant most families had a car, and air fares were beginning to tumble. (If you take inflation into account, the Toronto to Vancouver airfare today is about 1/10th what is was in 1950.) AS rail passenger numbers fell, the private railways made a logical business decision and cut services. The CN was still government owned then, and subsidized passenger services for a while until the tax payers quite rightly asked "why bother?". While all this was going on, gasoline (sorry, petrol) was pennies a gallon. The whole society adapted to the private automobile, even for longer trips.

Today, new rail construction runs into all the problems I have mentioned before. A vocal NIMBY segment of the population, plus governments that don't want to upset anybody before the next election. Meanwhile discount airlines have become the preferred method of long distance travel for the masses. The train from Toronto to Vancouver still takes several days, a flight takes 6 hours. Canadian railways are making freight money at an amazing rate these days, and see passenger service as a money loser.
32) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699474)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I presume the American short siding is the equivalent of the UK passing loop?


I think so. A siding is a piece of track parallel to the main line, usually connected to the mainline at either end. Used for passing, also used to park cars for loading or unloading or just for storage. This picture is from Oz, but we would call this a siding in North America.

33) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699395)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker

That's fine for the passenger trains, but what about when you have two 10,000+' trains going in opposite directions? I'll tell you what happens: the passenger train gets stuck in the short siding and has to wait there while the freights meet 50 miles away at a siding that can handle one of them.


Sadly, that's how you make money with a North American train service these days.
34) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #61 (Message 1699394)
Posted 24 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Thanks all. Keeping to a theme:

35) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1699277)
Posted 25 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
The length of the train in that picture is just ridiculous!!!

Up until the 1990s, the average freight train in Canada was about 5,000 feet (1.54 kilometres) long and weighed 7,000 tons. But it is now not uncommon to see these trains stretch to 12,000 feet, sometimes as much as 14,000 feet (more than four kilometres), weighing up to 18,000 tons.

Are Canadian railways that close to financial ruin that they have to run stuff like this to save money and survive?

No, but they're run by people who care more about profits than anything else.


Legally, that is what they HAVE to do.

CN used to be run by E. Hunter Harrison, who decreed that trains should be about 10,000 feet long. Never mind that on single track lines, the passing sidings were only about 5-7,000 feet. He also imposed various other practices that look good on paper but not in reality.


Then don't put the long trains on sidings. The really long trains are usually single point to single point: mine to mill, inland grain elevator complex to port, etc. They run straight through. The passenger trains fit just fine on the sidings, however.

After he hit CN's mandatory retirement age, activist investors took over the board of CP and hired him to be president there. Guess what he did? Yup, the exact same stuff.


I know, it is hard to believe some people like money more than they like running trains in the classical way. ;)
36) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Beet's give us a caption #61 (Message 1699063)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
He followed me home. Can we keep him?

(Could be the dog or the raccoon speaking.)
37) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1698788)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
I think you are going in the right direction Rob. The only things likely to happen in my lifetime are limited upgrades of the existing services, plus extension of the specialized commuter services till they start to overlap. The limiting factor will be using existing right of ways, which means there will still be "cultural" or "political" speed limits in a lot of places, no matter how good the tracks and trains are. You see some of that on the GO trains around Toronto already. They get up to 80 mph in some places on purpose built track, then have to crawl at 20 mph through some urban level grade crossing on a "legacy" ROW. Makes for an interesting ride if you are standing up.
38) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Don't know where it should go? Stick it here! (Message 1698786)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
How do you tall men fit in that tiny plane???!!!

Learjet 25B is a 10 seat aircraft. Apparently this one is rigged for gas on the go. :)


The Calspan one holds a crew of 4 or 5, depending on the amount of test gear inside. The aircraft can't receive fuel, in that photo they were testing new digital control laws for receiver aircraft closing on the tanker.
39) Message boards : Cafe SETI : Don't know where it should go? Stick it here! (Message 1698783)
Posted 26 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
How do you tall men fit in that tiny plane???!!!


You crawl through a short doorway, then crawl down the aisle to your seat. No worse than getting into the back seat of most cars, it is just a bit further from the door to the seat. It is fairly comfortable once you are in - depending on what the pilots get up to.
40) Message boards : Cafe SETI : The train thread (Message 1698727)
Posted 27 days ago by Profile Bill Walker
Here are the big population centres on the route, from ViaRail. For every one named on this map there are at least 10 others that want to be on the map.



Added in edit: ViaRail runs express and local services on these lines, the stops named are for the express trains.


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